When you are looking at carpet cleaners, the sheer power of the machine plays a big role in its overall effectiveness. The motor powers the brushes and suction of the carpet cleaner, so cleaning and drying are affected. It is most common for carpet cleaner power to be measured in amps, which is the unit used for an electric current, so the more amps a carpet cleaner has, the more powerful it is. With a more powerful carpet cleaner, you can get out deeper stains faster and work with more powerful suction, which also helps the carpet dry more thoroughly. Some professional-grade carpet cleaners are so powerful they can be measured in horsepower, though they do not get much higher than 1-2HP. These carpet cleaners can be very expensive. Powerful but still affordable cleaners will have about 10-12 amps on average.
Carpet cleaners use water to clean, so every carpet cleaner has a tank system. There are 2-in-1 tank systems and 2-tank systems. 2-in-1 tank systems are composed of a bladder bag that sits in a compartment. You fill the bag with clean water. As you clean, the dirty water goes back into the tank compartment, surrounding the bladder bag. One advantage of 1-tank systems is that you only have to bother emptying one tank, though it can be rather awkward. Two-tank systems completely separate the clean and dirty water. Most people prefer the two-tank system because they are more hygienic. It is also easier to empty out each individual tank than with the 1-tank system.
Heavy-duty, pricier carpet cleaners have large tanks that can hold up to 2 gallons, while ½-gallon to 1-gallon is more common for your standard carpet cleaner. The advantage of a bigger tank is that you can clean for an extended period of time without having to refill. On the other hand, bigger tanks make the machine much heavier, which can make transporting it up and down stairs especially difficult. When you’re looking at a carpet cleaner tank, think about how much water you’ll need to get your cleaning done, and how often you want to refill and empty the tank.
When you use your carpet cleaner, pouring in hot water is a lot more effective than using cold or lukewarm water. Hot water mixed with soap creates a powerful cleaning solution that can dissolve dirt and oily stains. Carpet cleaners are not able to actively heat water, but most are able to insulate the hot water you pour into the tank, so the water stays at a good temperature for dissolving dirt and stains. Carpet cleaners with Heatwave Technology use hot air generated from the motor to keep the water warm.
In combination with water and soap, carpet cleaners use brush systems to work out ground-in grime from carpet fibers. There are a variety of brush systems that different carpet cleaners use, like PowerBrushes, which are made of stiff bristles that vibrate to work out dirt. SpinScrub is also a very popular technology. This system uses six, multi-directional brushes that spin through carpet. When you are looking at a carpet cleaner’s brushes, keep an eye out for how the brushes actually move, since you want the brushes to surround each carpet fiber for a thorough clean. Brushes with dual-rotation, counter-rotation, or 360-degree rotation are the best for getting completely around each fiber.
Carpet cleaners dry the carpet by sucking up the dirty water with a nozzle. However, simply removing the water from the carpet it is not always enough to get the fibers really dry, so heated air from the motor is often directed to the nozzle. Surround suction is another feature to look out for, since that helps the carpet dry more evenly. Generally speaking, the more amps you have on a carpet cleaner, the stronger suction it has. Stronger suction results in more pulled-up water so the carpet is drier after you’ve completed the chore.
Ease of Use
Carpet cleaners can be very heavy. The lighter carpet cleaners tend to have smaller tanks since water adds a lot of weight. These more compact cleaners can weigh between 10-20 pounds. More heavy-duty, professional carpet cleaners can weigh over 40 pounds, but they do have wheels so moving the cleaner around one floor it is not so difficult. Adjustable handles also make carrying the cleaner up and down stairs more convenient.
With most carpet cleaners, you get at least a few accessories, like an upholstery tool or tool you can use for stairs. With an upholstery tool, you can deep-clean your couches, armchairs, and other furniture as well as your floors. Stair tools are narrower and allow you to get into tighter corners. You might also get cleaning pads that keep your floors protected when you use the carpet cleaner.