Floor vacuum cleaners seem to be a controversial topic these days. I know people who have very strong opinions about their Dyson, Hoover, Oreck, Eureka, Dirt Devil, Rainbow or Kirby. Prices can vary from about a $100 to over a thousand dollars. I have heard people who tell me they really love this or that brand. My wife hates our old cleaners and lusts after Dysons when a commercial comes on the TV.
There is a dizzying array of features and options, and frankly just the idea of comparing all them to get the best deal gives me a headache. Doing a little searching on the internet you will find many comparisons, and consumer reviews on Amazon. Reading many of them I have come to the conclusion that you don’t have to spend more than $200 to get a great unit. The other day I noticed that the highly rated Shark is offered at Costco for less than $200, that is why when Mary Hunt, founder and publisher of Debt-Proof Living, a highly regarded organization consisting of interactive website, monthly newsletter, personal finance tools and almost 20 books, recently wrote a couple of great articles about her Shark vacuum cleaner, and her Hoover steam vacs, it caught my attention. Maintaining carpets is important to protect the value of expensive carpets and for good health and hygiene, and with her permission I have them published here.
Compulsive carpet cleaner meets her match
by Mary Hunt
While I am a very busy person and not 100 percent organized, I do pride myself on cleanliness to the point of having been accused a time or two of being a wee bit compulsive. Which brings me to the matter of vacuum cleaners. I’m freakish if not particular about my vacuum. And I wear them out, regularly.
I just blew out my third Hoover Wind Tunnel, and I mean I wore that thing out down to its last gasp. I carried it in pieces to the trash. I was planning to replace it with the latest and greatest from Hoover … that is, until I heard about the Shark Navigator.
I wasn’t that impressed as I looked it over at the store. It was on the smallish side, lightweight — certainly not the hefty, beefy Hoover I’ve been used to. But based on a recommendation from a trusted friend, I decided to give it a try, knowing I’d just bring it back to the store if it couldn’t live up to my standard.
This is probably where I should end this column. It’s that embarrassing.
I plugged that puppy in and started to vacuum my family room, which is carpeted with 100 percent wool Karastan carpet. Look, I love this carpet and have babied it from the day it was installed. It looks like new, which you need to take with a grain of salt because I never wear my glasses when I vacuum. Still, I think of it as pristine.
Within minutes, that canister filled to the top. And I was vacuuming a fairly small area. I was so shocked, disgusted hardly describes the feeling. I took the canister out to the trash to dump it out, hoping the neighbors wouldn’t be peering over the fence to see what was coming out of my home. Look, this room is not small, but it’s not massive, either. I filled that canister four times before I put Sharky away for the day. Since then, I’ve vacuumed it a couple more times, and still I’m sucking out who-knows-what from this carpet. Even my husband was shaking his head.
Last night, I vacuumed the room once again and the canister remained empty. Finally.
I’ll admit to the carpet being 10 years old, but it’s been vacuumed to death over the decade. And cleaned routinely. All for naught, apparently.
The price for a Shark Navigator ranges from about $120 to $180. It’s the best money I’ve spent since I got my carpet-cleaning steam vac, which I still use all the time and as recently as yesterday. See? I am a little compulsive about having to be clean, especially carpet.
I am stunned at the power and light weight of my Shark Navigator. But more than that, I am so happy to know that the carpet in my home is really clean. I mean, probably as clean as the day it was installed.
And my bonus? No more bags!
Okay, so maybe I should say, “One of the best things ….” but at this moment, as I write, I cannot think of anything I’ve ever purchased that can top my carpet cleaning steam vac.
Background: I have a love/hate relationship with carpet. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet. Cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies.
You know how some people select carpet color by what won’t show the dirt? What?! I select the lightest color possible so it WILL show me where the dirt is, so I can get rid of it.
The two enemies when it comes to keeping carpet clean and pristine are 1) Soap and 2) Water. And guess what carpet cleaners use to clean carpet? Soap and water.
The problem with the soap is that there is always a residue that remains. Most cleaners use way too much to start with, leaving no way to retrieve every last bit. ANY soap left in the carpet becomes a sticky dirt magnet. Huge problem.
The problem with water is that it is not extracted fully, leaving the carpet wet too long, which causes it to mold and mildew. That sets you up for an icky mess.
Carpet is just downright troublesome. I do not even trust commercial cleaning companies. Are you kidding me? They leave soap and residue in the carpet. Even the ones that use a “dry cleaner” leave stuff behind. I’ve tried ’em all and been disappointed within weeks of spending a small fortune.
But, I am so proud to say, I’ve licked the problem. I have very light carpet (color: mink) that is 100% nylon Stainmaster on the second story of my home. After more than five years it is still lovely. Pristine. Stainfree. No paths, marks or problems. I owe it all to my Hoover SteamVac.
This home steam cleaning machine (cheaper than one visit from a carpet cleaning company) is truly an amazing machine, but only because I have made a few adjustments to the way I use it. Let’s just say I have slightly rewritten the Owner Manual. Yes, I am a brave woman.
First I DO NOT USE ANY SOAP OR CLEANING LIQUID in the machine at all. None. Nada. I’m no fool. I know that I will never be able to get that soap out no matter how hard I rinse. Instead, I use a good liquid spot remover called Spot Shot. I’m sure there are others, but I love this one. I take care of spots as quickly as I can, when they happen. That is so important. I vacuum often. Also important. Then every few weeks or months I pull out my buddy, Hoover.
First I treat any spots or dirty areas with Spot Shot. Then I fill up Hoover.
The instructions say to fill the top canister with hot water. I go one step further. I boil the water and pour it in there carefully, boiling hot. Do not worry. This is okay! After all what do you think steam is? It’s very very very hot water! Most home cleaners do not use the power of boiling water, but I do.
With NO SOAP at all, only the power of the spot remover, I go to work. I pull that trigger liberally too, to release a lot of hot water. And I follow the instructions to release the trigger to suck up all the water on each return path. It is truly amazing how that hot water pulls out normal everyday dirt and dust. I go over an area many times (it’s kinda fun, actually) until no more water is coming up (you can see this in the clear cannister that holds the dirty water).
Now here’s the bonus: Because the water is so hot and it gets sucked back up so quickly, the carpet dries in no time. I know, you are suspicious about this. But it is so true. Hoover has such a powerful extractor, I think I get up almost all of the water I lay down.
And the best part? NO STICKY RESIDUE! I never clean all the carpet at one time. I do a bit now and then until I have made my way through all the rooms and halls. Then I start over. It’s just maintenance. Easy, enjoyable and very rewarding. And cheap! I never buy soap or cleaning solution for Hoover. Ever. Poor guy. Starves on water only.
My big pay off: the feel, look and smell of beautifully clean carpet! Yes, my Hoover SteamVac is the best thing I ever bought.
NOTE: I do not suggest trying this on all steam cleaners. As I said in my blog, I have only done this with my Hoover SteamVac–which has tanks, not bladders. If your steam cleaner does not have a very sturdy tank it’s not wise to pour boiling water into it, is it?