The Best Thing I Ever Bought – Best Inexpensive Steam Vac

Dear Readers: Of all the columns I’ve written, the one on the care and feeding of the carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest and, shall I say, creative feedback! And the most requests to reprint. Since you asked, here it is again. Enjoy!

Okay, so maybe I should say, “One of the best things ….” but at this moment, as I write, I cannot think of anything I’ve ever purchased that can top my carpet cleaning steam vac.

Background: I have a love/hate relationship with carpet. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet. Cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies. 

You know how some people select carpet color by what won’t show the dirt? What?! I select the lightest color possible so it WILL show me where the dirt is, so I can get rid of it.

The two enemies when it comes to keeping carpet clean and pristine are 1) Soap and 2) Water. And guess what carpet cleaners use to clean carpet. Soap and water.

The problem with the soap is that there is always a residue that remains. Most cleaners use way too much to start with, leaving no way to retrieve every last bit. ANY soap left in the carpet becomes a sticky dirt magnet. Huge problem.

The problem with water is that it is not extracted fully, leaving the carpet wet too long, which leads to mold and mildew. That sets you up for an icky mess.

Carpet is just downright troublesome. I do not even trust commercial cleaning companies. They leave soap and residue in the carpet. Even the ones that use a “dry cleaner” leave stuff behind. I’ve tried ’em all and have been disappointed within weeks of spending a small fortune.

But, I am so proud to say, I’ve licked the problem. I have very light colored carpet that is 100% nylon Stainmaster in my home. After more than 8 years it is still lovely. Pristine. Stainfree. No paths, marks or problems. I owe it all to my Hoover SteamVac.

This home steam cleaning machine (cheaper than one visit from a carpet cleaning company) is truly an amazing machine, but only because I have made a few adjustments to the way I use it. Let’s just say I have slightly rewritten the Owner Manual. Yes, I am a brave woman.

First I DO NOT USE ANY SOAP OR CLEANING LIQUID in the machine at all. None. Nada. I’m no fool. I know that I will never be able to get that soap out no matter how hard I rinse. Instead, I use a good liquid spot remover called Spot Shot. I’m sure there are others, but I love this one. I take care of spots as quickly as I can, when they happen. That is so important. I vacuum often. Also important. Then every few weeks or months I pull out my buddy, Hoover.

First, I treat any spots or dirty areas with Spot Shot. Then I fill up Hoover.

The Hoover instructions say to fill the top canister with hot water. I go one step further. I boil the water and pour it in there carefully, boiling hot. Do not worry. This is okay! After all what do you think steam is? It’s very very very hot water! Most home cleaners do not use the power of boiling water, but I do.

With NO SOAP at all, only the power of the spot remover, I go to work. I pull that trigger liberally too, to release a lot of hot water. And I follow the instructions to release the trigger to suck up all the water on each return path. It is truly amazing how that hot water pulls out normal everyday dirt and dust. I go over an area many times (it’s kinda fun, actually) until no more water is coming up (you can see this and the clear canister that holds the dirty water).

Now here’s the bonus: Because the water is so hot and it gets sucked back up so quickly, the carpet dries in no time. I know, you are suspicious about this. But it is so true. Hoover has such a powerful extractor, I think I get up almost all of the water I lay down.

And the best part? NO STICKY RESIDUE! I never clean all the carpet at one time. I do a bit now and then until I have made my way through all the rooms and halls. Then I start over. It’s just maintenance. Easy, enjoyable and very rewarding. And cheap! I never buy soap or cleaning solution for Hoover. Ever. Poor guy. Starves on water only.

My big pay off: the feel, look and smell of beautifully clean carpet!

Yes, my Hoover SteamVac is the best thing I ever bought.

NOTE: I do not suggest trying this on all steam cleaners. I have only done this with my Hoover SteamVac—which has tanks, not bladders. If your steam cleaner does not have a very sturdy tank it’s not wise to pour boiling water into it, is it?

Question: What’s the best thing you ever bought?

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31 replies
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  1. Kathleen French
    Kathleen French says:

    I have been a subscriber now for MANY years and I just love you Mary. You posted a similar article on this same item several years ago. I took your always great advice and let me just tell you…You’re not lyin’!!!! I have a family of 5 and a big house with mostly carpet. This steam vac works wonders when used just as you recommend. It is always so amazing how much dirt comes up out of a thoroughly vacuumed carpet with just hot water and not detergent. And you’re not exaggerating when you say that it leaves your carpets almost dry. It’s amazing. I’m going to have to second your sentiment, “The Best Thing I Ever Bought”.

  2. Anne
    Anne says:

    Yes, yes Mary, I just bought one a few months ago and it is super. I could not believe how clean it got the carpet, commercial carpet cleaners didn’t do as well.. Can’t wait to try it on my car seats..

  3. Robin Gray
    Robin Gray says:

    Hi Mary, thanks so much for your advice… and because of it, I think the best thing I bought was my Shark vacuum. Now I have this carpet cleaner on my wish list… hubby says it will make a nice Christmas gift…
    The next thing I need to buy (based on your recommendation) is Nok-Out… three sporty sons and a hubby… I need not say more. 🙂

  4. Rhonda
    Rhonda says:

    Thank you….I’m ready to replace my HEAVY, HEAVY Kirby and couldn’t decide on a new brand….gonna get a Shark AND a Steam Vac!

  5. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    I just bought the Hoover Steamvac and when I poured the boiling hot water into the tank it broke the seal causing it to leak out around the seal of the machine onto the floor. Has anyone else have this problem? 🙁

  6. Jill
    Jill says:

    I agree with no shampoo. All it does is attract more dirt because you cannot get it completely out and it becomes sticky. The added benefit is less expense.

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