DIY Carpet Cleaner

rmkitchenFebruary 17, 2008

I have read many of the threads about proper carpet cleaning and the consensus seems to be having it professionally done once or twice a year.

In theory I love that idea and we have had our carpets cleaned three times in the past eleven months. I also know I can't afford to have a carpet cleaner come out every time there's a spot (baby who spits up, puppy, toddler who somehow brings muddy things upstairs ...).

Additionally, we are in the midst of a b-i-g (for us, that is!) remodel, and I don't want to create more work for myself moving all the junk out of the way for the carpet cleaners when I'm already planning on having them out when the remodel is done and everything has been moved back. (how's that for a run-on sentence?) So I told my husband we should rent a machine from the grocery store and he countered that we should probably just buy one -- I could see us easily needing to spot clean once or twice a month.

Truthfully, I'm concerned our carpet may not make it unscathed through this remodel ... and that I'll have to succumb to new carpeting. Which with the abovementioned little people / animals, I don't want to do yet!

Any advice smart people?

Thank you!

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The carpet cleaner that you rent will not do a good job. there is no steam or suction. Pay the extra for a pro.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:23PM
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I agree, professional rug cleaning is needed. I use a company that has "ChemDry" as its method. Expensive but worth it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 4:15PM
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Thanks for the responses. I guess I wasn't clear enough: I cannot afford to have our carpets professionally cleaned once or twice a month. The cleaner we use charges a minimum of $125 per visit, and $125 - $250 per month is simply beyond my budget. Two - three times a year I can do (and we have done), but twelve - twenty-four times a year ($1,500 - $3,000, before tips) I cannot. It would be nice to have that kind of disposable income .... That's why I was hoping to find a stopgap.

So are you both telling me that for every little spill you'd hire a professional to come out? Maybe prices are different where you live .... Good for you! I'm envious.

Oh well.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 4:55PM
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Nope, prices are the same here, way too much to do once a month. For small stains I have the Bissell Spotlifter. It's a small handheld cleaner that is perfect for those spots you'd rather try to get out by hand rather than have to drag the big cleaner out. I'm not sure about the big cleaners you would rent from the grocery store, I get mine at Home Depot. But I would check, they should have suction and it's better than what I have with my Hoover. I had to rent one from Home Depot to get the water out of the carpet in the basement and it was a lot more powerful than my Hoover. If you don't want to have to go out and rent one once a month, I would definitely look into a full size Hoover or Bissell steam cleaner. I've always wondered why they're called "steam" cleaners when they don't produce steam! Anyway, they're great for touch ups and monthly maintenance. I would only do the professional clean twice a year.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:14AM
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I have a Bissell ProHeat and, while it isn't the same as the pros, it does a great job. And I don't think it leaves the carpet overly wet. It is what I use between the professional cleanings.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 7:40AM
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How do you like the ProHeat? I've always had the Hoover Steam Vac but the tanks don't seem to hold up well. I like the brush set-up so I just stay with it.
As far as leaving the carpet over wet, my Hoover doesn't either. The rental ones definitely have better suction though. I'm not sure if it's because they are more powerful or if they are lower to the ground. I want to try one in my living room just for kicks. I would definitely rather have my own though. With kids and dogs it would be too much trouble to go rent one every time I need it!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 6:23PM
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ebear1271 and wiredgirl -- thank you both so much for the recommendations!

Today the drywallers finished and for whatever reason, today they decided to not employ any protection on the carpet. They have all along, but today I found clumps of dried-up compound and heaps of drywall dust in the carpet. To tell you the truth, and I know this sounds ridiculously melodramatic, my heart sank when I saw these. I vacuumed and cleaned as best I could, and then I called the GC to leave a complaint.

Sure, I would love to recarpet the upstairs! But it's just not in my remodeling budget (or any other budget) for this year. I am going to search out both your Bissell tips and hopefully one of them can help me make it through the rest of this year (with the professional cleanings, of course!).

Thank you both so much! I appreciate you and your help.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 7:30PM
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I understand your worry about harm to your carpets during the remodeling work. That is a risk, but it can be minimized if the remodel workers lay canvas cloths over all the areas that will be affected by their work. And if you think that one layer of canvas is not think enough, ask them to put down two layers. At the end of each day, ask them to carefully roll up the canvas and shake it outside so there is no build-up of stuff that could soil your carpets.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 10:32PM
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Your best bet would be to go with the Hoover SteamVac uprights, because there is less maintenance with the Hoover and it is more durable. If you know how to deep clean your carpeting the right way, you should not have any problem cleaning and drying your carpeting. I do my own carpeting once or twice a year and the carpeting dries the same day.

