Pros: Basically effective.
Cons: Heavy. Hard to manuever. Expensive solutions.
My husband Bill and I recently moved into beautiful home that happens to have nasty carpets. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have wanted to live in a house with a lot of carpeting, but this house had other things going for it that made us decide to put up with the carpets for awhile. Since I have asthma and allergies, I knew I was going to have to work hard to get and keep the carpets as clean as possible. I initially decided to purchase the Bissell ProHeat Turbo Deep Cleaner Upright Steam Cleaner because I needed a vacuum cleaner and wanted one that would deep clean. Having never used a steam cleaner, I failed to realize that I would also need a dry vacuum cleaner. Anyway, I decided to bring this one home because I knew the house needed a good cleaning and I didn't really want to hire a professional to do it.
Preparing to use the machine
The first thing to do before using this carpet steamer is vacuum with a regular vacuum cleaner. This picks up loose debris, dust, and carpet fuzz that may get in the way of a deep cleaning.
Next, I needed cleaning solution. Some came with the machine, but I chose to buy another container because I knew I would need it in our house, which consists of about 4200 square feet, most of which is carpeted. The Bissell steam carpet cleaner also comes with solution to use on hardwood floors and a spray that can be used to pre-treat tough stains.
I removed the plastic container from the back of the machine and filled it with the cleaner. I noticed two different fill lines. Apparently, some cleaners are concentrated and must be diluted with water. However, the cleaner that came with the machine was not to be diluted. I screwed the top of the container back on and connected it to the machine.
Next, I needed hot water. I pulled the base from the machine and found the plastic bladder inside the base that I was to fill with hot water. The bladder keeps the clean water separate from the dirty water the machine will suck up as it's being used. Supposedly, the Bissell steam carpet cleaner has a mechanism that will keep the water hot as the machine is being used. However, from my experience, the machine's heating mechanism is very weak at best. I connected the base, which has a handle that makes it easy to carry as long as you connect the top and bottom properly. If you don't do that, be prepared for a big mess.
Using the machine
I turned on the heater switch, then hit the power switch. The machine started to howl and I pushed it forward slowly while squeezing the trigger on the handle. The trigger dispenses cleaning solution and hot water. At the end of the pass, I pulled the cleaner back with my finger off the trigger. This allows the machine to suck up the water, solution, and hopefully some filth. I could easily see the dirty water being sucked up through the base of the machine. Meanwhile, the cleaning solution was leaving a nice, pleasant scent in its wake. The carpet steamer has twelve rotating brushes that work to scrub the carpet, as long as the machine is not in the locked, upright position.
This is where this machine gets to be a real pain in the butt. The carpet steamer has a triggered nozzle on it that is attached to a long hose. The nozzle can be used to clean stairs and upholstery; however, it always remains attached to the carpet steamer. So I got down on my hands and knees and used the nozzle to clean the stairs, which probably needed cleaning more than any other area in the house. I got the first flight done with no problem, but then I had to lug the very heavy steam cleaner up the stairs so I could do the next flight. I am a pretty strong woman, but I found this machine very hard to manage up the stairs. In fact, at one point, the hot water bladder/dirty water container actually fell off the machine. Luckily, the top stayed on, so there wasn't too much of a mess. It still made me uneasy, considering this is an electrical appliance that works with water.
Another thing I noticed about this machine and didn't particularly like is that the nozzle is entirely too easy to spray. It rests in a clamp near the handle and if I'm not really careful, the button for the trigger can get pushed so that it sprays water when I don't want it to. Too often, the spray of water and solution ends up all over me.
Despite the fact that this machine is a real pain to use, it does, at least so far, do a pretty good job on the carpets. I notice a definite difference after I use this machine. The air is lighter and the carpets look and smell fresh and clean. However, actually using this machine to clean the carpets is so exhausting and exasperating that I can't see wanting to use it very often. Also, be prepared to use a lot of solution. I usually use at least one whole bottle per cleaning session and each bottle costs between $10 and $20.
One thing I have noticed each time I use this machine is that it tends to bring up a lot of carpet fuzz, even if I vacuum thoroughly beforehand. The fuzz usually ends up in clumps on the carpet's surface, but it also sometimes gets sucked up into the dirty water. Getting the carpet fuzz out of the machine can also be a big pain in the butt.
Maybe I should have just hired a professional crew to steam clean my carpets. This carpet cleaner can do an effective job, but it requires a lot of energy, patience, and cash. On the other hand, I guess it is nice to be able to use the carpet steamer when I have the time and inclination to do so. I think if I had to make this purchase again, I would spend a little more time really researching the other machines out there. This Bissell Deep Cleaner can do the job, but like an employee with a little too much attitude, it doesn't do the job without a lot of grief beforehand.
27 foot power cord
Measures 19 x 13 x 44 inches ; 31.5 pounds
One year limited warranty
I'm lowering my rating of this carpet steamer because today, when I was using it, I noticed a crack in the base of the machine where the dirty water is collected. I'm not sure when this happened. This steamer was a recent purchase, though I've already used it several times. I'm disappointed that the plastic didn't hold up better. Guess it's time to check out how good the warranty is.