Should you go "dry" or "steam"? Is one method better than the other? Are these even the right terms? Well, as usual, these terms only hint at part of the issue at hand. Both "dry" and "steam" are incomplete and inaccurate terms. Neither are technical terms that properly describe carpet cleaning methods.
There are actually four methods of carpet cleaning that are approved by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the world's most recognized body of certification for carpet and upholstery cleaners. Our company is experienced in all methods and occasionally use all of them.
Truck-mounted Hot Water Extraction applied by a trained, caring, experienced company is the best method for residential carpet cleaning and most commercial applications. Otherwise known as "steam cleaning", hot water extraction is the process that most are probably familiar with. Hot water extraction is the correct technical term, not steam cleaning. Actual steam is not used at all. A hot water solution is produced and immediately recovered, creating a "flushing" action on the carpet.
The smallest portable machine rented at the grocery store could be called a "steam cleaner", but a powerful truck-mounted machine is obviously more capable. However, the biggest and most important difference is in the company cleaning the carpet. A trained technician will know what pressure to use, what cleaning products to use, and how to get maximum soil removal and maximum spot removal without over-wetting the carpet or leaving a sticky residue behind. The horror stories of carpet being wet for days is due to operator error, not because "steam" or "hot water extraction" caused it. So be sure to select the right company!