Can You Steam Clean Your RV Carpets?

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Continuous use of your RV brings great enjoyment as you take it to favored campsites and vacation destinations. But wherever you dock, we can guarantee you’ll be bringing a bit of the outside, inside. This makes RV carpet cleaning a must-do maintenance item!  

From rocks and soil to leaves and pet hair, your rig collects everything that comes in on little (and big) feet. Sweeping laminate floors and vacuuming rugs can eliminate the top layer of detritus, but at some point, you must deep clean those carpets. 

Is steam cleaning a good way to go about it? Let’s take a look. 

What Is RV Carpet?

Most recreational vehicles have some carpet in certain areas. These carpets are usually glued or stapled to wood subflooring, which can be plywood or even particleboard. There may or may not be a carpet pad between, but the carpets are usually a dense pile that can withstand heavy use.

Pile carpets come in different lengths, from low pile to medium and high. The higher the pile, the looser and longer the fiber loops in the carpet. Vehicle rugs are usually a low pile synthetic material like nylon that can endure high traffic and constant use, but they do get dirty.

Can You Steam Clean Your RV Carpets?

You can steam clean your RV carpets, but only if you dry them quickly and thoroughly. 

Steam cleaning is a popular way to deep clean residential carpets, so it seems logical that it would be suitable for RVs, too. There are some caveats, however. 

Steam cleaning involves hot pressurized liquids that spin brushes push into the carpeting. Then a strong vacuum sucks out the dirty water, along with small debris. It’s an effective way to clean carpet fibers, but it does require several hours of drying.

Wooden subflooring in recreational vehicles would not respond positively to the hot, heavy moisture. You may find yourself with warped or mildewy floors after steam cleaning if you cannot dry the carpets quickly and thoroughly.

Also, some older motor coaches have carpet in hidden places. It might run under the cabin captain’s chairs or even wrap around the engine hatch. This area is usually the most used (and dirty) part of a Class A, B, or C vehicle, as the driver and passenger are constantly in and out of the cabin during a camping trip. It’s also the most challenging space to clean with steam machines, so if you try steam cleaning, use one with an upholstery hose attachment.

Keep In Mind: Keeping your RV welcoming and comfortable is easier to do with the right products to complete your dirty tasks.

What Are the Benefits of Steam Cleaning Your RV Carpets?

If you choose to steam clean your RV carpets, you’ll discover numerous benefits, including a fresher-smelling living space. By cleaning them in this fashion, you’ll extend the life of your carpets and rid them of dirt, trapped pollutants, and mites. 

And if you clean your carpets properly (drying them quickly and thoroughly), it can help prevent molds and mildews from growing. 

Are There Any Disadvantages to RV Carpet Cleaning?

As mentioned previously, the biggest detriment to RV carpet cleaning with steam is the possibility of moisture buildup in the subflooring of your vehicle. If the moisture does not dry out immediately after cleaning, particleboard and plywood that make up the subfloor can warp and become the perfect environment for mildew or mold. 

That’s why it is imperative that the carpet and flooring beneath it have an opportunity to dry out completely.

If you live in a humid location, you may wish to forego steam cleaning unless you can have the process done in a dry destination. That way, you can leave windows and doors open, and fans can complete the drying process quickly without the effect of humidity.

DIY RV Carpet Cleaning vs Hiring a Professional

As with residential cleaning, you can rent a steam machine and do your own RV carpet cleaning. Choose a machine with a hand attachment for the small spaces you’ll need to reach. You’ll save money but will most likely spend more time and experience more frustration in the do-it-yourself process.

Most mobile RV detailing services can steam your carpets for you. They use carpet extractors, steamers, vacuums, and dryers to bring your rugs back to life and give you a clean slate for future camping trips. The cost for steam cleaning your carpets can vary greatly depending upon the size of your rig, but starting prices are around $100.

Steps for DIY RV Carpet Cleaning

When RV carpet cleaning on your own, follow these easy steps:

Vacuum First

You obviously want to rid your carpets of loose dirt or debris before deep cleaning them, so vacuum all carpeted areas thoroughly, and don’t forget the steps! Remember to use a hand tool or small cordless vacuum to get to small corners and awkward areas.

Pro Tip: Invest in the best RV corded vacuum to get the most out of your cleaning efforts.

Spot Treat Stains

If you have stubborn stains from spills or pets, use a specially formulated stain remover like Resolve to lift as much of the stain as possible. Search for a trusted foam application, which can often lift stains to the surface of the carpet. You may have to use a stiff bristle brush to loosen particles. 

Steam Clean Carpet

Rent or purchase a steam cleaner that uses hot water with a cleaning solution. It should also include an extractor, which will suck the liquids out of the carpet. Follow the instructions for the machine, cleaning one small area of the carpet at a time. Use the included hand tool to clean corners, steps, under chairs, etc.

Let Carpet Dry

Open all RV windows and place a fan at floor level to dry the carpets thoroughly and as quickly as possible. You can often rent a heavy-duty floor dryer when you rent your steam cleaner. Try not to step on carpets before they’re dry, so you don’t push water into the wood subfloor. 

Is Steam Cleaning Your RV Carpet Worth It?

One of the fastest ways to renew your recreational vehicle’s interior is to deep clean its carpets. This will leave you with a cleaner, fresher-smelling RV and will give you a sense of security in knowing that you’re protecting your family from pollutants and mildews that can settle into dirty rugs. That alone makes RV carpet cleaning well worth the effort and time required.

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