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It’s a cleaner for rugs and carpets. That much is clear.
It’s also a machine that you can rent out or buy.
But let’s set the record straight: is a Rug Doctor a steam cleaner?
No, Rug Doctor is definitely NOT a steam cleaner. Granted, it uses hot water to clean your carpets and upholstery. But this water never turns to steam.
I’ll explain this in more detail, so get your popcorn ready!
Does Rug Doctor Steam Clean (and if Not, What Does It Do)?
Let’s get one thing straight.
There’s steam cleaning that really uses steam. And then there’s steam cleaning as a generic term that comes up when people talk about deep or thorough cleaning.
In this case, what the machine really does is called hot water extraction. The water is hot but not boiling. That’s why Rug Doctor also needs a cleaning detergent.
So the machine spreads some hot water and detergent onto the surface. Then it works the surface with brushes, trying to get in as deep as possible and loosen the dirt. Finally, it acts as a very powerful vacuum that guzzles out all the moisture along with the gunk.
That’s very different from steam cleaners, which only rely on very hot steam without any detergents! Gusts of pressurized steam attack the dirt head-on, dissolving it and killing off any germs while at it.
And now that you know what Rug Doctor does, let’s jump on how to use it.
And then we’ll examine the different models from the Rug Doctor Carpet Cleaner line, and how they operate. Most importantly, you’ll find out what’s in it for you!
How to Prep the Carpets Before Cleaning With Rug Doctor
Because cleaning carpets can be that “one-time, big-time” household chore, you know that it will involve a lot of things to maximize the results. This is regardless of whether you do it manually or with a machine. No shortcuts!
If you are up for the “fun” part, let’s get this started!
Move furniture out of the way
First, since you’ll be working with a machine, you want to make sure that there’s nothing that gets in the way. You don’t want any scratches on your furniture, do you?
If you are renting the machine, you don’t want it to get damaged and pay the penalty, right? It also doesn’t make sense to pay extra when you want to save money by renting instead of buying in the first place.
Also, you want to make sure that the whole carpet gets thoroughly cleaned. As we all know, most of the dirt build-up can be found right where the furniture sets are.
Vacuum the place
The next step is to remove all the dust and dirt on the carpet’s surface.
This makes it easier for the cleaner to do its job more effectively since the first layer of the problem has already been taken care of. That is to attack deep-seated grime and grease.
Apply the Pre-Treatment Solution
Usually, these cleaners don’t need anything else. You just let the hot water and pressure do their job, and that’s it!
However, if your carpet is one that has seen its better days due to heavy foot traffic and the presence of pets, the application of a pre-treatment solution is necessary. (The company has a dedicated Rug Doctor cleaning solution. But I don’t think using another solution would hurt anything!)
This ensures lifting those already embedded heavy stains and grease in the carpet prior to steam cleaning.
How Does Rug Doctor Cleaner Work?
Now we’ve come to the main event: how to use Rug Doctor cleaner.
The temperature of the water you need will depend on the type of fiber or fabric. You don’t want to ruin your woolen carpet by using boiling water, do you? Lukewarm to warm would be perfect.
- Remove the recovery tank of the machine, which sits at the front. Just unclip the retaining handle.
- Fill the bucket with around nine liters of water. Again, the temperature depends on the type of the carpet’s fiber. Be sure it’s not too hot to burn skin.
- Pour 150ml of carpet detergent into the base tank of the steam cleaner.
- Add water to the base tank up to half of the filter.
- Put the recovery tank into its place until it clicks in, and secure it via the same retaining handle.
- On the top of the cleaner, push the white switch to “carpet cleaning.”
- Feel free to adjust the cleaner’s handle according to the height you are comfortable with through its lever.
- Plug the machine into the electric source and switch it on.
- Make sure that the machine’s brush is not touching the carpet by tilting it back a bit.
- Test the spray applicator by pressing the button found on the handle. If it works fine, return to the original position and start to slowly walk backward, pulling the machine while pressing the spray button.
Which Rug Doctor Is Right for You?
|Specs||Deep||Spot Portable||Pet Portable||FlexClean|
|Dimensions||17.5 x 11.5 x 43.5 in.||16.14 x 11.02 x 15.74 in.||31.75 x 45 x 43.8 cm||113 x 46.99 x 30.48 cm|
|Clean water Tank capacity||3.8 liters||1.9 liter||1.9 liter||3.7 liter|
|Dirty water Tank capacity||4.2 liters||1.9 liter||1.9 liter||4.7 liter|
|Power cord length||8.5m||4.6m||4.5m||6.7m|
|Warranty period||2 years||2 years||2 years||2 years|
|What’s Included||Machine with upholstery tool kit, rotating brush bars, and caddy||Machine with upholstery tool kit, 2 x 500ml Spot Cleaning Solution||Machine with upholstery tool kit, plus trial size pet detergent||Machine with upholstery tool kit, plus 1 x 236ml solution included|
Best for General Cleaning: Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner
If you love well-rounded machines, this would be perfect for you! Rug Doctor makes no secret that this is the brand’s more versatile model.
