Cleaning a rug is much different than cleaning a carpet, but they are also very similar, operating on the same kinds of principles.
If you get both a carpet and a rug too wet, you’ll run the risk of permanently damaging both of them. You also need to thoroughly vacuum both of them before cleaning them as well.
That is where the similarities end, however. Rugs have different properties than carpets, and most of the time, these properties are grossly overlooked. If you are able to effectively detect these differences and know what kind of shampooer is optimal for a rug, you’ll have a much easier time cleaning said rug.
There also exist shampooers that are good at cleaning rugs as well as carpets, and if you possess both in your home, you will want to seek these out.
Editor’s Picks : 4 Best Rug Shampooer/Cleaner Machine
What is the difference between a rug and a carpet?
As mentioned previously, rugs and carpets appear like they are the same. And in a couple of cases, they have the same kind of properties. They are both soft surfaces that provide some semblance of insulation.
However, all the similarities end there.
There are not many types of carpets. Nearly all carpets are part of a floor, and require multiple processes of installation and removal. It takes a lot of time to put a carpet in. Rugs are different than this.
Not only are there many different types of rugs, there is no installation necessary for rugs. Rugs are typically rolled out and placed onto any given floor.
There are two major purposes of this. First, it is done for aesthetic purposes. The right kind of rug will look very impressive when placed onto an originally boring looking hard surface floor.
The other reason why most adorn their hard surface flooring with rugs is to provide better insulation. This is especially true when it gets colder, as hard surface flooring (especially ceramic tile) can absorb cold weather and make it uncomfortable to walk on.
Many believe that rugs can be cleaned in the same way as carpets can. However, this is not true. While it is possible to clean a rug the same as a carpet, it is not recommended.
In order to clean a rug the right way, you’ll need a shampooer or cleaner that is either designed for a rug or can clean both carpets and rugs.
9 Best Rug Shampooers Reviews
#1 “Power Scrub Deluxe” upright carpet and rug shampooer by Hoover
Shampooers for both rugs and carpets are always in high demand. The problem with a lot of these kinds of machines is that while they do a very good job in cleaning carpets, they can be a little too intense for rugs.
The Power Scrub Deluxe, by Hoover, is very much the exact same as any other upright carpet shampooer. It is a big machine with big power that will decisively clean any carpet. But it also has upholstery and crevice tools that use the same kinds of cleaning solutions that the upright unit has. This is perfect for cleaning small rugs.
A lot of rug and carpet shampooers share one tank for water and solution. This can be inconvenient, since if only one tank is used, it will need to be cleaned and refilled constantly. Fortunately, the Power Scrub Deluxe has two separate tanks, which means that you will know exactly what tank is clean and ready and which one is not.
Most shampooers of this size weigh a lot and are not easy to carry around. Fortunately, the Power Scrub Deluxe is not very heavy at all in comparison. Weighing only 18 pounds, it is easy to carry the Power Scrub Deluxe around.
The Power Scrub Deluxe will struggle when it comes to cleaning large rugs. It is chiefly designed to shampoo carpets, and while its upholstery and crevice tools can clean small rugs, you’ll be risking damaging the rug if you go over a rug with the base of the unit.
#2 Portable spot cleaner with 5.5 foot hose by Rug Doctor
While it may have an unconventional design compared to many upright cleaners, the canister design of Rug Doctor’s spot cleaner makes it much easier to carry around. Coming with a retractable handle, you can roll it around anywhere you want much easier than pushing around an upright cleaner.
Cleaning rugs with Rug Doctor’s spot cleaner is much easier to do than it is with their upright counterparts. Using the motorized brush connected to its hose is very easy and it is extremely gentle on rugs, which is very useful as rugs contain different materials than carpets do.
When carpet and rug shampooers contain just one tank for clean and dirty water that it uses, it can result in a lot of time spent on cleaning and refilling the tank. This is especially true if you are using these shampooers regularly.
Fortunately, Rug Doctor’s spot cleaner contains two different tanks, one for clean water and one for water that has been used in the cleaning process. This makes it very easy to “organize” your cleaning sessions.
