Carpet shampooers can help give your carpet a much-needed deep clean and get it looking as good as new. However, buying a carpet shampooer isn't cheap. Basic models start at $100 and prices can go up to $1,000 or more. If you only need to clean your carpet once – for example, if you have an upcoming rental inspection – it may be more cost effective to hire a carpet shampooer or book a professional cleaning.
We'll walk you through the steps for choosing a carpet shampooer, help you decide whether to buy or hire, show you how to compare important features and give you tips for using your carpet shampooer more effectively.
What is a carpet shampooer?
Carpet shampooers are home appliances designed to deeply clean your floors. They are more effective at cleaning than vacuuming, as they wash out the dirt embedded deep within the carpet, not just the particles resting on top.
Carpet shampooers use water, concentrated detergent and suction to whip up a lathered foam that breaks down dirt particles residing in carpets.
Compare some of the best carpet shampooers
Pros and cons
The benefits of using a carpet shampooer include:
- A deeper clean. Carpet shampooers provide a deeper clean than vacuum cleaners. Vacuums only tackle the surface of the carpet, while carpet shampooers wash and clean down to the bottoms of each thread. Shampooing is the most effective way to remove the dirt particles that are trapped inside the carpet.
- Special occasions. Carpet shampooers can be used to thoroughly clean after a party or before an upcoming rental inspection or auction.
- Versatility. Some carpet shampooers come with attachments that allow you to clean upholstered furniture or hardwood floors and tackle tough spot stains.
There are also some drawbacks to carpet shampooers, including:
- Cost. Carpet shampooers are not cheap. If you're only going to use it once or twice, a shampooer is probably not worth the cost.
- Lack of maneuverability. Carpet shampooers can be heavy to carry and cumbersome to move. If you have mobility problems or a home with lots of stairs, doing your own carpet shampooing might not be the best idea.
- Spot stains. Carpet shampooing can give new life to your carpet. However, it may not be able to completely remove that red wine stain from 10 years ago. Spot stains are best tackled at the moment they occur. For more information, check out our guide to carpet stain removers.
Should I buy, hire or use a professional service?
There are three ways to get your carpet shampooed: Buy a shampooer, hire or rent a shampooer or book a professional carpet cleaning service. Compare your options below:
What types are available?
You can choose between two main types of carpet shampooers: upright shampooers and spot cleaners.
- Upright shampooers. A more affordable alternative to professional cleaning, these carpet shampooers are designed for deep cleaning as well as removing dirt and odours. They use a motorised brush to lift dirt from your carpet and have attachments to help you clean hard-to-reach spots.
- Spot cleaners. Spot cleaners are suitable for specific small areas with tough stains. They are not designed to clean large areas all at once. These handheld devices are compact, light and much easier to store than upright shampooers.
Unlike carpet shampooers, wet and dry vacuum cleaners are designed to clean up liquid spills that have just occurred. If you want to clean a carpet that has accumulated and absorbed dirt over time, a wet and dry vacuum won't provide the deep clean you are looking for.
How to compare carpet shampooers
The right carpet shampooer for you will depend on how often you plan to use it and where you plan to use it. When purchasing or hiring a carpet shampooer, consider the following features:
Most carpet shampooers come with a small sample of cleaning solution or a recommendation for which solution to buy. If you buy your own cleaning solution, you can choose a formula specifically designed to tackle any carpet issues you have, such as pet smells and tough stains. However, be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions, as using a non-recommended solution can void your carpet shampooer's warranty.
If you hire a carpet shampooer, you might also need to purchase an anti-foamer or defoamer. Check with your hire company to see if these will be included.
How to use a carpet shampooer
Most products have a trigger or switch that releases the detergent solution into the carpet. After you release the cleaning solution, move the cleaning brush over the dirty area, to help the water seep into the carpet. Next, activate the suction mode, which dries the carpet and removes the cleaning solution. Most manufacturers suggest going over each area of carpet at least twice to make sure all of the solution has been removed.
Top tips for effective cleaning:
- Patch test. Go over a small area of carpet to test that your settings are correct. It's better to realise something is wrong at the start than after you've finished your first room.
- Don't use too much solution. When you're using the trigger to release the detergent solution, it is better to use a "less is more" approach. If you add too much shampoo, it can sit in the carpet long after you've finished cleaning.
- Add water. If you're worried you've over shampooed, you can go over areas with a tank of clean water. This will provide an extra rinse for your carpet.
- Vacuum. Once your carpet has dried, go over it with a vacuum cleaner to pick up any leftover particles that the shampooer has brought to the surface.
How long will my carpet be wet after shampooing?
Drying times vary, depending on the manufacturer and the individual conditions. Some manufacturers suggest that your carpet will be dry in as a little as two hours, while others say it make take six hours or more to dry completely.
However, there are some steps you can take to quicken drying times, including going over the carpet multiple times with the suction. If you clean your carpets on a hot day or use fans to circulate more air, your carpets will also dry more quickly.
Where can I find a carpet shampooer?
You can buy carpet shampooers online or in store. The following retailers stock carpet shampooers or offer them for hire:
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