We spent more than $3 billion in just one year on professional carpet and upholstery cleaning. But you can save a lot of money if you want to tackle the task on your own.
Just in time for spring cleaning, Consumer Reports tested eight carpet-cleaning machines from Bissell and Hoover. Prices ranged from $80 to $400. Testers also evaluated a rental machine. And for comparison, they hired a professional service, too.
Testing carpet-cleaning machines is a dirty job. First, testers evenly spread a measured amount of topsoil over the carpet. Next, they spray it with water, and then use a heavy roller to press in the dirt, much like foot traffic does. Testers then vacuum the dried dirt and use a device called a colorimeter to measure the amount left on each rug.
Afterwards it's time to put the carpet-cleaning machines to work. Each one passes over the soiled area 20 times. Last step, the colorimeter measures the difference.
No home machines or rented ones did as good a job cleaning as the professional service. You can really see the difference when comparing the professional cleaning to the lowest scoring carpet cleaner, the $80 Bissell QuickSteamer 1770.
Nevertheless, Consumer Reports did find a carpet cleaner that delivered very good results. It's the Hoover Dual Steam Vac All Terrain with spin scrub brushes, model F7452-900. It costs $270. That's just a fraction of what you'd pay for professional cleaning jobs.
Consumer Reports also tested cleaning solutions and spot cleaners. For carpet-cleaning machines, if a cleaning solution is not specified, try the top-rated Fresh Solutions Allergen Complete cleaner. It costs about $17.
And if you're just looking to do some spot cleaning, testers recommend the Bissell OxyPro Carpet Spot and Stain Remover that costs about $5.
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