If you are looking for a carpet or rug shampooer that can clean large areas, you’ll need something different than Rug Doctor’s shampooer. Remember that this is a spot cleaner and it is not really designed for cleaning large areas.
#3 Deep carpet cleaner by Rug Doctor
For extremely dirty carpets and rugs, you cannot go wrong with Rug Doctor’s deep carpet cleaner. Containing dual cross action brushes and a “Super Boost” function that makes it even more powerful, no carpet stain is safe from Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner.
Something that contributes to Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner’s efficiency is that it is 75% stronger in its suction than its counterparts. This makes it dry the floors it cleans much easier than other rug and carpet cleaners of its kind.
Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner is not just for carpets either. It is possible to clean rugs with it to, since it comes with a completely removable tool caddy and an upholstery tool that makes it possible and even easy to clean rugs and other spots.
There are a few things that prevent Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner from being perfect. The first of these is its massive size. Weighing well over 20 pounds, you will have a very tough time carrying it around.
Another thing that makes Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner difficult to carry around is how it is designed. Containing a very thick neck and an overall large design, Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner is not really designed for homes or establishments with multiple rooms.
Although the improved suction of Rug Doctor’s carpet and rug cleaner improves its drying time after shampooing a carpet, you will still need to wait a very long time for whatever you clean with it to dry.
#4 “PowerLifter” upright carpet cleaner and shampooer by Bissell
A recurring problem that many carpet and rug cleaners face are water and solution tanks. Cleaners that contain just one tank for water and solution need to be emptied, cleaned and refilled constantly.
Cleaners that contain tanks for clean water and solution and tanks for dirty water and solution are one step better, but still require a good amount of emptying, refilling, and cleaning.
The PowerLifter by Bissell solves all of these problems. Containing a 2-in-1 water and solution tank, it is much easier to empty, refill, and clean the tank than other kinds of carpet and rug shampooer tanks.
You will also never struggle with measuring the water and solution with the PowerLifter either. It comes with a built in measuring cup this way you know exactly how much water or solution you want to use before beginning your cleaning session.
Despite the way it looks and its power, the PowerLifter is surprisingly easy to carry around. Weighing only 16 pounds, you’ll be able to take the PowerLifter practically anywhere without too much effort.
Unfortunately, there is no way that the PowerLifter can clean small rugs safely. Even if you intend to use it on a large rug that is somewhat thick, you’ll need to run over it carefully to make sure you do not damage it. Most shampooers use their main unit to clean carpets and have tools on the side to clean rugs, but this is not the case with the PowerLifter.
#5 “Big Green” professional carpet cleaner machine by Bissell
Rugs and carpets in large rooms will get a lot out of the Big Green, by Bissell. With a power cord that is 25 feet in length and a 9 foot hose, you will not need to worry about needing to take the Big Green to different outlets of any given room that you are working in. You’ll be able to cover a lot of area with the Big Green.
Another thing you won’t need to worry about with the Big Green is needing to refill, empty or clean the water and solution tanks too often. The Big Green comes with two different tanks, which is normal. What is not normal is the size of these tanks. The Big Green’s tanks are much bigger than the tanks of other carpet and rug cleaners.
The tough stain tool that connects to the Big Green’s hose is what lets you clean rugs, and it does a very good job of doing just that. It uses the same kinds of water and solution that the main Big Green unit uses to clean carpets as well.
True to its name, the Big Green is massive. It weighs upwards of 40 pounds, making it very difficult to carry around if not impossible. You will have no choice but to use it for a large room.
Also, the tanks of the Big Green are so big that they tend to leak. Because of its size, this can cause serious problems if they are too full and if you take on a very lengthy cleaning session with the Big Green.
#6 “PowerDash” pet carpet cleaner by Hoover
Something that a lot of carpet shampooers struggle in is versatility. While many carpet shampooers are able to clean both carpets and rugs, it is often difficult to adjust the shampooer to go between cleaning one and the other.
