5 Tips to Choose the Best Carpet Shampooer for Your Home

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated March 9, 2022
Dad playing with son on the carpet
Photo: Yakobchuk Olena / Adobe Stock

Make stained, dirty carpets a thing of the past

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Between kids, pets, and regular foot traffic, carpets can get noticeably dirty. To make your carpets look fresh and new again, shampoo them at least once a year—and more if you have exceptionally furry friends. Follow these five tips to find the right carpet shampooer for your space and your budget.

1. Know the Difference Between a Steam Cleaner and a Carpet Shampooer

Carpet shampooers directly apply a warm water and soap solution to the carpet. The solution sinks into the carpet and picks up dirt and debris along the way with help from attachments, like brushes. The shampooer then sucks up the moisture.

Carpet steamers loosen dirt with hot water or steam and then remove it with a powerful vacuum, transporting dirt to a holding tank within the unit. 

You should steam clean your carpets when you need a more surface-level cleaning, whereas carpet shampooers are meant for a deeper clean. Steam cleaners often can’t remove stubborn stains from carpets because they only use water or steam to clean, but carpet shampooers use soap or detergent that can lift stains. If you have set-in stains, go for a shampooer.

2. Consult Your Budget Before Buying

Carpet shampooers cost $50 to $300. The price varies depending on the strength of the machine and how many bells and whistles it has (the more brushes and attachments, the better it can clean your carpet). 

Consult your finances and determine whether you can afford to buy a shampooer, and browse online to see which models fit your budget. If the price doesn’t work for you, consider renting one for a day (more on this below).

3. Consider Renting vs. Buying

Woman using vacuum cleaner in the living room
Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

You can save money by renting your carpet shampooer instead of buying it. After all, you may only need to use it once or twice a year. By renting your shampooer, you won’t pay the upfront cost of purchasing one. Instead, you’ll pay a carpet cleaner rental fee of about $100 per day

But keep this in mind before renting a carpet cleaner.

"If you’re a homeowner who hosts family events, have children, or have pets, investing in a home carpet shampooer will be more cost-efficient," says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA.

4. Understand Size and Weight Differences

While it makes sense to buy the carpet shampooer with the most cleaning power, it may not be the ideal model for you and your lifestyle. Shampooers with powerful motors tend to be heavier than those with less powerful ones. You want a happy medium, so find a machine that cleans your carpets but doesn’t cause you to throw out your back every time you pull it out of the closet.

When you’re out shopping for a shampooer, pick it up to see if you can lift and maneuver it easily. Also, consider whether you need to use it in tight spaces, like narrow hallways or cramped corners.

5. Find a Machine With the Right Accessories

Carpet shampooers typically come with either fixed or rotating brushes. Fixed brushes clean the carpet and spread the shampoo, while rotating brushes scrub the carpet clean of dirt. Although rotating brushes have more cleaning power than fixed brushes, they have the potential to damage fragile carpet fibers and may not be ideal for carpets made from natural fibers. However, they work for synthetic carpet materials, like nylon.

Some models also come with attachments, including hose brushes and crevice tools that allow you to shampoo in hard-to-reach corners. If you have carpeted stairs, look for a carpet shampooer with a stair cleaner attachment. Some shampooers even have attachments for shampooing upholstery.

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