Handheld Steam Carpet Cleaning

The term handheld steam carpet cleaner can refer to two general categories of steamers: one which can actually be used for carpet cleaning, and one which cannot. This article is aimed at clearing up the confusion between household spot steam cleaners, and steam carpet cleaners. Let’s start by looking at what is in fact not a handheld steam carpet cleaner.

Handheld Steamers

 Handheld steam cleaners are small in size so as to allow them to be operated using only one hand, and they generally have a small nozzle which you aim at the area that you want to clean. These are ideal for getting rid of tough spots and stains on smaller surfaces such as tables, curtains, soft furnishings, and so on. However, they are not to be used to clean carpets. There are several reasons why they are not suitable for this purpose, but the basic and important reasons are:

  • A handheld steamer is by far too small to clean an entire carpet; not only would it take ages to cover the surface of a carpet using the small nozzle, but the tank in a handheld steamer can only hold about 0.5litres of water, compared to 2 or so litres for a domestic steam carpet cleaner.
  • Handheld steamers generally use steam to clean surfaces – rather confusingly, steam carpet cleaners do not. Steam carpet cleaners use a method known as hot water extraction, whereby the water is heated up until it turns into steam, but by the time it reaches the nozzles it is back in water for, though very hot indeed. The method mainly relies on the pressure with which the water is applied to the carpet, and the hot temperature is simply to make it even more efficient.

Handheld Carpet Steamers

If you were to be very literal in your interpretation of handheld carpet steamer, any carpet steamer would in fact fall into that very category. To avoid any confusion, let’s take a look at the different models of steam carpet cleaner that are available. There are three main designs:

  • The first type of steam carpet cleaner is one that basically looks like a Henry or Dyson vacuum – a small hardcover box that rolls around on 4 wheels, and the nozzle is found at the end of a tube which you hold in your hands and move over the part of the carpet that you wish to clean.
  • The second design is the upright model. These look like a classic upright vacuum, and some would argue that they are slightly more efficient as the water remains marginally hotter due to not having to travel down the length of an external tube/hose.
  • The final model looks like a mop, and is in fact called a steam mop. Some steam mops can be used to clean carpets – though they primary purpose is to clean hard surfaces, and they are highly inefficient for carpet cleaning.

So there we have it; handheld steamers are not for carpet cleaning, but all carpet steamers are handheld.


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