Carpet is soft and plush under your feet. The warmth it offers can make all the difference in winter, and its sound muffling ability is unrivaled by other forms of flooring. Yet all of these positives can’t cover up the fact that the fluffy fibers like to trap dirt and dust. Regardless of whether you vacuum twice a week or more, you’re still living with a lot of dirt that becomes stuck between the fibers and near the pad.

If you have pets, that’s even more allergens building up to bother even the most sniffle-resistant family members. Carpet cleaning is the best way to lift dirt and dust while restoring the carpet’s appearance. Owning or renting a carpet cleaner and doing it yourself can save you hundreds of dollars over a few visits from a professional service. But before you rush out to get started, use this guide to make sure you’re getting the right equipment and solutions.

Renting vs. Buying

Buying a vacuum

If you have a small apartment, rarely have guests, or only have a room or two with carpet in it, you likely only need to rent a carpet cleaner. Owning the equipment may not save you any money in these cases where you’re only using it once a year at most. For most people with at least two rooms with carpet, a busy family, or pets in the home, owning a carpet cleaner is a better choice. Rental costs tend to account for at least a third of the cost of purchasing a cleaner in many cases. If you’ll use the equipment at least twice a year, it won’t take even two full years to recoup your investment.

Portable Carpet Cleaners

Portable Carpet Cleaner

Portable carpet cleaners are the smallest, easiest to use, and most affordable options for cleaning carpets and rugs. However, they’re not designed for cleaning entire rooms of the home. These devices are best suited to cleaning up spots and spills in a hurry. They can be taken to a friend’s home with ease or used on the upholstery in your vehicle with the help of an extension cord. If you only have small areas covered in carpet in the home or rugs, a small portable carpet cleaner may be all you need. For most people, an upright carpet cleaner is a better choice, despite the higher cost.

Upright Carpet Cleaners

Upright Carpet Cleaner

For a deep cleaning that approaches what a professional company offers, you’ll need a proper upright carpet cleaner. These devices may resemble larger vacuums, but they contain two chambers. One supplies the cleaning solution, and the other holds the dirty water after it’s sucked back up. Upright machines hold much more cleaning fluid than a portable unit, both in the fresh supply and wastewater capacity. Upright models can be a big investment for the home, but they’ll give you the best cleaning for years to come. They can be a little heavy to move around, so you may want a portable unit as well for spot cleaning as needed.

Choosing a Cleaning Solution

Cleaning Solutions

First, make sure you’re matching the product to the type of carpet cleaner. A portable cleaner solution won’t work well in an upright machine, and vice versa. Next, consider the type of carpeting you have. Some cleaning solutions work well for artificial fibers like acrylic, while others are gentle enough for wool and hand-tufted rugs of all kinds. Pick up a bottle of stain-busting formula and use it specifically for trouble areas in the cleaning process. For the majority of the floor, use a standard strength formula to avoid unnecessary build-up on the fibers.

Cleaning Carpets With Pets

Dog on Rug

Pet owners can benefit the most from deep cleaning their carpets at least once every three to six months. If you have a pet that has a few accidents now and then, try a portable carpet cleaner and a solution meant for pet stains. For caged pets and those that rarely come inside, a basic cleaning solution will do a good enough job of lifting pet hair and dirt.

Upholstery Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Sofa

Many carpet cleaning devices also work well to clean up messes on upholstered furniture, especially portable devices that offer light steam settings. Car upholstery is particularly suited to cleaning this way since it’s a thick material that can handle a little moisture, as long as you leave the car open for a few hours for drying. On the couch, stick to cleaning upholstered fabrics with some kind of pile, such as velvet or microfiber types of fabric. Lift as much dirt as possible with a soft brush first, then use the carpet cleaner on the lightest setting. Use a mild cleaning solution to prevent discoloration.

Keep your carpets clean without having to call the professionals. An upright carpet cleaner will make quick work of large rooms, while a portable unit will still help you address spots and stains.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.