Buyers Guide

How to choose a carpet cleaner that fits with your cleaning demands

carpet cleaner review

carpet cleaner reviewLast Updated: 30th June 2017

The spring is coming around therefore maybe you are thinking of cleaning house, doing chore and decorating your home. Cleaning a carpet seems to be one of the most complex task because it will take you a lot of times and effort. If you do not have the right equipment, cleaning the carpet will very awkward.

Sure that we can’t leave the carpet dirty for the whole year, this guide will instruct you how to choose a great carpet cleaner that will fit with your personal demands. If you have glance over the carpet cleaner machines, you will find there are a lot of types, price ranges, and machine’s features. This is because each type of machine will cater a specific carpet’s type of cleaning. For example, if you are choosing a low power carpet cleaner for cleaning a thick carpet, obviously it will cost you the money and bring a bad experience too.

To avoid that, spending a few minutes to read this guide will save you the money and the effort of finding a right carpet cleaner.

Part 1: choosing a carpet cleaner within budgets and personal cleaning demands

First, thinking of your budgets

How much you could spend for a carpet cleaner is the most important factor that will determine what type of carpet cleaner you are going to have. The carpet cleaner price will be about $80 up to $400 for a residential carpet cleaning machine. The more money you can spend, the better (often) the machine will be and the more modern function the machine will have. Let’s say, most of people will spend about $150- $200 for a carpet cleaner. This is the range that you can find a lot of useful, regular model that will provide efficient carpet cleaning results.

Second, think about your cleaning surfaces

Except for the carpet cleaning, will you perform other types of cleaning such as stair cleaning, upholstery, auto interior, pet mess cleaning, human fluids cleaning, tile cleaning or you just only need a carpet cleaner to treat the accident spillages? If you are on the second option, a portable carpet cleaning machine will be the design you should looking after.

Depending on the cleaning surfaces, you can choose a portable carpet cleaner for spot, stains and accidental spillage cleaning task, pet mess cleaning task. But if you are about to treat multi-surfaces, you should better to choose an “all in one” carpet cleaner such as regular upright carpet cleaner, light weight carpet cleaner.

Besides, suppliers also have some models for specific needs, such as if you want to achieve a professional carpet cleaning methods, you should choose a carpet cleaning machine with deep cleaning features like heavy-traffic  upright carpet cleaner, or a commercial carpet cleaner. For example, Bissell Big Green  and Rug Doctor standard carpet cleaner will be a perfect machine for these purposes.

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If you are thinking of treating the auto interior, maybe you should need a canister carpet cleaner with the battery (cordless type) for easy maneuvering, such as Bissell SpotClean Cordless Portable Spot Cleaner, 1570. If you are thinking of buying both a portable carpet cleaner and an upright carpet cleaner, you can fall in love with a “2-in-1” carpet cleaner, like BISSELL DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet Full Sized Carpet Cleaner, 24A4 (check the full review here) which is designed to be used as a canister carpet cleaner and a full size carpet cleaner.

Most of the users are going to choose an upright carpet cleaner will “All-in-one” features. This type of carpet cleaner can be used to treat area carpet and spot cleaning effectively. There are some models on the market that can be regarded as all in one, such as Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe (check the full review here) which is only $100 but will cater all of the cleaning purposes.

Third, thinking about your pets or kids in the house

carpet cleaner reviewIf you do not have any pet or any kid, you do not need to look after this section. However, if you are pet lovers or you have some children in your house, you better to choose a carpet cleaner which have pet mess cleaning function. Why? Not all of the carpet cleaner can be used for pet mess cleaning, especially the pet hair. The pet hair is the thing that will stick into the machine and reduce the motor suction ability, thus preventing the carpet cleaner to work effectively. Therefore, with pet owner, you should check for the carpet cleaner which is featured as “pet owner model”. The pet owner carpet cleaner will be designed a bit different in the machine’s dirt collector. Sometimes, it will have a basket to collect the hair, sometimes it does not but it is optimized for working to remove pet hair. The  Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Full-Size,1548 Carpet Cleaner (full review here) is one of the best carpet cleaner for pet owner that thousands of users have appraised in recent years.

If you have some children in your house, obviously you want your carpet to be a fresh, clean play ground for them to stay in. Then, you should choose a carpet cleaner which have “wash and rinse” function. This type of carpet cleaner will allow you to rinse of the chemical residues after washing the carpet. Removing the chemicals will ensure you kids will have better health. Hoover does have two upright carpet cleaners with wash and rinse function, the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe for regular cleaning tasks and the Hoover MaxExtract 77 Multi-Surface Pro for high traffic cleaning task, different surface cleaning task and faster carpet drying time ability.

