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Updated: 1 Mar 2022

How to use a carpet cleaner

As well as making sure you buy the best carpet cleaner, how you use it also has a bearing on the results you'll get. Read on for our tips.
Haddi Browne
Lifestyle 2 423853

If you've got light-coloured carpets, then sooner or later they'll get dirty with everyday wear and tear - especially if you've got little ones or pets.

You could call in a professional cleaner every time your carpets get dirty, but you may want to consider buying your own carpet cleaner.

Head to our carpet cleaner reviews to find the best models, or keep reading for our top tips on getting the best results.

How do I use a carpet cleaner?

  • Empty the room of movable furniture and objects on the floor before you wash the carpet, to ensure the whole floor is cleaned evenly.
  • Vacuum the carpet to pick up any loose dirt, dust and fluff.
  • Read the carpet cleaner instructions to find out how much detergent to use - most manufacturers recommend you use their own brand.

Are you trying to remove tough stains from your carpet? Read our expert guide on the best carpet stain removers.

Read the instructions

When using the carpet cleaner, follow the instructions about how to use the machine and how many times you need to go over each section of carpet - too much detergent in one spot could lead to an uneven finish.

How long will my carpet take to dry?

The best carpet cleaners generally leave carpets dry enough to walk on after about five hours. But a just-cleaned carpet will take around 24 hours to dry thoroughly.

In our tests we check for how wet carpets are left after they’ve been washed. If you want to make sure your carpets are not left soaked, look for a carpet cleaner with a high star rating for drying - the more stars, the drier your carpet is left at the end of the cleaning process.

carpet cleaner

Will a carpet cleaner remove spills and stains?

Carpet cleaners are best for general carpet cleaning, the kind you might do once a year to freshen up the house, or maybe just one room, as part of a spring clean.

All carpet cleaners are able to suck up wet spills - nozzle attachments for the hose are especially handy for this.

But for nasty marks, a spot cleaner carpet stain remover will be your best option. 

In our tests we check how well each carpet cleaner removes dried-in red wine, coffee and mud stains. As a product, carpet cleaners generally don't do a great job of tackling tough, dried stains.