A close up of a vacum

The Best Thing I Ever Bought—UPDATED!

Of all the columns I’ve written, the one on how to have perpetually clean carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest. And the most requests to reprint. Since you asked, here it is again, updated. 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 Hoover SteamVac. I bought it on Dec. 7, 2008, and I only know that because I kept the receipt.

All these years later —while still enjoying clean carpet for going on 12 years—Hoover is still performing flawlessly. I wouldn’t want to live without my workhorse Hoover, pictured below on the left.

On the right, is the current version, which replaces my model—Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine.

Carpet and Hoover


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 carpet; I cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies.

Do you know how some people select carpet color 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 are:

  1. Soap
  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. 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 SteamVac, 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.

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.

My solution

I do not use any soap or cleaning solution 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 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. I take care of spots as quickly as I can, when they happen. 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 nearly 11 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, 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

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 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.

First published: 8-12-13; Updated: 6-23-20


More from Mary's Everyday Cheapskate

Woman with a shopping list at a grocery store with people shopping in the background
female hand in yellow rubber glove holding spray bottle of homemade cleaning solution
oman shredding a piece of paper
dry clothes inside clothes dryer
closeup of female hands pouring hydrogen peroxide into a clean cloth
sparkling clean dishwasher
young casual woman with paint roller sitting on floor and looking at half yellow painted wall
crispy skin chicken honey garlic salmon
dust on a wood surface

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our EC users. Keep your comments positive, encouraging, supportive, and on-topic. Please no lectures or personal promotions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
11 replies
  1. Shirley Swiecichowski says:

    Can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved using my Hoover Steam Vac with hot, hot water and no soap. It does the best job and I know it’s clean. Sometimes I go over the same traffic area twice until I see the water being sucked back up is clean. Thanks for the great recommendation.

  2. Nancy says:

    Mary, I use a Hoover also after reading your article years ago. Didn’t you use white vinegar in with the boiling water? I use 1 cup per tank. Pour vinegar in then boiling water. Cleans very well. Thanks for all that you do

  3. Jeannie says:

    Bought the Hoover years ago at Mary’s suggestion, use the boiling water method and LOVE IT! We have 2 dogs so it’s essential to clean my carpets and rugs often. They look brand new! I bought my son and his wife one for Christmas, as they have 3 dogs. Just one thing, though…I have an area rug on top of carpet in the library and when I try to clean it, the suction doesn’t work correctly and the machine left a mark on the rug, so unfortunately I can’t seem to use it on that particular rug. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that it is sitting on top of carpet, perhaps. Any ideas?

  4. Suzanne Mulloy says:

    After using the carpet cleaning machine I place a fan on the floor and direct it toward the carpet. This causes it to dry quickly and completely.

  5. Darlene says:

    I follow and do listen to Mary religiously. I bought the steam vac, and love it.One of the best things besides the steam vac, that I have purchased is my Wolfgang Puck pressure cooker. Love it, prepares so many things in so short of time. Thanks Darlene from Canada.

  6. Gayle says:

    I bought a Hoover several years ago after you recommended it—- Love it!!!! And no soap residue- love!!! We had previously used a private carpet cleaning business and one visit from them equaled the price of this great machine! It has repaid for itself tenfold at least!!!

    • Katie French says:

      You’re right, Gayle. And they don’t do nearly as well. It seems I paid a lot of money for a lot of excuses as to why they couldn’t get it clean!

  7. Dorothea says:

    I do have Persian rugs and am wondering if anyone has tried using this hot water cleaning method on rugs instead of on carpeting.

  8. Shirley says:

    You mentioned this item a while back, I bought one, and LOVE it! It does the greatest job on carpeting using just hot, hot water and no soap residue.

  9. Katie says:

    Mary’s not kidding. Many years ago when she first told us about this, I ran right out and got one. I followed her instructions to the tee, yes, even boiling the water, and I completely agree with Mary right down to the satisfaction of sucking the dirt out of the carpet. I would go one step further and say that I get a kick out of dumping out the gross water knowing how much stuff I got out that I didn’t even know was in there. I cannot think of a better $150 spent. Thanks Mary, you always have the greatest ideas.

  10. Chris Copeland says:

    I agree with Mary, a clean carpet on bare feet is the best!

    With 3 fur babies, a great odor remover is essential for me so I use Sniper(Nok-Out) in place of soap. There is no residue and no odor once the carpet dries.

    Along with the Hoover carpet cleaner, a tool I use to clean out the clogged hair from the suction ports is a Zip-it drain cleaner. It looks like a large zip tie with serrated edges and is flexible enough to get into the base of the cleaner and remove all the clogged hair and debris. Such a simple, inexpensive and useful tool. Works great on drains too!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *