How to Steam Clean Carpet With a Steam Mop

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The carpeting in a house can be a beautiful addition and is very comfortable to walk on, but also displays dirt and stains much more easily than hardwood or laminate flooring. When a deep cleaning is necessary, hiring a professional carpet cleaning company or renting a steam cleaner is the best option, but what about refreshing your carpet in-between deep cleaning?

In these instances, you should know how to steam clean your carpet with a steam mop.

Can You Use a Steam Mop on Carpet?

Yes, you can use a steam mop on your carpet, provided you use it on a low heat setting. Because steam mops do not normally get to the very high heat that commercial steam cleaners produce, using a low setting and a light touch should be fine for the majority of carpet materials.

How to Steam Clean Carpet With Steam Mop

When considering whether or not to use your steam mop to clean carpet, it is important to check the material that your carpet is made of.

Man-made fibers, woven, and Berber carpets may be damaged by high heat.

Be sure to check any manuals you may have received when the carpet was installed, or at least identify what type of material is used, before using a steam mop on it. 

Person cleaning the carpet with a steam cleaner

We recommend that you test a small patch of hidden carpet first before using a steam mop to clean the entire carpet.

  1. Fill the steam mop reservoir.
  2. Attach the carpet glider or carpet attachment to the steam mop. Hot steam may start coming out of the mop quickly, so attaching the glider before plugging in/turning on your steam mop will help avoid scalding.
  3. Remove any floor clutter, and move light furniture out of the way. For heavy furniture, wrap the legs with a waterproof tape, or wrap in a plastic bag or foil. Steam can damage wood and other leg materials.
  4. Clean surrounding baseboards. Since steam creates a lot of humidity, water can condense or collect on the baseboards. If they are dirty, this makes dirty water drip down and soak into your carpet on the edges.
  5. Vacuum the carpet. Steam mops do not have a vacuum mechanism, so loose dirt, hair, or small objects will just be pushed around by the mop.
  6. Treat any spot stains with cleaner specific to your carpet. In some instances, steam can set certain stains into the carpet permanently instead of removing them.

Steam Clean Carpet With a Steam Mop

Using a steam mop to steam clean carpet is not exactly the same as using a steam cleaner because of the lack of a vacuum attachment. They are also not intended to be used with a scrubbing motion.

Woman holding a mop handle
  1. Plug in the steam mop and set it to the correct setting. Check the user manual to make sure that the temperature is correct for use on carpet. 
  2. Steam Only setting is normally recommended.
  3. Turn on the steam mop. They heat up quickly, so do not let it sit for too long after you have turned it on.
  4. Start in the corner farthest away from the entrance/exit of the room. Your cleaning pattern should back up so you can exit the room when cleaning is completed.
  5. Use a light touch! Move the steam mop back and forth over the carpet. Do not scrub, let the steam do the work.
  6. Do not saturate the carpet. Keep the steam mop in motion so water does not accumulate in one area. Steam cleaners include a vacuum that sucks up the water, but steam mops do not.
  7. Clean in a grid and keep track of what you have cleaned.

How Long Should It Take To Clean Your Home?

What is the size of your home in square feet?

What type of flooring do you have?

After You Steam Clean Carpet With Steam Mop

Once cleaning is complete, there are some important steps to make sure you get the longest possible life out of both the carpet and the steam mop.

  • Allow the carpet to dry completely before moving the furniture back. This can take anywhere between 3-9 hours depending on the carpet material, how much moisture ended up being used, airflow, and other factors.
  • If you need to walk over the carpeted floor before it is dry, you can wear clean socks, put on shoe coverings, or use other methods to not introduce new dirt to the carpet. 
  • Towels work for a quick walk across the carpet, but do not leave them as walkways, since they will slow down the drying process of the carpet they cover.
  • After the carpet is dry, the fibers are sometimes stiff. Vacuum the carpet again to loosed the fibers up, making them softer and more comfortable to walk on.
  • Move the furniture back into place, and remove any protective coverings you may have used.
  • Remove the cleaning pad. If it is reusable, wash it, either in the laundry or by hand. Follow the owner’s manual for specific methods.
  • Remove the carpet glider or attachment used for cleaning carpet.
  • Empty the water reservoir in the steam mop to prevent mildew from accumulating between uses.
  • Store the steam mop.

What is a Steam Mop?

A steam mop is a light duty household appliance that is a mix in between a normal mop and a steam cleaner.

They are heavier than a regular mop because of the added steaming mechanism but are not even close to the bulkiness of a full-sized steam cleaner. This makes for portability and ease of use.

Person cleaning the carpet with steam cleaner

Do not assume that a steam mop is a replacement for the deep cleaning that a professional carpet cleaner can provide.

Commercial steam cleaners for carpet saturate the carpet with steam, hot water, and chemical cleaning solutions, and then a vacuum attachment sucks it back out.

  • Using a steam mop will keep your carpet fresh and extend the time necessary in between deep cleanings, but they are still necessary.
  • Instead of focusing on chemicals to clean your floors, a steam mop is usually only intended to use the heat and moisture of steam to help clean and disinfect floors.

Steam mops are normally intended for use on hard floorings such as concrete, tiles, and, especially linoleum and other non-porous surfaces. An additional attachment may be necessary when used to clean a carpet, but for a lot of steam mop models, this attachment is already included.

What Do You Put on Carpet Before Steam Cleaning?

Some steam mops are available that use chemical cleaners, but we do not recommend adding a cleaner when using a steam mop to clean carpets.
The cleaners that come with a steam mop are intended for hard surfaces, and carpet cleaning chemicals are meant to be used with full-size steam cleaners.
Be sure to read the mop instructions to understand how to clean the carpet using the carpet glider or other attachments.

Can a Steam Mop Kill Germs?

The heat from a steam mop can kill the germs and bacteria that love to attach to carpet fibers. Steam can also kill the dust mites that collect in virtually all homes, hiding in carpets and bedding.
Fleas are also no match for a steam mop, as high heat past 100F kills fleas. Flea eggs, unfortunately, can survive a pass from a steam mop.

What Do You Spray on Carpet Before Steam Cleaning?

Before steam cleaning a carpet, you can spray a pre-treatment solution to help loosen dirt and stains. Some common pre-treatment solutions include a mixture of water and vinegar, a specialized carpet pre-treatment spray, or a mixture of water and a small amount of dish soap.

Is It Better to Shampoo or Steam Clean Carpets?

The dirtier your carpet, the more likely it is that shampooing will be better. Shampooing is a more aggressive method that can remove deep stains, but it can leave behind soap residue. Steam cleaning is gentler and can sanitize the carpet, but may not be as effective on tough stains.

Dust mites can aggravate allergies and asthma, so removing them on a regular basis will help with your family’s daily health.

Vacuuming after cleaning with steam is a good idea in order to remove dead fleas and flea eggs, as well as expired dust mites.


Using a steam mop to clean carpet is a highly recommended method of keeping your carpet refreshed and germ-free for the periods of time in between deep cleaning. While vacuuming on a regular basis is also important for the health and cleanliness of carpeting, the additional high heat from a steam mop also helps get rid of pet urine smells and kills microorganisms, dust mites, and fleas.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.