Carpet shampooer buying guide

Get your carpets looking good as new.

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Carpet shampooers can clean your carpets much more effectively than a regular vacuum cleaner, but can get expensive. We’ll walk you through the steps for choosing a carpet shampooer, help you decide whether to buy or hire and give you tips for how to use it.

Compare some of the best carpet shampooers

NameAvg. price
TypeWeight (lbs)Tank size (gal)Purchase
Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Full-Size Carpet Cleaner
Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Full-Size Carpet Cleaner
$240Upright201Buy now
Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner
Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner
$100Upright120.5Buy now
Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine
Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine
$350Upright401.75Buy now
Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Family Pack
Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Family Pack
$400Upright503.9Buy now
Bissell SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Portable Deep Cleaner
Bissell SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Portable Deep Cleaner
$130Spot cleaner14N/ABuy now
Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner
Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner
$130Spot cleaner20N/ABuy now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is a carpet shampooer?

Carpet shampooers are home appliances designed to deeply clean your floors. They’re more effective than vacuuming since 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

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 and stains 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 sale.
  • 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 can be expensive. If you’re only going to use it once or twice, buying your own 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 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, rent a shampooer or book a professional carpet cleaning service. Compare your options below:

  • Flexibility to clean whenever you want
  • Clean different areas at different times
  • Regular cleaning can prolong the life of your carpet
  • Costly
  • Requires manual labor
  • Bulky to store
  • Basic models start at around $100
  • High-end models can be $1,000 or more
  • 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
  • Will typically give you the most efficient cleaning
  • No manual labor 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 odors. They use a motorized 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.

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 these features:

How to use a carpet shampooer

Most models 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, inconspicuous area of carpet to test that your settings are correct. It’s better to realize 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’s 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, go over areas with a tank of clean water to 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 say 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 quicker.

Ready to buy? Compare popular carpet shampooers

Bottom line

If you regularly shampoo your carpets, investing in a carpet shampooer of your own could be worth the price tag. Before springing for a pricy machine, compare a few of the most popular options in this guide to get the most cleaning power for your buck.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best carpet shampooers, we conducted online research to determine some of the most popular models currently available. We compared features like size, effectiveness and prices, taking into account third-party product reviews.

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