Don't let your carpeting get too dirty before cleaning.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 3:05AM
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ebear1271 - I love my Proheat. My two sisters and I all use it so it probably ends up getting used once a month by somebody and it has held up very well. We've had it several years. Rmkitchen - One thing I suggest with all that drywall dust in the carpet now, if you don't have a GREAT vacuum, borrow one and really vacuum that dust out of the carpet. Otherwise, when you clean it and mix water with that dust I think you'll have just a mess. Ask around to and see if someone maybe has a Proheat and see if you can borrow it first and try it out. That's what we did.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 8:09AM
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The Bissell ProHeat is amazing! When we sold our condo with white W2W throughout, you would have never known we had an incontinent dog and a bulimic cat :)


    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 11:01AM
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I think I have the ProHeat too. Its at my DD's right now so can't check. But I know it's a Bissel, for sure. The reason I bought the Bissel is because of the plain water rinse setting. IMO its just as important to rinse cleaning solvents back out to discourage restaining. I actually returned one she had found on sale for this one--same price. Sandy

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 2:05AM
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For carpet spot cleaning, I put some hot water in a bowl, add a handful of Tide with Bleach powder, and whip up some foam . Use the suds to clean spots with a brush and then blot dry with a clean towel. I have a dog, two cats and two children, so there are plenty of spots to clean.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 12:12PM
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I actually just bought the Hoover Steam Vac last week & for what it's worth, I would highly recommend the it. (I said "for what it's worth" b/c this is the 1st carpet cleaner I've used/owned & I've never had my carpets prof. cleaned.) I am extremely happy w/ my results from using the Hoover! I got it at my local Wal-Mart for $140, so that's not much more than you'd pay for a pro cleaning. My brother had used a friends Bissell & said that my Hoover cleaned much better that the Bissell he had used. My sister has rented the grocery store cleaners before & said that mine did just as good if not better than those.

This is just what I know, but I hope it helps. You might also want to read up on various brands at, they have unbiased reviews.

Good luck! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Epinions

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 11:21PM
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Well thank you all so much for your great advice and experiences. We decided to first try the Bissell Spotlifter (as it's just $40 vice the ProHeat's $280) and miracle of miracles, it has removed every single stain!

The only "downside" is that my three year-old wants to use it (he loves vacuuming), so it takes about twelve times as long to accomplish. I think that's a fair trade-off, though (encouraging my son to enjoy cleaning).

Without a doubt the carpet will look even better when it's professionally cleaned (when the remodel is over -- late-April, I suspect), but until then, at least I don't have spit-up spots, and that makes me much happier. Phew!

I'm also delighted because with the spots and then that one time the drywallers were thoughtless and careless (I understand they were in a hurry but they certainly got an earful from me and the GC!) I feared we'd have to replace the carpet, and honestly (and to be gauche), just not in our budget at this time. And if it were, I'd rather spend the money on other things!

Thank you again for all your wonderful advice and stories. I have appreciated it more than you know!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 4:35PM
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I bought a Kirby vacuum cleaner with the shampooer and people can laugh and scoff at me because everyone things Kirby machines are priced out of this world. You know, you're right. However, I was recently in the market for a new vacuum and at the same time I wanted to also purchase a carpet shampooer.

Made my way to Sears to look at the Dyson and then Hoover Steam Vac and by the time I added the prices together, I then went over the Kirby dealer, shot them the same price of the Dyson and Hoover machines and there you have it. I walked out with a new Kirby with shampooer and plan to clean my carpets next week.

My Kirby will most likely outlast any Dyson vacuum and Hoover carpet shampooer plus I don't have extra machines taking up closet space.

I have to admit I was skeptical but I am excited to try it next week while on spring break.

Spfld, IL.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 9:28PM
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I have read somewhere about a link between women who have their rugs cleaned two or more times per year and breast cancer.Having your rugs professionally cleaned doesnt mean that they need to shampoo or use chemicals.For years I have only allowed them to shampoo the spots.The rest of the carpet is steam cleaned minus the chemicals.The results are about equal.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 2:24PM
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I can't afford to have my carpets professionally cleaned.

I had to replace them all with hardwoods.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:07AM
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I'm thinking of getting a carpet cleaner myself and found tons of positive customer reviews about the Hoover F5914-900. It's about $150 - the cost of having it done once professionally. As for saving money on the carpet shampoo you use, one reviewer suggests Zep Extractor Carpet Shampoo as being available at Home Depot in a gallon jug for under $10. I can't personally attest to either of these products.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hoover F5914-900

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 2:21PM
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Just checking old threads as I think about upgrading my very useful Bissell Powerlifter, the cheapest model carpet cleaner they make, I think. I may have paid $69.99 for it a few years back. I has only a stationary brush, push the "upright vacuum style" machine back and forth to scrub. It doesn't have any on-board heating, but it cleans like crazy. We have a living room, that is used by all including a large dog, with light green WTW carpeting. It gets dirty fast. We also have a utility carpet in the laundry room/study that connects to the garage, this rug gets most of the "coming in" traffic. It too responds well to the low cost cleaner I have, when I empty the water catch it looks like I could make mud pies, and the carpets look very good, and not too wet, start using them again for light traffic within a couple of hours.

Anyway, I'm so happy with the cheap unit I'm moved to buy the "on sale" Bissell Pro2X at BJs for $179, it has on-board heat and two sets of power brushes. The pickup suction arrangement looks much the same, except the whole assembly comes off without tools, much better for cleaning after use than my current unit which requires the removal of two screws.

The reason I didn't buy the better model the first time is I gave too much credit to those who say noting works, get the professionals to clean your carpets. My experience, I have used professional cleaning, says DIY, cheaper, more convenient and better. I have no experience with Hoover, but bet their equipment does a great job too.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 9:02PM
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