How to use a steam cleaner on carpet - the easy way to extend the life of your carpets

Steam cleaners are this year’s hottest appliance (literally)

A built-in wardrobe with an armchair and carpet
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’re in the midst of a steam cleaning revolution, and the Ideal Home team can’t get enough of these hot and steamy appliances. But if you’re new to the steam cleaning game, you might be wondering how to use a steam cleaner on carpet. 

If you’ve bought one of the best steam cleaners, you’re in for a real treat. There are so many things you can clean with a steam cleaner, from kitchen appliances to window treatments. And if you’ve been looking for ways to clean your carpet, you’ll also be happy to know that steam cleaners are highly efficient at killing bacteria, removing dirt, and cleaning deep into the fibres. 

However, using steam to clean your carpets can result in mould and mildew buildup. That's why we’ve consulted with cleaning experts to get the low-down on how to use a steam cleaner on a carpet… correctly

How to use a steam cleaner on carpet 

‘Using a steam cleaner on your carpet can be a highly effective way to deep clean, removing dirt, bacteria, and allergens without harsh chemicals,’ explains Ava Wilson, Chief Editor at Unclutterer. But you need to follow specific instructions when using extreme heat and water on your carpets if you don’t want to damage them in the process. 

Headshot of Ava Wilson
Ava Wilson

Ava Wilson, Unclutterer’s Chief Editor with 25 years in cleaning, started with a mop and now leads a team of 20. Merging hands-on experience with management expertise, she transforms cleaning into inspiring lessons. Ava's eco-focused insights make Unclutterer a go-to for sustainable cleaning wisdom.

What you’ll need


1. Assess your carpet

There are certain things that you should never clean with a steam cleaner, which is why you should always do your research when attempting to steam clean anything. In fact, it may be that you can't steam your carpet at all. 

Matthew Harrison, cleaning expert at says, ‘Check that your carpet is suitable for steam cleaning. Some natural fibres, including sisal and jute, shouldn’t be cleaned in this way.’

‘Wool is usually fine, but check the care instructions for your carpet first. And bear in mind that wool fibres are more delicate and denser than synthetic fibres. So, they’ll need the right type of brush head and plenty of suction power to draw the moisture back out of the carpet.’

If your carpet is made from natural fibres, you’ll be better off using one of the best carpet steamers to clean your carpets instead. Just ensure you don’t use the steam functionalities when using this handy appliance. 

White bedroom

(Image credit: Tapi Carpets & Floors /@becshomestyle)

2. Give it a vacuum

If you’re happy and confident that it’s possible to steam clean your carpets, you should then use one of the best vacuum cleaners to give it a vacuum before you move on to the next step. 

‘When refreshing your carpets with steam, there are some things you should consider to achieve the best results. We would recommend that you vacuum your carpet first to remove any loose hair or dirt within the pile,’ explains Atit Chopra, Product Development Director at Beldray.

When vacuuming and steam cleaning your carpets, we’d also suggest moving furniture out of the way and, ideally, out of the room completely. This will also speed up the drying process when you finish this cleaning task. 

When you’ve done that, you can finally get your steam cleaner out of the cupboard.

Vacuum cleaner laid down inside living room

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Spot-clean any stains

If you have stains on your carpet, you’re not alone. These stains are extremely common in high-traffic areas of the home, and knowing how to remove stains from a carpet can help you immensely. 

And while a steam cleaner can potentially lift these stains from the fibres, experts would suggest spot-cleaning these stains before using your steam cleaner on the carpet. 

Matthew says, ‘Most of the time, you should be able to deep clean a carpet using the power of steam alone. But if you discover some old stains on your carpet, these will need treating first. Use a suitable spot cleaner or a mild soap solution and a sprinkle of bicarb to deal with the stains.’

4. Choose the right attachments

One of the biggest differences between a steam mop vs a steam cleaner is the fact that steam cleaners have so many attachments, nozzles, and additions that allow you to clean multiple areas of the house with the same appliance. 