Fourth, if you are looking for a carpet cleaner that will provide faster cleaning time

You should check the carpet drying time of each carpet cleaner. Although it will be a very subjective criteria, but generally it will show you how long you will need to wait before entering your house, staying on the carpet again. Some old carpet cleaner require up to 8 hours to let the carpet to dry completely, but some new carpet cleaner will reduce this value to only a few 1-2 hours (obviously this value is depending on the carpet type. The 1 hour drying time stays true for an uncut pile carpet. Saxony and Berber carpet will require a longer time because of the carpet structure). The carpet cleaning machine that will provide such fast drying time is equipped with a powerful motor and a heated drying technology. Some carpet cleaners are reported to have such fast drying time include Hoover MaxExtract, Bissell Deep Clean Deluxe. These models are using the powerful motor for a better water extraction activity together with forced heated air to dry the carpet faster. (Also, you need to be aware that, Bissell always uses a less powerful motor than Hoover, but the machine design will allow a great water extraction that could be parallel to each other.)

Fifth, if you are thinking of a carpet cleaner to treat high traffic area

rug doctor mighty X3Obviously, a regular upright carpet cleaner can clean high traffic area but it will require you more effort to put into the cleaning task. If you are about to clean the walking carpet, the hotels, the offices, the airport and such high traffic zone, I recommend you to choose a commercial carpet cleaner. The price of those commercial carpet cleaners is not so high recently (around $200-$400) but it is a worthy investment to save your time and effort. With a single pass, the high traffic area can be cleaned thoroughly, whereas with the regular carpet cleaner, you will need to do maybe 2-3 cleaning strokes on the same area to achieve a desirable cleaning level. If you are able to handle the heavy machine, you can go to Rug Doctor Mighty 3x, Bissell Big Green Commercial. These monsters are reported to be the best commercial carpet cleaning machine with outstanding performances and long lasting, durable working time. If you need a lighter commercial carpet cleaner, you can go to Hoover MaxExtract 77 Multi-Surface Pro. The Hoover Max Extract Multi-surface is a lightweight commercial carpet cleaner but still can handle heavy traffic area easily.

Sixth, checking out for the machine durability

Each type of carpet cleaner will have a different design and some of them are more durable to others. Some carpet cleaners are reported to have machine defects such as leaking, breaking hose…that will cause a lot of trouble during repairing or replacing from supplier’s services. Therefore, I highly recommend you to choose the model which has a long selling time than the new model. Why? Although the old models do not have such new modern features like heatwave technology (a technology to maintain the water and hot temperature during cleaning for cleaning optimization), pressurized spraying (a technology that will pressurize the water before spraying, which is believed to clean the carpet easier) and blah blah, those old carpet cleaners are tracked by thousands of buyer over years, or decades. They give the customer a confidence in using them rather than new models. Besides, if you are thinking of a carpet cleaner as a long term investment, should you check on the carpet cleaner’s warranty condition. Some models are warranted 1 year, some are 5 years. Mostly, a carpet cleaner from Bissell and Rug Doctor will have a longer warranty time span than Hoover, and whatever brand you choose, at least you should target the 2-year warranted carpet cleaner. Thinking of this, as if it is a measure to protect you from junky, cheap carpet that maybe used for some times only.

At this point, you may have some concepts to narrow down how to choose a carpet cleaner that will fit with your needs. Here is a recap,

  • First, check the budget. A typical carpet cleaner will cost around $100-$200. Commercial carpet cleaner and modern carpet cleaner models are beyond this range.
  • Second, check the cleaning surface. A portable carpet cleaner will be better to do spot cleaning. An upright carpet cleaner will be better to do area cleaning. An “all-in-one” or “2-in-1” model can do both type of cleaning with considerable cleaning results.
  • Third, pets and kids in home, you should check for “pet model” and “wash and rinse” carpet cleaner because they are more fit to your cleaning demands.
  • Fourth, carpet drying time is about 1 hour to 8 hours. Old models may need longer drying time. New model can boost up to only 1 hour of carpet drying time. However, still this value will depend on the carpet type and cleaning conditions.
  • Fifth, a commercial carpet cleaner will be more suitable for high traffic zone. Make sure you can handle heavy machine if you want to choose them.
  • Sixth, machine durability is very important. You should better choose the model with fewer defects reported by buyers than a modern model which can cause more troubles.

These above ideas will basically help you to find out the types of carpet cleaner that will fit your cleaning demands. You can check the top listing carpet cleaner review to see and compare yourself. However, if you are more serious on other hacking tips, such as how to choose a carpet cleaner by other functional factors, you can check the next ideas below.

Part 2: Choosing a carpet cleaner with machine functionalities

How to choose a carpet cleaner by considering other machine factors, such as ease of use level, noise level, weight level, and modern technologies will be revealed here.

