Cats and dogs are lovable, but the messes they leave behind? Not so much. From soil-covered paws to accidental urine leaks, you never know when a dirty disaster will strike. While it’s quick and easy to wipe up vomit or urine from hardwood, tile and linoleum floors, cleaning these substances from carpet and upholstery requires more time and effort.
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No matter what surprises your pets create, there is one tool that can keep your home fresh and spotless at all times – a carpet cleaning machine.
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How Can Owning a Carpet Cleaner Benefit Me?
If you’ve ever hired a carpet cleaning service, you know how iffy some providers can be. In their haste to finish cleaning your carpets and get to their next customer, technicians may over-wet, over-brush or over-shampoo a carpet.
Since you don’t know how much experience any given technician has, you may be left with problems such as color bleeding, browning, pile distortion and mildew. Plus, carpet cleaning is a cost-prohibitive service with the average homeowner being able to afford this expense only once per year.
As an alternative, many people choose to rent a carpet cleaning machine from their local home improvement store or large chain grocer. While this is a less costly solution to carpet cleaning, these machines are heavy and leaky, and the process of renting one is rather involved.
When you own a carpet cleaner, it’s always on-hand and ready to use at a moment’s notice, so messes don’t have a chance to set in and damage to your carpet. While the upfront cost varies from model to model, the money you spend on buying one quickly pays for itself.
Should I Buy a Portable or Upright Carpet Cleaner?
Full-size upright carpet cleaners are the best choice for whole-carpet cleaning. However, your pets don’t make messes from corner to corner of the room. Their messes are typically small spots that are either sporadically spaced or concentrated in one area.
As a cat or dog owner, it doesn’t make sense to pull out a large upright cleaner to clean a tiny puddle of urine or a few paw-shaped spots of dirt. Portable machines are designed with spot cleaning in mind. They are lightweight, less time-consuming to set up and easy to store. Due to their compact size, you can even use them on your stairs and furniture.
What Lies Beneath My Carpet?
There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to floors. Under that gorgeous Saxony carpet installed in your living room, there are several layers of flooring. If you peel a whole-room carpet away from the wall, you’ll see a rubber or foam material, which is called padding or an underlay.
Carpet padding is designed to absorb the impact of foot traffic to reduce the stress it causes to the fibers and backing of the carpet.
In every house, no matter what type of floor covering it has, there is a subfloor. If you live in a concrete slab home, the slab is usually the subfloor. However, in other homes, the subfloor is often made of flakeboard or plywood. The subfloor rests on top of the joists, and its job is to support the floor covering and the weight of the people walking on top of it.
Rooms with floors covered in wall-to-wall carpet also have tack strips. Like the name suggests, these are strips of wood with sharp tacks sticking out of the top of the strips. These strips are nailed to the subfloor, so the carpet stays wrinkle-free and in place.
Can Pet Messes Permanently Damage My Carpet?
Dirt, feces, urine and vomit – These are the four main types of messes caused by cats and dogs. When not immediately addressed and properly cleaned, these substances can irrevocably damage your carpet and upholstery. Feces and vomit are extremely acidic. In fact, their pH levels are high enough to eat through carpet and upholstery stain protectors.
Depending on what brand of food you give your pets, the solid waste and vomit they produce may contain red dye, which can easily stain carpeting and fabrics. Most importantly, animal feces tend to harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites like roundworms, salmonella, E. coli and giardia, all of which can be transmitted to humans.
Soil and dirt are also two inevitable messes you’ll be faced with if you own indoor-outdoor pets. When dirt is ground into the carpet as you or your pet walks on it, the affected fibers sustain microscopic scratches. As the dirt makes its way to the bottom of the carpet, it cuts the fibers. This leads to worn, thin pile, which cannot be fixed.
Finally, there is the matter of urine. This is the most difficult mess to clean because it may dry before you realize your pet had an accident. Since it’s liquid, urine can easily soak through the carpet to the padding underneath.
