Home Steam Cleaners: Ripoff or not?

If this topic has already been discussed, I’d welcome a pointer. My attempts to search for such a thread turned up nothing.

I’ve been considering buying one of those home steam cleaners. You know, like the Hoover SteamVac or the Bissel Deep Clean. Does anyone here have one of these things, and if so, how well does it work? We have a regular vacuum cleaner, and would probably only use the steam cleaner occasionally. I’m trying to decide if it would be worth the expense (around $300) for something we’d use only once in a while, or would it be more cost efficient to occasional rent a RugDoctor from the grocery store?

Thanks for any and all opnions!

They’re all evil, nasty machines that will EAT your carpet, chew it up and spit it out in a pool of filthy, lukewarm water!

It’s MUCH better to call a reputable carpet cleaning company.

(What? You searched my profile and under “A.M. job” it said I work for a carpet cleaner? Oops! )


We use ours (a Hoover SteamVac) fairly often, we have pets. With three elderly dogs, it has been a lifesaver.

Ours gets used quite often. Especially in the bathroom. And a little secret. Want to make your car really shine after a good washing? Use the steam cleaner around all the trim and such. You will be amazed at all the crud that comes out

I used mine a lot and when I ripped out the carpet to replace it with wood flooring, I found a ton of mold! This can make you very sick. I recommend not doing this with a carpet that has a high pile and never on the textured kind. You will never get all that water out. Chem-dry is a reputable company for chemical cleaning and the floors are dry in hours.

Aside: There is a new kindof carpet out that is actually made of plastic. Nothing absorbes into it and you just vacuum the dirt right out. Great for allergies and dogs…

Well, I had an old, old Bissell (that my roommate sent to the Salvation Army by mistake! :mad: ) and I loved it. I have cats and at the time my kid was still young enough that we had frequent spills, so I used it pretty frequently, so renting a rug doctor was neve an attractive option for me.

Having rented all my life, though, all I ever did with it was spot clean. If I needed a wall-to-wall cleaning I called in the big guns - THE LANDLORD!

Anyway, FWIW…

My wife bought one, and it is great. Instead of using the bottled cleaner, she uses OxyClean or something similar, and it’s fantastic!

As has been said, very handy with pets and children.

…to clean up after them, not to bathe them, although I suddenly have an idea…if I don’t use real hot water, and a baby shampoo…hmm…

Well, the sweetie and I went out and bought one. Some observations:

  1. It doesn’t do much for ground in stains. We have not tried pre-treating the stains, though. That will happen next time.

  2. Don’t use the hand attachment. It’s too much to clean up afterwards and doesn’t really do a good job.

  3. The scrubbing thingamajobs leave damp carpet clumps all over the place.

  4. There’s a lot of ick coming out of the carpet with this machine. The bucket where the dirty water goes is full of black sludge.

Not a cheap investment, but probably something we’ll use every other month or so on the high-traffic areas. We have a beige carpet and a dog. If this helps to keep the dark streaks to a minimum, it’ll be worth the investment.


We had one that my sister-in-law bought years ago and left at our house. It never worked well and it was one more thing to take up space in the basement.

It finally died six months ago and we gleefully tossed it.

We rented a RugDoctor and I must say that there was a night-and-day difference. Key points for the RugDoctor:

  1. You don’t store the darned thing in your basement.
  2. It’s cheap. Just like renting a chainsaw or a drywall sander only when you need it.
  3. The rental units are much more robust than retail units.
  4. If it breaks, it’s their problem.

That said, it didn’t get the urine smell out completely where our cats peed, but they had been hammering the same spot for weeks so it probably was a lost cause. The water did come out satisfyingly black, so it was doing some good.

I tried them a few times, renting them for about fifteen bucks per day.

Then they said you need soap!

then they said you need something to keep soap bubbles down so you need another product from the same people that made the soap that makes too much bubbles!

Then you need stuff to take out stains, guess who made that?

The soap is expensive & so is the unsoaper (for lack of a better word).

For the home machines, the soap stuff seemed a bit more expensive than for the commercial machines.

I’ve done the RugDoctor thing a few times, and it’s a hassle. It’s not as cheap as it at first looks because, as handy mentions, you have to buy a bunch of cleaning products to go with it, and for some reason, the cleaning products are rather expensive. Additionally, much like video rentals, the time the machine had to be back in the store was rather early in the day. Finally, I found the suction power of the machines to be weak enough that the carpets were still damp a couple of days later. After using the SteamVac (strange name since it doesn’t really use steam), I realize that I probably should have run the vacuum head over the damp spots several times, but I didn’t learn that until after I had invested in the new machine.

If I had thought of cleaning the rugs last weekend, I probably would have gone the RugDoctor route, knowing there’d be plenty of time for the carpets to dry before Esprix’s party tonight.

Thanks for the input, everyone!

Borrowed my friend’s Hoover Steam Cleaner when I moved, to de-funkify the carpet and furniture, and all I used was a bottle of Oxyclean and a lot of hot water. Didn’t even touch the cleaner that Hoover recommended, on my friend’s recommendations, because as noted, they do make far too much lather and it’s difficult to remove.

My furniture looked almost new when we were finished, and pre-treating with Oxyclean even removed old grease stains from the carpet.

The only caveat is that you can soak anything too much, and you have to be really careful to go slow with the steam cleaner and suck all the moisture back up. Otherwise your carpet/furniture will get all moldy and gross.

I still want one, though, after borrowing hers.

I love my hoover steamer! I live in South Carolina where we have red clay and my steamer gets it out of my tan carpet. Its a great investment!!! Margo

I had a service come recently. The carpet is a little over a year old and we have two kids and a dog. The service was poor- they didn’t (refused) to move anything, so I moved the things that I wanted moved myself. They were put out that they had to come back to the room after I moved the stuff. They did a great job on the couches, but refused to move the couches to clean the corner where the two couches meet. I really wanted that corner done as I suspected the dog had ‘gone’ back there. They charged me for cleaner and a scotch-guard like protector that they apparantly did not provide. I was $150.00 to do the house

A month later, I bought a Hoover Steamvac v2 for $300.00. I did not shop at all for the machine- I just went to Sam’s and bought the one they carried. I was astounded at the amount of dirty water the Hoover picked up! I thought that maybe Hoover hid the dirt in the lines to make me feel good or something. I agree with a previous poster that the attachments are a hassle, and the machine itself has a poor attachment holder design, but I am reallt glad I have it. That sucker can suck up some carpet dirt. I’m probably going to switch to oxyclean, too -I have heard this tip from other moms in the neighborhood.

I am happy with the machine and feel the carpet service was overpriced and of poor quality.

Something else to try instead of the expensive Hoover or RugDoctor cleaners…plain old laundry detergent. It not only does a great job but leaves your rugs smelling like freshly laundered clothes. Pick a scent that is particularly pleasing to you and you are set. Just be sure to put the water in before the detergent to avoid bubbles.

How does one use OxyClean with the SteamVac? Every time I use OxyClean, I find residue at the bottom of whatever container I am using. I would be afraid that the residue would clog up the sprayer of the SteamVac.


jkusters, you don’t put the OxyClean in the SteamVac at all; you pre-treat the surface first by spraying it down with OxyClean, and then you just use the SteamVac to steam and suck it all back up. Don’t put anything in the SteamVac but hot water.

Trust me. You’ll be surprised.

We own a Hoover SteamVac Widepath 6000. We use it as needed; most recently, this past weekend. It beats any rental unit that I have ever used. We consider it well worth the $300 or so that we paid for it.