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The Best Thing I Ever Bought—Updated 15 Years Later (Still True)

It is without a doubt, the best thing I ever bought. Okay, so maybe I should say, “One of the best things ….” But as I write, I cannot think of anything I’ve ever purchased that can top my Hoover SteamVac. I bought it on Dec. 7, 2008, and I only know that because I kept the receipt ($147).

All these years later Hoover continues to perform flawlessly. I wouldn’t want to live without my workhorse Hoover, pictured here on the left in blue.

On the right, is the current version in red—Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine, which I have added to my collection (and for $23 less than I paid for Original Hoover 15 years ago—a price that could change any second). I use and love them both, as do my kids, friends, and neighbors. Only recently, original Hoover saved the day when he removed more than 40 gallons of water from the carpet in my neighbors’ flooded basement. Yep, a workhorse!


I have a love/hate relationship with carpeting. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpets; I cannot abide a spot. The thought of what may be lurking between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies.

Do you know how some people select carpet colors by what won’t show the dirt? What?! I want the lightest color possible so it WILL show me where the dirt is so I can get rid of it and visually inspect to make sure I have. Can you tell how much I love clean carpet?


Two enemies

The two enemies when it comes to keeping carpet clean and pristine:

  1. Soap
  2. Water

And guess what professional carpet cleaners use to clean carpet? Soap and water.


The problem with the soap is that a residue always 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. That can lead to mold and mildew. It sets you up for an icky mess.

It’s a problem

Maintaining clean carpeting in a home can be downright troublesome. I don’t even trust commercial cleaning companies. They leave soap and residue in the carpet. Even the ones that use a “dry cleaner” promising zero-residue leave stuff behind. I’ve tried ’em all and have been disappointed within weeks of spending a small fortune.

But, I am proud to say, I’ve licked the problem. I have light-colored carpeting—100% nylon Stainmaster—in my home. Year after year it is still lovely. Pristine. Stainfree. No paths, marks or problems. I owe it all to my Hoover Steam Vac, which curiously does not produce steam at all—never has. And that could be the reason Hoover has removed the word “steam” in its new, upgraded model.

My Hoover, cheaper than a single visit from a professional 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.

My solution

I do not use soap or cleaning solution in the machine. 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 carpet spot remover called Spot Shot, available in supermarkets, home improvement centers, and online.

Spot Shot is available in an aerosol can (producing foam, not unlike shave cream) and also a spray option. I’m sure there are other carpet spot treatments, but I love Spot Shot. When they happen, I take care of spots as quickly as I can. That is so important. And I vacuum often. Then every few weeks or months I pull out my buddy, Hoover.

This is radical

First, I treat any spots or dirty areas with Spot Shot. Then I fill Hoover’s water reservoir to the maximum fill line. My instructions say to fill the top canister with hot water. I go one step further. I boil the water and pour it in carefully—boiling hot.

Most home cleaners do not use the power of boiling water, but I do. I have done this for 14 years now, and without any problem. Just be aware that should you follow my lead, you may be voiding your warranty.

With NO SOAP at all, only the power of the spot remover (now and then I do add 1 cup white vinegar to the reservoir before filling with the hot water, especially if I have just applied a lot of spot remover, as the vinegar helps to remove all of it), 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.

Quick dry

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

And the best part? NO STICKY RESIDUE! I never clean all of my home’s 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 Payoff

The result of what some may think is a radical way to clean carpet is the feel, look and smell of beautifully clean carpet! There is no fragrance, just the smell of clean.

Yes, I still believe that my Hoover carpet machine is the best thing I ever bought.

Read this

I do not suggest trying this on all any other type or brand of carpet machines. I have only done this with my Hoover SteamVac—which has two tanks—one for clean water and one for the dirty water—not bladders, as some machines have. If your steam cleaner does not have a very sturdy tank it’s not wise to pour boiling water into it, is it?

I have only used this method on 100% nylon and 100% wool carpet. My results are not predictive of your results. I do not represent or suggest you should try this on antique, Persian, oriental, or any other type of rug or carpet because I have not tested that. Should you elect to go ahead, please make sure that you test first in an inconspicuous place so you know what your outcome will be.

If It’s Been a Long Time

If it’s been so long you can’t remember when you last cleaned your carpet, and it is really, horribly, embarrassingly dirty and smelly—cleaning it with hot water alone will not cut it. You need to add a high-quality, commercial-grade carpet shampoo product to your cleaning machine. Or make it yourself (below). Just be prepared to rinse, rinse, and rinse some more. You must extract every molecule of soap or detergent that you lay down and soaks into the carpet. Any that remains will become a magnet, attracting new dirt, dust, and grime.

DIY Carpet Shampoo Solution

Pour ingredients into carpet cleaning machine adding hot water to the fill line. This will not only clean your carpets it will also deodorize. It will smell slightly of vinegar until the carpet is dry. Be sure to test in an inconspicuous place first, just to be safe. Once the carpet is clean, return with hot water only in the machine to rinse.

This should be safe for all carpets, but please test in an inconspicuous place (like a closet) first.


If after deep cleaning your carpet is still not smelling sweet and fresh—with lingering undertones of pet urine or other smells—it’s time to bring out the big gun Nok-Out. Nok-Out is available direct from the company at Nokout.com. and also online. Or call 866-551-1927 to speak directly with owner Ted Price if you need more help with a specific stinky situation.



