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  #1  
Old 08-08-2005, 07:06 PM
rjung rjung is offline
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Home carpet cleaning: do they work?

Having spent a good chunk of my weekend renting a steam-cleaning machine (specifically, The Rug Doctor), dragging the darn thing around the house, and getting my carpets sopping wet for a week in the process, I'm moved to ask for the opinions of my fellow dopers: do these darn things actually work? Or is it all just a psychosomatic gimmick to play upon our desire for cleanliness? I'm inclined to say that they sorta work, but not as good as possibly hiring a pro with industrial-strength equipment to do the job...?
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  #2  
Old 08-08-2005, 07:28 PM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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I have never rented a Rug Doctor, but I can tell you our experiences with carpet cleaning. We have a house with a lot of pets in it, and those little home carpet shampooer things (like "The Big Green Clean Machine") just wouldn't do the job for us. After having tried three different kinds of home carpet cleaning machines, we finally bought a used heavy-duty professional-style unit on eBay. It works quite well. It's huge and bulky, but we have plenty of storage space, so that's no problem.

The smaller home shampooers might be quite adequate if your carpets don't get very dirty. But if you have stains and pet hair, you may be disappointed with the machines that are sold for home use.
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  #3  
Old 08-08-2005, 10:05 PM
ioioio ioioio is offline
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I won't rent because I got a nasty shock from a rental once. I returned it to the store and informed them, but the next day it was for rent again.

About six years ago I bought a Bissel steam cleaner (about $300). Maybe it was a lemon, maybe the technology has improved -- I hate to bad mouth all steam cleaners based on my experience with one. The damned thing spent most of its life in the repair shop. It never worked right. When it worked at all, like you said, it only sort of worked. Way too much trouble for the results. I finally tossed it.

I have to admit that, with lots of fuzzy animals, I am hell on floor cleaners of any kind. The only vacuum that survives for long in my house is the shop vac.
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  #4  
Old 08-08-2005, 10:12 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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Mine is a second hand Bissell-the type that you connect to a hot water tap and it feeds concentrated soap in for spraying on carpeting with almost immediate vacuum removal. Not a shampooer, but I've been satisfied with the results in my home, several car interiors, and a few rental properties.
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  #5  
Old 08-08-2005, 11:14 PM
fishbicycle fishbicycle is offline
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We rented a heavy-duty machine from Home Depot. It seemed much heavier-duty than the Rug Doctor kind at the supermarket. The only downside was being sore the day after from dragging this massive machine backwards all over the house. But it did work, and the carpets looked quite nice afterward. We need to do it again soon. That kind of machine I can recommend as completely adequate for a house with three cats and their assorted barf stains.
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  #6  
Old 08-08-2005, 11:25 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjung
Having spent a good chunk of my weekend renting a steam-cleaning machine (specifically, The Rug Doctor), dragging the darn thing around the house, and getting my carpets sopping wet for a week in the process, I'm moved to ask for the opinions of my fellow dopers: do these darn things actually work? Or is it all just a psychosomatic gimmick to play upon our desire for cleanliness? I'm inclined to say that they sorta work, but not as good as possibly hiring a pro with industrial-strength equipment to do the job...?
If you spent a week at it, it's probably worth hiring a pro. They're obviously more expensive than a rent-a-shampooer, but not that much more, depending on how much free time you have and what value you place on it.

Having said that, I've had OK luck with a Rug Doctor. I find it works a lot better if you use the optional pre-treaters on stains and traffic areas. Spray those areas, let it set for a while, then go over the whole area with the machine.

There's also a bit of a technique to the rent-a-suck machines -- always pull towards you, don't press the "suck" button unless moving. Most especially, move at an effective speed. Yes, emptying that damned reservior time-after-goddamn-time sucks, but don't try to speed up the process by moving faster. You'll know you're moving at the right speed when the water doesn't come back through the feed-tube looking grey. I'm sure you figured most of this out through trial and error already.

Honestly, I've had results comparable to a pro with The Rug Doctor, if I pretreat well, and if I run that machine with monk-like precision. Without those givens, a pro kicks mine (or anyone's) ass.

Really, TRG isn't all that different than a pro's equipment, ignoring scale: all systems pump hot water + detergent into the rug and suck it out along with the dirt. A pro's equipment is just - hrrm - bigger.