The PowerDash by Hoover solves this in two ways. First, it is designed to where you can make any kind of necessary adjustment very quickly. If you are done cleaning carpets with it and now need to clean your rug with it, all you need to do is remove the nozzle at the base, clean it, put it back on, and you can now clean your rug.
Another thing that makes the PowerDash good at cleaning both carpets and rugs is that it is powerful enough to clean carpets, but not too powerful to where it will tear up any given rug that it runs under.
You won’t need to worry about long drying times with the PowerDash, either. Containing HeatForce technology in its machine, it takes a significantly shorter time for any carpet or rug cleaned with the PowerDash to dry compared to other carpet and rug cleaners.
The PowerDash is useful for cleaning carpets and large rugs and nothing else, however. Containing no separate tools to clean smaller rugs, you will need to look for something else if you are interested in cleaning smaller rugs.
#7 “Smartwash” automatic carpet cleaner by Hoover
Most carpet and rug cleaners have a very difficult time transitioning from washing and drying. A lot of the time, you’ll need to just wait for your newly shampooed carpet or rug to dry. This can be extremely frustrating.
The Smartwash has solved this problem, and decisively so. It contains automatic cleaning technology, meaning it will transition from washing to drying automatically. It will detect when a carpet or rug is dry or wet and will clean or vacuum accordingly. This is very, very useful for anybody who cannot afford to wait for carpets or rugs to dry.
You will also be able to take on very lengthy cleaning sessions with the Smartwash, as well. With its solution tank being 20 ounces and clean and dirty water tanks being one gallon a piece, it will take a very long time before you need to empty, refill, and clean these tanks. This is incredibly useful for anybody who needs to use the Smartwash to clean very large area carpets or rugs.
The power brushes and nozzles of the Smartwash are also removable. This makes it easy to clean rugs, since most power brushes of carpet cleaners will be to abrasive when used on rugs.
However, when you fill all these tanks, it becomes obscenely difficult to carry the Smartwash around. It weighs about 20 pounds on its own, and if the water tanks are filled to one gallon a piece, it will weigh at least 25. Combine this with its massive design, and there is no way you’ll be able to carry it where you want to comfortably.
#8 “ProHeat” carpet cleaner and shampooer by Bissell
Multiple tanks can weigh down any given carpet and rug cleaner. This is especially true if the cleaner itself also weighs a lot. Multiple tanks also means that you’ll need to spend a lot of time and energy on emptying, cleaning, and refilling them.
The ProHeat by Bissell solves this by containing a 2-in-1 tank system. This not only prevents the cleaner from being weighed down, but also cuts down on emptying, cleaning, and refilling the tank. You’ll only have one tank to maintain instead of three and this saves a lot of time.
You also will not need to worry about any carpet or rug being dirty after using the ProHeat, either. It contains a power brush that extends to six rows, which dig very deep into any carpet or rug and is guaranteed to leave it spotless. The power of the ProHeat is without peer and you will be very impressed with how effective it cleans carpets and rugs.
Cleaning small rugs is also possible with the ProHeat, as it contains a tough stain tool that allows you to clean spots and small rugs. This tough stain tool uses small amounts of the water and solution from the cleaning unit and is very effective.
Although it is a very good thing that the ProHeat uses a solitary 2-in-1 tank system that prevents it from being weighed down, it only slightly does this. The ProHeat still weighs close to 20 pounds on its own, and is still difficult to carry around even if it does not have so many tanks hanging from it.
#9 “Turboclean” carpet cleaner machine and shampooer by Bissell
It can be difficult to store a lot of common carpet and rug cleaners. A lot of them are not designed for optimal storage and can stick out like a sore thumb wherever they are stored and can also often get in the way of other things wherever they are stored. This is especially true when it comes to bigger carpet and rug shampooers.
The Turboclean, by Bissell, is designed in such a way that it provides the same kind of power that other carpet and rug shampooers provide but can also be stored easily. The Turboclean does this by containing a collapsible handle that makes it easy to store anywhere.
Another good thing about the Turboclean is that it is much, much lighter than most other carpet and rug cleaners. Weighing about 12 pounds, you’ll be able to maneuver and carry it practically anywhere.
