How to Use a Carpet Cleaner

The most efficient and, in our opinion, the easiest way to clean your carpets is with an upright carpet cleaner.

If you are unfamiliar with using a carpet cleaner the process may seem a bit involved or even daunting at first but don’t worry, carpet cleaning is actually pretty easy once you know what you’re doing. That’s why we created this article full of useful tips and detailed instructions to help you learn how to use a carpet cleaner like a pro.

In this article, you will read about everything you need to clean your carpets using a machine, including recommendations that should make the process as effective and easy as possible.

Benefits of Using a Carpet Cleaner

Carpet cleaning machines are an excellent tool that can be used to remove dirt, stains, and other grime from carpets in your home. Carpet cleaner machines are able to deep clean a carpet in a way vacuum cleaners simply can’t. You can even use special treatment detergents and water to remove stains you may have thought were there for good.

A clean carpet also looks fuller because the carpet fibres are refreshed and fluffed during the cleaning process. Thus, running a carpet cleaner over high traffic areas in your home can seriously help keep your carpet looking fresh and new.

Before You Start

Before you clean your carpets we recommend you read the manual for your specific carpet cleaner. A quick read will help alert you to any minor differences in your machine and also help make sure you add water and detergent to the right tank, and to the right fill level.

The Right Time to Clean Your Carpets

Cleaning your carpets will take a considerable amount of time. Not only do you get the best results when the process is done slowly, but you also need to factor in time for preparation and time for the carpet to completely dry before using the space again.

You may want to plan cleaning your carpets around a time when you won’t need to use the space quite as much. Or, you may want to divide the work and tackle the task one room at a time so your entire house isn’t unusable simultaneously. Depending on the weather, you may have to wait several hours or up to a full day until your carpet is completely dry and usable again.

Preparing the Area

woman vacuuming dirt and dust Before using a carpet cleaner we find it is best to move your furniture out of the way. This allows you to achieve full coverage without having to stop and move furniture and things around once you already start.

When you clean your carpets, it is best to first vacuum them so the machine can focus on deep cleaning and not superficial dirt.

Pre-Treatment and High Traffic Areas

While shampooing your carpet, make sure to pay extra attention to high traffic sections of your carpet that get the most use, such as walkways or entrances. Also, you may benefit from spot-treating stains in high traffic areas with a stain remover spray before starting the shampoo process.

Many different types of carpet cleaning solution spray are available, choose a spray that has a nice scent. A carpet cleaner is meant to deep clean specifically so a pre-treatment can go a long way in helping you remove the most stubborn stains and achieving the best results possible.

Water Temperature

When you clean your carpets make sure to use warm water or slightly hot water for the best results. Warm water does a much better job cleaning compared to cold water. It can remove dust, grime, dust mites, and other allergens. Just make sure not to use hot water that could potentially burn you while transferring it to the tank or possibly damage the machine.

Using a Carpet Cleaner: Step-by-Step Instructions

These general instructions should help teach you how to use a Vax carpet cleaner, a Rug Doctor, or any common carpet cleaner.

1. Add warm to mildly hot water up to the fill line in the clean water tank on your machine. Make sure not to add it to the dirty water tank or fill it past the line as it could cause an unnecessary mess.

2. Add the cleaning detergent to either the clean water or possibly a separate soap compartment, depending on the machine. With most carpet cleaners you will simply add the soap to the hot water.

3. Reattach the tank and plug the machine into mains power.

4. Assess the function buttons so you know how to release water and how to vacuum. Then power up the machine.

5. Press and hold the clean water button and slowly push the carpet cleaner forward on the floor. This adds the cleaning solution to the carpet and begins the cleaning process.

6. Release the button to activate the vacuum suction and slowly pull the machine back over the same area on the floor. This pulls the water and cleaning solution out of the carpet and into the dirty water compartment. Knowing how quickly you should clean is important; do this slowly so it pulls as much moisture out of the carpet as possible.

You do not need to leave the detergent on the floor for a specific amount of time and you don’t want the carpet to be wet either so go slowly. On most carpet cleaner models you should be able to watch the machine suck up the dirt and water through a see-through compartment so you will know if it is pulling up water or not.

cleaning appliance tank filled with soapy water 7. Repeat steps 5 and 6, progressing around the room in straight lines until the dirty water compartment is full or the clean water tank is empty

8. Empty the dirty water tank and start the process over from the beginning until you have covered the entire area. Depending on the size of the area you are cleaning, you may have to empty and refill the tank several times. We recommend dumping the murky water outside when possible so as not to clog any of your drains and always making sure the tank is firmly reattached before proceeding.

9. Assess the results and determine if you have successfully cleaned your carpets. It is likely you will want to redo high traffic areas in the room.

10. Rinse your carpet with cold water. When you are satisfied with your results we recommend going around the area one last time using cold water and no detergent to prevent additional foaming. This extra rinse will help remove any leftover soap or dirt trapped in the carpet’s fibres.

Other Things to Consider

How Soon Can You Use Your Carpet After Cleaning?

When done, it is normal for your carpet to still feel moist, but not saturated or super wet. If your carpet is still soggy, this could be a sign that you were moving too fast while cleaning.

Always make sure to wait for the carpet to completely dry before replacing your furniture and using the room again. If you replace furniture too soon, mould or permanent indentations could develop. To speed up the drying process you can open doors and windows or strategically place fans around the room to get air to move over the carpet and dry faster.

What Are the Different Types of Carpet Cleaners?

machine for cleaning rugs in living room Handheld carpet cleaners are the most affordable options available. They are good for smaller spots and stains, or the immediate cleanup of spills so they can be super helpful if you have kids or pets.

However, if you want to clean an entire room, you will have to change the water many times because handheld carpet cleaners have a much smaller tank. Also, you will have to work on your hands and knees making the process significantly more labour-intensive.

Upright carpet cleaners look like large vacuum cleaners and can easily handle a larger space. It can efficiently clean all types of rugs and carpets in your home. If you anticipate using your machine frequently, you may want to consider buying one for your home.

Although, if you only plan on shampooing a smaller room or rooms in your home once per year, renting a machine may be better suited to your needs. It will save you quite a bit of money and storage space as well. Many hardware stores and grocery stores rent carpet cleaners, like the Rug Doctor, and people find this is the most convenient option for cleaning carpets in their home.

How Often Should You Shampoo Your Carpet?

For the most part, it is recommended that you clean the carpets in your home once per year. For a room that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, you may be able to get away with only cleaning it every 18 months or so.

However, if you have a large family, a lot of guests, or just get a lot of foot traffic in the areas at home that you wish to give a deep clean, then you may clean your carpets every eight months.


You have come to the end of our article and now that you know how to use a carpet cleaner there is no reason to delay any longer. Plan your next deep cleaning session now to help keep your carpets smelling fresh and looking new for years.

Do you use a carpet cleaner at home? Do you have some tips on how to effectively deep clean a carpet? Let us know in the comments section below.


  1. Thank you for the info.
    I’m going to do my my carpet using your guide line.

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