If you need a carpet cleaner for larger jobs, but don't have the funds or the storage space to store one, renting a carpet cleaner is a relatively cost-effective option. However, rental cleaners come with a few caveats. The editors of Good Housekeeping warn that rental machines may not be in the best condition. The difficulty of getting the rental machine home and returning it to the store afterward is also a consideration. Finally, the editors caution renters not to overlook the cost of cleaning solution when calculating rental costs. The cleaning fluid generally is not included with the machine and must be bought separately.
The Rug Doctor, which offers machines for both home and commercial use, is probably the best-known brand of rental cleaner. Rug Doctor units (*Est. $25 per day and up) are available at more than 33,000 outlets nationwide, including a number of supermarket chains. A store locator on the company's website helps customers find a rental in their area. A wide-track model, which covers a 12.4-inch cleaning path, compared to the smaller model's 10.4-inch path, may be available at some locations. Good Housekeeping reviews the Rug Doctor machines as part of its report on carpet cleaners. "It may take a few passes to learn how to maneuver," the editors report, "but its cleaning performance makes up for that." They say it does a good job of removing dirt and extracting water, and the controls are easy to understand. However, the machine is heavy. Also, the cleaner solution must be mixed with water in a bucket and transferred to the tank, a potentially messy process.
Rug Doctor also sells these machines, including the Rug Doctor Mighty Pro Plus (*Est. $600) , Rug Doctor Wide Track (*Est. $750) and Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 (*Est. $600) . The machines for home use are blue to distinguish them from the rentals, which are red. ConsumerReports.org evaluates the Rug Doctor Mighty Pro (the smallest of the machines) in its test of carpet cleaners. Its findings were a bit different from Good Housekeeping's. In the portion of the report that can be viewed without a subscription, the editors say that while the Rug Doctor "cleaned as well as some of our top-rated machines," it also left a lot of water in the carpet. They recommend using a dehumidifier to speed up drying. At 2.6 gallons, the Mighty Pro's tank is more than twice the size of other carpet cleaners, and it is very noisy and heavy at 36 pounds. Also, while its handle folds down, it's still a bulky machine that's a challenge to store.
The Mighty Pro Plus is available on Amazon.com, where it receives a handful of mostly positive reviews, and on WalMart.com, where it earns an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 in about 15 reviews, Owners are overwhelmingly pleased, with most saying the Mighty Pro Plus is worth its high price and performs better than most commercially available carpet cleaners. A few isolated users complain that this unit uses too much water and cleaning solution. The Mighty Pro Plus is also sold on Target.com, although it hasn't yet received any owner reviews there.