Types of Carpet Cleaners
Full-Sized Carpet Cleaners
These are usually as large as, or slightly bigger than, upright vacuum cleaners, so you have to allow for storage. You also use them like an upright vacuum cleaner, pushing them back and forth along the carpet. A full-sized carpet shampooer is great not only for regularly-scheduled whole-house carpet cleaning, but also for dealing with bigger problems, such as larger amounts of spilled liquids, refreshing heavy traffic areas, and dealing with widely-scattered stains or spots. Some include a hose and attachments for cleaning upholstery or stairs. Depending upon the model and price, features may include forced air heating systems to help dry the carpet more quickly, or heated water systems to keep the water hot.
Portable Carpet Cleaners
As their name implies, portable carpet cleaners are smaller and use a hose with attachments, rather than being pushed back and forth. They are great for stairs, upholstery, mattresses, automobiles and RV's, or just for spot cleaning of spills or pet accidents. Portable carpet cleaners often include just a brush-type attachment, so you may have to do a bit of scrubbing with it, but some have optional power or turbo brushes that will do that work for you for a relatively small additional investment. Some also have heated water technology.
Spot Carpet Cleaners
Offering "set and forget" convenience, spot carpet cleaners are self-contained units with built-in rotating brushes and a timer. You just fill it with water and solution, set it on the stain, push a button, and it will squirt, spin and then suck the water out automatically. These units are particularly popular with pet owners and often have the word "pet" in their name.
Rental Carpet Cleaners
These are the same professional-grade carpet shampooers that you can rent, usually from supermarkets or hardware stores, for about $25 per day, plus the cost of the cleaning solution. These units work very well, as would be expected, and have wider cleaning paths to make the job go more quickly. Some also include a hose and tool attachment for cleaning stairs. The downside is that they're large and heavy, although some have handles on the body of the unit to make transport easier. If you rent a carpet cleaner frequently, buying one instead might make sense; they're actually pretty affordable and could pay for themselves quickly with regular use.
Carpet cleaners can keep your carpets looking new
No matter how frequently you vacuum, carpets eventually show their age.
But often, what we consider general wear is just a combination of stains and
dirt ground into the carpet fibers. Before you spend the big bucks to replace
that tired-looking carpet, you might consider a thorough cleaning. There are
three basic ways to do so: hire a professional carpet cleaning service, rent a
carpet cleaning machine, or buy your own carpet cleaner so you can haul it out
whenever you need it.
Also referred to as carpet shampooers, carpet cleaners are quite simple
and straightforward. Some models have just one for tank for cleaning solution
diluted with water; others have two tanks, one for water, and one for carpet
cleaning solution. All have a separate collection tank for the dirty water. The
carpet is sprayed with diluted solution, that cleaning solution is automatically
agitated by power brushes or manually by the user with a hose attachment. Some
have an extra step where you can spray clean water to rinse. In the final step,
the dirty water is sucked into the collection tank. Within that process, the
user often has a lot of control for squirting extra cleaning solution, doing an
extra rinse, or taking another pass or to suck up more water.
The inconvenient part of any type of carpet cleaning is having to deal
with wet carpeting. Drying times depend upon how powerful the suction action is
and how much of the remaining water the unit removes. Some carpet cleaners have
heated, forced air systems that will speed that up somewhat.
When you fill the water tank of a carpet cleaner, it's suggested that
you use hot water for the best cleaning and sanitizing, but that water will
gradually cool down as you work. Some carpet cleaners have systems that keep
the water heated, which is a very desirable feature for some users.
Do you need additional floor care products?
report we recommend carpet cleaners, but before you can deep clean, you need to
vacuum thoroughly to remove loose debris for the best results. If you're not
happy with your vacuum cleaner, see our recommendations for the best upright vacuums, canister vacuums, stick vacuums and robot vacuums, all of which we cover in separate reports.
Alternatively, if you're looking for a way to deep clean your hard floors,
check out our separate report on steam mops.
Finding The Best Carpet Cleaners
"The Best Carpet Cleaner"
"Best and Worst Carpet Cleaners From Consumer Reports' Tests"
"Carpet Cleaners "
New for this update, we found a couple of professional reviews that are testing-based,
including ones from Consumer Reports and Reviews.com. Of course, owners are
very passionate about their carpet cleaners and we evaluated thousands of owner
reviews across retail sites to see how the carpet cleaner performs in
real-world use. These owner reviews also provide a window into long-term
durability, as many users come back months or even years later to update their
The result of our research is our top recommendations for the best carpet
cleaners. As it turns out, it's an apparent Bissell and Hoover love fest, with
a soupcon of Rug Doctor; according to reviews, no other carpet cleaners even
come close to those manufacturers when it comes to performance.