What is the difference between Hot Water Extraction, Steam Cleaning, and Rug Shampoo?

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In the carpet cleaning world, there are many names for the same carpet cleaning service. Each company seems to choose a variety of these names to label their services. When asked, for example, “What is the difference between a rug shampoo and a carpet steam clean?” the individual who answers the phone, who is often not the technician, cannot give you a straight answer. In this article, we will demystify all the names and words that you might encounter when speaking with a carpet cleaner so that you can be a more informed buyer and also so you will not be manipulated into purchasing something that sounds fancy, when in fact is a simple service.

No, Steam Cleaning is Not Carpet Cleaning

Somewhere, a long time ago, a customer, while watching a technician clean a rug asked, “Is that steam coming out of your machine?” The technician, who started the day earlier, replied, “Yes, it is steam. We are steam cleaning.” From that day forward, carpet cleaning was called “steam cleaning.” Well, it must have happened something like that because it is completely wrong! In truth, in carpet cleaning, no steam is used whatsoever in the cleaning process. Steam may be used as a sanitation method, which is what we do at PristineGreen, but for the cleaning process, steam is never used. And it makes sense! Next time you spill grape juice on a shirt, put it on a hanger and steam it. Does the grape juice disappear magically? At PristineGreen, we have perused competitors and found that they actually claim to use steam as a means of cleaning. If you find this on a website, stay away! It either shows the writer of the website is uninformed about the actual services, the company actually uses steam which is ineffective, or unfortunately, the company will use steam, and once you realize that no real cleaning is done, will upsell you on the actual cleaning. We have heard this happening. So when a carpet cleaner tells a customer they perform rug steam cleaning services, what does that actually mean?

What Is Steam Cleaning Really? It's Water Extraction.

Steam cleaning is actually water extraction. What is water extraction? This very common technique is when an industrial machine shoots water into the fabric of the carpet or upholstery item, then sucks it back up. It’s the same concept as when you do laundry at home. You wet it, then spin-dry it. With carpet cleaners, instead, we shoot water in the fabric and then suck it up quickly with high-powered wet vacuums. Some machines have one vacuum, and some have two. Some of the vacuums are 1 stage, 2 stages, or 3 stages, each pulling a different amount of electricity and producing a different amount of suction. Most portable units coming to your home in NYC will be single or dual 2-stage vacuums as they produce a current that is no larger than 15 amps, thus not blowing a fuse in your home (yet it does happen sometimes). In addition, some units have heating elements that make the water hot. In the same way that putting your clothes on a hot water cycle in the laundry takes out more stains, the same concept is used here. 

Steam Cleaning vs Water Extraction vs Shampoo

Again, carpet cleaners, in our spark of creativity, love to have multiple names for the same thing. They make their packages and services sound fancy. “We shampoo the carpet!” as if the carpet is your own head of hair that we delicately massage with the most beautiful fruity shampoo! Although we do of course take great care to ensure the quality of your carpets and rugs stays the same when cleaning, we do not shampoo your carpet the way your hair is shampooed with suds and foam. Carpet shampoo or upholstery shampoo is the exact same thing as steam cleaning, which is the same thing as water extraction! Another name demystified!

Shampoo vs Deep Shampoo

It is true that there are depths of cleaning. Agitation is a great way to lift up any compacted dirt and grim before the cleaning method, wet, low moisture, or dry is used. So if a company does claim to offer a deep shampoo, it may not be a ruse. Ask the individual the difference between shampoo and deep shampoo to learn more about their services. At PristineGreen, we do offer what would be considered a deep shampoo for both carpet and upholstery. We use special agitation methods and different dedicated agitation machines to lift up dirt that may have gathered in the fibers of the textile. 

Yes, carpet cleaners can be creative, but are also good marketers so be an informed buyer! Here at PrsitneGreen, we are straightforward about the services we offer. We do not need to embellish the names and confuse the customer. We give a detailed description of what we provide to every customer that calls and we let them decide what they need most for their home. Our services are high quality so there is no need to deceive. Contact us if you have any furniture, couches, carpets, or area rugs⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ that you need to be cleaned. Call us today! 

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