I'd actually like to clean the carpet.
April 27, 2006 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I need a small carpet cleaner - any suggestions? I only need it for stains on an (old) apartment carpet, including cat urine stains. I don't want something that breaks the bank, and I'm not expecting a miracle-worker - I just want to do what I can to keep from getting my security deposit dinged.

More specifically: I have two cats, and they've peed a few times on carpet that I think is directly over concrete (no padding). There are a few other random stains on the carpet that are probably too old to do anything about, but I would like to attack them with something to at least see what I can do. And it'd be nice to have something on hand in case there are any serious spills in the future.

The carpet is brown, and short, and old. There are only a couple of rooms of it, so I want something handheld and small, not a full-size thing. Anyone have luck with anything?
posted by bibbit to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you talking about buying something, or renting something.

From what you're describing, it sounds like it might be more effective and economical to either hire a carpet cleaning service or rent a steam-cleaner from a home-improvement-tools-rental-center type place.
posted by anastasia at 11:22 AM on April 27, 2006

We have Bissel's little green machine and use it for cleaning up after the animals - it works great. It was a gift, though, so I'm not sure how much it cost.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:22 AM on April 27, 2006

I've been reasonably happy with the Bissell Spotbot.
posted by bac at 11:23 AM on April 27, 2006

Rent a machine...you will be amazed at how much gunk it will pull out.
posted by omnidrew at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2006

I've been amazed with the Bissel Little Green (just got it less than a week ago). Got chocolate stains out of my car seat like nothin! And the rest of the seat was much dirtier than I thought too... But that's another story. Lol.

Definately worked for me!
posted by mercurysm2 at 11:49 AM on April 27, 2006

Response by poster: I figure when we move out, we'll rent something then. I just want something to quick-fix spots in the meantime, like the next time the cat decides to "miss" the litterbox (I think one of them does it when he's mad at me) or one of my brothers decides to drop a beer.

Thanks for the other suggestions - I've seen mention of Bissell before, but the reviews, of course, vary widely.
posted by bibbit at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2006

2nding or 3rding the Little Green machine (Here it is at target). It's what we use when our cat pees on the carpet, however, we usually use it right away, not after they've been there for a while so ymmv.
posted by chndrcks at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2006

I second (third?) the recommendation for the Bissell "little green" cleaner. If you use it right away on a spill (or a pet accident) it removes pretty much everything. It isn't as good on older, set-in stains, though. For that a professional cleaning is probably a better idea.
posted by gwenzel at 12:31 PM on April 27, 2006

Rather than renting something just before you move, you might be better off hiring professional cleaners. It's probably cheaper than you think (we get 4 rooms for $80), and definitely easier....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2006

In terms of chemical cleaners, in case you want to try that route, we've had excellent results with Nature's Miracle, particularly with cat urine in small area rugs. We've chucked a stinky rug into the washing machine with NM, and it's removed the odor completely.

We've also used it successfully for spot removal on large carpets.
posted by scrump at 12:42 PM on April 27, 2006

I love my Little Green. Don't bother with the heated version - just use hot water in the tank.

If the spot is more than a couple of hours old, I soak the spot with Nature's Miracle for 24 hours, re-wet it with NM right before I go load up the tank with hot water, and then go work on the spot. I don't even use any kind of soap in the unit when I do that, since the NM is doing most of the work. For fresh stains, I just do the treat-fill-clean end of the routine.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:45 PM on April 27, 2006

Response by poster: One of the reasons I'm thinkning about getting a small cleaner is that the urine-d area is in a small patch between the bottom of a set of stairs and our backdoor. The area is probably two feet by six feet, and I'm not sure how professional cleaning would get that done (obviously, I've never had professional cleaners before). Is that something they could get into?
posted by bibbit at 1:00 PM on April 27, 2006

We just got a "Steamvac" portable deep cleaner from Hoover. Reviews for it were great on Amazon. The name is misleading (no actual steam), but it works like a charm on kitty puke and spilled drinks. Dunno about pee; that's a touchy one. If you don't have a pad, you'll probably have more luck cleaning it out. One thing: if you choose to use a biological cleaner (such as Nature's Miracle), don't use any other detergents on it beforehand. Also, to avoid magically reappearing spots, make sure you rinse as much soap as possible from your carpet.

