There are many things to consider when buying or using a carpet cleaner, such as how much space you need for storage and whether you should rent or buy it. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Carpet cleaners are heavy and bulky, especially when filled with water. They can be more difficult to maneuver than regular handheld vacuums. They also need quite a bit of storage space.
Address staining spills immediately. Most homes only need to wash carpets every six months to a year, but spot cleaners are ideal for treating immediate spills, plus they’re easier to store and use.
You probably won’t use a carpet cleaner often, so it’s okay to hire professionals to clean your entire home, especially if you have limited storage space. (It can also depend on how dirty and stained your carpets are.) Check out options for renting a machine from local businesses or retail stores like Home Depot. You can get the benefits of a commercial cleaner without paying a fortune.
Clean your carpet before using a carpet cleaner. This might seem counterintuitive, but you don’t want dirt and hair to form wet clumps that block the cleaner. And if you haven’t washed your carpets in a while (or ever), brace yourself for an embarrassing amount of hairy clogs to fill up the dirty water tank.
The carpet shampoo or detergent used is important. Manufacturers often insist that you use their brand and while other types work just fine they could void your warranty (although I have no idea how they would know). Most carpet cleaners come with some detergent, but I’ve had good experiences with Rug Doctor’s commercial carpet cleaner ($20). It works well and doesn’t have a strong odor, and you can buy a large jug cheaply.
Try, try and try again. It can be disappointing to start a carpet cleaner and find that it’s unable to remove old red wine stains or stubborn toothpaste. Don’t lose heart. Multiple cleaning sessions can sometimes remove established stains and at least reduce, if not eliminate, them.
Your carpets can take a long time to dry. Most carpet cleaners have different settings and will vacuum up some of the water, but all leave carpets slightly damp. Deeper cleaning tends to get carpets wet, so think about ways to speed up drying time. Use fans, turn up the heat, or clean the carpet during the spring and summer months when you can leave the windows open.
Protect your hearing. Of all the ways you can damage your hearing, a carpet cleaner is perhaps the least fun, so protect your ears. Some of these get very loud, so wear earplugs while you work.