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What if we told you that your carpets are filthy? Well, it's true, and a traditional Vacuum Cleaner isn't enough to get the job done. You can vacuum as much as you like, but it's not getting rid of the majority of the dirt. No, for that you need something a lot more powerful. You need a carpet cleaner.
Your carpets are prone to picking up a plethora of germs and bacteria, not to mention all the dirt and grime on top of that. Having kids and pets only adds to this as the footfall just embeds it deeper into the carpet. A carper cleaner can solve all of these issues, and you will be shocked by the amount of dirt it picks up.
They are even able to remove stubborn stains, which we all know can be very difficult to remove. A lot of the time, you may even need to hire a professional carpet cleaning service which can be expensive. If you pick up a carpet cleaner, there is no need to worry about that. Are you ready for carpets that look great and smell great too? We certainly are.
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Best Carpet Cleaners - Our Quick Top Picks
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So what make a carpet cleaner the best carpet cleaner?
When You Shouldn’t Buy a Carpet Cleaner
If you live in a home with hard floors, it is likely that you won’t need a carpet cleaner at any point. Some carpet cleaners can wash hard floors, but not all of them will – which is why it is important to check the specifications before you buy.
Similarly, if you live in a home that has no pets or kids, you are less likely to need to use one. A house that has high levels of traffic through it is more likely to need a good scrub than those that do not. If you don’t need it for your home, it’s not something you should buy.
How Much Do You Need to Spend?
Generally speaking, you will find that carpet cleaners can be priced anywhere from £75 to £350. However, if you want something that does a good job cleaning your floors, you should be prepared to spend more than the least possible amount.
A good price to set yourself is £200, as this price bracket tends to have some great quality models that will do a superb job without breaking your bank account.
Main Types of Carpet Cleaner
Here are the main types of carpet cleaner:
Hot water extraction.
This is also known as steam cleaning your carpet, and it uses high-pressure hot water to sanitise and wash your carpets, as well as working to remove stains.
It doesn’t take too long to clean carpets using this method, and you will usually use some form of detergent with the carpet cleaner. However, it can take quite a long time to dry when you are finished.
It is not the most popular method out there, namely because it takes most of the day to dry. Older models left carpets sticky because they were not rinsed properly, but newer tech seems to be counteracting this.
It could make strong comeback, and there are plenty of models out there that can provide a good shampooing that doesn’t come with many, or any, of the negatives.
This is a surface cleaning technique that is most commonly used in establishments such as hotels. This is because there is a lot of footfall, and so the carpet can be washed regularly but without needing to wait for it to dry.
That way, guests and staff can keep going as normal, and the carpets benefit from a little sprucing. It doesn’t reach deep dirt, however.
This form has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that the technology has been spruced up a little. It massages cleaning powder deep into the carpet fibres, leaving them there to gather dirt and grime ready for removal.
The powder, or compound, is usually made from an eco-friendly material, and it is the least disruptive cleaning process because it can be left for a period of time before collection. Therefore, it is a fantastic option for offices and 24/7 businesses.
This really is what it says on the tin, a detergent that foams and crystallises when applied. Once it has dried, it can be vacuumed or brushed to be removed, and you will find the carpets look quite nice indeed.
It is often favoured over-shampooing because it uses less water, but it isn’t ideal for reaching deeper levels of dirt. It’s solely a surface cleaner.
These are machines that are both carpet cleaners and vacuum cleaners, which makes them exceptionally versatile. They can be used to wash your carpets and then hoover your hard floors; a winning combination on all fronts. However, their only fault is that they are only good at each of their tasks. Therefore, they will vacuum and wash well, but they are not excellent.
What Key Features to Look For
One of the first things you will want to look at with a carpet cleaner is the price range. Once you have determined how much you have to spend, you can start to filter the models available to you accordingly. Here’s how the pricing tends to go for carpet cleaners:
Cheap: under £50
- While there are models in this price range, they aren’t always the best you can get. Often, they do a sub-standard job, especially if you have a very grubby carpet. They are affordable, but not recommended.
Budget: under £100
- These models are often slightly better than the cheap option, although you will likely find that the cleaning power is equally disappointing. There are some good models in this range though, you just have to find them.
Mid-Range: under £250
- These carpet cleaners are much better than the previous price brackets, and you are sure to find that a model in this bracket will do a good job of keeping your carpet wonderfully clean.
High-End: over £250
- This price range tends to have models that are the best on the market, and you will usually find that one of these carpet cleaners does an excellent job on your carpets. Of course, not every model will be perfect, but you have much better chances here.
The amount of power a carpet cleaner can give you often refers to how good a clean it is able to provide your carpet with. You want something that can reach right down to all of the embedded dirt and wash it right out – especially if you have light carpets.