The above is mostly my casual experience cleaning rugs my kid has destroyed. YMMV, and I'd love to hear from a Pro cleaner.
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  #7  
Old 08-08-2005, 11:29 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Also, do get a six pack of this. It's da bomb on smaller carpet stains. Pre-pre-treat with this and rinse out the areas. Pre-treat with the TRG stuff over larger areas, then patiently run La Machine over the works. It won't be perfect, but it'll look pretty good.

Or, hire a Pro, and catch the ball game.
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  #8  
Old 08-09-2005, 12:10 AM
Rick Rick is offline
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FWIW a good friend of mine's dad was in charge of cleaning carpet for LA County. He suggested getting a scrubber (two rotating brushes) dipping it in cleaner and using it on the carpet. Tehn following up with the rug doctor.
YMMV
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  #9  
Old 08-09-2005, 08:52 AM
phall0106 phall0106 is offline
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I don't know about anywhere else, but there are ads in the newspaper about indpendent carpet cleaners who will do X number of rooms for $X, and they really aren't that expensive. Prior to my moving years ago, I called one and he came out and did a great job in two rooms for $25--which allowed me to get my deposit back in full.
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  #10  
Old 08-09-2005, 11:50 AM
Ca3799 Ca3799 is offline
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My experience with the grocery store rentals has been poor- the machines are frequently dirty and beat up and I didn't feel like they cleaned/worked all that well.

I was also unhappy with the cleaning services I tired. The last time I hired one, the guys did a half-a**ed job and refused to fix my complaints, plus they found some extra fees I hadn't planned on (apparantly, my rooms are large by their standards).

I finally bought a machine myself- a Hoover SteamVac- that I've been happy with. It doesn't have a large capacity but is easy to operate and cleans well. Plus, I can use it anytime I wish.
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  #11  
Old 08-09-2005, 12:54 PM
Missy2U Missy2U is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ca3799
I finally bought a machine myself- a Hoover SteamVac- that I've been happy with. It doesn't have a large capacity but is easy to operate and cleans well. Plus, I can use it anytime I wish.
That's the same thing we have. It's wonderful - I don't know what we did without one before.
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  #12  
Old 08-09-2005, 01:15 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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I have a Hoover Steam Vac and it has been put to the test by the often mentioned here Amazing Regurgiating Son O'Mine. He's much better, now. TYVM


It was great with vomit and dirt. Things like grease, oil, tar and (the worst of the worst to get out ) Coca cola, were lessened, but never went away entirely. Nothing gets out coca cola. (Except vomit, which lighted the coke stain considerably) Trust me on this.

Things like tar have to be frozen and picked off the carpet. Gum, too.

Ironically, the soap not recommended at all for use in the scrubber or by the soap maker itself , was Dr. Bronners Yes, the lunatic that sells a billion uses in one soap. In a fit of " Shit, fresh barf to clean up and I'm out of the Standard Rug Cleaner and there is no way I can let that pile sit there overnight or five minutes longer than necessary. " (Vomit has acid in it that is a bleaching action on carpet.) I decided, " What the hell....lets try it...." It worked just as fine and left the room smelling minty fresh and the rug a little crunchy to walk on until vaccuumed again.

Most important part of a stain on a rug is to never let the stain dry out. Blot up as much of the damage as possible and then keep a moist cloth over it until you can do your course of action.

I am not a rug doctor, but I have a PhD in barfology and Emergency Clean Up.

YMMV. Taxes and Title Extra.
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  #13  
Old 08-09-2005, 01:17 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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I would like to state that we now have wood floors downstairs for obvious reasons.

People like us should have to pass a battery of tests to qualify for carpet ownership. (We'd fail.) This is why we could never be renters.
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  #14  
Old 08-09-2005, 10:18 PM
Ca3799 Ca3799 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest
Ironically, the soap not recommended at all for use in the scrubber or by the soap maker itself , was Dr. Bronners Yes, the lunatic that sells a billion uses in one soap.
I don't use recommended products, either. I use lemon scented "Mr. Clean" and have been happy with it.