Even worse, animals tend to urinate in the same place to mark the area as their territory. Repeated marking in one area may eventually cause the urine to soak through not only the padding but also the subfloor, causing it to rot.
Since this is structural damage, the only way to repair the issue is to replace the entire section of subfloor that is saturated in urine. If your pet sprays on the wall, it’s likely you’ll also need to lay down new tack strips. Like feces, animal urine contains bacteria and can lead to mold growth, which may lead to significant health problems.
Why Can’t I Just Hand Scrub Carpet Stains?
Sure, the cost of purchasing a hard-bristled scrub brush is cheaper than buying a carpet cleaning machine, but that is where the advantages end. Carpet cleaners can clean stains and spots much faster than you can, saving you valuable time. Unlike hand scrubbing, you won’t come away with sore arms and blisters on your hands when you use a carpet cleaner.
Plus, these powerful machines can work their way into the carpet fibers to remove the part of a stain that you can’t see or reach. Typically, manually scrubbing only cleans the upper part of the carpet, causing stains to reappear later even if you think they’re gone.
How Long Will It Take My Carpet to Dry?
There are several factors that determine how long it takes a carpet to dry. The thickness of the carpet pile plays a part. The shorter the pile, the quicker the drying time. You also have to consider how the cleaning machine dries wet carpet and upholstery. Carpet cleaners either dry wet areas via water extraction or forced heat. While both methods are effective, forced heat can slightly decrease a carpet’s dry time.
On average, a wet area of carpet can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to dry while upholstery can take almost twice as long. If you need to dry a small spot faster, open a few windows and point a fan at the area to boost the evaporative process.
What Kind of Carpet Cleaning Formula Should I Use?
Pet messes are malodorous, particularly urine due to its high ammonia content. The bacteria and mold that go hand-in-hand with pet messes also cause horrible smells. While many carpet-cleaning formulas are designed to mask these odors, you need one that neutralizes them.
The best formula is an enzyme solution. Enzymes are proteins from living organisms that destroy the bacteria and other organic matter that lead to pet odors. For stubborn stains, use a pre-treating gel before you fire up your carpet cleaner.
Top 5 Portable Carpet Cleaner for Pets
5 BISSELL 33N8A SpotBot Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
Too busy to hand scrub pet stains? Get the Bissell 33N8A SpotBot. This portable carpet cleaner lets you choose between a 6-minute set-in stain mode and a 3-minute surface stain mode; all you need to do is place it over the spot, press a button and watch the machine do its job through the transparent cleaning window.
The machine cleans from the bottom to the top of your carpet to release deep stains, and the spiral brushes rotate at a speed of 400 revolutions per minute to knock out stubborn messes.
You can also clean stains manually by pressing the hose button on the control panel. In manual mode, you can use the 5-foot hose and 3-inch-wide stain tool with its trigger-style spray; the 3-amp motor provides plenty of suction power to remove stains you thought were there to stay.
When you’re finished cleaning your carpet, the hose and 15-foot power cord wrap neatly, and the tool can be put on board for instant access the next time you need to use the carpet cleaner.
Bissell understands that odors and pets go hand in hand. Therefore, its 32-ounce separated tank is coated with a material that hinders the growth of mold and bacteria. You’ll also appreciate how easy it is to carry the 14.1-pound carpet cleaner by its built-in carrying handle. It even comes with a 2-year warranty for peace of mind.
4 Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner
Although this portable spot cleaner from Rug Doctor weighs 15 pounds, you’ll find it surprisingly easy to maneuver. Its luggage-style handle pulls up, so you can roll it around with ease, and the smooth wheels won’t damage your carpet. With a 15-foot cord, there will always be an outlet that’s close enough to the stain you need to clean.
From old, neglected stains to freshly made spots, the carpet cleaner can handle any stain thrown its way. Once you flip the rocker switch on the 4.5-inch-wide nozzle, the oscillating brush makes 1,200 movements per minute. As it scrubs and extracts dirty water, the nozzle fluffs the carpet’s fibers to give the area a flawless finish.
