Save money on carpet cleaning

HOUSTON We decided to rent a carpet cleaning machine from the grocery store to determine a few things:
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it remove stains?
  • Is it going to save you money?
  • We rent our machine at a local grocery store. It's called the Rug Doctor. The cost to rent the machine is $26.99 and we must have it back in less than 24 hours. We also need to buy cleaner. For $18.99, one bottle cleans about 1,000 square feet of carpet. Now it's time to put it to the test.

    We asked Howard Partridge, owner of Houston's "Clean as a Whistle" carpet company, to guide us in our project. We have two missions -- to clean a cola stain and an oily dirt stain from an off-white carpet. The process is straight forward. We pour water and the solution into a container, and then transfer that into the tank. Now we're ready to clean.

    The machine is a little heavy. It weighs 44 pounds, so it does take some practice. But after two passes over the soda stain, it starts to disappear.

    Next we work on getting rid of the oil and dirt stain. After passing the machine over it a few times the stain is gone. The carpet looks clean but Partridge says when doing it yourself there a few things to keep in mind. First, some cleaning products don't contain a neutralizer and that can leave a sticky residue behind which will only attract more dirt.

    "Because a lot of the solutions that are sold, they don't use a neutralizer, which good certified professionals will use to get rid of that soapy residue," Partridge explained.

    Another problem is operator error. Many do it yourselfers will use too much cleaner which causes the water not to flush out and this will only attract more dirt.

    Partridge said, "The soil can wick back and the spots come back."

    As far as convenience, Partridge noticed that after using the machine to remove only two stains, the water tank was empty. That means you'll have to constantly refill water and cleaner. Keep in mind, the machine is bulky and will require plenty of good old fashioned hard work.

    The bottom line, it cost us $46 to rent the machine. Compare that to a professional company which is about $99 for three rooms. To clean three rooms on your own will probably take you half a day.

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