Carpet cleaner vs. vacuum vs. steam cleaner are 3 ways of cleaning to keep your house spotless and smell good. But how do they actually work so you can identify which one will be your best choice?
Indeed, they all have different jobs, advantages, and disadvantages that you need to consider before buying. And in this post, I will cover every aspect of these cleaning methods by comparing them through their features, characteristics, how they operate, price, etc.
So keep reading for the extensive comparison between these 3 objects that you can barely find anywhere else.
Main Features of Carpet Cleaner, Vacuum, and Steam Cleaner
Let’s start with the general information regarding their main features for easier capture, especially when you are not familiar with these appliances.
A carpet cleaner (aka carpet shampooer) can wash and remove tough stains and deep dirt or soil on your carpets. It requires cleaning solutions that are applied on the surfaces. With many excellent commercial carpet cleaners out there, you can have many options to choose from.
Vacuum cleaner, basically, is a quick solution for dry sucking and removing dirt, hair, debris, or any lightweight particles on many surfaces (e.g., carpets, wood floors, stairs, auto). There are also many amazing commercial vacuum cleaners that are suitable for different requirements.
However, a steam cleaner applies the steam from hot water to loosen the dirt, stains on the surfaces and kill germs, bacteria, bugs, or any living microorganisms. You can also find various best-chosen steam cleaners on the market.
7 Differences Between Carpet Cleaner, Vacuum, and Steam Cleaner
The bottom line in this article is the comparison between carpet cleaner, vacuum cleaner, and steam cleaner. After using and analyzing these objects, I can develop some of their specific characteristics to compare in the most extensive way.
|Product Aspects||Carpet Cleaner||Vacuum Cleaner||Steam Cleaner|
|Design||Based on their types but bigger and heavier than vacuum generally||Based on their types but most of them come in a compact size||Based on their types but bigger and heavier than vacuum generally|
|How They Work||Apply shampoo on the surface, scrub it with brushes to loosen the dirt/stains, and remove it by the suction||Suck dirt, debris, hairs, or particles into the vacuum's bag to clean||Use hot water to produce pressurized steam that can loosen dirt/stains/grease, and extract the dirt by the vacuum system.|
|Cleaning Solution Need||Yes||No||No|
|Ease of Use||Easy||Easiest compared to others||More complicated|
|Ease of Store||Take more places than a vacuum cleaner||Easy||Take more places than a vacuum cleaner|
|Cleaning/Drying Time|| |
|Cleaning Frequency|| |
1. Design and Weight
Overall, you can see many carpet cleaners and steam cleaners have a bulky design that is much heavier than typical vacuum cleaners. The designs are varied as well based on their types, models, functions, attachments, etc.
Here are the examples of some main types of these 3 machines in terms of their designs:
There are 3 main types of carpet cleaning appliances on the market based on their uses: home usage, Industrial usage, and Commercial usage.
- Home carpet cleaners: For residential use, so most of them have compact sizes. And some are really lightweight.
- Industrial carpet cleaners: They are heavy-duty types that can clean a huge amount of particles, stains, dust, etc.; therefore, they are bigger and heavier than the home-using types.
- Commercial carpet cleaner: Suitable for businesses like offices, restaurants, hotels, etc. And like industrial types, these machines are also big to ensure high-quality performance.
Most vacuum cleaners’ designs are lightweight and straightforward. They also have many types with different shapes, such as:
- Upright: Motor, power brush, vacuum bag, suction head, hose are in the same unit.
- Handheld: They are designed to hold by 1 hand, which is so handy and convenient.
- Canister vacuum: These vacuums have a separate canister attached to a long wand.
- Backpack vacuum: They are designed to allow you to carry them on your back with a pretty long cord attached to the backpack canister.
- Stick: They have a long stick and slender frame to ensure you can get in narrow spaces.
- Autonomous/Robot: They come in small round robots that can freely move around your house and clean automatically.
Robot vacuums have just been widely used recently, but which one is the best? Watch this video:
There are 4 popular segments in steam cleaner’s designs with distinctive shapes, such as:
- Steam mops: They are designed to clean floors mostly. Their designs look quite similar to a stick vacuum. They are lightweight as well.
- Handheld steam cleaner: With a small and compact shape, you can easily and quickly move them to clean the areas.
- Cylinder steam cleaner: These devices are much bulkier than handheld and steam mops, making them hard to store or manage.
- Vapor steam cleaner: They look similar to cylinder steam cleaners that also come in with many kinds of attachments.
2. How They Work
These 3 cleaning methods have different ways to operate and clean stuff. Following are some main highlights about it.
As explained in the first section, a carpet cleaner’s main feature is removing dirt, stains and washing out carpets or rugs’ fiber. Their cleaning operation is based on water and cleaning solutions to deep clean the objects.
Plus, with hot water extraction, strong scrubbing brushes, and vacuum suction, these items can get rid of tough grime, dirt, etc., not only on the surface but also on the base of carpet or rugs. The ideal water temperature for cleaning by carpet cleaner is around 150 to 200 degrees F.
For easier understanding, you can simply remember that the carpet cleaner will apply the shampoo on the carpets, then its brushes will scrub and loosen the dirt or stains, then the suction will lift and remove it from the carpets.
However, a traditional vacuum cleaner is only suitable for surface cleaning, not for ground-in dirt. It can not remove dirty stains from food/drink spills, pet messes, or foot traffic.
Regular vacuum cleaners do not use water or any cleaning solution to clean. That’s why these machines are capable of cleaning dry surfaces only. However, thanks to technology development, some upgraded vacuums use water to clean the surfaces.
The good thing about vacuums is they can reach all areas or surfaces, so you can quickly suck dirt, debris, hairs, or particles into the machine’s bag.
