3 Things to Know Before Buying a Carpet Cleaner


Good carpeting can be an expensive investment in your home, and one that you want to get as many years out of as possible. Your carpet is also something your family walks on in bare feet, plays on, sits on, and sometimes stretches out on. That’s why keeping your carpets clean and in good condition is important. Today’s families are busy people, often trooping in and out of the house several times a day—with or without pets—tracking in dirt, germs, and outside pollutants. That’s why today’s families aren’t always comfortable trusting the cleanliness of their carpets to vacuuming alone.

A typical vacuum may leave your carpet’s surface clean of dust, dirt, and pet hair, but it doesn’t remove dust dirt, allergens, and pollutants stuck deep in the base of the carpet. Vacuum cleaners don’t remove stains from spills, pet accidents, and muddy foot traffic. That’s where it becomes beneficial to have a carpet cleaner in your home. Especially if your home has pets, or contains a lot of carpeting in high traffic areas.

What is a Carpet Cleaner?

A carpet cleaner is designed to be used to clean deeply embedded and ground-in dirt from carpets with a steam or hot water extraction mechanism. Water and carpet cleanser are scrubbed into the carpet fibers by the carpet cleaner’s technology and then the dirty, soapy water is extracted with a powerful vacuum and stored in a tank. This removes dirt, stains, and odors from even deep pile carpets, leaving it clean, soft, and refreshed.

Before you buy a carpet cleaner, there are several important things to consider.

One: Carpet Shampooer vs Carpet Steam Cleaner

A carpet shampooer mixes soap and warm water and typically sprays it directly onto the carpet. A rotating or revolving brush then works this solution into the carpet fibers to loosen and lift dirt and remove surface stains. A carpet shampooer is excellent for cleaning carpet in high traffic areas. The shampoo or foam is allowed to remain on the carpet surface for a period of time, where it absorbs dirt, grime, stains, and odors, before it is removed with a high-powered vacuum.

Shampooing carpets is the oldest method of carpet deep-cleaning. Most carpet shampoo products contain lubricating agents to condition carpet fibers both to soften them and to keep them from being damaged by the powerful brushes of the machine.

One disadvantage to carpet shampooing is the residue that may be left behind. Over time this residue may build up on carpets and cause a slight discoloration.

Steam cleaners work by blasting hot water deep into the carpet to dislodge and lift dirt, grime, and debris from deep within carpet fibers. The accumulated water and dirt is then sucked out of the carpet with a powerful vacuum and stored in a built-in container. Steam cleaning can even remove mold and mildew, and eliminate odors. It leaves no residue behind and won’t discolor carpet even after years of use.

One disadvantage to steam vs shampoo carpet cleaning is they typically have less ability to remove tough stains.

Two: Consider the Weight and Accessories of Your Carpet Cleaner

Carpet cleaners tend to be heavy. Once you’ve added water and cleaning fluid, you will have added another six to fifteen pounds of weight. Before you choose your carpet cleaner, consider the space you will have to maneuver it around in. Large, open spaces work well with heavier, slightly more cumbersome upright carpet cleaners with large tanks. A good carpet cleaner will have a tank that’s large enough to store plenty of fluid and won’t need emptying or refilling as often during a cleaning. Generally carpet cleaners contain a second tank for storing the dirty water that it extracts from the carpet.

If you have smaller rooms or staircases, a smaller, portable carpet cleaner may be the perfect choice for you. Handheld carpet cleaners work well for stairs and small spaces such as closets. Like the best handheld vacuums, a portable carpet cleaner can also be used to clean carpets and upholstery in your car. Handheld carpet cleaners are versatile and easy to store.

It’s also important to consider which attachments and accessories you will need with your carpet cleaner. Many models come with attachments such as stairs and curtain-cleaning tools, crevice wands, brushes, hoses, and upholstery cleaning brushes. Choose a carpet cleaner with accessories to suit your home’s individual needs.

Three: Pets or No Pets?

Many carpet cleaning brands offer special models and cleaning solutions for pet owners. Removing pet hair and pet-related stains and odors presents a different challenge than carpets in homes without them. Pet-cleaning specific carpet cleaners come in both upright and handheld models.

As much as we all love our pets, we don’t enjoy having a home that smells of them. Pet odors can even reduce the value of our property, making adequate carpet cleaning even more important in homes with pets. The best carpet cleaners for homes with pets can remove stains and tenacious odors such as pet urine. They also typically contain brush heads designed to manage significant amounts of pet hair and fur without getting bogged down.

Some other pet-specific features include high power suction for faster drying, which helps eliminate lingering musty odors. Pet specific upholstery brushes are also often included in pet-specific carpet cleaners.

Even if you choose not to buy one of the best carpet cleaners for pets, most typical carpet cleaners can be used with soap, or cleaning fluids that are formulated to remove tough pet stains and odors.

There are many reasons to consider buying a carpet cleaner for your home. Carpets are expensive, and you will want to extend the longevity of the carpet you’ve invested in. Your home will never look truly clean if your carpets are dirty, and dirty carpets can give your home an unwelcoming odor. Clean carpets also feel softer under your feet and make your home more welcoming for both family and visitors.

Finally, keeping your carpets clean can improve the health of your family by removing bacteria and allergens from your carpet so you can feel good about letting your family roll around and play on the carpet or stretch out to watch a movie or the big game with a bowl of popcorn.

Resources— ConsumerReports.org, Home Depot, Housekeeper.com

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