None of this takes away from the Turboclean’s power, either. Containing a power brush that uses 4 rows, it will still clean carpets and rugs just as effectively as most other carpet and rug cleaners.
The only thing that makes the Turboclean less than perfect is that it is literally impossible to clean spots or small rugs with it. Not containing any kinds of attachment tools, you will need to look elsewhere if you need to clean small rugs or spots.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Is it better to shampoo or steam clean carpets?
- A: Both of these methods of cleaning a carpet are effective. The real answer to this question depends on how dirty the carpet is and what kinds of stains are on the carpet. If these stains are really deep and have been on your carpet for a very long time, shampoo the carpet. If your carpet does not encounter a lot of traffic and does not contain a lot of stains, it would probably be better to steam clean them.
Q: Does shampooing a carpet ruin your carpet?
- A: If it is done correctly, shampooing will not affect your carpet negatively. Shampooing a carpet involves a combination of water, solution, and drying techniques. If you use too much water or too much solution, you will run the risk of damaging your carpet. Also, if you do not let the carpet stand and dry properly after shampooing, it will damage the carpet. All things considered, Shampooing your carpet will only ruin your carpet if you are careless.
Q: Do I need to rinse the carpet after shampooing it?
- A: Shampooing anything involves soap and other kinds of cleaning solutions. When these solutions dry on their own, it can affect the surfaces that they have cleaned. Because of this, you’ll probably need to rinse your carpet after shampooing it. Most carpet cleaners have features that do this, so you will want to make sure that these features rinse the carpet properly, this way it can dry properly.
Q: Will area rugs damage a carpet?
- A: Area rugs can only damage a carpet if they themselves are very dirty or are unkempt in other kinds of ways. The thing that most need to be aware of when it comes to area rugs is that they are made of material that is much more sensitive than carpets, and even though an area rug typically covers a carpet for insulation purposes, dust and other particles can still develop underneath the rug. This can affect carpets if the rugs are not cleaned regularly.
Q: Is it OK to put a rug on a carpet?
- A: Putting a rug on top of a carpet is perfectly fine if you know why you are doing it and if you are willing to remove the rug from the carpet and vacuum or clean it as necessary. One of the most common reasons why people place rugs on carpets is to improve insulation. This is especially true in colder climates. Another reason why people place rugs onto a carpet is so that they can clean the rug instead of the carpet. And if you are willing to regularly clean the rug that you have placed onto the carpet, it is perfectly fine to do so.
Q: How do you stop a rug from creeping on a carpet?
- A: When rugs creep on a carpet, it usually means that it needs to be cleaned in some aspect. Remove the rug from the carpet and clean it in some aspect. Whether it just needs to be vacuumed or cleaned deeply depends on how dirty the carpet is. In any case, preventing rugs from creeping on a carpet is directly tied to how clean the rug is.
Q: How do you keep a rug from bunching on a carpet?
- A: When rugs start bunching on a carpet, it usually means that it is too moist. Rugs encounter traffic just like carpets do, and when rugs absorb the particles involved in traffic, they tend to tighten and that is what causes them to bunch. To prevent this, vacuum the rug regularly. When you do this, you will loosen the rug up and prevent it from bunching up.
Rug shampooers are very much the same as their carpet cleaning counterparts, in fact, most carpet shampooers double as rug shampooers as well.
So while it is rare to find a shampooer that cleans rugs and rugs only, it is very possible to use carpet shampooers to also clean rugs.
What you need to understand is that most carpet shampooers can indeed clean rugs, but it depends on how large the rug is and how thick the rug is.
Rugs that cover a large area can usually be easily cleaned with a carpet shampooer. All you would need to do in this case is use a little less water or solution, this way the rug can dry properly.
Smaller rugs will need to use either use the side tools and attachments that come with carpet shampooers or simply vacuumed. A lot of smaller rugs can even be cleaned by putting it in the washer and then drying it.
Cleaning and shampooing a rug does not need to be a complicated task. It can be easily done with any given rug or carpet shampooer, with minimal adjustments.