Note: I’ve updated this post to include additional review info, since we’ve now used the machine dozens of times in two apartments, a house, and have loaned it out.
Is renting a Rug Doctor worth it?
I’ve rented Rug Doctor carpet cleaners periodically — usually once per year because of the hassle and expense, but my floors need attention more often.
Our dining room carpet was filthy, and it’s no surprise. “Dining room” and “carpet” shouldn’t go together, especially when there’s a little messy boy involved (and his messy mama)!
I thought I’d look into the price of carpet cleaners to see if buying one would be worth it.
I used this Rug Doctor calculator to get the going rate on rental and many of their products. It’s an average of $25/day to rent a regular machine, plus $3 for the upholstery attachment.
There’s printable coupons available: $3 off 17 oz. cleaner, and $5 off machine rental (at the time of my original post).
The cleaner prices are expensive: $18 for a bottle of their regular cleaner, plus they have a bunch of specialized products for spots & stains, pet odors, high-traffic areas, anti-foam solution, and upholstery. I don’t want to have to buy a ton of different products, and I’m annoyed that you pretty much have to buy the anti-foam. Why can’t they formulate it so it’s a low-foam soap to begin with?
Anyway, let’s say you just rent the machine and attachment for one day. That’s $23 with coupon, plus the cost of cleaners.
Not too terrible, but you do have to go to a store to pick it up, lug it in your car, do the job in a day, and take it back.
I didn’t like how clunky the machines are, and I didn’t think they did a great job. I cleaned my living room/dining room in one apartment with a Rug Doctor, and I didn’t get my full deposit back because my landlady said they had to have the carpet professionally cleaned. Oy.
Is buying your own carpet cleaner machine worth it?
I was surprised at how affordable some highly rated options were.
I found this model from Hoover* on Amazon for $136 with free shipping. Check out other carpet cleaners available from Amazon*. I chose that specific Hoover because it had a lot of positive reviews and the price seemed reasonable.
We used it on our dining room, living room, and hallway carpets and also our couch and chairs. I should have taken some before & after pictures, because the results were impressive!
And for the price, as long as we use it 6 or more times, it’s a better value than renting a Rug Doctor. I think it’s a better buy anyway, because we will use it more frequently and for a lot less hassle than renting. If we can keep the carpets cleaned more often, it won’t allow for set-in stains to do their damage. It should prolong the carpet’s lifespan.
The cost of soap is a better value with the Hoover (though I just use water + white vinegar sometimes).
I think in this case, buying beats renting by a lot.
Update: 1.5 years later
We’ve used our Hoover about a dozen times in two apartments and our house, and I’m glad we have it!
I also loaned it to someone who had a few dogs (and a living room floor that reflected that). It didn’t make her living room carpet look brand new (I don’t think anything would) but it helped tremendously. There was a lot of pet hair inside the machine after she used it, and I used an included tool to get it out of the water-suck-up-area. I know she used her Dyson a few times on that area, so I just think the Hoover pulled more hair trapped deep down in the carpet. Ew.
I also used it at my parent’s house in a heavily trafficked hall that had dirt stains from people walking on it repeatedly with their shoes on. Even if you think you wiped your shoes at the door, apparently there’s still dirt on your shoes (I’m talking to you, Dad!). Anyway, I went over that area a few times and each pass, the reservoir water was black. Eventually it cleared out, and it was such a satisfying thing to see the carpet become so much cleaner.
The Hoover is simple enough to use and you get good results, and it dries fast. You have to make sure the water is sucking up properly, by making sure the water reservoir box is properly attached. You’ll see the water being pulled up from the carpet on the front of the machine, and if you don’t see that happening, stop immediately and adjust the reservoir box.
Unplug it, take the reservoir completely off, lift the blue little “door” and slide it down again, making sure it has a good seal. Latch the side levers and then carefully roll the plastic cover on top of the reservoir. It needs to be on securely to pick up water.
Our house has stairs, and recently I had the need to use the machine on a few steps to remove some stains. I used the spinning brush attachment with the hand tool and it worked ok, but I had to scrub at it. I pre-cleaned the stains with a towel and vinegar first. The hose isn’t long enough to go straight up a flight of stairs.
Either you’ll have to start at the bottom and work your way as high as you can, and then lug it upstairs and work downstairs (and hope you can have all your stairs within reach), or you’ll need a helper to hold the machine on a stair while you use the hose.
If you have stairs and expect to need to clean them regularly, you might consider something like the Bissell Lift-Off Deep Cleaner* which has a removable cleaning component that you can use for spot-treatment or stairs.
I love the convenience of having my own machine because good grief, gross things get on the floor in a hurry around here. It’s nice to quickly pull it out of the closet and hit a stain, or periodically go over the living room floor.
*Amazon Affiliate link. I did not get a free Hoover! If you click through and buy a carpet cleaner, I get a few bucks. Thank you!