Hiring a steam cleaner from your local supermarket or carpet shop and running it over your carpet every six months is a great way to create a healthier environment for your family.

Steam cleaning removes dust mites and deep-seated mould that a vacuum just can’t reach and in the process extends the life of your carpet by removing abrasive grit that degrades carpet fibres.

Preparing the Room

To get the most out of your steam cleaner you need to prepare the room beforehand.

  1. Remove all furniture from the room.
  2. Clean the ceiling and windowsills to remove dust and cobwebs – you don’t want dirt falling on your freshly cleaned carpet.
  3. Clean your baseboards – a Spray & Wipe product works well for this.
  4. Use a stiff brush to remove dust and dirt from the crevice where the baseboard meets the carpet.
  5. Vacuum the carpet thoroughly.

Spot Treat Stains

If you have stained patches on your carpet treat them before steam cleaning with spot carpet cleaner.

  1. Spray the stain with spot cleaner.
  2. Allow the cleaner to sit in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  3. Rub with a clean cotton towel – for stubborn stains, gently scrub with a brush.

Prepare the Steam Cleaner

  1. Ensure your steam cleaner’s waste tank is empty.
  2. Remove the clean water tank from the machine and fill with about three and a half litres of hot water. Hot water from the tap is just right. Do not use boiling water as this will damage your carpet.
  3. Add between ¼ and ½ a cup of carpet soap to the water.
  4. Replace the clean water tank.

Using the Steam Cleaning Machine

Take your machine and place it so its front faces into a corner of the room away from the door. You’ll be working your way back across the room towards your exit from here – you don’t want to be walking over wet carpet after you’ve just cleaned it.

Some machines have two settings: carpet and upholstery. Make sure yours is set to “carpet” and turn the machine on. The machine’s brushes will now be rotating.

On the handle of your machine there will be a button that releases the soap/water mixture. Press this and at the same time pull the steam cleaner backwards across the carpet at the rate of about a metre every three seconds.

Move in a straight line across the room. When you reach the far side, release the soap/water button and move back to the other side of the room. Repeat the process, strip by strip, until you have cleaned the entire carpet. Note: overlap each of your cleaning strips by 10 cm to prevent streaking.

One tank of soap and water solution will clean about 4.5 square metres of carpet. Make sure you add more soap and water as necessary and empty the waste water tank.

Heavily Stained Areas

In high traffic areas your carpet may be more heavily soiled. To treat these areas make a second pass over the carpet with your steam cleaning machine perpendicular to the direction of your first pass. This time, however, do not activate the soap/water solution as you don’t want to get your carpet over-wet. Just allow the machine’s brushes to do the work.

Drying the Carpet

After cleaning your carpet leave it to dry undisturbed. Open all windows and doors in the room and prevent children, pets etc. from entering. On a warm day your carpet will take about six hours to dry.

Fresh, Healthy Carpet

After steam cleaning your carpet you’ll be amazed at how good it looks. Chances are you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. But it isn’t only the look of the carpet you’ve improved. By removing dangerous mites, dirt and mould you’ve made your home a safer and healthier place to live.

To learn more about steam cleaning your carpet check out this video.

How to Steam Clean Your Carpet, 4.3 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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  1. Thanks for the useful and informative article.

    Dust Mites

    Dust mites are a problem that I get called about frequently. Steam cleaning carpets is one of my recommendations and will effectively kill mites and remove their faeces, which contain proteins that cause asthma and allergic reactions in some people. It will also help to remove the dust and detritus that the mites feed on.

    The one downside of steam cleaning is the increase in relative humidity caused by the steam, which dust mites like. So make sure the carpet is well dried. A dehumidifier will help dry the carpet completely and if kept running will reduce the relative humidity in a home to below the threshold for mite infestation.


    Steam cleaning can also help in the control of other pests; particularly fleas. Steam cleaning can help kill and remove fleas, flea larvae and eggs. It will also remove the dust and detritus the flea larvae feed on.

    Make sure that the carpets are treated again with an insecticide containing insect growth regulator (IGR) following the drying of the carpet. Steam cleaning will have removed or inactivated any previous treatment.

    Don’t think of steam cleaning as a total solution but as part of a program of control of mites and fleas.

    For more on fleas and mites go to Kiwicare.co.nz

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