Carpet Cleaner vs Vacuum Cleaner: Different Job, Different Tool
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Carpet Cleaner vs Vacuum Cleaner: Different Job, Different Tool

Updated: January 28, 2020

Carpet cleaner vs. vacuum cleaner, which is the best cleaning tool for your home?

Cleaning rugs and carpets, and ensuring they stay stain-free is undoubtedly not an easy task. The right carpet cleaning machine makes a significant difference.

There are many things you have to deal with to keep your carpet clean: crayon marks, coffee stains, the usual dirt, and dust. Carpet needs proper care and attention to maintain the cleanliness of your home and create a cleaner, safer environment for your family.

It is essential to maintain a regular cleaning routine for your carpets and rugs to prevent the accumulation of grime, which can lead to allergies and other health issues.

While both carpet cleaner and vacuum cleaner are designed to clean the carpets and surfaces, both have different purposes for your home.

Main Purpose

The primary difference between carpet cleaners and vacuum cleaners is their main purpose. While both of them are used to clean carpets and rugs, the vacuum cleaner eliminates the loose debris, hair, dust, and dirt using suction.

On the other hand, a carpet cleaner utilizes extensive means to thoroughly clean the base of the carpet using water and a cleaning solution. The vacuum cleaner doesn’t need water to clean the surface.

There are multi-surface vacuum cleaners available, but most of them focus on eliminating dirt by gathering it on top of the surface. Vacuum cleaners are used on carpet-less surfaces as well, while carpet cleaners are sole for one purpose.


Since a vacuum cleaner is sleeker in design as compared to the carpet cleaner, it is mostly the preferred choice for many.

However, the bulky design of the carpet cleaner means it is strong enough to pull out the stubborn particles stuck to your carpet. The wire for the carpet cleaner is longer as compared to that of the vacuum cleaner.

There are different designs for both machines available in the market. You can get vacuum machine for carpet and floor with additional parts which can be attached to clean out trickier areas like stairs and corners.

Carpet cleaners generally function with just a tank for hot water. More advanced designs may include a built-in water heater, dry cleaning machine, shampoo machine, steam machine, and a removable dirty water waste storage.

Ease of Use

It is easier to use a vacuum cleaner as it is lighter and more compact than a carpet cleaner. All you have to do is plug in the vacuum and select the right nozzle to begin the cleaning process.

Almost all of the commercial carpet cleaners for sale require you to add in the water and cleaning solution before you start cleaning.

For the vacuum, you only have to empty and clean the dirt collection bag. As for the carpet cleaner, you have to remove the dirty water, wash the tank, and refill it with cleaning solution and water.

However, vacuum cleaners aren’t created to remove stains, unlike carpet cleaners. The latter provides thorough cleaning. You can also lookup steam cleaners: these cleaning machines not only wash carpet but also steam clean it.

It is also easy to store the vacuum even in a smaller space, but a carpet cleaner needs a larger area to store.

Surface Cleaning

If you are looking for a machine to clean the surface of your carpet and rugs, then a vacuum cleaner is the right choice. To maintain the cleanliness of your carpet, you will have to vacuum the surface regularly.

You can get a wet and dry vacuum cleaner for carpet cleaning, but for eliminating the liquid stains, you need a carpet cleaner. Vacuum cleaners are unable to reach the base of the carpet, hence, unable to provide extensive cleaning.

Keep in mind that a carpet cleaner will leave your carpet damp after cleaning. Therefore, unless it includes a steamer, you would have to ensure the water dries up; otherwise, it can gather even more bacteria.

Deep Cleaning

The usage of water and carpet cleaner solution results in deep cleansing of your carpet and rugs. A carpet cleaner makes up for its bulkiness as it eliminates dirt and grime right from the base of the rug or carpet.

While the vacuum cleaner is only suitable for cleaning the carpet surface, it doesn’t have sufficient power to strip away the stains that have already set in.