For reaching stains on stairs or in your car, the 5.5-foot hose flexes and bends to help you work your way into awkward areas.
To make sure the dirty water doesn’t contaminate the clean water, this spot cleaner has two tanks. In total, these see-through tanks have a capacity of 64 ounces, so the water lasts throughout an entire cleaning session. For tidy storage, there is a recessed hose wrap on the machine. Plus, you get warranty coverage that lasts 2 years.
3 Hoover FH11300PC Portable Carpet Cleaner
Featherlight and compact – This Hoover FH11300PC Portable Carpet Cleaner weighs a mere 9 pounds and measures 15 inches tall, offering hassle-free portability and storage. To help you carry it, there is an integrated handle on top of the cleaner, and its 14-foot power cord gives you plenty of reach.
Along with a 2-year limited warranty, you get a sample bottle of Hoover’s carpet cleaning formula and pretreating gel to help clean difficult stains.
Once you fire up the 420-watt motor and release a spray of soapy water, the handheld tool’s rubber nubs work deep into the carpet. For added protection, the tool is infused with a germ-fighting material. Since the 5-foot hose is clear, you can easily see clean water being delivered to the stain and dirty water being flushed out as it self-cleans.
Hoover’s dedication to cleanliness doesn’t stop with the spot tool and hose. This carpet cleaner contains two transparent tanks that prevent dirty and clean water from mixing. With the clean-water tank’s 51-ounce capacity and the dirty-water tank’s 36-ounce capacity, you won’t spend much time refilling and dumping them. However, when one of them needs to be filled or emptied, you can easily remove it.
2 BISSELL 1400B Portable Carpet Cleaner
Clean up after your pets with the environmentally friendly BISSELL 1400B Portable Carpet Cleaner. Over 50 percent of the casing is made from recycled plastic, and the tank and hose are PVC-free.
The textured built-in handle on the carpet cleaner makes lifting the 9.65-pound machine an effortless endeavor, and the vertical rocker switch allows you to easily control the power to the carpet cleaner.
The stain tool is 3 inches wide to help you cover large portions of the stain you’re removing, and its squeeze button instantly releases a stream of cleaning fluid. Thanks to the 3-amp motor’s suction-only extraction power, it doesn’t take long for the carpet to dry. To give you the reach you need for staircases, the cord stretches to 15 feet and the hose extends to 4 feet.
Measuring 13.25 inches long, 9.1 inches wide and 18.8 high, this carpet cleaner is ultra-compact, so it won’t take up much room in your closet or cabinet. Its 48-ounce translucent tank holds more than enough liquid for cleaning multiple spots, which comes in handy if you have an excitable dog.
To protect your investment, Bissell provides warranty coverage for 1 year.
1 Bissell 3624 SpotClean Portable Carpet Cleaner
Like the name suggests, the SpotClean Pro from Bissell delivers a professional level of carpet cleaning. This is partly due to the 5.7-amp motor that drives the cleaner’s impressive suctioning ability. In order to help you tackle spots caused by animal urine and dirt-covered paws, the carpet cleaner comes with a 3-inch-wide deep stain tool and a 6-inch-wide staircase tool.
To back all this professional cleaning power, Bissell offers a 2-year limited warranty.
Wherever you need to clean, this portable carpet machine can go. It has a lengthy 22-foot power cord and a 4-foot bendable hose. For easy transport, you can lift the 13.2-pound cleaner by the raised carrying handle. After you’ve removed every spot on your carpet, you can wind the cord around the quick-release wrapping assembly.
The see-through tank can hold a whopping 96 ounces of water. With its lifting lock, you can feel confident that the tank will never leak and dribble a trail of water across your floor. To help you carry it to and from the sink, the reservoir has a hinged handle.
Since the carpet cleaner comes with an 8-ounce bottle of concentrated cleaning formula, everything you need to get started can be found in the box.
