Hot Water Extraction vs Steam Cleaning

Difference between hot water extraction & steam cleaning

At True North Cleaning Professionals, we use the most effective method of carpet cleaning to get the job done. “Steam cleaning” and “hot water extraction” are the methods recommended by most carpet manufacturers.

What is the actual difference between the two?

Even though most people refer to hot water extraction as steam cleaning, they are actually two entirely different cleaning processes. Each method uses a different water temperature and at times, different cleaning solutions as well. Before you clean your carpet or treat a stubborn stain, make sure you know the difference between the two.

The Basics 

The main difference between hot water extraction and steam cleaning is the temperature of the water. For a carpet to be steam cleaned, it must use actual steam. The water temperature must reach a temperature high enough to transform it into a gas, in this case, steam in particular. Applying pure steam to your carpet, however, will not be effective in rinsing.

On the other hand, hot water extraction simply requires hot water. For a successful hot water extraction, the water needs to be hot enough that it cleans deeply and effectively, but not so hot that it changes into a gas.

When to Use 

Most carpet manufacturers recommend that their products be cleaned by hot water extraction. All natural fibers, like wool, are cleaned with hot water extraction to prevent shrinkage; the same goes for upholstery. Hot water extraction can be used to treat stains, unlike steam cleaning which can actually set stains permanently. Steam cleaning is often used with synthetic carpet, and some people think that the higher the level of heat, the more clean their carpets will be. Homeowners should still be wary of renting or buying products like extractors and steamers to use at home. Inexperience and inferior equipment could lead to the combination of soaking your carpet and leaving a large level of detergent residue. If your home has inadequate ventilation, you could end up causing mold growth.

Even when used by a professional cleaner, the hot water extraction method will only work with the right levels of detergent and by avoiding detergent residue. If detergent residue is left behind, it will attract dirt and make your carpets look dirty again. The hot water extraction method is ideal if you are concerned about exposure to volatile chemical compounds. True North Cleaning Professionals will make sure that most of the water sprayed on your carpet is removed. The entire process begins with a pre-inspection of your carpet which includes dry soil removal followed by an application of an emulsifier or detergent. Next, we will thoroughly rinse the carpet clean with water and vacuum out almost all of the water used. Within a couple of hours, your carpet will be dry and ready!


So, hot water extraction versus steam cleaning–which is best? It is hard to say, but we personally believe that hot water extraction is essentially superior. With pure steam, there is no rinsing of the fibers, which is necessary to remove the soil and cleaning detergents from your carpet.

The most important thing to remember is that within the industry, hot water extraction is increasingly being referred to as “steam cleaning”. If you’re confused as to which service a company offers, just ask them, but it’s very likely they are using hot water extraction under the name steam cleaning. While most professional carpet cleaners use water hot enough to visibly produce steam, there is still hot water rinsing and flushing for the carpet fibers. Not pure steam.

If you’re in the Whatcom County area, give True North Cleaning Professionals a call. We clean using hot water extraction using the latest technology in our high-power industrial machines. They’ll leave your carpets completely clean with no residue left afterwards.

Give us a call at 360-223-0330 to hear more about our services.

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Rated "GRADE A" Carpet Cleaning by:

Angie's List Super Service Award for Carpet Cleaning

5 Star Customer Rated:

“I was very pleased with how painless it was getting my carpets cleaned by True North. Henry did a wonderful job in doing all that he said he would, and everything was done in a very timely manner. Dry time was minimal , which was a huge bonus compare to other companies. Definitely will be using True North again.”

Katrina Lodder – Bellingham WA

“I am very satisfied with the carpets after they were cleaned by Henry of TrueNorth. He did a wonderful job and will definitely call him again.”

Lori Patterson – Bellingham WA

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