The carpet cleaner uses a shampoo or other cleaning solution to wash out the carpet using hot water extraction technology. It first shakes off the stubborn dirt and stains from the fabric and thread, then removes them by scrubbing.

If you are looking for a carpet cleaner for sale, make sure to select the one which includes a steamer so that your carpet doesn’t stay damp.

Frequency of Cleaning

When using a vacuum cleaner, the frequency of usage mostly depends on the traffic it experiences every day. If there’s a lot of traffic in a particular carpeted area, it is best to vacuum twice a week.

Vacuuming once or twice a month is sufficient if the carpet doesn’t have too much traffic. However, if you have kids and pets at home, then it is best to vacuum every other day.

Generally, use a carpet cleaner every six months. However, the frequency depends on the amount of traffic on your carpet. If it is prone to get dirty quickly, use it every two months.

The best carpet cleaner technique is using both these machines. Many people prefer vacuuming their carpets regularly and then also using a carpet cleaner for deeper cleansing twice or thrice a year.

Using both is not necessary and mostly depends on your preference. However, you should acknowledge the effectiveness of utilizing both vacuum and carpet cleaner. The combo use is especially true for stains that require repeated cleaning.

Tips for Effective Carpet Cleaning

Now that you understand the difference, the question is how to clean carpets properly using these machines?

Since both these carpet cleaning machines have different functions, it is essential to understand the right ways of using them.

Using a Vacuum Cleaner

For making the most out of your vacuum cleaner, here are some proper vacuuming techniques you must follow:

  • Always vacuum an area more than twice to ensure proper cleaning. Even if the suction power of the vacuum is high, it still can’t clean an area in a single go.
  • Make sure to move the vacuum head in various angles to clean the corners and hard-to-reach areas. Many vacuum cleaners include different smaller heads for such purpose.
  • When using a vacuum that comes with several attachment heads, be sure to learn the purpose of each to use them correctly.
  • Always avoid vacuuming over larger debris as this can damage the hose of the vacuum. Clean up the bigger pieces, like tissues and wrappers before vacuuming the area.
  • Once a month, shift the bigger furniture to remove the dirt from underneath.
  • Empty the dirtbag after every use, instead of waiting for it to get full. Many people neglect to follow this basic tip. Sometimes, even a half-full bag can reduce the effectiveness or performance of the cleaner.
  • Replace the dirt collection bag as instructed in the manual or if it appears to be damaged.
  • Even though a vacuum is a sturdy machine, you must handle it with care. Avoid yanking the hose or wire too hard, or vacuuming larger particles to prevent internal damage.

Using a Carpet Cleaner

For making the most out of your carpet cleaner, here are some carpet cleaner techniques you must follow:

  • Always read the instructions that come with the carpet cleaner to enhance the effectiveness of the cleaning process.
  • If the carpet cleaner you purchase recommends a particular brand of cleaning solution, make sure to use only that particular cleaner.
  • For thorough cleaning, remove all the furniture from the room before using the cleaner. Moving furniture will allow you to clean the entire carpet evenly.
  • It is ideal to vacuum the carpet first to loosen up any grime and dirt from the surface of the carpet.
  • In case of a spill on the carpet like juice, pop, and red wine, immediately use a mixture of vinegar and water, or use a club soda to reduce the damage before using the carpet cleaner.
  • When using a homemade cleaning solution or an extra-strength solution, always test it on a small hidden area of the carpet first. It will ensure the mixture doesn’t burn or damage the fabric.
  • Using a carpet cleaner requires more physically demanding chore than a vacuum cleaner. It also includes carrying buckets of dirty water and refilling it during the cleaning. Perform a few stretches before, during and after the cleaning.
  • Always check if the shampoo or cleaning solution you are using on a colored carpet is color-safe to prevent discoloration of your carpet or rug.
  • When using a strong cleaning solution, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned from the surface and flushed off properly to avoid any health issues.

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