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What are the Different Types of Rug Cleaners?

Diana Bocco
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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The best way to keep a rug clean is to vacuum it daily and clean up spills immediately. When it's time to do a deep cleaning, however, you will need a rug cleaner. It's important to determine which of the rug cleaners out there will provide you with optimal results. There are several types of carpet and rug cleaners.

Powders: Powder-based rug cleaners require that the powder, a type of solvent, be sprinkled on the carpet and left to sit for about 15 minutes before it is vacuumed. The powder acts like a magnet, attracting dust and humidity out of the carpet. Powders require no drying time, so they're the perfect method for emergency cleanups. Many powders come with perfumes that help cover the smell of tobacco or pets; others contain brighteners, a substance that creates an optical illusion of brightness on the surface of the rug. Cleaning powders should not be confused with carpet fresheners or deodorizers. A carpet freshener is not a rug cleaner but rather a cover up for malodors.

Foam: There are two types of foam available for use with rug cleaners--foam for home use and foam for professional use. The home-use foam can be mixed with room temperature water and then applied to the rug manually. Once the foam dries, it turns into a powder that can be easily vacuumed. Professional foams are applied with a machine and brushed deeply into the carpet. They're the most effective rug cleaners in picking up dust, crumbs, and all kind of dirt embedded in the carpet or rug.

Bonnet Cleaning: A bonnet cleaner, which is also known as spin pad, absorbent pad, or carbonated shampoo cleaner, is actually an adaptation of a hardwood buffer. This type of rug cleaners uses a pad which is attached to a low speed rotary brush and soaked into the cleaning solution. The friction of the pad against the surface of the rug collects dirt, but does not penetrate deep into the carpet, so it's not recommended for high rugs or those with long loops.

Shampoo: The most common cleaner, the rug shampoo, is actually the least effective type of rug cleaners. Using a machine similar to the one mentioned above, the soapy shampoo is distributed throughout the rug and allowed to dry before vacuuming. Shampooing is time consuming, since only small areas can be cleaned at one time because soaking the carpet is actually damaging. Shampoos also contain soil retardants, which actually repel dust, keeping carpets clean for a longer period.

Steam Cleaning: Steam cleaning is the best, most thorough method of carpet cleaning there is. Despite what the name implies, no steam is used. Instead, a spray of hot water is used to loosen up dirt while a vacuuming wand absorbs the dirt. Steam cleaning can be done by a professional or by renting a vacuum and doing it yourself.

Spot Rug Cleaners: Spot rug cleaners can be used for small stains. These aerosol sprays can be applied directly over the spot and then patted dry.

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Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.
Discussion Comments
By anon275652 — On Jun 19, 2012

I know there used to be a Rug Doctor with brushes, which used some powder, then it was vacuumed. What is the name of such a device because I have not seen them any longer?

By anon130333 — On Nov 28, 2010

Call your local Chem-Dry Service Provider. You will be glad you did they address the issues were steam cleaning comes up short. You can find your local contact(s) online by zip code. Look for providers with the "circle of excellence" endorsement.

By GrumpyGuppy — On Aug 02, 2010

Having three sons, I am always in search of the best rug cleaners. I usually have to vacuum every day but there are always those “accidental spills”.

I invested in a Spot Bot. It is used to clean those accidental spills along the way. It seems to work very well for us.

By osmosis — On May 01, 2008

I have tried just about every product on the market and the only one that has helped at all was steam cleaning - which, of course, I absolutely hate to do. But the others seem to just be a waste of time and money.

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
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