It does clean well (the Hoover SteamVac). I bought it a week or two after the carpet cleaners came and was very surprised at how dirty the water was. I also quit 'loaning' it out after having to clean the machine a couple of times upon its return! I swear some people treat it like a grocery rental!!
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  #15  
Old 08-10-2005, 01:01 AM
rjung rjung is offline
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Thanks for all the replies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
If you spent a week at it, it's probably worth hiring a pro.
More like a day-and-a-half, but I get the point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
Yes, emptying that damned reservior time-after-goddamn-time sucks, but don't try to speed up the process by moving faster. You'll know you're moving at the right speed when the water doesn't come back through the feed-tube looking grey.
Don't you mean that it's working right when the water comes back looking grey? Clear return water implies to me that it's not cleaning, n'est pas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest
I would like to state that we now have wood floors downstairs for obvious reasons.
My wife would kill for replacing all our carpeting with nice hardwood floors (I'm indifferent either way). Unfortunately, it's not in the budget for the forseeable future.
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  #16  
Old 08-02-2013, 10:24 AM
Minnie Luna Minnie Luna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest View Post
I have a Hoover Steam Vac and it has been put to the test by the often mentioned here Amazing Regurgiating Son O'Mine. He's much better, now. TYVM


It was great with vomit and dirt. Things like grease, oil, tar and (the worst of the worst to get out ) Coca cola, were lessened, but never went away entirely. Nothing gets out coca cola. (Except vomit, which lighted the coke stain considerably) Trust me on this.

Things like tar have to be frozen and picked off the carpet. Gum, too.

Ironically, the soap not recommended at all for use in the scrubber or by the soap maker itself , was Dr. Bronners Yes, the lunatic that sells a billion uses in one soap. In a fit of " Shit, fresh barf to clean up and I'm out of the Standard Rug Cleaner and there is no way I can let that pile sit there overnight or five minutes longer than necessary. " (Vomit has acid in it that is a bleaching action on carpet.) I decided, " What the hell....lets try it...." It worked just as fine and left the room smelling minty fresh and the rug a little crunchy to walk on until vaccuumed again.

Most important part of a stain on a rug is to never let the stain dry out. Blot up as much of the damage as possible and then keep a moist cloth over it until you can do your course of action.

I am not a rug doctor, but I have a PhD in barfology and Emergency Clean Up.

YMMV. Taxes and Title Extra.
Instead of a puking son, we had the incredible puking cat.

She was diagnosed with IBD and we had a year of kitty puke madness until we found the right food and med combo. To make matters worse, the vet wanted her to have canned pumpkin at one point to add fiber to her diet. The pumpkin made her vomit bright orange.

We have the Hoover Steam Vac and it got rid of all stains, even the bright orange pumpkin puke on beige carpet. Because it was the cat, some stains were not found until we came home from work and the puke had dried a little.

I used Oxi-Clean in water on the puke first and got up as much as I could with that combo. If she puked in the middle of the night, I would use your trick of getting up as much as possible and then leaving a damp rag over it until I could drag the machine out. I would then use the machine to rinse with water then use the Hoover detergent.

The feature I like the best with the model I have is that is gives you the option of water only or water + detergent. I don't remember what we paid for it, but it was totally worth it.
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  #17  
Old 08-02-2013, 10:37 AM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
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We've always hired pros.

I have three cats and they all puke every once in a while. We usually don't notice until it is dry. Since I don't have a steam cleaner, I usually get up the dry bits with paper towel and then run the vacuum (the beater brush) until it will pick up no more. I then use Spot Shot on the stain (following the directions) a few times until it is out.

That's for stains. Every once in a while carpets NEED to be steam cleaned (high traffic areas in our house start to look grey). We get in the pros. Not too much more than renting and a hell of a lot less work.

Most of them have done a good job. I usually wait until I see something on WagJag or the like. Not too fussy, I guess.
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  #18  
Old 08-02-2013, 01:22 PM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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Originally Posted by carlferguson148 View Post
One of the best ways to clean your carpet is vacuum cleaning. But you must be careful while working with carpet fiber as there is risk of getting stuck in vacuum cleaner.
Enquiring minds want to know - what is at risk of getting stuck in the vacuum cleaner? Hopefully not the vacuum operator

Interesting zombie bump at least.
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  #19  
Old 08-02-2013, 01:37 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Steam cleaners are not great.
You need a scrubber to really get carpet clean.
They can be pretty cheap used.
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  #20  
Old 08-05-2013, 05:01 PM
Hedda Rosa Hedda Rosa is offline
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I have a Hoover SteamVac too and it does a great job. The dog barfed up his own poop he'd eaten. In a huge puddle on the guest room floor.

