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Carpet Cleaner Vs Vacuum Cleaner: What Are The Differences?

Bissell Pet Carpet Cleaner 17N4 tank

Deep carpet cleaning with the Bissell Pet Carpet Cleaner 17N4. DirtLifter brushes jostles dirt off, and the dirty water is then extracted out. See review >>

A vacuum cleaner is widely considered a “must-have” appliance for carpet cleaning at home. Vacuuming a home’s carpets can immediately improve its appearance by getting it groomed and cleaner. A few swipes at the carpet with this housekeeping appliance can be enough to improve the looks of a home’s interior.

A second, less frequently understood appliance, is a home carpet cleaner. This machine is sometimes referred to as a carpet washer, rug shampooer or deep carpet cleaner.

Hoover Carpet Basics Power Scrub Carpet Cleaner FH50150


A Vacuum Cleaner Only Cleans The Surface Of Carpets

Regular vacuuming brings about a seemingly dirt-free carpet. But does it? If you inspect your carpet thoroughly, you will find out that the cleaning ability of this appliance is limited to the surface of your carpet. There are still dirt and dust stuck deep down the inner layers and base of your carpet. Unfortunately, even the best brands of vacuum cleaners are unable to reach such areas. In addition, vacuum cleaners cannot effectively clean out dirty stains from pet messes, coffee, foot traffic and more.

A Carpet Cleaner Extracts Stains & Deep Cleans

A carpet cleaner is the solution for deep carpet cleaning needs. A carpet cleaner makes use of water in removing dirt from the base up to the surface of the carpet. Conventional home carpet cleaners use hot water extraction technology. First, the machine scrubs and jostles dirt off the carpet threads, washing the carpet threads in water. The water is then extracted out.

Based on this information, the first distinction between a vacuum cleaner and carpet cleaner is that the former only cleans the carpet’s surface while the latter deep cleans it. However, a vacuum cleaner doesn’t need water to run while a carpet cleaner requires water. With this difference, you can also find the difference in their forms. The deep-cleaning one has a water reservoir or tank attached to it.

They Are Both Needed For Carpet Cleaning



In spite of these differences, both housekeeping appliances are operated similarly. You have to push them back and forth. Both are beneficial. In fact, you still need a vacuum cleaner to clean your carpet efficiently, even with a carpet cleaner.

Cleaning the carpet requires thorough vacuuming first. Doing this helps remove trapped dirt, dust and gravel on the surface. It loosens up the carpet’s fibers as well, making it easier for the carpet cleaner to reach the innermost clutter. As you vacuum, you can also notice and pick up small items that may hamper your cleaning later on. For more information, check out this article on the importance of regular vacuuming.

After vacuuming, you can now use a carpet cleaner. This tool works by raising the carpet’s fibers with its rotating brushes. Then, it applies water and cleaning solution to the carpet. Just like a vacuum, it collects dirt plus waste water. The waste water from the cleaning is collected in the tank. This process allows the carpet to dry immediately. After using, you have to empty the tank or water reservoir.

A video demonstration of the process can be found here: Cleaning Pet Stains with the Bissell Proheat 2X.

Final Comments

Vacuuming is usually done once a week, or even two or three times depending on conditions. In comparison, using a carpet cleaner is done as infrequently as once every three to six months, and sometimes even longer. Some homes also have smaller portable carpet cleaners that are used as often as needed to remove carpet spots and stains before the next whole-house deep carpet cleaning takes place.

Emmeline Chu







About Emmeline Chu

Emmeline Chu is the Chief Reviewer on this site. She likes to keep all things clean, especially carpets and rugs. Emmeline admits to a quirky obsession with carpet cleaner machines. Since 2014, she has been writing reviews on carpet cleaners. She shares her story here.

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