You might want to consider laying down a big old peice of plastic underneath/around the kitty litter box. It saved us when we moved and initially had the box on carpet. My cat hasn't figured out that he should squat when he pees, and sometimes overshoots where the litterbox dips down a bit.
posted by moira at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2006

I can understand why The Bissell Little Green Machine gets bad as well as good reviews. It's very noisy. I think there are models that keep the water hot, but in ours, the water cools off really fast because of the way it's dispensed. I think the cleaning solution they supply and sell is smelly and overpriced. The machine is inconvenient to take apart and clean. Water lurks in the hose and you forget about it, only to drip it all over the place when the motor is off. The sucking action is weak and doesn't pick up enough of the water.

All that said, I would buy it again. You can use a weak ammonia and water solution that leaves no odor or residue, and cleans very well. You can learn not to drip hose-water around. You can go over the damp spots with a dry scap of toweling. You can ignore the noise because it's quick and works well. It stores in a small space.
posted by wryly at 3:26 PM on April 27, 2006

Machines are good for large areas or heavily soiled rooms, no question. On a move in, move out, or seasonal cleaning basis, renting a Rug-Doctor machine is probably your best bet. These machines have far more powerful vacuum sections than home machines, and it is the extraction action of the vacuum section that does the "cleaning" of the carpet. You want to pull out as much of the fluid as you put down in cleaning the carpet in the vacuum stage, since damp carpets can mildew, leading to off smells. For this reason, you want to try to clean in a single pass, and avoid the temptation of multiple cleaning passes with lesser machines.

But for small stains and spots, the power of capillary action is your energetic friend, and you need nothing more than a number of reusable white terry cloth towels (like you get at an auto parts place for polishing cars), and some spotting solutions. Basically you lightly wet the stained area (avoid overwetting, as you don't want excess liquid penetrating through the carpet, into the padding, if any), and then blot with clean white rags, turning frequently, and using fresh rags as needed, until the spot is dry. The spotting fluid, moving by capillary action to the drier towels you are using will "pull" the staining soils with it to the towels, quite powerfully. When complete, you can wash the towels in hot water with bleach, and keep them at the ready for the next spill or accident. Fresh spills clean up in a few minutes, with very little chance of permanent staining.

On an old rug, you may manually clean a spot area so much as to make it appear much lighter than the rest of the rug, to the point that even a powerful commercial machine will be hard pressed to clean the surrounding area to the same degree.
posted by paulsc at 3:33 PM on April 27, 2006

I get the feeling you're considering getting some sort of machine, but I've had remarkable results with Folex and a little elbow grease for the kind of situation you find yourself in. Before you invest in expensive hardware, it might be worth trying.
posted by majick at 7:24 PM on April 27, 2006

I have the Bissel Spotlifter. I love it, though it gave me OCD. Once I realized it got out the big spots in my carpet, I started seeing more and more and MORE spots. I had to force myself to put down the spotlifter and interact with my family. I still limit myself to using it for 30 minutes at a time, just to prove to myself I can stop whenever I want to.

Cordless version shown here, tho I have the corded one. If it's anything like power drills, the corded one may have more oomph.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:35 PM on April 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

We have the Bissell Spotlifter and it works great. Paid about $40. I pre-treat the carpet stains by spraying a mix of 50% white vinegar and 50% water, it seems to help. And of course, I generally vacuum first because of the dog fur. It's not that the machine breaks or clogs, but y'know, it's messy with little piles of wet fur left about.

We have 3 large dogs and one of them is very elderly and has bowel incontinence, but isn't in pain so we can't bear to put her down. We just got (3mos) a new carpet in the bedroom, pretty light colored, and it has handled all the poop stains thus fair, quite well. (The carpet is regular plush-style Stainmaster).
posted by mojabunni at 7:38 PM on April 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

posted by killyb at 6:45 AM on April 28, 2006

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