When looking at multi-functional models, however, this also refers to the vacuuming ability as you will want something with powerful suction that can rid your carpet of debris before washing.
The weight is also a key feature. Many carpet cleaners do tend to be a little bulky, but it is possible to find lightweight models on the market.
You should look for something that is going to be easy for you to handle, but also won’t put too much strain on your arms and back, especially if you have to carry it upstairs or between rooms in your home.
When you go to buy a carpet cleaner, think about the amount of storage space you have. There are smaller and more compact versions on the market, but the ultimate way to save space is by picking up a multi-functional model.
These mean that you don’t need a vacuum cleaner in addition to a carpet cleaner, and so you can save more space in your home.
Water Tank Heater
The water tank heater is used to make sure that the effectiveness of the carpet washing is increased by keeping the water warm at all times.
Not every machine has this, but the tank heaters are great for those with asthma and allergies as they keep the water above liveable temperatures for dust mites.
While it does mean you need to ensure you use the right cleaning solution for the brand you buy, they are a very handy aspect to have.
Leading on from this, the tank size is also an important thing to think about. If you have a large home, you will want a tank that is able to hold a larger capacity – so you don’t have to keep emptying it and refilling it while you clean.
Some models also have two separate tanks for clean and dirty water, and these are well worth investing in for the cleanest possible carpets.
The auto mix feature is massively underrated, because having to mix the solution up yourself can be time-consuming and complex – especially when it comes to measurements.
All you need to do with an auto mix machine is ensure you follow the instructions, put the right quantity of each item into the machine, and it will mix it all up for you. It’s done expertly, and it saves you time, making it a win-win situation.
Cleaning Head Type
There are a couple of cleaning heads that you can get, and each of them is quite beneficial. You, of course, have the classic floorhead, which resembles a vacuum cleaner head. These usually have brushes on the base so that you can scrub the carpets and really get things going.
Others will have brushes at the sides which have been designed to reach the edges of your home. However, many of these still don’t provide fantastic reach and leave you with a border at the end.
Make sure you take a close look and see what kind of performance the edge brushes give on your chosen model before you buy.
Different brands also tend to have their own floorheads, and there are plenty of accessories to choose from as well (which we go into a little later).
So, in addition to the most common types above, there are likely to be other variations out there that carry the same basic model with a little more pizazz.
Hot Air Drying
Many carpet cleaners have a hot air-drying function. This means that when you have finished cleaning the carpet, you can also dry it – so you don’t have to wait hours for your carpet to dry naturally.
This is an incredibly useful feature to have, and one that should be near the top of your priority list when looking for additional features in your carpet cleaner.
Tools and Attachments
Tools and attachments are important, and it is something that needs to be considered with a carpet cleaner.
You can get things like a crevice tool to clean narrow spaces and tight corners, but there is also the turbo tool – a handheld rotating brush that is used to give areas you can’t reach with the main head a really deep and thorough clean.
Detergent Spray Tool
A detergent spray tool is also an important consideration because these are needed for carpets that have really deep stains. It is used for pre-treatment on your carpet before you wash it, ensuring that it can be removed effectively and efficiently.
Powered cleaning tools like this are an important part of the process, and extras like these and handheld brushes will ensure that you are left with a pristine carpet.
How Often Will You Use This
One of the other things to consider is how often you are actually going to use a carpet cleaner. Is it something that will be needed every day, a few times a week, or maybe only twice a year?
Before you fork out the cash, take some time to actually think about whether or not you need a carpet cleaner. After all, if you look below, you will see there is a fantastic alternative to buying.
Carpet Cleaning Hire
This is your other option if you decide that buying one isn’t the right choice for you. Plus, the professionals models can cost around £2,000 and can get rid of a lot more than your standard household model. That awful old wine stain? The experts can handle it. If you don’t want to hire someone else to do it for you, there is the option to hire a carpet cleaner yourself.
This tends to come at a reasonable price for the day, and we have a nifty little pricing table to help you figure out the expenses. Sometimes, you will be loaned a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner. They are great machines, (featured as one of our top picks)
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to shampoo or steam clean carpets?
Knowing whether it is better to shampoo or steam your carpets really depends on your situation. If your carpets are heavily soiled and on ned of some kind of miracle, shampooing is definitely the way to go. Plus, they are a lot easier to hire than their steam counterparts.
The steam carpet cleaners have a lot of clear advantages, such as the fact that they actually disinfect carpets as well as kill both fleas and their eggs. They also use water and no detergent, which makes them completely safe for both pets and children. Their extra cleaning power tends to make them the preferred choice.
What's the best shampoo for cleaning the carpet?
The best shampoo for cleaning the carpet really depends on you and your preferences. If you want to go for the chemical options, Rug Doctor makes excellent detergents that will beautifully shampoo your carpet as well as break through stains and grime.
