What are Carpet Cleaning Machines?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

A carpet cleaning machine is a device used to extract dirt, dust, stains, and debris from carpets. These machines are used when carpets require deeper cleaning than vacuums can provide. Vacuums are good for getting rid of crumbs, soil, and other particles that haven't been ground in or allowed to soak into the carper fibers. When debris can't simply be sucked up, however, carpet cleaning machines can help.

A professional carpet cleaner.
A professional carpet cleaner.

There are wet and dry carpet cleaning machines. Wet carpet cleaning machines, often used in residences, are referred to as steam cleaners. They work by putting water on the dirty carpet and then sucking the now dirty water up again. When this process works well, the carpet is left much cleaner. When using this type of carpet cleaner, care must be taken to avoid overly wetting the carpet, which can discolor or shrink it.

Steam cleaning a carpet may help get rid of pet odors.
Steam cleaning a carpet may help get rid of pet odors.

Some wet carpet cleaning machines are called extractors. These machines use a chemical solution that is injected into the carpet using a powerful pump. Then, the high-powered motors of the carpet cleaning machine suck the chemical and the dirt back out of the carpet once more. Often, the water is heated, as heated water is more effective at breaking down dirt inside the carpet. Many people consider extractors the preferred option for deep cleaning carpets.

Some people prefer to use dry cleaning machines. Dry carpet cleaners involve placing a dry chemical on the carpet before vacuuming. This chemical is designed to be absorbed and then get sucked up along with the dirt. This type of machine is considered less messy than wet cleaners. However, it may be less effective at cleaning heavily soiled carpets and those with certain types of debris, especially debris that has been ground into a rug.

There are many different types of carpet machines available for purchase. In choosing one, it is best to look for one that is durable and less prone to breaking. It should also have a powerful suction, be light enough for the person using it, and be simple to operate. Consumer reviews may be good for comparing choices.

Some people buy carpet cleaning machines to keep their homes in pristine condition. However, this type of equipment can be rather expensive, especially when wet methods are chosen. Instead, many people choose to go to hardware stores and home carpet cleaning machines. Rental prices are typically low to moderate. Others may opt to pay a cleaning service to bring its own carpet cleaning machines in and do the job for them.

It's important to move all of the furniture out of the room in preparation for carpet cleaning.
It's important to move all of the furniture out of the room in preparation for carpet cleaning.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@sunshined - I used to have the same thing happen to me and noticed this more when I rented a machine and did the work myself. If I hired a professional to come and clean my carpets, they seemed to stay clean longer.

I think the professional carpet cleaning machines do a better job of deep cleaning than the machines you rent. I would rent a machine to use every so often, but would have my carpet deep cleaned by a professional at least once a year.

Now I live in a house that only has carpet in the bedroom and I don't have to worry so much about keeping my carpet clean. There isn't as much traffic here and we rarely have our shoes on.

I think there is a place for the carpet machines you rent, but still think you get better results that last longer if you use some kind of commercial carpet cleaning machine.


Has anybody else had problems with stains reappearing after cleaning them with a carpet steam cleaning machine? My carpet always looks great for awhile, but after a few weeks, the same stains reappear.

I don't know if it is the type of carpet cleaning machine I am using, the cleaners I use, or both. This is so frustrating and I wish I knew how I could get these stains to completely disappear.

I have never used a dry carpet cleaning machine. It sounds like this would not be as beneficial with the type of stains I have. When you have three kids and two dogs, it can be hard to keep any carpet clean whether you are using a machine or not.


@bagley79 - Have you ever thought about buying your own machine? I used to rent carpet cleaning machines and figured it would be cheaper in the long run to have my own machine.

I found a used carpet cleaning machine for sale that had only been used once or twice. In less than a year I had paid for the machine in the money I saved for not renting one.

Since I have my own machine, I have also found that I clean my carpet more often and it is not such a chore to get it clean. I store the machine in the garage when I am not using it, but know I can use it at any time without going to the store and renting one.


Whenever I need to clean my carpets I go rent a portable carpet cleaning machine. There are many places that offer this service and I usually only need it for one night.

I get all of my carpets cleaned at once and return the unit the next day. I also like to use my own cleaners that I have on hand so I am not out extra money for cleaners.

I like to use concentrated, biodegradable cleaners when I am using a carpet cleaning machine. This way I am not saturating my carpet with chemicals and know they are safe.

All the machines I have rented use water to clean the carpet and I have had good results with these. It is such a good feeling when all of my carpet has been cleaned. It never stays that way long enough and I find myself renting another machine in another 6 months.

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