If you are notice, a carpet cleaner nowadays offers more features than it was in the past decades. The machine’s design now are optimized to reach a deep cleaning level, and let the users to enjoy cleaning tasks as a relaxing methods. A modern carpet cleaner with a lot of new features can involve two issues. On the one hand, the modern carpet cleaner will free you from manual cleaning task by incorporating new types of bush head on the machine system, or can be “Handfree”- cleaning on its own. On the other hand, theses modern carpet cleaner will cost you more money than the old versions about $50 generally. If you are thinking $50 can buy a profound cleaning experience, you should check the below factors to get the best power of such $50.

First, machine ease of use level

Most of regular carpet cleaners are designed into separate components and parts. Some canister carpet cleaners are designed as a full assembled unit, because they are very light weight, and compact. However, with upright carpet cleaner, they are coming with separate parts that need basic installation before using. If you are not getting used with screw and driver, there are some fully assembled upright carpet cleaner that can work immediately after un-boxing. Most of others upright carpet cleaners just requires a few setting steps before working and you should stay away from carpet cleaners that need a considerate installation steps to save you from headache by mechanical details. Luckily, nowadays the carpet cleaner designed are optimized that can run smoothly and do not need a lot of installation steps as decades ago.

Ease of use level is also depending on a lot of factors, but the most important one is the water tank design. We will discuss the water tank design in a more detail way than here, but generally you should choose the dual water tank design and stay away from the single water tank. Why? The dual water tank design will separate the clean water tank (place where you store fresh, clean tepid water) from the dirty water tank (the water recovered from the carpet, thus they are so-called “recovery water tank”). The single water tank is actually a water tank that has a bladder, which use to separate the dirty things from water. The dual water tank will let you to clean the dirty water tank alone when it is full, without accidental spillage as the single water tank. Imagine when you clean the single water tank and the dirt, pet hairs, cotton fibers and other nasty things stick on the bladder that could not be rinsed under the tap water, you have to use bare hand to remove them out. Therefore, to save your hand from these smelly clusters always go with dual water tank.

Second, checking for the noise level of the machine when operating

Due to the design, some of the carpet cleaner will create discordant sound than others. Why? Because of the brush design, the motor design and some other details, the carpet cleaner will run with a considerate level of noise. Obviously, we want a deep cleaning machine but the lesser the noise created by a machine, a more pleasant feeling we will have. With portable carpet cleaner, most of them do their best with lower noise level (because the motor power is also small so they do not create much noise). With upright carpet cleaner, some models tend to create more noise, especially the carpet cleaner with complex brush head design. However, the noise level is a very subjective opinion because it will depend on your personal health, ear threshold and room design. To some users, they experienced a very unpleasant noise of their carpet cleaner, but to others they feel ok with the same model. To judge the noise level of a carpet cleaner, you could go to to check for the model performance in reality by other users. By this way, you can judge if you are ok with a model or not.

Third, a weighty carpet cleaner vs. lightweight carpet cleaner

When talking about the weight of a carpet cleaner, we can ignore the portable carpet cleaner design, because all of them are lightweight (13 lbs generally when emptying) that we can handle without any difficulties. The upright carpet cleaner will have a very fluctuating weight range. Some are only about 19 lbs when emptying but some are up to 34 lbs. Does a carpet cleaner with a lighter weight will be better? The answer is perhaps but not always. Because in general condition, a lighter weight carpet cleaner will allow us to maneuvering easier, to move from floor to floor without a lot of labor, to wash the carpet with lesser pushing force from hands. But on another sides, it is observed that many lighter weight carpet cleaner can’t treat the heavy traffic area better than its counterparts, and tend to have some unexpected defects such as water tank breaking down. It is understandable because a lighter weight machine requires the producers to make the plastic parts thinner and therefore when we exert a force on the top of the machine, it may happen that the machine’s components will be broken sometimes.  Also, an extreme lightweight will mostly associate with a less powerful motor and a smaller cleaning path width. This means, you have to spend more times to clean a big room or a tough stain on your carpet. Therefore, it is recommended that, you should choose a carpet cleaner with a good weight to ensure the machine is stable when working, a bigger footprint to save cleaning time. A typical weight can be found around 19+ lbs will be the best value for the machine weight, and a 11+ inches cleaning path width will ensure you clean the area carpet easier a 6 inches one.

Fourth, modern technologies of a carpet cleaner

A carpet cleaner with modern technologies will allow you to be free from many hand cleaning tasks. One features I really love when talking about modern technologies of a carpet cleaner is the ability to work automatically of some carpet cleaners. You just need to put the carpet cleaner on the stains, and it will do cleaning task it own, then the machine will alarm you to come back once it have done the task. Interesting?

