Carpet Cleaners - Reviews, Ratings, and Top Recommendations

Carpet Cleaners, also known as carpet extractors, deep cleaners, carpet shampooers, or carpet steam cleaners, clean carpets by injecting a cleaning solution into the carpet, agitating it, then extracting the fluid along with the dirt, grease, grime, and stains.

Hoover PowerMax SteamVacCarpet cleaners are often incorrectly called carpet steam cleaners, or steam vacuums, however, no steam is actually used. Carpet steam cleaning machines utilize a built-in heating element to produce hot water up to 210º F. Water that hot is only used for sanitizing and for removing tough stains. Most carpets are not designed to withstand the high temperatures produced by steam cleaners, making them only appropriate for spot cleaning and not general use on carpets.

Most major carpeting manufacturer’s recommend the hot water extraction method to properly deep clean their carpets and even require cleanings be done at least every 18-24 months to maintain your warranty.

When choosing a carpet cleaner ALWAYS read the manufacturer’s warranty on your carpeting to see what they recommend AND what methods will void that warranty.


Things to consider when choosing the Best Carpet Cleaner:

What type of carpet do you have? Polyester, nylon, olefin, silk, cotton, wool, etc.?

  • Each type of carpeting handles temperatures, chemicals, and agitation differently. Know what your carpet is made of before deciding on a carpet cleaner.
  • Carpet cleaners that utilize hot water, often called steam carpet cleaners, clean the best and have the fastest drying times. However, natural fiber carpets like wool, silk, and cotton don’t handle the heat well and require a cold water cleaner, or carpet shampooer. Some of the better steam carpet cleaners come with a temperature control that allows you to turn off the heat and clean with just cold water.

How much carpeting will you be cleaning?

  • Solution and recovery tank sizes vary greatly. Get a unit with tanks large enough to easily do the job with a minimum of interruptions to fill and empty the tanks.
  • Water handling can also be an issue with larger areas of carpet to clean. Having to manually fill your cleaner becomes tiresome, again look for a model with the largest tank possible, or hooks up directly to a water line.

What type of traffic do you have?

  • If you have a lot of pet stains or only require a spot cleaner, you may be better off buying a less expensive steam cleaner and hiring a professional carpet cleaner to come in once every year or two and deep clean your carpets.

What are the potential stains your carpet may be faced with?

Do you have children?

Do you have pets?

Do you entertain a lot?

Do you plan on using your machine for anything other than cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting? Like area rugs, hard floors, upholstery cleaning, curtains, car interiors, etc.?

  • Not all machines have the versatility to clean hard flooring, oriental rugs, upholstery, etc. If you intend to use your carpet cleaner for other things, make sure it has all the features necessary, a hose long enough to reach the areas you’ll be cleaning, and that any special accessories are readily available.
  • Dual-function carpet cleaners include both a carpet cleaner and a special attachment for hard surfaces.
  • Some hard surface attachments are “jetted squeegees” that spray on the cleaning solution and simultaneously extract the dirty residue. These attachments work will on sealed and non-sealed surfaces, including concrete, vinyl, tile, marble, and linoleum.

Other considerations:

  • What is your budget? Basic, inexpensive carpet cleaners can start under $100 and go up to several thousand dollars. Price doesn’t determine quality, there are good and bad models in all price ranges.
  • Don’t buy on name recognition alone. Each manufacturer’s product line contains good and bad quality carpet cleaners. Research, read reviews, and ask around before making your final decision. If a particular unit is getting a lot of negative reviews, it’s not worth buying, no matter how good the price looks.
  • Don’t forget to consider the cost of cleaning supplies and overall operation when choosing a carpet cleaner. Some manufacturer’s cleaning products are extremely expensive and their warranty policies may prohibit using an alternative.
  • The overall size and weight of the machine. Many people fail to consider these factors and it’s important to take into account, especially if you have to get the cleaner up a flight of stairs to clean upper floors. Remember too, water is going to add roughly 8 lbs. per gallon on top of the weight of the machine. Make sure you can still move the cleaner around with ease when full of water.

Benefits of Carpet Cleaning

In addition to maintaining your carpet’s warranty there are many benefits to ensuring that your carpets are kept clean and in good condition. The most important reasons are for the health of you and your family and to prolong the life of your carpet.

Improved Health ~ Regular carpet cleaning helps reduce dust, mites, mold, mildew, fungi, and other allergens that cause so much heartache to sensitive people suffering from allergies, asthma, and other health conditions.

Cleaner Carpets Means Cleaner Indoor Air!

To help maintain a high Indoor Air Quality the carpet industry and the EPA suggest that carpets be cleaned every 12 months.

Aesthetics ~ A dirty carpet can ruin the look of an entire room, while, conversely, a clean carpet makes the whole house look and feel cleaner.

Reduce Wear Patterns ~ Regular cleaning helps carpet fibers to retain their shape under traffic, reducing wear patterns.


