Carpet is one of the best flooring options for your home because it’s versatile, stylish, and comfy on your feet. But we all know that accidents can happen, especially when we live with small children and pets. Dirty or stained carpets can be a real head-scratcher – you can’t use the mop on it as you would on kitchen laminate or bathroom vinyl, so how do you go about getting rid of the grimy remnants of daily life?
This guide will explore the best carpet cleaning devices you can use. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each cleaning solution, from carpet encapsulation to carpet cleaning machines. We’ll also take a look at which carpet cleaner will suit your needs best and give you some ideas of the best carpet cleaners on the market right now for each category. And, if you're renting and you're not sure whether you should clean your carpets or switch them up for new ones, have a read of our guide to see if you can change the flooring in your rental home.
There are a few different considerations to bear in mind when you’re trying to figure out which carpet cleaning solution is the best one for you.
You’ll need to ensure that the device you choose is within your price range and will be able to fit through your doorway – if you live on the fifth floor of a building with no lift, then maybe reconsider opting for a big industrial carpet cleaner! And if you want to keep your spending to less than a tenner, then you would be best off looking at carpet shampoos too.
Different types of carpets need different cleaning methods, something we’ll go into more detail about below. Finally, the volume of carpet that you need to clean will also dictate what type of cleaner will suit you best – a can of carpet encapsulation powder won’t match up to a full-on carpet steam cleaner for an entire house-worth of carpet!
Carpet cleaners use a combination of carpet shampoo or cleaning solution, and water in a clean water tank and use their special tools and powerful brush heads to dig deep into the pile of your carpet and pull up all the dirt, grime and bacteria lurking in there that could affect its smell and look. Then, the dirty water is pulled back up into the dirty tank, which is separate from the clean tank.
Available from outlets like the Rug Doctor, carpet cleaning machines come in a range of sizes and styles, from cleaners that look like typical upright vacuums for homes and flats to larger tanks on wheels for industrial use or larger spaces. Some carpet cleaners have also been designed to be easily portable with foldaway handles and a compact design.
Carpet steam cleaners can be bought or hired from your local hardware store and are particularly handy if you have a deeply embedded stain that won’t budge. Steam cleaning, also sometimes referred to as hot water extraction, involves a pre-conditioner being put down on the carpet and allowed to soak into the fibres. Then, the steam cleaner takes extremely hot, pressurized water and injects it into the carpet in the form of steam.
This hot steam helps to break down the stubborn substances stuck into the carpet, one of the most effective methods of getting rid of stubborn stains. This moisture is allowed to sit on the carpet before running a vacuum over it to pick up the grime and dirt that’s been extracted. After the carpet is allowed to dry, you may find that your carpet looks fuller and fluffier thanks to the hot water.
Having your carpets steam cleaned by a professional can run to hundreds of pounds. However, this method is also one of the most effective for removing bacteria and dust, making it the perfect solution for those who suffer from allergies, so the cost may be worth its weight in antihistamines!
Carpet encapsulation is one of the more environmentally friendly carpet cleaning solutions. It involves putting down a cleaning agent in the form of a foaming detergent or even a liquid, which crystallises and dries as it acts on the bacteria and dirt in your carpet. This crystallisation allows you to vacuum up the residue of the cleaning agent and the dirt that it’s captured, cleaning your carpet quickly and leaving barely a trace of chemicals behind.
You can buy carpet encapsulation products from your local supermarket or hardware store, or you can find a local professional to sort it out for you. Costs tend to be lower than for the other carpet cleaning methods, as you don’t need to hire an expensive machine to do the job for you. It’s also less time-consuming, as you won’t need to wait for the solution to dry as you would for the other water-based methods.
Now that you’ve got a pretty good view of the pros and cons of the different types of carpet cleaners out there, you’re probably still thinking “which one is the best carpet cleaner solution for me?”. Well, it depends – not only on your budget but the type of carpet you’re cleaning.
For example, carpet shampooing and steam cleaning are not recommended for wool carpets, as they are more sensitive - natural fibres won’t react as well to the moisture of these two methods. Professional carpet cleaning is recommended for wool carpets as they need specific attention and protective methods to ensure that they don’t get damaged.
Meanwhile, synthetic materials such as polypropylene can withstand a lot more aggressive cleaning methods due to their strong man-made fibres. You can use pretty much any of the above cleaning methods on these hard-wearing carpets. The best step to take is to follow the manufacturer guidelines on the carpets or rugs you want to clean, as they really will know best!
So, whether you’re looking for professional carpet cleaning or the cheapest but best carpet cleaner solution, there are several options you can choose from (and don't forget, they're handy for cleaning a rug too!). For more carpet care, check out our guide to new carpet care for more tips and tricks on how to keep your carpets in tip-top-Tapi condition, the best ways to repair a damaged carpet, or check out our amazing range of stain-resistant carpets if you want an easier time when cleaning!