Last weekend I finally broke down and rented a Rug Doctor steam cleaning system from our local Safeway to tackle the carpets in our house. We own a dog and faithfully vacuum our house a few times a week, but I was sure our dog had tracked in hidden dirt over the 2 years we've lived in our house.
It had taken me so long to rent one because they always look so complicated when sitting there on the rack at the supermarket. Plus, I didn't trust that this medium-sized machine could actually make any progress on our low-piled rugs. I have neighbors who bring in the professional services and the whole van shakes and shudders when the uniformed man carts his long vacuum hose around their house. Now that's power, I imagined. But, I called to get an estimate for the two carpeted rooms in our house (fortunately, we love hardwood floors, so a simple dust mop is sufficient for these) and I compared the $19.99 rental fee to their $275 estimate. Doesn't take a genius to figure out giving the Rug Doctor a shot was the proper financial decision. Plus, with the professional service, you really need to remove all the furniture from the carpeted rooms. With your own rental, you can do it in stages and not disrupt your entire house.
So, was my Rug Doctor decision worth it? You bet. But, not without some initial problems.
The Rug Doctor system is composed of several items:
* The main vacuum unit. It weighs about 25 pounds and has a nice centered handle that makes lifting it very easy. $19.99 for 24 hours.
* The stairs and upholstery attachment hose that is about 10 feet long. $3 for 24 hours.
* Bottle of Rug Doctor carpet cleaner, which is good for approximately 1,000 square feet. You use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per gallon of water. $4.99.
* Bottle of Rug Doctor Anti-Foam solution, that prevents foam from floating all over the house. It is optional when using the unit of floors, but mandatory when using the stairs and upholstery attachment hose. $2.99.
So, I left Safeway spending $31, plus a refundable $25 deposit. Everything fit nicely into my Volvo 240's trunk.
The system is easy to use, and instructions are right on the handle of the main unit. The clean water/soap solution pours into the bottom of the unit, and a dirty/used-water container snaps in and out of the unit easily for emptying. (You put the Anti-Foam solution into this waste container.) I prepared everything correctly, plugged it in and started vacuuming. But no solution was coming out. Great, I thought. It's Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend, is the 1-800 number on the unit really going to answered?
To my surprise, a helpful person picked right up and walked me through re-securing the solution hose that had been left unattached by the previous customer, and cleaning the filter. With those two quick fixes, the machine hummed along, cleaning my soon-to-be-discovered filthy carpets.
I was amazed how dirty the used water was that came from my visually clean carpets. "You mean I had been rolling around on these carpets for the last two years thinking they were clean???!!!" It makes me shudder just thinking about that.
The unit has about a two-gallon capacity, so that lasts about 8 minutes of continuous use. This is a bit annoying, as I had to refill the clean chamber and empty the used chamber at least 20 times in my 2.5 hours of vacuuming. The only concession is that all that water is being used to make my carpets sparkling clean. I was a maniac with the Rug Doctor once I saw it's capabilities. The carpets, the stairs, the cars, the bath mats, the door mats, everything!
Because the unit only works when you pull it backwards, your back may ache a bit after a day's use. You need to pull the 35 lbs (with water) machine backwards, with your feet less than shoulder-width apart (to avoid stepping on the previously cleaned strip to left or right).
The vacuum is very strong, so it leaves just a minimal amount of water on the carpet, allowing you to walk on it just 3 or 4 hours (depending on the weather) after you've cleaned it.
The solution was odor-free, so our house wasn't left smelling like chemicals, or like fake roses for that matter. We were thrilled with the results of our Rug Doctor rental, and can feel how the carpets have tightened up. Much like a pair of jeans feels when right out of the dryer, compared to at the end of wearing them for a long day. Limp equals embedded dirt; stiff equals clean fibers.
We used the Rug Doctor on a wool carpet, on synthetic berber carpets, on cotton bath mats and on nylon-like car flooring. Oh, and the stair/upholstery attachment was very impressive. Small unit that fit in little crevices, but it packed a powerful punch.
We highly recommend renting a Rug Doctor system. It's cheap and very effective.
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