These are something you need to utilise when you want to know how to use a steam cleaner on a carpet. In fact, they’re essential for those who want to maintain the integrity of their carpets. 

Atit says, ‘You should also use an appropriate attachment for the steam cleaner, or it won’t glide over the carpet smoothly. The Beldray Rectangular Detergent Steam Cleaner features a specialised carpet glide attachment, which fits onto the head of the steamer to allow it to thoroughly cleanse the carpet with steam and glide over the carpet without making direct contact.’

A carpet glide attachment isn’t the only steam cleaning accessory you can use to your advantage though. Depending on the steam cleaner that you buy, you may also have the following:

  • Floor nozzle: Ava explains, ‘This is ideal for general carpet cleaning. It evenly distributes steam across the surface.’
  • Upholstery attachment: ‘Use this for delicate carpets or small areas. It's gentler and can prevent carpet pile damage,’ she says.
  • Jet nozzle: ‘For spot cleaning or very dirty areas, the jet nozzle focuses steam on a specific spot, helping to break up tough stains.’

Duprey steam cleaner in use on a sofa

(Image credit: Dupray)

5. Consider using a cleaning solution

The beauty of steam cleaning is the fact that this high heat and moisture can effectively clean most surfaces without the need for chemicals or cleaners. But if you want a deeper, odour-eating clean, you might want to consider adding a cleaning solution.

Ava has issued a warning to those using these products, though. ‘Ensure it's compatible with your steam cleaner and safe for your type of carpet. Always test the steam cleaner on a small, inconspicuous carpet area. Check for colourfastness and any adverse reaction to a cleaning solution if you're using one.’

If you don’t want to use a cleaning solution, you can move on to the next step. 

6. Use the proper technique

While you don’t need to have an IQ of 140 or a degree in engineering to use a steam cleaner on a carpet, it’s important to use a proper technique to ensure you’re getting the most out of this gadget. 

‘Move the steam cleaner across the carpet, allowing the steam to penetrate deeply. Overlap your strokes to ensure no area is missed, and focus on one small section at a time for thorough cleaning,’ explains Ava. 

However, steam cleaning your carpet does come with a warning, as you want to avoid over-wetting your carpets at all costs. And there's an easy way to do that. 

Ava says, Do not over-saturate your carpet. Use enough steam to clean but not so much that the carpet becomes excessively wet. This can lead to mould and mildew growth.'

'Make several dry passes (with the steam turned off) to help remove any residual moisture.’

A built-in wardrobe with an armchair and carpet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

7. Let your carpets dry

When you’ve finished steam cleaning your carpet, you must let it dry. If you can, avoid walking over the carpet and do everything possible to get the air circulating in the room. You can open your windows, keep doors ajar, and even use one of the best dehumidifiers for this job. 

If you don’t let your carpets dry completely and choose to put furniture back on wet carpet, it may result in the growth of mould and mildew. 

So, make sure you let your carpets dry before putting the room back to normal. 


Can I clean my carpet with a steam cleaner?

Yes! Steam cleaning is one of the best ways to clean a carpet, and experts suggest doing this around once a year to extend the life of your carpet and keep it looking fresh. 

However, it’s important to note that some carpets can’t be steam cleaned. These are usually carpets made from natural fibres, so do your research before whipping out your steam cleaner. 

It’s also important to note that steam cleaning isn’t a substitute for vacuuming or spot-cleaning. You still need to keep on top of these tasks to maintain a clean and dirt-free carpet. 

What do you spray on carpet before steam cleaning?

If you have stains on your carpet, it’s always a good idea to use a carpet stain remover to treat these stains before you start steam cleaning. 

But you don’t have to use any cleaning solution before steam cleaning if you don’t have stains. The steam alone should be enough to clean them.

Will you be steam cleaning your carpet?

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.