.st0{fill:#FFFFFF;}

How Does a Steam Cleaner Clean Carpets: Ultimate Top 6 

 January 31, 2021

By  Jeanette Giselle

Are you wondering how does a steam cleaner clean carpets? You might already know all that a steam mop can do for your floors but are they good for carpets too?

In this post we uncover how you can use a steam cleaner on your carpet and some of the best on the market today!

In an effort to be transparent, this blog uses affiliates links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases. So heads up, there may be some in this post!


What is the difference between a carpet cleaner and a steam cleaner?

These two cleaning machines are pretty similar in their ability and power to clean tough stains. The only big difference is that a carpet cleaner uses some type of shampoo or detergent.

Many steam cleaners are offered as a chemical-free way to sanitize and clean. So if you are not interested in using any type of chemicals then sticking to steam cleaner would be perfect for you.

A steam cleaner or steam mop can also offer many other uses beyond the carpet.

How to use a Steam Cleaner on Carpet:

PRO TIP: Make sure to always begin by prepping the area you are about to clean. This means clearing furniture, vacuuming the carpet and if necessary treat any stains for the best possible carpet cleaning.

Depending on the model and type of steam cleaner you have instructions may vary. For a standard steam mop, you will need to make sure you have a carpet attachment or glider.

If you have an actual carpet cleaner, then you would use as you normally would a vacuum.

Choose a corner that is the furthest from your exit point and start there. Slowly glide the cleaner in a straight line. To ensure faster drying time make sure to not over soak any particular spot.

Steam Cleaning Carpets vs. Shampooing

So how does a steam cleaner clean carpets?

Steam cleaning is a surface level cleaning while shampooing does deep into your carpets. Steaming is a great way to freshen up and spot clean messes. While shampooing is the actual way to get carpets cleaned.

RelatedThe Top Ten Best Steam Mops (10 Rated!)

Carpet cleaning machines provide scrubbing with their brush roll and can be used with cleaning formulas.

Below you can find some of the best rated carpet cleaners available on Amazon.

IN A HURRY? Our top choice for the best carpet cleaner is the Bissell ProHeat 2X Lift Off – a Multi-functional machine that works on various surfaces. Check out the product page here!

Best Cleaning Machines for Carpet:

  1. Best Multi-Purpose Carpet Cleaner: Bissell ProHeat Lift Off
  2. Best Runner Up Carpet Cleaner: Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Max
  3. Best for Pets in the Home: Hoover SmartWash Pet Complete
  4. Best Budget: Bissell Turbo Clean Powerbrush Cleaner
  5. Best Portable: Bissell SpotClean ProHeat
  6. Best Handheld: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser

Compare them all here or keep reading for individual reviews.

Best Multi-Purpose Carpet Cleaner: Bissell ProHeat Lift Off

The Bissell ProHeat Lift Off is a multifunctional carper cleaner. It’s designed to be used as a standard carpet cleaner and portable device.

The main pod can detached and taken anywhere. You can clean in your car, stairs or can be used for simple spot cleaning jobs.

The detachable unit has a hose for you to attach the Tough Stain Stool. This little tool scrubs and suctions stains away which is great for upholstery.

Another tool available is the Spraying Crevice Tool which is designed to help reach corners and carpet edges.

This is perfect not only for carpets but can be used on upholstery and car interiors.

Combined with their professional formula you can ensure a deep clean.

Highlighted Features
  • Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Professional Style Results. Outcleans the leading rental machine.*
  • Dual DirtLifter PowerBrush. Ten rows of bristles combined with powerful suction remove embedded dirt and stains.
  • Two Machines in One. Full-size carpet cleaner and Lift-Off portable spot cleaner.
  • Two Specialized Tools. 3" Tough Stain Tool & Spraying Crevice Tool remove tough messes from stairs, upholstery and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Remove Tough, Ground-In Dirt & Stains. Use with BISSELL PRO MAX Clean + Protect formula.
  • Eliminate More than 90% of Odor-Causing Bacteria. Use with BISSELL Deep Clean + Antibacterial formula.
  • Heatwave Technology. Helps maintain water temperature throughout the cleaning process.
  • EdgeSweep Brushes. Deep clean against baseboards and around furniture.
  • *Cleaning results based on ASTM F2828 using BISSELL PRO MAX Clean + Protect formula against the Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 carpet cleaner using their top selling formula.

Best Runner Up Carpet Cleaner: Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Max

The Bissell ProHeat Revolution max is definitely a close second for the best carpet cleaning machine.

It’s actually Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in Commercial Carpet Steamers. (List is updated hourly, based on sales – see full list here)

The only reason this cleaner was placed number two was for the lack of detachable option but its highly rated on Amazon.

There’s no need to treat stains because the Revolution has a built-in CleanShot Pretreater.

Though it is not detachable and portable, there is a hose for tools to be used on upholstery, area rugs and carpeted stairs.