If machine assembly makes you nervous, don’t fret! You can start using this straight out of the box.
Each tank is easily detachable from the machine and is appropriately labeled, namely: the clean water tank and the wastewater tank. This makes it easy to refill and empty these tanks when needed.
Its removable tool caddy makes it convenient to connect to the machine and clean upholstery, fabrics, stairs, and even car interiors. The dual cross oscillating brushes effectively clean carpet fibers in one move.
Drying carpets has been a significant concern for most carpet cleaners.
The thing is, this cleaner really sucks (and in a GOOD way). And not just the filth, but also the moisture that dissolves and cleans the muck!
This makes the carpet less likely to develop a foul smell and gunk.
What I don’t like about this model is that it could use a bigger water tank. The one that’s already there is quite challenging to refill (especially because you need to do it often!) and clean.
Best for Stains: Rug Doctor Spot Portable Cylinder Carpet Cleaner
Carpet stains are probably one of your worst fears, especially with expensive carpets lying around the house. Sometimes, even the basic carpet cleaning or shampooing wouldn’t be enough.
Good thing, this particular model is pretty good with stains.
Different fabrics, upholstery, and car interior would benefit from the mighty hand tool that it also comes with.
The machine is specially made to target your deep-seated stains. I used it to clean cat pee and vomit, and the results were amazing enough to make my cat wanna pee there AGAIN. (Cleaned that one too!)
With an IPX4 rating tucked under its belt, working outdoors is no problemo!
Being weatherproof gives this machine the ability to resist splashing water. Add in the twice suction feature for a double kill drying capability.
I just wish the power cord and the hose would have been longer so you can move freely as you explore other parts of your carpet without dragging the machine with you. They aren’t as long as those of, say, Bissell’s Spotclean Pro.
Speaking of which, if you’re interested in a good spot cleaner, check out our comparison of the Rug Doctor Portable and Bissell Spotclean Pro.
Best for Pet Hair & Gunk: Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
Having furry friends at home can be as enjoyable as it is problematic. (This is coming from a person who owns 2 dogs and a cat!)
If this is your situation, this is the perfect machine for you. And not just because it has the word “pet” in the name.
This Pet Portable Spot Cleaner is pretty similar, almost identical to the one above. The only difference, it sports the so-called Dual-Action Pet Tool that addresses deep-seated pet stains and odors. Think slobber, poo and pee (even when the stain grows old).
On the downside, Rug Doctor’s seemingly lousy reputation when it comes to its water tank design seems to affect most of its carpet cleaner line. It won’t balance on its own, and you’d need someone else to help fill it up with a cleaning solution up to its fill line.
This is because you can’t get accurate measurements since it won’t balance on your hand in the first place.
Works on Hard Floors Too: Rug Doctor FlexClean Carpet Cleaner
The problem gets complicated when your hard floors also give you a hard time. Good thing, this particular 2-in-1 rug doctor steam cleaner saves you from purchasing or renting two machines when you need both features.
From cleaning colorful food spills on tile floors to just about any stains on your carpet, it doesn’t get any better than this. And when it says hard floors, it includes all types like concrete, laminate, tile, vinyl, marble, among others.
Functionality switches rather quickly just by swapping the front nozzle in between functions like a normal switch. Don’t worry, as this machine is so user-friendly, and the switch is properly labeled, so you can’t really go wrong unless you don’t hear a proper click.
My only complaint is it’s a bit heavy when compared to other upright carpet cleaners with the same features. Some users also point out that when pushed forward or backward, the machine swivels instead of going a straight line. I haven’t experienced anything like it though!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a carpet cleaner the same as a steam cleaner?
Although a lot of carpet cleaners nowadays use steam cleaning technology, there is a big difference between a carpet cleaner and a steam cleaner.
First, carpet cleaners are also called carpet shampooers. That is, you use a special carpet cleaning detergent that creates foam. Through the brush, the foam is released into the fibers, which in turn loosens the dirt. The suction function of the machine then removes the foam or suds that contain the dirt.
On the other hand, a steam cleaner can loosen the deep-seated dirt just from the steam from hot water, even without a shampoo or detergent.
However, another advantage of steam cleaner besides getting rid of dirt and stains, is the eradication of bugs, fleas, molds, and other allergens. It also dries faster than when shampooing due to lesser water used. With this, it is less likely to develop foul smell and dirt formation.
Is it better to shampoo or steam clean carpets?
This clearly depends on your choice. Each option has its pros and cons. For one, if you do not want to clean your carpet that often or just don’t have much spare time, shampooing would be a better choice.
On the other hand, steam cleaning is a much quicker option because you skip the foaming part and just let the steam take its course. It also dries more quickly because it is less wet so the downtime is much shorter. Plus, it addresses your “pet and carpet” issues.