Heavily soiled carpets that do not become clean with regular vacuuming can be cleaned with a steam cleaner. A steam cleaner uses water to deep-clean the carpet fibres, removing dirt that is inaccessible to vacuum cleaners. Steam cleaning a carpet can make it look better and smell fresher, giving it a new life. Steam cleaners can be purchased at cleaning supply stores or rented at many grocery and home improvement stores.
Remove the water container from the steam cleaner and fill it up to the "full" line with hot tap water. Add soap that is made specially for a steam cleaner. Any other soap will produce too many suds for the machine. Read the steam cleaner soap label to determine how much to use. If you desire, you can skip the soap and steam clean with just water. The water in itself will clean the carpet. For very dirty or stained carpets, the soap is a good addition to strengthen the cleaning and stain-removing power of the steam cleaner. Put the full water container back into its place.
Vacuum the carpet with a regular vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt.
Pre-treat any stains with a colour-safe carpet stain remover. If you are unsure that the stain remover spray is safe to use on your carpet, test it on a small, hidden spot. Leave the spray on and check the spot after 30 minutes for any signs of discolouration. If the spray did not damage the carpet, spray any remaining carpet stains thoroughly. There is no need to rinse the spray from the carpet, since the steam cleaner will do the job.
Clean the carpet with the steam cleaner. Work on small sections of the carpet at a time. Go over each section of the carpet in two strokes: a stroke forward, slowly pushing the machine away from you, and a backward stroke, slowly pulling the machine toward you. On the forward stroke, hold down the lever on the handle of the machine to release water into the carpet. On the backward stroke, release the lever and allow the machine to scrub the carpet and remove the water. Move to the next section of carpet. Do not go over a section of carpet with more than one forward and one backward stroke unless there is a stubborn stain. For stubborn stains, go over the spot as many times as needed to remove it. The less you go over the carpet with the steam cleaner, the quicker the carpet will dry.
Allow the carpet to dry fully before allowing any foot traffic. Leave the windows in the room open if weather permits, to speed the drying process. Fans can also be placed in the doorways, pointed at the carpet, to speed drying.
Empty any remaining water out of the steam cleaner's water container. If water is left in the machine for a long length of time, it will become stagnant.
For faster drying, choose a warm and dry day to steam clean your carpets.
Newer carpets contain chemicals. Steam cleaning can release chemical fumes into the air. People who have allergies or chemical sensitivities should not be present when newer carpets are steam cleaned.