How to Clean Your Carpet With a Steam Mop

Learn how to remove pesky carpet stains with a steam mop.

Ever wondered if you can clean carpet with a steam mop? Is it really going to be safe? If you’ve got carpet in your home, you’ll understand how discolored and worn it can look, especially if it’s light-colored.

It’s possible to use a steam mop to bring some life back to your carpet. While a lot of steam mops are designed for hard floors, some are multi-functional too.

But there’s some prep work you’ll need to do before you can get scrubbing. Let’s get into the details so you’ll feel ready and confident when the time comes.

Common Questions Answered

If you’re unsure about taking your steam mop onto your carpet, read through our answered questions first.

1. Should I Use Tap Water for a Steam Mop?

It may be best to use distilled or demineralized water to fill up your steam mop’s tank. If you have hard water where you live, there are often a lot of minerals and limestone in the water. This includes calcium and magnesium (1).

Over time, this may clog the outlets on your mop head, preventing effective steam distribution. It might also leave residue on your carpet.

2. Will a Steam Mop Kill Germs on Carpet?

Carpet fibers can trap germs and pathogens without you even realizing it. But the good news is that steam is hot water vapor and this can kill bacteria present on your carpet.

Steam mopping can also kill dust mites. Having dust mites doesn’t mean you’re dirty. They just tend to be more common with carpets than hard floors (2).

A study found that regular vacuuming and steam mopping carpets can reduce dust mites by 85.5 percent (3).

If you’re a pet owner, you’ll be glad to hear that steam can kill fleas too (4). It can get rid of adult and larval fleas, plus some of the eggs.

The humidity from the steam may mean some of the eggs hatches. But if you combine steam mopping with regular vacuuming, this shouldn’t be a problem for you or your furry friends.

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3. What Is a Carpet Glider?

Most steam mops have a flat design for gliding over hard floors. Naturally, there’s going to be some resistance on a carpet. But this is where a carpet glider comes into play.

This attachment may be provided with your steam mop or you might be able to purchase one. They are made from plastic and easily attach onto the mop head.

For example, Bissell steam mops and the Shark brand often need a carpet glider to function on the pile.

4. Should I Use a Carpet Cleaner With a Steam Mop?

It may be tempting to reach into your cleaning armory and pull out a carpet cleaner. Surely, you can just use this with your steam mop, right?

Actually, this may damage your steam mop and carpet. The beauty of using a steam mop is that you can sanitize your carpets without the need for any chemicals. This means it may be a good option for people with allergies or sensitivities.

Without any toxic ingredients, scrubbing your carpet may be a good idea if you have pets or young children too.

Some companies feature scented demineralized steam mop water. However, this may not be suitable for the carpet. It’s always recommended to follow the directions for your steam mop model or consult the manufacturer if you’re unsure.

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How to Clean Carpet With a Steam Mop

For your convenience, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to steam mopping your carpet. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it first appears. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll be old news.

Take Note

Test it out on a patch of the carpet before you begin. If you’re going to use a steam mop, you want to find out if it’s safe for your carpet. The best way to do this is with a patch test. Choose a small area somewhere hidden and inconspicuous. Use the steam mop on this area to test the carpet’s tolerance to high-temperature water vapor.

Steam may distort and cause damage to man-made fibers. In addition, woven carpets might shrink when exposed to high temperatures. Berber carpets can become fuzzy when treated with a steam mop too.

While we don’t want to frighten you, you need to be informed before giving it a full run.

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1. Remove Loose Objects and Lightweight Furniture

We know the thought of moving furniture around is a pain. But trust us – it’s going to make your life a lot easier. It’ll save you awkwardly maneuvering your steam mop around items, speeding up household chores.

You may even discover stains and grime lurking under objects that you didn’t know were there. This may be something you want to consider especially if you have pets.

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2. Vacuum the Carpet

We know you probably want to skip the vacuuming stage and get straight to steam mopping. But you need the powerful suction to pick up loose dirt and crumbs that could otherwise get stuck on your mop head. A vacuum is also going to capture hair, which a steam mop can’t do.

This step may assist your steam mop in reaching the carpet fibers for a more effective clean. You can then concentrate on scrubbing stains and absorbing dirt particles and bacteria.

3. Secure the Carpet Glider

Time to attach the carpet glider to your mop head. It usually snaps into place with a little pressure. You may want to read the user manual to make sure you’re doing it properly.

Keep In Mind

Connect the carpet glider before turning on the steam mop. Some steam mops do start automatically. So, connect your carpet glider before you plug it in at your outlet. This can prevent you from getting scalded by the hot steam (5).

4. Add Water to Your Steam Mop

To enable you clean without multiple faucet trips, it may be best to fill up your water tank. There’s usually a maximum capacity indicated on your tank or in the user’s manual. The average capacity is around 16 fluid ounces.

Some steam mops may include a measuring cup, which can make the job a little easier.

5. Begin in the Far Corner

It’s counterproductive to start cleaning in an area of the floor that you’ve got to walk on again before it’s dry. For the most efficient carpet cleaning session, start steaming in the far corner. This is going to be away from the doorway and entrance with more foot traffic.

Then you can simply clean and head on to the next room care-free, while the finished portions begin drying.

6. Clean in Straight Lines

When you’re blissfully gliding around with your steam mop, it’s easy to miss a spot. We find that the best method is by moving in straight lines along the carpet. It’s like mowing the lawn – you know where you’ve been and what’s next.

7. Allow Your Carpet Time to Dry

Allow your carpet time to air dry before you walk on it or the pets get comfy for a nap. Depending on the type of carpet, it could take anywhere between four and 10 hours. Given that soaps and heavy shampoos aren’t being used, it should be on the lower end of that scale.

Steam doesn’t make your carpet overly wet or saturated, but outdoor shoes may make it dirty again when you’ve just cleaned. All your hard work will go to waste.

If you really have to walk on the carpet, wear clean socks. You could even use shoe coverings or plastic bags. Don’t worry – we won’t call the fashion police.

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Full Steam Ahead

Steam mops may a good way to sanitize and bring out the natural appeal of your carpet. This can be achieved by following our easy steps listed above.

Don’t forget that you don’t need to use any detergents or chemicals – take advantage of the natural power of steam. Plus, a carpet glider can make the job a lot easier. Our top tip is not to forget to vacuum before you start.

Are you going to try steam mopping your carpet? Let us know how you get on in the comments!

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!