Consumer Reports Carpet Cleaning Reviews
June 2, 2017 @ 2:52 pmby Robgin Carpet Cleaning Advice Leave a comment
For current carpet cleaning reviews visit the Consumer Reports site at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/carpet-cleaners.htm
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While today’s carpets resist stains and soiling better than ever, no carpet is fully stain-proof. Professional cleaning, recommended every 12 to 18 months, does the best job, but can be expensive. Rental machines are also available. If you’re looking for information about carpet cleaners, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ carpet cleaner reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our carpet cleaner buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and carpet cleaner reviews to help you choose the best carpet cleaner for your needs.
Home Carpet Cleaning: Grubby to Great
Got dirty carpets? There’s certainly no lack of cleaning options, including buying a carpet-cleaning machine, renting one, or hiring a pro. We tried them all. While nothing beat the ease and performance of a pro, some of the machines we tested came pretty close for less money.
Before we put the machines to work, we had to prep our lab. By the time we were finished, it looked like a gang of kids wearing muddy sneakers had run amok. Panels of off-white nylon plush carpet treated with stain repellent were embedded with topsoil. After vacuuming, we tested each carpet cleaner with its manufacturer-recommended solution and passed over a soiled area 20 times.
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More Power, Deeper Clean
Machines that were better at lifting embedded dirt have larger, more powerful motors. Almost all of the full-sized models did a better job at removing dirt. Bissell and Hoover, the two largest manufacturers of carpet cleaners, say you must use their cleaning solutions in their machines or you could void the warranty or cause electrical shock or fire by damaging the machine. The good news is that most of the manufacturers’ solutions we tested performed similarly and were very good.
Rental Pros and Cons
Rug Doctor’s Mighty Pro, which can be rented at stores nationwide for $20 to $30 per 24 hours, seems like a bargain. It cleaned as well as some of our top-rated machines, and you can clean a large area before emptying the dirty water. But it was heavy and bulky and left the carpet pretty wet. So you’ll have to wait longer to put furniture back in the room and walk on the carpet. Use a dehumidifier to speed up drying.
Pros are easy but expensive
Stanley Steemer, a nationwide chain, outperformed all of the carpet-cleaning machines we tested, removing all visible dirt. Even the best machine we tested left behind some dirt. Stanley also removed tough stains from a staffer’s carpets. Even the best machines in our tests only lightened the stains.
How to Choose
Embedded dirt requires deep cleaning. Check your carpet’s warranty or manufacturer’s website for suggestions on how often you should clean. Otherwise you could damage the carpet or void its warranty. Some companies, for example, don’t allow a pro to reapply stain treatments. Then consider these tips:
Focus on Features
Separate tanks for hot water and cleaning solution make refilling quicker because you usually need to refill water more often. Smaller tanks mean more frequent refills. Carry and push the machine before buying, especially if you’ll be carrying it up and down stairs. Look for models with attachments if you’d like to clean upholstery or stairs.
Doing it Right
Working with water and electricity requires extra care, so if possible plug the machine into an outlet with a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Wear hearing protection when using any machine for an extended period of time. Don’t walk or place furniture on carpet until it’s completely dry.
Select a company approved by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, a nonprofit organization, to ensure the company carries liability insurance and employs certified technicians. Make sure they vacuum before deep cleaning, and ask about spot removal. Get a detailed written estimate, check references, and obtain an invoice.
Some stain removers and cleaning solutions for machines emit fumes, so be sure to open windows and run fans when cleaning. That is especially important if someone in your home has respiratory problems such as asthma.
Carpet Cleaner Ratings
Classes of Cleaners – Things to Consider
Homeowners who only occasionally clean their carpets may choose to hire a reputable professional or rent a carpet cleaner. But if you have a lot of carpeting and a house full of kids and pets, you might want to consider buying a machine. Here are the types of carpet cleaners to consider.
Rental Deep Cleaners
Often available at a nearby supermarket, hardware store, or home center for about $20 to $30 a day, these upright machines combine a tank for dispensing cleaning solution, a second tank for holding dirty solution, a vacuum, and a fixed or moving brush into a single, heavy unit. As a result, they’re cumbersome to push around. Performance and convenience varied from one machine to the next in our tests. In general, look for the cleanest, least-worn brushes on any machine that you’re thinking of renting.
They’re lighter and less bulky than typical rental machines. Most work by scrubbing in a solution of water and detergent, then vacuuming up the water and dirt. They can be expensive and take up a fair amount of closet space. In our last tests, they produced mixed results. All those that we tested also required you to use the manufacturer’s special detergent.
For small jobs or tackling stains, a compact cleaner is easier to maneuver than the bigger and bulkier full-sized model, and it takes up less closet space and can be stored on a shelf. One compact, the Bisell SpotBot, lets you push a button and walk away while it goes to work on stains. In our tests it removed the toughest stain from carpet treated with stain protector, but it didn’t do as well on untreated carpet. Bissell’s compact cleaner didn’t clean as well as most of the full-sized models we tested and did little on tough stains.
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A Pile of Features
Carpet cleaners can be a bit unwieldy, so look for features that will make it easier to maneuver, especially if you have carpeted stairs. Here are the carpet-cleaner features to consider.
On upright models, they let you clean upholstery, stairs, bare floors, and tight spots between furniture.
As with vacuum cleaners, many carpet cleaners have a belt that, over time, needs replacing–a do-it-yourself task for some owners. Belt-free units dispense with this part.
A moving brush tends to give a more aggressive scrub than no brush or a fixed one that moves only as you push the machine, though having one or more does not guarantee good cleaning.
The larger the cleaning-solution tank, the less often you’ll need to refill it if you clean a lot of carpet at a time–though the more liquid, the tougher the machine can be to maneuver.
The heavier the cleaner, the harder it is to maneuver. A long vacuum hose can reach, for example, up a flight of stairs.
Separate Soap Dispenser
This automatically dispenses the right amount of detergent with water, and it shuts off to allow rinsing with fresh water.
Tank Indicator Lights
These lights alert you when the clean-solution tank needs refilling–or the dirty-solution tank needs emptying.
Some cleaners feature a sensor-operated cutoff that stops an extractor’s suction when the tank storing dirty solution is full.