While you can make natural carpet cleaner at home (all you need is white vinegar and water) you can also buy them. Ecover is one of the top brands for all things eco-friendly, and they make a lovely carpet cleaner that is safe for pets and kids, as well as tough on stains.
What's the best homemade cleaning solution for carpet?
The best homemade cleaning solution for carpet has a secret ingredient that you should already have in your home. All you need to do is as follows:
Mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups of hot water
Take a teaspoon of dishwashing soap and mix it into the solution
5 drops of essential oil (your choice of scent)
Double the batch for larger rooms, and simply pour it into your carpet cleaner’s tank. It will do a great job without you needing to use any harsh chemicals.
How often should you clean your carpet?
Most people only clean their carpets once a year with a carpet cleaner. This is usually enough as long as you are vacuuming regularly. If you have pets and kids, you may find that you need to do this more frequently because of the amount of mud and grime that they tend to trek through the house. High traffic areas need the most attention, so keep this in mind.
Which is better Vax or Bissell carpet cleaner?
This is a tricky question because both are great brands. Asking if Vax or Bissell is best can depend on your personal taste and your trust in the name. However, we do have an opinion on this one.
For affordability and a solid model that will do a consistently good job, Bissell is the one for you. Their carpet cleaners come at a great price, and really are good to have around.
Vax is fantastic because they have a lot more to them in terms of features and tech, but also as they are more powerful than their Bissell counterparts. They are better at removing stains and dirt than most, but they do have a much higher price tag. Therefore, they are not accessible to everyone.
Is steam cleaning bad for carpets?
Steam cleaning is not bad for carpets. In fact, it is actually surprisingly gentle on the fibres while you clean and disinfect. There have been a few misconceptions that the steam damages the carpet over time, but this is false.
Steam cleaning carpets on a regular basis is fine. Just be aware that you should check the manufacturer’s instructions with regards to carpet care before you use it.
Does shampooing ruin carpets?
The actual process of shampooing carpets won’t ruin it. However, there are some things to be aware of. When you are washing the carpet, you need to ensure that all of the shampoo has been removed at the end.
Otherwise, it can become sticky and attract dirt, as well as the potential for mould growth. If the shampoo and water are left over time, it will only get worse.
Can you use any carpet cleaner in a Bissell or Vax?
In the case of Bissell, you can only use their brand of carpet cleaner inside the machine. Of course, people do use other brands without an issue, but in doing so they have voided their warranty. This little clause means that using Bissell brand detergent is the best way to go.
For Vax, you don’t need to worry. You can freely use any brand of carpet cleaner in their machines. Vax does have their own line which is fantastic, but you have the choice to use products you are more comfortable with.
Do carpet cleaners also vacuum?
Some of the best carpet cleaners are also vacuums, but not all of them. You have to buy a 2-in-1 model that incorporates the technology from both into one machine. These can be a great choice to make, but the only downside is that they tend to be good at each job as opposed to excellent.
Does vanish clean carpets?
Vanish does clean carpets. It does a great job as well. On top of keeping the carpets clean, it also leaves them feeling softer and refreshed. It also helps to neutralise any odours, ridding your floors of any foul smells it may have picked up. This is especially good if you have a pet that you are housetraining that’s had a few accidents on the floor.
Can I use bleach in my carpet cleaner?
Yes, you can put bleach in your carpet cleaner but it’s not a smart idea. For starters, bleach can end up damaging your carpet and causing discolouration if the solution is too strong.
Secondly, it isn’t even that great at cleaning. Yes, it can disinfect, but it doesn’t really remove the grime. You’re much better off using a detergent from the store, or a white vinegar and water solution.
Should I vacuum before carpet cleaning?
Absolutely. You should always vacuum before you start carpet cleaning. This is because the vacuum cleaner will remove loose dirt and particles, clearing the surface grime so that the carpet cleaner can really focus on the deeper stuff. It just makes life a lot easier for you, and the cleaning process a smoother one.
Hopefully we have given you a better insight into choosing the best carpet cleaner for your needs. You may also want to check out our other guide specifically for handheld carpet cleaners and spot cleaners.
Carpet cleaning is such a tedious task and if you don’t have the right tool to get the job done, you will exert too much time and effort doing just one job.
There are many powerful carpet cleaners out there but even those that are good enough to clean the rest of your home might not be as effective in cleaning the carpet.
Carpet cleaner machines are more than just your traditional vacuum cleaner as it provides a more thorough and deeper cleaning process.
When you find the right one, you will surely appreciate how carpet cleaning can be done more swiftly and easily with results that are same as when professionals do the cleaning.
Hopefully, our list above gives you an easier time in finding the best carpet cleaner machine for your household and if you have further enquiries, please drop a comment at the bottom of this page.
Make sure to come back to our site regularly for more updates!
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.