Vacuuming just is not enough to keep your carpet looking and smelling clean. You should clean your carpet every so often with hot water that removes stains you can see as well as invisible microbes and allergens that build up. Although you can hire a professional cleaning service, it is worth buying your own cleaner, sometimes known as steam vacuum, for several reasons.
One good reason to purchase your own steam vac is that you can use it whenever you need to. Since accidents happen when you least expect, it is nice to have a steam cleaner vacuum on hand for unexpected spills that need immediate attention. Another good reason is to save money. If you have a lot of carpet, a professional service can charge you half the price of a quality carpet cleaner for one treatment. In a few treatments, a carpet-cleaning machine will pay for itself.
Steam mops, by comparison, are a great way to deep clean and quickly remove stubborn stains on hard surfaces like tile, hardwood and vinyl flooring. Learn more about hard surface cleaners on our Steam Mop site.
Fortunately, there are many affordable carpet cleaners, so you can save money by doing the work yourself. Our top three picks for the best carpet cleaners are the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer, the Bissell DeepClean Deluxe Pet Deep Cleaner 36Z9 and the Hoover Max Extract 60 Pressure Pro Carpet Deep. To learn more, you can read our articles on carpet cleaners.
When choosing a carpet-cleaning machine, take into consideration your individual needs. If you have pets, look for cleaners that have heated cleaning for sterilization and removable brushes that are easy to detach for removing tangled hair.
Consider what kind of flooring you have. If you have high pile carpets, look for steam vacuum cleaners with brushes that revolve vertically. Revolving brushes have the ability to penetrate deeper into your carpets to agitate and lift debris.
For homes with low pile carpeting, look for cleaners with flat brushes that spin horizontally. These brushes act like buffers and clean using a gentle rotating movement, ensuring the longevity of your carpets. You can even use them to clean throw rugs.
Here are the criteria we used to rate each carpet cleaner.
Carpet cleaners work by spraying clean water and soap onto your floors with the push of a button. Then they use powerful suction motors to extract the dirty water and debris into a recovery tank for easy disposal.
The most important factors that contribute to the quality of cleaning are agitation and suction. The best carpet cleaners have two or more brushes for lifting embedded dirt. More brushes result in a more thorough cleaning.
Some machines offer surround suction. Instead of extracting water from just one nozzle at the front of the machine, they lift it throughout the entire base of the cleaner. In some cases, a carpet cleaner uses more than one nozzle. This is better because the machine sucks up more water.
Since it takes a long time for wet carpets to dry, look for carpet cleaners that offer forced air-drying. That way you can avoid the musty odor and wet patches that accompany cleaning. The best machines offer this added feature. They expel hot air across your rugs after you have cleaned them giving you a faster drying time.
By using rug cleaners with built-in tank heaters, you get constant hot water that helps kill germs and bacteria. You will want a machine with at least a 1-gallon water capacity. With a large tank, you do not have to make as many stops to refill.
Design factors to consider when choosing a floor steam cleaner are weight and size. The best carpet cleaners have lightweight designs making them easy to use. If the cleaner's primary use is to clean pet accidents and spills, a lighter machine will be optimal, since you will be using it more often.
If you live in a household that does not require frequent emergency cleaning, you will want a powerful machine for cleaning entire rooms. Look for a large-capacity water tank and a long power cord. That way you can wash the floors in your entire home without stopping to refill the tank, you will likely need to live with a heavier machine, since a larger water reservoir will be needed. Keep in mind that lighter machines usually have fewer extras, so there is often a tradeoff for weight and features.
Accessories and tools make it easier to remove stubborn stains and clean hard-to-reach places. The best carpet cleaners have hand-powered cleaning tools with rotating brushes. Look for cleaners with on-board tools so you do not have to bend to reach them.
Help & Support
While many carpet cleaners include a one-year warranty, the best cleaners have three-year warranties. This longer warranty insures the cleaner in case it has mechanical problems. Most manufacturers provide email addresses and telephone numbers so you can contact them with warranty issues.
Look for manufacturers that have local service centers; this can save you money on shipping. Service center information is readily available on most company websites.
Carpet cleaners are easy to use and are becoming more affordable. If you have a lot of traffic in your home, purchasing a cleaner can be a great investment. Use the criteria above to choose the best carpet cleaner for your situation. Fortunately, there are many different designs to choose from, so you can find one to fit your specific needs.