Features to Look For in a Carpet Cleaner

As with most things in life you’ll be presented with a myriad of options when selecting a carpet cleaner. Everyone’s situation is unique, but when considering which units are the best home carpet cleaners for your particular needs consider the following:

  • Easy to reach and use power controls.
  • Forward and reverse cleaning.
  • Cleans with Hot Water – Hot water cleans best, yet some carpet cleaners only use cold water to clean. For best results, make sure you choose a unit that uses hot water. *Except for natural fiber carpets like wool, silk, and cotton which don’t handle the heat well and require a cold water cleaner or carpet shampooer.
  • Water Handling – Some units require hot water to be added manually, others can be hooked up directly to a hot water line, still others have their own on-board heating elements.
  • Less expensive units with on-board heating elements come with a single element that heats to lower temperatures and can take up to 15 minutes before they’re ready to use. Larger, more expensive models come with two heating elements and can heat to higher temperatures within 5 minutes.
  • Temperature Control – Higher temperatures clean better and are more efficient, but some types of carpeting can be damaged by high heat. Some rug cleaners come with temperature controls allowing you to adjust the water temperature as necessary.
  • Tank Sizes – Better quality carpet cleaners have both a cleaning solution tank and a recovery tank. The holding capacity of these tanks varies considerably between models. From as small as 2 quarts up to 30+ gallons on some commercial units. The larger the tanks, the longer you can clean before stopping to empty them. Take into consideration the amount of carpet you will be cleaning at any one time and how that water will be heated when selecting your unit.
  • Pressure – The pressure, or psi, generated by a carpet cleaner affects its cleaning ability. For most home and small business applications, a pressure of 50 to 65 psi is good.
  • Low-Flow Technology – Low-flow units help to prevent mold and mildew, reduce waste, and lessen drying times.
  • Special Tools and Attachments – Many, but not all, rug cleaners come with attachments for upholstery cleaning, stairs, pet stains and odors, bare floors, and stubborn stains. Make sure the unit you purchase has all the attachments you’ll need, either included or available separately.
  • Cleaning Supplies – Factor in the cost of cleaning supplies when choosing a carpet cleaner. After the initial purchase, the most expensive part of using your machine will be for cleaning supplies. Often the products recommended by manufacturers are expensive, or not readily available, and using an alternative can void the manufacturer’s warranty of the carpet cleaner. Be sure to verify what can and cannot be used in your machine before you purchase it.
  • Hose and Cord Lengths – We recommend getting the longest power cord possible. It’s better to have too much cord, than not enough. There’s often nothing more frustrating than chasing electrical outlets to complete a cleaning job! Same with hoses, the longer the better, especially if you’ll be dealing with stairs.

Popular Carpet Cleaners

Quality carpet cleaners are readily available. Many can be purchased at a local retailer or online at Amazon also carries many carpet cleaning supplies, carpet cleaner parts and accessories.

Hoover Carpet Cleaners

Hoover Platinum Carpet CleanerHoover makes over a dozen different carpet cleaners. Their most popular, the SteamVac Series, features a 1 gallon solution tank and separate 1 gallon recovery tank, long power cords, and hose lengths of 72 to 96 inches, depending on the model. Most utilize Hoover’s SpinScrub Multiple Rotating Brush System and come with several on-board tools.

Hoover’s new Platinum Carpet Cleaner is the first unit to feature Hoover’s MaxExtract™ Technology. MaxExtract technology uses the most advanced combination of multi-action agitation, carpet washing, dirt removal, and direct heat drying – all in one machine. High velocity suction removes both dirty water and soap residue, while forced heat speeds the drying process.

Available models of Hoover Carpet Cleaners include: SteamVac Series – F5810, F5899100, F5906950, F5912900, F5914900, F5918900, F6207900, F6213900, F6215900, F7222900, F7411900, F7452900, FH50035; Platinum Collection – F8100900


Rug Doctor Carpet Cleaners

Rug Doctor Carpet CleanersRug Doctor Carpet Cleaners have been around a long time, you’ve probably seen them at local rental locations. Rug Doctors have powerful suction and large capacity solution and recovery tanks. They are well built and come with a 1.9 hp motor, 12 foot hose, complete upholstery kit, vibrating brush, and a 5 year warranty.

Models in the Rug Doctor Series include: MightyPro and WideTrack


Kirby Carpet Cleaners

Kirby Carpet CleanersFor over 90 years, Kirby Carpet Cleaners have been sold through in-home demonstrations by an authorized Kirby salesman. It’s the only way you can purchase a Kirby vacuum cleaner and maintain its warranty.

Kirby Carpet Cleaners are actually an accessory package, the Carpet Shampoo System, that is purchased in addition to the Kirby vacuum. The package includes a tray with shield, shampoo nozzle, shampoo brushroll, belt, container with cap, shampoo hose, and 12 oz. shampoo.


Brands of Carpet Cleaners:

Bissell, Dirt Devil, Hoover, Eureka, Sanitaire, Electrolux, Oreck, Kirby, Aerus, Kenmore, Daimer, Rug Doctor, Karcher, Haan, VAPamore, Koblenz, Mercury Floor Machines, Thermax, Rainbow, Powr Flite, Nilfisk, Advance, Tennant, US Products.

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