Carpet washers: are they worth the investment?
I had never used a carpet washing machine before and was amazed at how much dirt it removed. I was also amazed at how awkward and awkward it was to use and how wet it left my carpet – I cleaned in the morning and it was unusable until later in the evening.
While impressed with the results, I was intrigued by the $ 40 price tag for a four hour rental and the fact that I took two trips to a store for my home washing options. So I bought one Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Deep Cleaner ($ 629) and a Living & Co carpet washing system ($ 129) and cooked my carpet cleaning shoot-out.
Living & Co carpet washing machine and Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Deep Cleaner
Out of the box, neither option was cheap compared to the commercially functional Rug Doctor. The Living & Co looks like a children’s toy: “My first carpet cleaner”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however – it’s simple and looks like it’s easy to use.
The Bissell has a label that says it’s “Professional,” but it looks downright domestic. Adorned with armor, buttons, and brightly colored pieces, it seemed a lot more complicated and daunting to a newbie like me.
Both models use an identical process. Switching on the machine creates a vacuum. When you slide it forward over a small area, squeeze a trigger to squirt a cleaning solution onto the carpet while the machine moves the damp spot with a brush. Then release the trigger, slowly pull the machine backwards over the spot and its vacuum sucks up the dirty water.
However, there is one critical difference in the “stir up” part of the process that explains why it is so much better at cleaning.
Under the Living & Co there is a loosely attached brush that rubs the carpet when you push the machine back and forth. In comparison, the Bissell has two belt-driven brush bars that rotate and scrape deeper into the carpet. It’s a tougher process, but the significantly cloudy water shows that it is extracting a lot more embedded dirt.
I set up the process on my dining room carpet – too long a trap for anything that fell off the table above and was never properly washed. The carpet was divided in the middle: half with Living & Co, half with Bissell.
Both sides were treated with the same amount of water (approx. 2 l) and cleaning solution. I followed the directions on both cleaners and took the same amount of time to tackle the job. While it would fail my exam in an accredited testing laboratory, this is a good starting point for these home detergents to perform.
Notes from a beginner at carpet cleaning
There wasn’t much of a difference in using the two machines. The Living & Co had few instructions on how much water or detergent to use. The tank was a bit awkward to clean. The trigger had to be pulled firmly and was awkward to hold, but the machine was light and easy to maneuver. It was incredibly loud.
The bissell had more thoughtful touches. The water tank stands upright in a wash basin and makes filling easier. It has markings that show how much detergent needs to be added. The controls don’t get boring, but it’s harder to press than the Living & Co. Although it’s certainly loud, it’s not unbearably loud.
The Bissell also comes with a useful suite of accessories. There is a 3m hose and a mini tool for cleaning upholstery and stairs. This Pet model is also equipped with a cleaning head, which is equipped with a small tank and filter to catch unmentioned pet debris so that the entire machine is not contaminated. Then there is the “The Amazing Self-Cleaning Carpet Washer” tray. The Living & Co is supplied without accessories or accessories and cannot be purchased separately.
Residual water. Left: Living & Co. Right: Bissell
After washing and drying, there was little noticeable difference in the color of my gray-brown rug – you wouldn’t know which side was cleaner when you looked at it. However, the difference in the water was amazing.
The Living & Co extracted some dirty water and left the carpet a little wetter than I expected. The water from the Bissell was filthy – not only opaque brown, but with mixed in sand and carpet fluff. About two to three times more water was also withdrawn. The bissell side of the rug immediately felt much drier. After six hours, the Bissell side was dry enough to be used while the Living & Co side was still too damp.
At $ 129, the Living & Co carpet washer costs little more than two full-day rentals from a carpet doctor with a stair cleaning attachment ($ 56.49 for eight hours). It’s definitely easier to use, but that’s all. It cannot clean stairs or upholstery, leaves the carpet very wet and most importantly, it does not clean the carpet very well. So, no, I wouldn’t buy one.
The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Deep Cleaner is easier to use and has various attachments that you can use to clean floors, stairs and upholstery. It removes a lot of dirt and leaves the carpet drier than a carpet doctor. However, $ 629 is quite an investment. Hiring a carpet doctor twice a year for five years would still be cheaper, and you wouldn’t have to find something in your house to store a bulky machine. While the Bissell does a great carpet cleaning job, this isn’t an investment I can justify.
However, I can see a reason why buying the Bissell outperforms renting a carpet doctor. If you have pets that need regular cleaning, having a carpet washing machine on hand is far more valuable. If the full size ProHeat model sounds like too much carpet washer to you, consider the Bissell Stain Eraser Pet 2006F cordless stain cleaner we tested.
* *The Living & Co carpet washing system is currently not available* *