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Commercial carpet cleaner vs carpet extractor

commercial carpet cleaners vs carpet extractors

While researching the carpet cleaner market, you may have come across the term “carpet extractor” which is often used for “carpet cleaner” interchangeably. However, is a carpet extractor a carpet cleaner? Or could they be two different things? Let’s find out!

Carpet Cleaner vs. Carpet Extractor

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As you may have known, a carpet cleaner is the typical equipment, using for carpet cleaning by the combination effects of rotating brushes, water, cleaning detergent and a powerful motor. The carpet dispenser will spray cleaning solution on the carpet, the brushes subsequently loosen, remove the dirt and the motor will finally suck up dirty water. Modern carpet cleaners use heating technologies to keep the water warm during cleaning. The carpet extractor is working with the similar routine. However, carpet extractors are more often relate to industrially used purposes. The carpet extractor is built much bigger, heavier, and greater power. To this extend, only a small number of carpet cleaners could be called as low power carpet extractor, for example, Rug Doctor Mighty 3x or Bissell Big Green are possibly called commercial carpet cleaner or low power carpet extractor.

So, the main difference between a carpet cleaner and a carpet extractor is based on machine capacity. For most residential cleaning purpose, a carpet cleaner will be more suitable because

  • The machine is relatively lightweight than the carpet extractor. You can manoeuvre easier from one room to another.
  • The machine buying/renting cost is cheaper. For instance, a powerful Rug Doctor 3X machine can be bought under $400, while the cheapest carpet extractor, let’s say Meter Light II Carpet Extractor, will cost us around $900.
  • Detergent consumption is also different. You will send less money for cleaning formula with the carpet cleaner than the extractor.

However, in several cleaning situations, a commercial carpet cleaner will become less effective than its counterpart machine, such as

  • Clean a wide area carpet. In universities, hotels, restaurants, airports and other spacious carpet flooring places, a carpet extractor will save you a lot of labor and cleaning time.
  • Clean heavy traffic area, particularly the walking path. With intensive scrubbing and suction power, the carpet extractor will make the task easier and faster, because no multiple cleaning is needed.

How to choose a carpet extractor


If you just need to clean your carpets in the home, apartments, studios and any residential place, you would not need to choose a carpet extractor to perform the task. Regular carpet cleaners and commercial carpet cleaners are the tools you are seeking for.

For the case you are opening a carpet cleaning service, or you are already a professional carpet cleaner, then you need to consider buying either a truck-mounting carpet cleaner or a portable carpet extractor.

The instructions here will delve into portable carpet extractor only. Choosing a carpet extractor is quite similar to choosing a carpet cleaner, but we are using other criteria for assessments instead. There are several factors you might consider such as the brand name, the suction power, the water tank size, the pump system, the heating system and the machine construction.

Brand name

There are several carpet extractor manufacturers on the market, such as Meter, Power Flite, Detail King, Chem-Tex and so on. These are well-known carpet extractor suppliers, doing their business for decades that we could trust on the machine functionalities. Bissell, Rug Doctor or Hoover are regular carpet cleaner suppliers, so we do not need to take these brands into consideration.

Suction ability

The suction ability is defined mostly by the motor power; the motor power will be reciprocal with the vacuum force. There are two universal designs: two-stage motors or three-stage motors. The two-stage-motor is usually less powerful than the three-stage motor. Both types of vacuum motor will provide an even suction result, but more manual force needs to be performed if you choose two-stage vacuum motor. Due to the unique design, three-stage vacuum motor will need two cords, and the other needs only one cord.

Pumping capability

The pumping capability refers to the spraying force of the carpet extractor. As you might guess, the greater spraying force will be stronger. This value is measured by PSI, which is standing for Pound Per Square Inch Feet. The carpet extractor can be equipped with 100 psi pump, 500 psi pump or 1000 psi pump. The higher pumping value is, the easier for you to run the machine.

Water tank capacity

The water tank comprises of one recovery water tank and one fresh water tank. Most carpet cleaners will have the water tank size ranges from 0.75 gallons to 2 gallons only. With carpet extractor, the water tank size will vary from at least 3 gallons to 12 gallons. The bigger water tank size will let you perform cleaning without changing water travel time needed; therefore most professionals will choose 11 gallons or 12 gallons water tank size to let them perform cleaning with a faster time.

In-built heating system

As you already know, the tepid water is far better than cool water in carpet cleaning process. Therefore most of the modern carpet extractor is incorporated this feature into the machine. Certain suppliers also provide non-water-heating carpet extractor with a better price. If this is your choice, you could also be able to boil the water before adding into the water reservoir without any issue.

Machine construction

Nowadays, the carpet extractor is built by plastic or aluminium. The plastic is lighter in weight, but it is not well compacted. Therefore, if you are about to cleaning in multiple floors without elevator, you are not possibly to carry it upstairs/ downstairs easily. The aluminium based carpet extractor is heavier, but it is compacted that will fit your van. They are also built with air-inflated tires, allowing for better transportation.



A carpet extractor with multi functions will allow you to clean the carpets, rugs, upholstery and other types of surfaces like hardwood, gout and tile, staircases and so on. This will be the great benefits if you are about to run cleaning business. However, these machines as usually are quite more expensive than others.

I hope this article was helpful for you, on your journey to choosing the best carpet cleaning machine that will satisfy your needs. If you would like any more details, please check out our buyer guides:

Carpet Cleaner Buyers Guide: a guide to every type of carpet cleaner from upright to portable to pet and commercial, we have discussed them all and recommend only the best.

The carpet cleaner buying guide: if you have a few hours free, check this instruction to understand the attributes of carpet cleaners. The guide will help you to figure out what carpet cleaner will be the best fit with your needs, and you could make a better decision before buying any machine. If you are looking for a carpet cleaner that fits with your cleaning requirements, check this guide instead.

Bissell carpet cleaner review: a deep, insight review of most of Bissell carpet shampooers. There are some appealing options, such as a bizarre portable-upright hybrid carpet cleaner will surprise you.

Hoover carpet cleaner review: a complete review of Hoover carpet cleaner on the US market. You may find some affordable upright carpet cleaner under $100 and pros-cons when buying Hoover machine.

Carpet cleaning tips: a section dedicated to DIY cleaning methods. Did you know that salt, vinegar, or ice cube are all useful cleaning substances? You can also find out how to remove top worst stains yourself, before renting any professional service.

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