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Carpet shampooer buying guide

What you should consider before buying a carpet shampooer.

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Quick facts about carpet shampooer:

  • Carpet shampooers can help give your carpet a much-needed deep clean and get it looking as good as new.
  • 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

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.

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:

ProsConsPricing
Buy
  • Flexibility to clean whenever you want.
  • You can go over different areas at different times.
  • Regular cleaning can prolong the life of your carpet.
  • Costly.
  • Requires manual labour.
  • Can be bulky to store.
  • Basic models start at around $100.
  • High-end models can be $1,000 or more.
Hire
  • Affordable.
  • Doesn't require storage.
  • Useful for one-off events including rental inspections.
  • Limited usage time.
  • Laborsome.
  • May not be available when you need it.
  • Prices start at around $35/per day for 24 or 48-hour periods.
  • A deposit is usually required, although the amount varies depending on the hire company.
Professionals
  • Will typically give you the most efficient cleaning.
  • No manual labour required.
  • Useful for one-off events including rental inspections.
  • The most expensive option for one-time use.
  • You'll have to work around the cleaner's schedule.
  • Many companies charge per room.
  • Prices typically range from $20-$70 per room.

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.
Wet and dry vacuum cleaners vs carpet 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:

Tank capacity

Carpet shampooers are generally fitted with two water tanks, one for clean water and one for dirty water. The shampooer pushes out clean water mixed with the detergent, then sucks it back up into the dirty tank. You'll have to keep refilling the clean tank and emptying the dirty one as you go. Having a large tank means you'll have to refill it less often, but will involve moving around a heavier piece of equipment.

Cord length

The longer the cord, the more maneuverability you have. Look for a cord that is long enough to ensure that you won't have to change power points every ten minutes.

Weight

Empty carpet shampooers can weigh anywhere from 5kg to 20kg before you add the water. If your home has a lot of stairs, you may want to consider a lighter model with a smaller tank.

Noise

Most carpet shampooers are loud. A pair of earmuffs or headphones can help you use your shampooer without damaging your hearing. Keep your neighbours in mind when deciding what time of day would be best to use your carpet shampooer.

Accessories

Carpet shampooers can come with accessories for different uses, such as:

  • Furniture
  • Upholstery
  • Spot stains
  • Timber flooring

Warranty

Check the length of the manufacturer's warranty to find out how long it is and exactly what it covers.

Cleaning solution

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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