Carpet Steam Cleaning: Professional vs. DIY

By Gladys K. Connelly Updated March 14, 2021

Cleaning your carpet is something you must do, but is it worth cleaning on your own or hiring a professional carpet cleaning?


At some point, we all carpet owners need to clean our carpets thoroughly.

Carpet cleaning is not just vital for removing spills or stains; having your carpet cleaned can improve and extend the lifespan of your carpet.

That been said, there are two main options to getting your carpet cleaned – doing it yourself or hiring a professional carpet cleaner.

Both of these options, if properly done, will offer a deeper clean than the regular process of removing stains and vacuuming.

But which is the best option for you? Should you clean your carpet yourself by renting a carpet cleaner, or hire a professional?

Let’s take a look at what it means to do the carpet cleaning yourself versus go with a professional steam cleaning service.

The Frequency of Carpet Cleaning

A commonly searched question is, how often do I need to have my carpet cleaned? There is no simple answer to this question because cleaning frequency depends on the household.

Those that have kids and pets, or wear their shoes in the house are more likely to require more cleaning than those who don’t have all of these things.

However, most carpet manufacturers highly suggest cleaning it at least every 12 to 18 months.

Warranties usually show the cleaning frequency, so you need to read the carpet warranty information properly.

That said, you could be surprised how much grime and dirt cleaning your carpet can bring up, and it can also help to remove bacteria and germs from the fibers in your carpet.

However, if you are quick to clean up any stain or spillages, the frequency at which you clean your carpet is like going to reduce due to a lack of (noticeable) stains.

Moreover, if you have a nylon carpet, you will need to clean them more often.

This is because nylon carpeting contains a hydrogen molecule, which is the main factor for their resilience.

Also, regularly cleaning your nylon carpets means that it becomes rejuvenated, and this can improve its performance.

Hot Water Extraction and Steam Cleaning

Most carpet manufacturers recommend hot water extraction, which is more commonly known as steam cleaning (though they are slightly different).

With the hot water extraction method, the carpet is sprayed with hot water, which is then drained into the machine with any dirt on the carpet.

The water is usually mixed with a cleaning solution, which makes it easier to remove the stains and soils.

Steam cleaning machines, on the other hand, uses vaporized water to clean your carpet. The water is heated into a vapor, and it is then applied with a device that has a similar look to a vacuum cleaner.

Dry steam is then used to collect all the dirt. That is the difference between these two methods of cleaning carpets. However, it is widely accepted today that hot water extraction is now referred to as steam cleaning.

Professional Carpet Steam Cleaning Service vs. DIY Cleaning

Professional steam cleaners use either a truck-mounted unit or a portable machine in cleaning your carpet.

Condominium buildings and apartments far from hoses connected to a truck-mounted unit can use a portable cleaning machine.

When it comes to performance, truck-mounted units clean better than its counterpart, so it can be used to maximize efficiency.

The portable machine can be used in places that are difficult for the truck-mounted units to reach.

However, when rented or purchased, DIY steam cleaners are readily available for use for homeowners.

These days the number of different machines on the market usually leads one to wonder whether it is better you do it yourself or get an expert to steam clean your carpet.

We would suggest you buy a small cleaner if your household is vulnerable to spills or accidents.

And you may need to call for professional help for general cleaning.

Without further ado, let’s take a deep look at the benefits of hiring a professional or doing it yourself.

Benefits of Professional Carpet Cleaning

Know-How and Experience

When you hire an expert carpet cleaner, you got someone that is well trained and certified to do a thorough carpet cleaning.

A professional carpet cleaning involves a trained and skilled technician who evaluates your carpet and steam clean to extract soil and dirt that is deep within your carpet.

The one important thing that a professional carpet cleaner has over DIY is better know-how and experience.

The experience they have gained over the years working with several clients and carpet types means that they can deal with the most challenging situation effortlessly.

Moreover, the experience is the main reason why an expert cleaner will do the cleaning a lot faster and better than you ever will, even if you use the same equipment.

These people know where to start from and how to clean each area and stain effectively.

If you decide to remove a stain on your own, you may end up damaging the carpet, and correcting it will most likely be expensive.

Plus, if any harm is done to your carpet by a professional cleaner, they will be the ones to fix the damage, and you don’t have to worry about the cost of repair.


Know-how and experience aren’t the only significant difference between a DIY and professional carpet cleaning.

The DIY carpet cleaning process requires a lot of effort, and it can take you several hours to clean your entire carpet properly, depending on the size of your carpets and home.

With an expert carpet cleaner, you are paying for the convenience of having an expert come into your home, use their own carpet cleaning equipment, transport the machines to and fro your house, offer water for cleaning, move the contaminated waste away, and transport the waste to dispose of properly, thus allowing you to enter your home with a dry and cleaner carper sooner.

