How To Clean Your Carpet With A Portable Carpet Cleaning Machine

Many people will attempt to clean their own carpet with a small portable carpet cleaning machine, that they either own or rent from a department store or janitorial supply shop.

The results achieved vary widely. Some people will be happy with the results, while others will be extremely disappointed and frustrated. Here are a few tips to assist you to achieve success with your carpet cleaning whenever you choose to do it yourself.

The key elements that must be followed in order to have a successful cleaning experience are:

  • Follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Remove furniture or other objects from off the carpet.
  • Vacuum Thoroughly.
  • Pre-treat.
  • Agitate repeatedly.
  • Heat the chemical cleaning solution.
  • Extract slowly.

Follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

It is always vitally important to follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations about use and safety procedures. Read the manual supplied, or ask the supplier for specific instructions about operation and care of the equipment.

Remove furniture or other objects from off the carpet.

Cleaning will be more easily accomplished and more thorough if all furniture and other objects do not obstruct the equipment being used.

Vacuum Thoroughly.

This is probably the most important step in the process of cleaning with a small portable machine. Large truck mounted equipment usually have powerful vacuum generating capabilities, and can remove most debris, that would normally be left in the carpet by inefficient vacuuming. With small portables, the suction is not as great, and any soil in the carpet may be transformed into mud which will just be pushed around by the machine and cause the carpet to look even dirtier than before.


Pre-treating is another critically important step. Many spots and stains will not be soluble in the typical cleaning solution provided with rented machines, or bought at the store by non- professionals. The facilitate removal, these will need to be treated with specialty chemicals, that have been formulated for use on specific stains. Consult with a professional if you have any special problems on your carpet, as use of the wrong chemical could cause more serious problems or lead to unintended consequences.

Agitate repeatedly.

Agitation helps to speed up the chemical reaction of the cleaning agent. Some agitation is provided by most small portables, but to improve the efficiency of agitation, use a carpet rake and scrape or brush the carpet surface repeatedly, to work the chemical unto the carpet fibers.

Heat the chemical cleaning solution.

This is the biggest problem with portables. The cleaning solution cools rather rapidly, and therefore the cleaning efficiency degenerates with time. The solution is to start with really hot (boiling) water, and to replenish the solution with hot water, often. This is usually a “pain in the neck”, but is just one of the tolerable inconveniences of doing it yourself with a portable.

Extract slowly.

A slower pass over the carpet, with the machine, will always result in cleaner carpet because this allows the relatively weaker vacuum to suck up more residue.

Follow these instructions to get really decent carpet cleaning results with your portable.

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