Unluckily, only a few models that have such “automatic cleaning” feature. Bissell Spotbot Pet Deep Cleaner 33N8A is the one you can trust, this robot will be a very friendly, handy guy to save your time from any accidental spillages, spot and stains cleaning from your carpet.

A second technology that many new carpet cleaners have applied in recent years is heated drying. Depending on the brands, it can be called by different patented names, but it has the same purpose is to make our carpet dry faster. A combination of a powerful motor for water extraction with the heated drying technology will ensure to remove 80-90 percent of the water residue out of the carpet, making your carpet to dry faster than normal. This is especially a desire feature of those who need to work on the carpet instantly after cleaning, such as beauty salons, offices and hotels.

It is a missing if we do not mention of the two –motor-carpet cleaner. Weird? Actually almost all of the residential carpet cleaners on the market only use one motor in the machine’s core, although their power can be varied. Only Bissell BigGreen Commercial BG10 Deep Cleaning 2 Motor Extracter Machine is the model I have seen so far that uses 2 separate motors, one for dirt extraction and one for the water extraction. The use of 2 motors although can’t be translated directly into 2-fold stronger than other rivals, but it will ensure the dirt are extraction and the recovered water extraction process are optimized to reach a “real deep cleaning” level of a carpet cleaner.

Fourth, the hybrid of a canister carpet cleaner and an upright carpet cleaner that has become a very interesting featured carpet cleaner,the “2-in-1” and only Bissell has such design. In a clearer view, the machine has two main parts, a portable carpet cleaner with fully assembled components is placed on an upright carpet cleaner. When you push a button, you can lift up the portable part to move around the home. Once you come back and place the portable part back, it will become a full size carpet cleaner with considerate cleaning performance. Many buyers choose this type of combo design because of its lovely design and the convenience when storage. The machine itself give a powerful spot cleaning performance, but about the area cleaning performance is just above average a bit, especially the carpet drying time is longer than other modern designs (typically 4-6 hours for a uncut pile carpet).

Last but not least, a multi-surface cleaning carpet cleaner is also a very worthy item to invest. The multi surface cleaning features allows you to treat the rug, carpet, hardwood, tile and grout, auto interior and leather surfaces by using only the same machine. This type of machine will save you thousand bucks to invest on different cleaning equipments, and to save place for storage. A multi-surface carpet cleaner is adorable by big apartment owners, house owners a lot. There are certain types of carpet cleaners that can be used for such different surfaces, such as Hoover MaxExtract 77 Multi-Surface Pro that will satisfy every cleaning level that you need. This model can also clean the surface with 3 speeds level, allowing for differentiating the carpet types in particular.

These are top features of a carpet cleaner that will change your cleaning style. Apart from that, there are also a bunch of small features that you could consider, such as water tank size, cord and hose length, wheels installment, detergent mixing chamber and so on. As these factors are contributing to the carpet cleaner variations, they are not so very important and appealing than the above features when you need to decide which features you need in a cleaning machine, you just only need to consider these rules

Water tank size

 universal water tank size of a carpet cleaner is about 0.75 gallon -1.25 gallon. The smaller water tank, the more frequent you need to change, replace the water for big area cleaning. The bigger water tank, on the other hand, will definitely save your effort in water replacement, but will make the machine heavier during working and will use a lot of detergent. Therefore, you should aim for the carpet cleaner with water tank size of approximately 1 Gallon or above this value.

Rug Doctor, mostly uses bigger water tank size in their carpet cleaner machine (which is 3.75 Gallon for each tank). Therefore, this cleaning tool is more suitable for big area cleaning, thick carpet cleaning, and heavy traffic area cleaning. Hoover and Bissell, use the water tank size of 0.5 Gallon up to 1.25 Gallon depending on the design. If you require a lighter weight of a carpet cleaner during operation, you should better go with Hoover or Bissell products.

Cord length and hose length

 the longer cord and hose length will allow you a better maneuverability. In case you are not having trouble with plugging and unplugging the machine when cleaning big room, you do not actually need to care for the cord length because most of the design will have a cord wire from 8 ft. up to 20 ft that will fit with most situations.

Wheel installment under the carpet cleaner, or a retractable hand-held handle will be beneficial if you need to move around from room to another room. If your carpet cleaner has these features, they will reduce your working labor but generally it is ok if the machine does not have these installments.

Detergent mixing chamber

is actually a small bucket to store the cleaning formulas, from which is pumped into the water tank to create a cleansing solution. Sometimes, you will find this handy, but in most cases you can measure your own by using a cup or the water tank volume indicator.

To recap, when caring about the features of a modern carpet cleaner, there are some important features that may appeal you like automatic cleaning, multi-surface cleaning, “2-in-1” design… The component’s physical parameters will play a lesser importance in the machine total performance.

Hoping this article will save your time when doing researches of choosing a right carpet cleaner.

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