Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted the response I would get to the column I wrote about the best thing I ever bought—a carpet cleaning machine. Trust me, it’s not just any carpet cleaner. My machine has a solid tank for hot water, not simply a “bladder.” Please, please do not do what I do if you have any other kind of carpet cleaning machine. You could ruin your machine and then I would feel terrible.

I’ve had so many letters about the challenges of cleaning carpet I think we have sufficient numbers to start a Carpet Anonymous group and also a Hoover Fan Club. And now I have more to tell you.

When we remodeled our home we replaced some of the carpet with hardwood. What a revelation. Now I could see the dirt and dust and honestly, I couldn’t believe what accumulated in such a short time on those wood floors. Of course I never saw it on the carpet, but have no doubt that it was there all along.

On the one hand I love carpet for the warm, cozy way it can make a room feel, especially in a bedroom. But the thought of what’s in it gives me a slightly creepy feeling. I used to think that weekly vacuuming was sufficient. Now I’m not so sure.

And what about those stains? On the wood, I wipe up spills instantly. But stains or spills on the carpet? Aha. That’s where my best purchase ever comes in. I may not vacuum daily, but I can promise you there are no stains in my carpet and no dirty paths either.

The machine I love and use at least as often as I use my quite amazing vacuum is my Hoover Steam Vac. This thing is totally amazing because it has a big, strong tank for the clean water and another for the dirty. And it is so affordable—far less than the cost of one visit from a professional carpet cleaner.

Here is my carpet cleaning routine:

First I treat stains as soon as possible with Spot Shot. Then I pull out Hoover. The instructions say to fill the tank with hot water from the tap. I take it a step further. I carefully pour in boiling water. Yes I said it. Boiling water. I do not use any carpet detergent or soap whatsoever. Only boiling water. There is some detergent in the spot treatment which is all that I find necessary.

Going over the area with Hoover until the water coming back up into the machine appears soap free and clean, I get to watch the stains and dirt disappear. And the areas that are not particularly stained—only dusty and generally dirty—the really hot water does a great job. I know because I see the soiled water going back into the dirty water tank. In a way it’s like I’m damp mopping my carpet the way I damp mop the wood floors. It is so gratifying it’s almost fun. Almost.

Because I’m using hot water and Hoover is so good at extracting nearly all of the water I put down, it dries quickly.

The carpet in my home is very light colored and about 12 years old. It still looks fantastic, if I do say so myself, with no dirty paths or stains. I can’t take the credit here. I owe it all to my beloved and faithful friend, Hoover!