You receive two tools, the Tough Stain Tool and the 2-in-1 Pet Tool. The 2-in-1 tool can be used on dry or wet mode to either remove pet hair, stains and/or odors.

The Bissell Revolution Max has two modes Deep Clean and Express Clean. The Express Clean mode has faster drying time.

According to Bissell the Express Clean can dry as quickly as 30 minutes.

Highlighted Features
  • Every Purchase Saves Pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Engineered to be our best and most powerful carpet cleaning system for the toughest pet stains and odors even removes skunk odor
  • MAX Clean Mode. Packing in 12 rows of rotating Dual DirtLifter PowerBrushes, it delivers professional grade cleaning to remove deep down embedded stains, dirt and odors.
  • Express Clean Mode. Delivers dry carpets in about 30 minutes.
  • Attack the Toughest Stains. Activate the CleanShot pretreater to deliver a concentrated stream of cleaning solution right where you need it.
  • Lightweight Design (less than 18 pounds) and Low-Profile Foot. Makes it easy to use and maneuver around furniture.
  • Includes Bonus 3" Tough Stain Tool and 2-in-1 Pet Upholstery Tool. Removes pet hair, stains and odors from upholstery.
  • EZ Clean Brush Roll Cover. Makes cleaning the machine after a deep clean quick and easy.
  • Stain and odor removal system includes PET PRO OXY Urine Eliminator formula, 2-in-1 upholstery tool, CleanShot Pretreater, EZ Clean Brush Roll Cover.
  • Express Clean Mode (reference instruction in user guide). Tested on new carpet with protectant. Results may vary

Best for Pets in the Home: Hoover SmartWash Pet Complete

We love our pets but their stains can be pretty tough. The Hoover SmartWash Pet Complete will help ease some of that pain.

This carpet cleaner was designed for homes with pets.

It’s extremely easy to use. It has an Automatic Cleaning feature to allow you to wash and dry at the same time. All you have to do is push forward for washing and pull back to dry.

You get two powerful tools with this cleaner. The Spot Chaser wand which pretreats stains by blasting them.

Plus the FlexForce Pet PowerBrush to scrub and clean up individual stains or hard to reach places.

These tools are great to use on stairs, upholstery or perhaps even your pet’s bed.

Using this carpet cleaner is easy as vacuuming plus goes deep into your carpets for a great clean.

Highlighted Features
  • AUTOMATIC CLEANING: The trigger-less design automatically mixes and dispenses solution as you push forward to eliminate the guesswork
  • STAIN REMOVER WAND: The innovative Spot Chaser pretreat wand detaches from the machine to provide instant cleaning action for set-in stains with the included Oxy pretreat solution
  • FASTER DRYING: Use Dry Only mode in combination with HeatForce for faster drying so you can get back on your carpets quickly
  • ATTACKS PET STAINS AND ODORS: Specifically designed for pets, the FlexForce Pet PowerBrushes clean deep and resist pet odor buildup while removing dirt, debris, and pet messes from your home
  • WHAT’S INCLUDED: Pet Tool, trial size Spot Chaser pretreat stain solution, trial size Paws & Claws carpet cleaner shampoo, 8-ft. attachment hose, accessory bag

Best Budget: Bissell Turbo Clean Powerbrush Cleaner

The Turbo Clean Powerbrush Pet provides powerful cleaning at a great price.

It’s the #1 Best Seller on Amazon* for carpet cleaners.

And since it’s designed for homes with pets it has he ability to scrub and lift deep stains.

Even though it’s so powerful it’s actually lighter than the other cleaners on this list.

Weighing in at 12lbs versus 20 lbs of the Proheat Revolution Max.

Plus it has a collapsible handle for easy storage!

My favorite part is the EdgeSweep Bristles on the side of the head to help clean along baseboards.

It’s safe to used on carpeted floors and most area rugs.

Highlighted Features
  • Every Bissell purchase helps save pets. Bissell proudly supports Bissell pet foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Clean powerfully. Remove tough stains and pet messes.
  • Remove embedded dirt. Four-row dirt lifter power brush and powerful suction.
  • Quickly cleans spots and stains. Powerful Bissell Oxy formula cleans stains like cola and urine.
  • Lightweight & easy-to-use. Weighs just 12 pounds and has a retractable handle for easy storage.

✅ *DID YOU KNOW: Amazon rates their Best Selling products? You can see the top items available based on sales, wished or gifted the most. To see the Best Selling Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Machines see here.

Best Portable: Bissell SpotClean ProHeat

The SpotClean ProHeat is Bissell’s most powerful portable spot and stain cleaner.

This mighty cleaner can be used on carpets, stairs, upholstery, car interiors and more!

It has a 5ft hose and 20ft cord to help reach tough spots and take throughout your home (or out).

The SpotClean has a large tank so that you don’t have to stop to refill between jobs.

It provides both powerful suction along with cleaning ability.

