It used to be cost-prohibitive to own your own carpet steam-cleaner, but these days you can have your pick of models. Before you choose a carpet cleaner, take a look at the different options out there and decide what’s best for you. For instance, are you a neat-nick who wants to shampoo all of your carpet on a regular basis? Do you have pets or kids who are prone to spilling? Do you have mostly carpet, or would you like a machine that can clean your tile, laminate, and hardwood, too? Will you mostly be cleaning high traffic areas like halls and stairs, and sticking to a vacuum for the rest? How much storage space to do you have available? You have so many choices available, so to avoid becoming overwhelmed, assess your needs before you begin shopping.
How Much Horsepower Do I Need?
The most important decision when buying a carpet cleaning machine is to decide how much power you need. First, decide if you want an upright, canister model or a spot-treater. An upright machine is operated similar to your regular vacuum. These machines are best if you plan to clean an entire room of carpet four or more times a year. If you know you’ll use it at least that often, an upright machine is probably best for you. Keep in mind, though, that they are usually comparable or larger in size to your upright vacuum, so plan ahead where you want to store it.
Canister models are often able to hold more liquid, so if you have a lot of carpet and you’d like to be able to clean it all in one day, a canister model might be right for you. They can be slightly harder to manage, though, because unlike upright models, they have a separate hose, which will need to be drained and cleaned. However, because of the flexibility, they are great for cleaning stairs and behind furniture. But do your homework! Some upright models have separate cleaning arms with attachments.
Compare, Compare, Compare!
When you start your quest for an upright or canister steamer, you may be surprised at the variety of features available. For example, the Hoover SteamVac Plus is an upright model that features a hose for more versatility, and comes equipped with car cleaning tools and a bare floor attachment. The Bissell ProHeat 7950 Steam Cleaner appears to feature the same types of attachments, but is priced at about $100 more? Is it a rip-off?
This is where comparing features comes in handy – the Bissell has an onboard heater that keeps the cleaning water warm throughout use, which according to experts, gives better cleaning power. But, is it always necessary? If you only plan to do one room on a given day, you might not be using the steamer long enough to need the heater, so the Hoover would be perfect for you.
Would a Spot-Cleaner Be Sufficient?
When you have kids, pets, or both, spills and accidents can be a part of your everyday life. If you mostly want a steam cleaner to catch those spills before they turn into stains, or for small jobs such as high-traffic areas only, a spot-cleaner would probably be more than enough machine for you. The biggest benefits with the small machines are that they’re easy to store, easy to use, and best of all, they’re quite inexpensive. You can get powerful name-brand machines by Bissell and other companies for $30-$70, depending on features. They are great for busy families since they can be pulled out, used, and put away in a matter of minutes.
Don’t be fooled by the designation of spot-cleaner. These powerful little machines can also be used to clean stairs, high-traffic areas like halls and entries, and small rooms like carpeted bathrooms, even in the largest homes. They’re ideal for apartments or small homes where a larger machine would be overkill. In a small room, you can clean the entire area with your “spot” cleaner.
Just asking yourself a few simple questions about your needs before you head to the store will save you a lot of hassle. Be realistic about how often you’ll really use your new carpet cleaner, where you plan to use it, and how you’ll store it when it’s not being used. There are so many choices that you’ll be able to find one that meets your specifications exactly.