After picking up the worst of it with rags, we pulled out the Steam Vac and shampooed the hell out of that spot (using hothothot water mixed with white vinegar) and it came out perfect. Its also good for doing the whole carpet, and as someone said upthread go slowly and be willing to empty the tank many times.
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  #21  
Old 08-05-2013, 07:09 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Our Hoover Spin Scrub Steam Vac and Domestic Tranquility Adjuster is not quite up to the task of cleaning up after spammers, but it does a great job with dog barf and puppy piddle. Sadly, the expensive Hoover Platinum pet formula shampoo seems to be a key part of the process.

One of these days, I might try the Hoover line of products sold at the pet shop with amusing names like Ewww and Dang.

Last edited by gotpasswords; 08-05-2013 at 07:12 PM..
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  #22  
Old 08-05-2013, 08:19 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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I have a Hoover All Terrain home machine that has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. It does a great job, and has vinyl floor attachments and a stair hose/attachment. Friends have borrowed it and reported excellent results also. I've had this thing for ten years and it's still running strong.

I've had nothing but bad luck with commercial carpet cleaning businesses: using dirty water, not using detergent, etc. I think they're scam outfits and very expensive as well. Rental machines are worn out by the time you get them; cheaply made in the first place and inefficient at cleaning.

Our next door neighbor sold their house recently and had the carpet cleaned "professionally". The new people moved in and found stains in the living room; rented a machine and still had stains; borrowed my machine and the stains were gone immediately.
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  #23  
Old 08-06-2013, 10:05 AM
bump bump is offline
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Originally Posted by Missy2U View Post
That's the same thing we have. It's wonderful - I don't know what we did without one before.
Here's a third thumbs-up for the Hoover SteamVac.
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  #24  
Old 08-06-2013, 11:40 AM
nate nate is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid View Post
Steam cleaners are not great.
You need a scrubber to really get carpet clean.
They can be pretty cheap used.
Yeah, if all you want to do is push the dirt around. Your carpet will look nice, but it doesn't remove dirt.

I was a pro carpet cleaner back in my college days and now, as an older gent, I own a hoover steam vac for my carpet at home. It can't compare to the pro tools, but as long as you pre-treat well and suck up all the water you can after cleaning, it does an alright job. The professional systems are really powerful, quick and allows you to get into corners and edges, something my hoover sucks at.
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  #25  
Old 08-06-2013, 05:33 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Originally Posted by nate View Post
Yeah, if all you want to do is push the dirt around. Your carpet will look nice, but it doesn't remove dirt.

I was a pro carpet cleaner back in my college days and now, as an older gent, I own a hoover steam vac for my carpet at home. It can't compare to the pro tools, but as long as you pre-treat well and suck up all the water you can after cleaning, it does an alright job. The professional systems are really powerful, quick and allows you to get into corners and edges, something my hoover sucks at.
After scrubbing you need to use an extractor to remove all of the dirt you just loosened up. I thought that was obvious but I guess not. You don't just push the dirt around, you use the scrubber to free it from the fibers and an extractor to remove it. A steam vac works quite well as an extractor but scrubbing first give far superior results
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  #26  
Old 08-07-2013, 08:52 AM
nate nate is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid View Post
After scrubbing you need to use an extractor to remove all of the dirt you just loosened up. I thought that was obvious but I guess not. You don't just push the dirt around, you use the scrubber to free it from the fibers and an extractor to remove it. A steam vac works quite well as an extractor but scrubbing first give far superior results
You'd be surprised at the places that would want us to buff their carpets to make them look great but not pay for the steam cleaning/extraction to remove the dirt.

To add, buffing carpet is kind of like cleaning up a spill with windex and a wet rag... you do get rid of the stains but the majority of the dirt is still there.

Last edited by nate; 08-07-2013 at 08:55 AM..
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