How Do I Choose a Carpet Cleaner That Can Eliminate Pet Messes?
When it comes to the messes your pets make, you need a carpet cleaner that can eliminate a stain before it sets in for good. For spot removal, portable carpet cleaning machines are definitely the way to go. However, you need one with enough power behind the motor and speed driving the brushes to get rid of these stains. You also need a carpet cleaner that can tackle the strong odors caused by pet messes.
Here are some features to look for when you’re shopping for a pet-centric carpet cleaner.
The stronger the motor, the more powerful the suction, which directly affects how much water the nozzle can extract. If the motor is not strong enough, the machine can’t thoroughly remove stains, and it will take longer for the area to dry. The motor’s wattage and amperage will give you an idea of how well the carpet cleaner performs.
You should also pay attention to the width of the nozzle’s opening. With a wide nozzle, you can clean more of a stain at once, and this type of nozzle comes in handy for stairs. Usually, a portable carpet cleaner comes with a 3 to 6-inch-wide nozzle. Some models offer a small nozzle for spots as well as a large nozzle for stairs.
Every carpet cleaning nozzle has bristles. The configuration of these bristles makes a difference on how much effort you must put forth to clean a stain. For a stationary brush, multiple rows of bristles equal efficient cleaning power. If the brush rotates or oscillates, carpet cleaning will be easier; however, it should move at a high rpm for the best results.
There are also a couple of carpet cleaners with moving brushes that let you put the machine on top of the spot for a few minutes without any additional effort on your part.
Although the water capacity varies from one model to the next, a large-capacity tank means you won’t have to frequently empty and refill it. While the tank won’t be as big as the one on an upright carpet cleaner, you don’t need an oversized one for spot cleaning.
To make pet-mess cleanup as hygienic as possible, many manufacturers offer portable carpet cleaners with two tanks just like you can find on a number of full-size machines. It also helps if the tank has a toting handle to make trips to the sink less of a hassle.
Ranging in weight from around 10 to 20 pounds, portable carpet cleaners are relatively lightweight. Whether you opt for one on the low end or high end of this range depends on a few factors. If your home has a staircase, choose a model on the low side of the spectrum. However, if you want a carpet cleaner with wheels, you will be fine with a slightly heavier model.
When you’re cleaning stains, you want the ability to reach as far as possible, especially if you need to clean a spot on a stair or a piece of furniture. Therefore, the length of the hose is crucial. Most portable carpet cleaners have a hose that measures from 4 to 6 feet long.
You can even find some machines with a self-cleaning hose that flushes out dirt and contaminants, leaving your machine clean and odor-free the next time you use it.
The technology utilized in plastics manufacturing is rather impressive. Some plastics are even infused or coated with an antimicrobial material that kills germs and other pathogens on contact. You can get the benefit of this technology in some carpet cleaners. Often, it’s the tank or the hose that is made from this material. However, a few machines have nozzles made of antimicrobial plastic.
Some carpet cleaners have wheels and a pull handle while others have a lifting handle. No matter how the machine is configured, you’ll find it easier to maneuver if the handle is designed with ergonomics in mind. You have several options in terms of a comfort. Some handles are convexly curved to support your palm while others are textured or have a soft rubber cover.
The power cord is a given feature. However, like the hose, the length of the cord is important in terms of reach. Typically, the cord measures from almost 15 to over 20 feet long. Cords that fall within this range should give you a wide working radius.
If you have stairs in your house, you should opt for a power cord that’s close to or more than 20 feet.
Since you probably don’t want to put your carpet cleaner on display, you’ll need one that is small enough to fit in your hall closet, kitchen cabinet or wherever you store your cleaning supplies. While most portable carpet cleaners are compact, make sure you know the carpet cleaner’s length, width and height before you buy it.
If you’re short on storage space or plan to put the machine in a cabinet when not in use, your best bet is to get an extra-small carpet cleaner.
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Last update on 2020-10-28 / Most affiliate links and/or Images from Amazon Product Advertising API