  • Safely removes the worst odors on contact
  • Powerful and non-toxic
  • No fumes
  • non-abrasive (will not harm granite and marble)
  • Can be used directly on animals
  • No added scent


Clean the carpet first—clean it as best you can even if that takes several repeats. Then adhere to the following protocol from our friends at Nok-Out.


Nok-Out has a pH of 8.5 and works best in an alkaline environment. If you have used acidic cleaning products such as vinegar used previously (like for treating spots or spills), you must neutralize that acid by spraying club soda or a mild baking soda solution (1 teaspoon baking soda to 2 cups water) to the carpet using a spray bottle before applying Nok-Out to the area.

Allow this solution to dry before continuing the odor removal procedures. This step will neutralize any acids left behind by other cleaners on your carpet and allow Nok-Out to work most efficiently and effectively.


Always test in an inconspicuous place first like inside a closet. This is true for any cleaner, deodorizer, or other types of product you’ve not used before. You want to know exactly how your particular carpet (upholstery) reacts before you use this in an open, visible area.

Water temp

When using Nok-Out in a carpet-cleaning machine, add 1 to 2 cups to the reservoir, then add enough room-temperature water to total one gallon (128 ounces). Never use Nok-Out with hot or boiling water.

Let it penetrate

Push the carpet shampooer forward while spraying, but do not vacuum up the cleaning fluid yet. Spray the entire carpet first, and wait for  10 to 20 minutes to allow Nok-Out to penetrate deeply and oxidize into the fibers of the carpet, as well as the matting, the pad, and floor substrate underneath.


After the waiting time has passed, begin the extracting process by pulling the carpet cleaning machine backward. This pulls all liquid back into the cleaning tank. Dry quickly by using overhead ceiling fans, floor fans, turning the ac/heating fan to “On” and or opening windows.

If a second application should be necessary, simply repeat this procedure.

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.First published: 8-12-13; Updated: 9-1-21


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19 replies
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  1. Annie says:

    Hi Mary,
    I want to tell you what I do and it works good.. I use the hot water and I pour NOK-Out in the soap container of my Hoover. It works for me, thought I would tell you. The only thing I use is the N-O and hot water. No soap at all.
    I have a folder for you emails and I keep as many as I can.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I need to catuion you, Annie. According to the folks at NokOut and labeling on the product, it should be used at room temperature—not heated or added to hot water as that will change its efficacy. I’m going to check in with Ted Price to get more on that, but just saying you may be rendering NokOut to be useless by heating it.

  2. Jake says:

    Hey Mary!
    Just wanted to express my gratitude for the time you took to concisely and intelligently share this magical information. It seems as though not many other people out there are divulging the secrets of boiling water and vinegar. I had a particularly pesky mildew in a beautiful old rug that didn’t want to clean up with a name brand solution and hot tap water. I have the Hoover SteamVac (your “Then” in green) and I followed your instruction to a very delightful and glowingly clean finish. I also experienced a quicker dry and an obvious increase in the quality of the cleanse. I would have never known had you not taken the time to share this info, so THANK YOU! You made me very happy, and I have faith I’ll get a gold star from the Boss, er, wife when she gets home!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      You’d need to speak with a flooring professional about that. I believe it would be possible as laminate flooring is typically locked in place rather than blued down. But don’t take my word on this!

  3. Jenny says:

    Hi, thanks for the DIY carpet cleaning ingredients! The Oxiclean link to Amazon doesn’t work anymore so I’m wondering if you use the powder or liquid stain remover? Thanks for all your advice and information for so many years! Happy New Year! Jenny

  4. Cristy says:

    I purchased the Hoover steam vac and loved it’s performance. It is a workhorse – unfortunately the handle on the hot water container broke after a couple years. I have tried to purchase replacement part ($9 item) from hoover and knockoffs. They are “out of stock” as replacement part and have been for 3 years. I purchased a new steamer – different brand that doesn’t work as well but at least the plastic parts are still in one piece.

  5. JC says:

    Hi, I used to sell Rainbow vacuums and when I did a demo I would ask the customer if they had a tough stain that I could remove for them. All I used was hot tap water and no soap. After I removed the stain I would dry carpet with a hair dryer. I removed a lot of stains with just hot water. You are right not using soap, very hard to remove all of it.

  6. RB says:

    Thanks for the info. I always suspected that the soap actually attracts dirt and require another cleaning in not time. I hope you get the benefit of my recent amazon purchase of the cleaner! Thanks.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      If you research “Amazon Reviews” you’ll learn that they are not always reliable. Lots of unethical stuff goes on with people getting paid to post a bad review on a competitor site, paid to post a 5-start review on a site to get a free product. I know one person who is compensated with thousands of dollars in free items every year (furnished his entire condo) because he’s what they consider a great reviewer who doesn’t get caught in the Amazon algorithms. So … take that for what it’s worth. My review is unpaid and my own honest opinion. I can’t be bought. And remember this: At EC we are looking for the “Best Inexpensive” option. That’s why you won’t see me recommending a $500 Dyson …. or a $200K Bentley! They may be better quality and set to last for decades longer than a $149 Shark or where a Kia Soul can’t compete. We’re looking for the Best in what I find to be the Inexpensive category. I hope that helps.

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