The main level of our house has a lot of oatmeal-colored carpet. It’s in our bedrooms, hallway and living room. It wouldn’t be my first choice – I prefer hard floors that can be mopped – but it’s what was there when we bought the house, and it’s only five years old, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I have a good vacuum and I use if frequently, but I knew that the carpets needed to be wet cleaned as well. We take our shoes off in the house, but we also have a dog and we don’t make visitors take their shoes off when they come in. So I know that gunk is getting tracked into our house. Plus, the basement project has been bringing dust upstairs for the past year… I’m forever battling it, but I know it’s in the carpets despite my best efforts.
A couple years ago, we had a local place come out and clean our carpets with a truck-mounted steam vac. They used all natural cleaning chemicals (their website shows the owner drinking the cleaning solution… yummy!) and did a good job, but it was expensive. I can’t remember how much, but definitely not something we’d want to pay for very often.
So I decided to look into buying a carpet cleaner that I could use whenever I wanted to, without having to go get a rental (which means we’d have to do all the carpets in one day) or hire people to come and do it. I looked online and saw several for around $200, and I just decided to sit on it for a while. I wasn’t in a huge hurry – I knew this was a want and not a need – and I wanted to see if any better deals would come along.
Last week I checked Craigslist, and sure enough, I found a carpet cleaner, in our little town, for ten bucks. It’s a small model, with a 9 inch cleaning swath and a 1/2 gallon clean water tank. The lady who was selling it said she got a bigger one, but that this one worked just fine if you didn’t mind the small size. I was happy with the small size, because it means that it fits easily into a closet and is easy to maneuver. I cleaned our living room carpet and used four tanks of water – no big deal at all, since it takes about a minute to dump the dirty water and refill the fresh tank.
I love our new little carpet cleaner. It does what we need it to do, and the water that I dumped out was very brown, even though I vacuum frequently. It definitely needed to be done, and now we can do it whenever we want. And I only spent ten dollars. I just used plain hot water (no chemicals going on my floors, since that would be the opposite of clean!) in the tank, and it was very satisfying to see the brown water getting sucked up into the dirty tank.
I know that this carpet cleaner is pretty far down on the carpet cleaner ladder. I think it sells for about $90 new, and it’s much smaller than most the units people buy for whole-floor cleaning. But it works for me. And it was a fraction of the cost of a new, higher-end model.
Sometimes I think that when we set our expectations high, we have to have the best of the best in order to be impressed. But if we don’t expect so much, we can be just as happy with less. I had never had a carpet cleaner before, and all I wanted was something that would get the carpet wet and then suck up dirty water. And that’s what I got, without spending much money at all.
This was similar to my experience with our car. When we bought our Mazda5 a couple years ago, it replaced a 1991 Civic with manual everything and 225k miles. So as far as we’re concerned, that Mazda5 might as well be a Mercedes. I think that there’s definitely something to be said for having low expectations and and being easily impressed. It makes all sorts of little things seem fantastic, and that makes life pretty sweet!
Once again, thank goodness for used stuff. It’s by far the number one reason we’re able to save a good chunk of our income and still have everything we need (and most of what we want) without spending a lot of money.
And if you have carpet cleaning tips for me, please share! I did add a few drops of tea tree oil to the clean water when I did our living room carpet, and it made the whole room smell nice while I was working. I’d love to hear from some of you who have more experience with this than I do!