This lively demonstration will aid you in knowing how a vacuum operates. Watch this video:
Steam cleaners use warm to hot water to perform. When the water is hot enough, they produce pressurized steam that works through the brush, nozzle, or other tools to loosen and clean difficult dirt, stains, or grease; then, the machine will extract the dirt by their vacuum system.
The heat from a steam cleaner might reach more than 245 degrees F. This is why this product can kill bacteria, allergens, pests, mold, mildew, or even viruses (1).
And unlike carpet cleaners, steam cleaners do not require shampoo or any cleaning solutions to eliminate stains or dirt. Thus, they are better for the environment as they do not use any chemical cleanings.
3. Ease of Uses and Store
Both carpet cleaners and steam cleaners possess bigger and heavier forms than vacuum machines; they are neither easy to use as vacuums nor storing.
Most carpet cleaners need to be filled with water and shampoo solutions before cleaning, while you only have to plug the vacuum in the power outlet, or charge them before using it for portable vacuum models, then start to suck the dirt.
After every use, you have to clean the water tanks in a carpet cleaner, but you do not have to clean the vacuum bag regularly, as long as they are not too full.
The steam cleaning product is another story. They are even more complicated to use than regular carpet cleaners. Why? Because they come with various tools like nozzles, iron brushes, crevice tools, fragrance discs, etc., which require more knowledge in using them properly.
They also have more set-up processes, and their steam’s heat is super high; therefore, if you want to use them safely, you should read their manual guide carefully. Or it would be better to hire a professional person to perform a steam cleaner.
Do not know how to use a carpet cleaning device? Let’s check this instruction.
With a carpet cleaner, they can be used to work on carpets or rugs, while a vacuum and steam cleaner can work well on a variety of household surfaces, like floors, mattresses, carpets, upholstery, etc.
But generally, their efficiency level is based on how you want to clean. For eliminating tough and ground-in stains or dirt, you should use a carpet cleaner to deep clean the objects. But if you want to clean the normal dust on the surface, vacuuming is enough.
With a steam cleaner, they not only deep clean the most stubborn stains but also disinfect, sanitize your stuff. Moreover, one common thing in carpet and steam cleaners is that they both can deodorize your items, while regular vacuums cannot.
There is another note: you can still spot some shampoo residue after cleaning by carpet cleaner machines while steaming appliances are less likely to leave any particles. Thus, you should vacuum these areas/surfaces after using these 2 machines for the best result.
So the most important efficiency in using these cleaning methods is to prevent dust allergies as they can negatively affect your health (2).
How many surfaces can a steam cleaner work on? Here is your answer.
5. Time For Cleaning And/Or Drying
You need to spend more time cleaning your stuff if you use carpet and steam cleaner. But with a vacuum, it will not take too much time to do it.
There is no exact cleaning duration for carpet and steam cleaning appliances because it depends on the area’s size or the object’s thickness. It could be at least 1 hour to more than 24 hours.
However, the drying time is easier to determine. Though both methods are deep cleaning, steam cleaner tends to dry faster than carpet clean due to its high heat.
Some people claim the drying time is less than 6 hours for steaming, while carpet cleaning might take around 6 to 24 hours to dry completely.
Another factor that can affect drying duration is the area’s condition. If these are well-ventilated, your stuff can dry faster. On the other hand, as a vacuum is not a water-based cleaning, it will not make your items wet.
6. Cleaning Frequency
Technically, you cannot use a carpet cleaner or steam cleaning appliance regularly like vacuum cleaners. Many people think cleaning a carpet by carpet cleaner or steam cleaner should be every 6 to 18 months.
But mostly, it relies on the traffic level. For instance, with these high-foot traffic areas in your home or businesses, you should clean them every 2 months.
The frequency of using a vacuum cleaner, in contrast, is higher. It is also based on traffic. Some people suggest they vacuum up their places twice a month, or twice to thrice a week for high-traffic areas.
Or suppose you are amathophobia, or you have kids and pets, you can clean your home with this household item daily or every other day.
The investment for carpet and steam cleaning machines is higher than a vacuum in general. Therefore many people choose to rent the appliances instead of buying them. Or they can hire an expert to tackle these cleaning processes.
But when comparing carpet cleaners and steam cleaners, some think carpet cleaners are more affordable than those for steaming.
But overall, the price for these 3 types of machines has a wide range based on their models, built-in functions, power, etc.
Pros and Cons Of Carpet Cleaner, Vacuum, and Steam Cleaner
Learning their advantages and disadvantages is also an effective way of deciding what kind of appliance you should buy. So read on to see their benefits and drawbacks and compare them to your demands for the best buying decision.
For Carpet Cleaner
Below are some notes for you to think about when investing in a new carpet cleaner.
In reality, different vacuum types have different pros and cons, but here are some key aspects to consider.
For Steamer Cleaner
Similarly, steamer cleaners also have some positives and negatives that make people hesitate to buy them.
In order to help you have a clearer view about carpet cleaner, vacuum, and steam cleaner, here are some most asked questions about them that I believe you do not want to miss.
Deciding Which Machine That Meet Your Preferences
Well, have you found the ideal cleaning treatment for your home and belongings? I bet you can make up your mind at this point already.
To sum up, all 3 products here have different features with pros and cons. Based on people’s preference, some might choose a carpet cleaner, some stick with their vacuum, or some want to make a big investment in a steaming appliance.
But after all, I really hope this article can offer you sufficient knowledge to assist you in selecting a cleaning machine. And if you think it helpful, your likes and shares are much appreciated. Thanks for stopping by!
- Consumerreports.org. 2020, Can Steam Mop Kill Germs.
- Acaai.org. 2018, Dust Allergies.