Moreover, because these people are experts, they can apply the right amount of water and cleaning solution.

When you hire a reliable and reputable cleaning company, the chances of damaging your flooring is low.

Maintain Your Carpet's Appearance

Having an expert carpet cleaner come into your home and clean your carpets can help keep the appearance of your carpets in good shape.

The high traffic areas of your house, like the hallways and entryways, tend to build up debris and dirt quicker. And if you have kids and pets, they can track in soils much faster.

If you leave this dirt trapped for too long, it can become challenging to clean, and you may require the service of a professional cleaner once a year to restore the appearance of your carpet.

Drying Times

This is another factor to consider when comparing professional cleaning to DIY carpet cleaning.

When your carpet is cleaned professionally, the drying time is significantly lower than DIY cleaning. This is because professional cleaners use state of the art equipment that removes large amounts of moisture from your carpet so that it could dry faster.

You will be able to use your carpet soon after the crew leave. Your carpet might be damp for days when you clean it yourself. And before you know it, it could leave you with a nasty odor and also eventually make your carpets dirtier as the residue and water left in the carpets attract more dirt.

You Know What You are Getting

You don’t always know what you are getting when you embark on cleaning your carpet yourself.

The equipment could be faulty, not have been properly cleaned, or you might end up struggling to know how you can use the machine. After all, this type of equipment is not always straightforward to use.

When you hire a professional carpet cleaner, especially a reputable company, you know just what you are getting, which is a spotless carpet. This gives you peace of mind and saves you from potential struggles and unwanted frustration.

Benefits of DIY Carpet Steam Cleaning

Follow Your Own Schedule

Whether you are a stay-at-home-parent or have kids, pets, and work, finding time to do anything can sometimes be challenging.

So, hiring a professional carpet steam cleaner can turn into one more thing you need to find time for because you need to follow the company’s schedule and what they have available.

However, when you do the carpet cleaning yourself, you can follow your own schedule and clean your carpets any time of the day, whether in the morning, afternoon, or night.

This is something significant you need to think about when you have a hectic lifestyle.


Professional carpet cleaners usually go by the number of sf your home is – this means the bigger your house, the more you will have to pay to get your carpet cleaned.

For instance, according to HomeAdvisor, a 200-400 sf home may be between 80-130 dollars while a 1000-1500 sf home could cost you about 200 dollars and above.

So, if you don’t have that much to spend on hiring a professional cleaning service, the best option might be buying or renting a piece of deep cleaning equipment for carpets. You can eventually end up saving a lot of money.

Suitable When Cleaning Small Messes or Spills

If your house is prone to messes and frequent spills, the DIY carpet cleaning method is the better option for you.

Although we recommend you get your carpets cleaned professionally once every year, this doesn’t mean that you should limit your carpet to once a year cleaning.

DIY carpet cleaning is beneficial for removing day to day surface-level stains and messes in your carpet.

You Know the Total Cost

When you are trying to clean your carpet, it is more affordable and much easier to do it yourself. When you do it yourself, you will be able to find out the actual cost of steam cleaning without making too much guess game.

You already know the cost of cleaning without having to think about additional expenses that might be added to the total cost.

Whereas expert carpet cleaners often offer an estimated price, and there are chances it will increase when the project is completed.

For instance, if some spots are tougher to clean than others, the company has the right to charge you extra cost.

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Risks of DIY

Typically, DIY equipment (like homemade carpet cleaner) does not heat water to the same level of temperature as professional equipment, which makes it less effective for cleaning the carpet.

Moreover, this equipment is not as powerful as those used by the experts, so they may not be able to extract as much water from the carpet. When the carpet has been thoroughly and properly cleaned, it should be only slightly damp.

Wet carpet shows that the cleaning equipment was not powerful enough for the job at hand. If, after cleaning, your carpet is still very wet, you can use fans to speed up the drying process. Try to stay off the carpet until it is very dry and ensure you don’t replace the large pieces of furniture before the carpet is dry completely.

Other factors, such as the technique for using the equipment and the amount of cleaner added to the equipment, offer several opportunities for things to go wrong with the rented or purchased equipment or at least not as well as with the machines used by professional cleaners.

The Verdict

Renting or purchasing a carpet cleaner and doing the cleaning job yourself can be the less expensive option, and it could end up being the right option for you – especially if you just want to clean up small stains.

However, while the professional carpet cleaning service does cost a little more, they offer a better result in a shorter period of time. For instance, if you have a carpet with heavy stains and soiling, then professional steam cleaning is the better option to return the carpet to a cleaner state.

Professional cleaners have better, commercial, carpet cleaning supplies as well as training and more experience with almost every type of carpet stain.

If you are looking for a quality job and want to save effort, time, and any potential damage to your carpet, then you should call a professional carpet steam cleaning company – they are well worth the investment and extra expense.

About the Author

Gladys K. Connelly

As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.

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