You can use this portable cleaner with either the 3″ Tough Stain Tool or Stain Trapper. The Tough Stain Tool can scrub and suck stains out.

While the Stain Trapper Tool suctions messes directly into the tool and out of your machine. This works great for nasty jobs like pet urine.

Highlighted Features
  • Every Bissell purchase helps save pets. Bissell proudly supports Bissell pet foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Our most powerful portable spot and stain cleaner for carpets, stairs, upholstery, auto interiors, and more.
  • Combines superior suction, scrubbing action and professional cleaning solution to remove stubborn pet stains, embedded dirt and more.
  • Provides a deep clean that leaves you with professional-style results.
  • Permanently removes tough pet stains with the power of OXY.
  • Includes a stain trapper tool to catch the dirtiest pet messes. Also comes with a 3" tough stain tool and two trial-size pet pro oxy urine eliminator formulas.

Best Handheld: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser

If you’re looking for a small and lightweight handheld carpet cleaner then the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser is perfect for you!

This convenient tool is a great quick and on the go tool for sudden messes.

Its cordless so you can literally take it anywhere that needs to be cleaned. Can be perfect for stains, upholstery and car interiors.

You can spray formula directly from the cleaner and use the PowerBrush to remove tough stains.

Or attach the Stationary Pet Tool which helps tackle tough pet stains.

It does have a rather small tank so this is best for spot cleaning, small jobs or for instant stain relief.

Highlighted Features
  • Every Purchase Saves Pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Rotating DirtLifter PowerBrush. Our only portable carpet cleaner with a rotating brush to power through tough spots and stains with minimal effort.
  • Grab & Go Convenience. Cordless machine includes a lithium-ion battery with extended run time.
  • Powerful Suction & OXY Formula. Instantly remove tough pet messes, embedded dirt, spills, and more.
  • Ready-to-Use Formula. No mixing with water required, plus formula can be stored in the machine, so it's already ready to clean when needed.
  • BONUS Stationary Pet Tool made to tackle tough pet messes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to sanitize carpet without steam cleaner:

The first step you should take to sanitize your carpet when you don’t have a steam cleaner is to clean surface stains. This means vacuuming thoroughly and pretreating any stains.

Then you will need to hand scrub your carpet with a solution of equal parts vinegar, liquid dish soap and cold water. Make sure to mix well until the solution is nice and foamy.

There’s no need to soak the carpet; it should just end up a little damp. After scrubbing, go over the area with a clean rad to remove all the dirt. Make sure to change rags as ofter as needed.

Then let air dry.

Is it better to shampoo or steam clean carpets?

Shampooing and steaming should go hand in hand. They are not very comparable since they have different function.

Steaming is a great way to sanitize and freshen up carpets. While shampooing actually scrubs and lifts dirt. If possible, I would get into a routine of doing both on a monthly basis while vacuuming as often as possible.

If you can only purchase one, I’d get a carpet cleaner and purchase antibacterial formula to ensure getting both benefits.

How Does a Steam Cleaner Clean Carpets?

In short, steam cleaners don’t technically “clean” carpets. They are great tools to have and can be used to refresh up and sanitize carpet.

As recommended in this post, it’s best to go for a carpet cleaner versus a steam cleaner to fully get your carpet clean.

If you are still interested in reading on steam cleaner check out this post: Does Steam Cleaning Kill Viruses – Ultimate Steam Mop Guide

Check out below more information on our top pick for a carpet cleaner which was the Bissell ProHeat Lift Off or check them all out on Amazon here.

  • Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Professional Style Results. Outcleans the leading rental machine.*
  • Dual DirtLifter PowerBrush. Ten rows of bristles combined with powerful suction remove embedded dirt and stains.
  • Two Machines in One. Full-size carpet cleaner and Lift-Off portable spot cleaner.
  • Two Specialized Tools. 3" Tough Stain Tool & Spraying Crevice Tool remove tough messes from stairs, upholstery and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Remove Tough, Ground-In Dirt & Stains. Use with BISSELL PRO MAX Clean + Protect formula.
  • Eliminate More than 90% of Odor-Causing Bacteria. Use with BISSELL Deep Clean + Antibacterial formula.
  • Heatwave Technology. Helps maintain water temperature throughout the cleaning process.
  • EdgeSweep Brushes. Deep clean against baseboards and around furniture.
  • *Cleaning results based on ASTM F2828 using BISSELL PRO MAX Clean + Protect formula against the Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 carpet cleaner using their top selling formula.

Jeanette Giselle


Jeanette is a mom of three kids and full time entrepreneur. She is a certified Professional House Cleaner by the AHCA. It is her passion to help overwhelmed mothers simplify their home duties so that they can spend their time doing the things they love. 

Jeanette Giselle

related posts:

Leave a Reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Home Management Binder


Get this Free Binder

Opt in to receive a copy of a 90+ page Home Management Binder.
Schedules, Calendars and Meal Planners for free!