What is a Carpet Shampooer?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Carpet cleaning has come a long way in the last fifty or so years. Once requiring a great deal of time and effort, modern carpet shampooers are capable of thoroughly cleaning any type of carpeting on the market today. As a plus, the carpet shampooer does the job in only a fraction of the time it once took to clean a large area rug.

A person shampooing a carpet.
A person shampooing a carpet.

Carpet shampooers first appeared as appliances to handle the new wall to wall carpeting that was appearing in offices and other public buildings. Utilized by cleaning staffs, the task of carpet shampooing could be accomplished in the evenings, leaving a clean and fresh working environment to greet employees the following morning. As the texture of carpets began to lean more toward thicker piles, carpet shampooers that were designed to handle everything from a short nap to a shag pile developed.

Carpet shampooers are generally able to clean any type of carpet available on the market.
Carpet shampooers are generally able to clean any type of carpet available on the market.

As wall to wall carpeting made its way into homes as well, many producers of vacuum cleaners began to manufacture carpet shampooer designs that could perform the same job around the house that the larger carpet cleaning machines were doing in the work place. Scaled down in size to accommodate the home, the house model carpet shampooer lacked some of the cleaning power needed for public buildings, but had everything needed to rescue carpet from the abuse of daily living.

The basic carpet shampooer comes quipped with a built in heater that warms the mix of cleaning agents and water. Small jets discharge the cleansers onto the carpet, where the agent is worked into the carpet with the use of soft rotary brushes. As the cleaning agent lifts dirt particles to the surface, the suction feature on the carpet shampooer lifts the dirt and excess fluid from the carpet. The used cleansers are dumped into a holding tank that can be emptied later on. Today’s carpet shampooer models usually leave the carpet surface only slightly damp, so the area is usually dry within an hour. Some of the more robust models include a heating element that uses hot air to dry the carpet as it cleans.

While the home models of the carpet shampooer are very popular, some people prefer to rent a unit for periodic cleaning jobs. Most supermarkets and some drug stores have a line of equipment for carpet shampooing equipment for short-term rentals, as well as a full line of carpet shampooing agents to use. Other people, especially pet owners, find a lot of value in owning a personal carpet shampooer, as this allows the home owner to perform spot cleaning when necessary. Either way, the carpet shampooer is a great way to get extra years from your carpet, keeping it looking clean and smelling fresh for many years.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@raynbow- Unless you have young kids that make a lot of messes or pets that have frequent accidents on your carpet, I think that you should continue renting a carpet shampooer when you need one.

It sounds like you only use one to clean your carpets every so often. Renting one once or twice a year should be all you need to keep your carpet looking its best.


@raynbow- Since it doesn't sound like you use a carpet shampooer very frequently, you may be better off and save the most money by continuing to rent one when you need it.

Carpet shampooers can be expensive, so not everyone can fit the price into their budget. They also do not work as well as the type of shampooers you rent, in my opinion. This is why it may be more cost effective and efficient to simply rent a shampooer.


I have been thinking about buying a carpet shampooer, though for now I have been renting one every few months. Is it worth it to buy one, or should I just continue renting a carpet shampooer when my carpet needs extra cleaning?

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