If you are looking to buy a carpet shampoo machine, then you should think about what features you want to include in your purchase. There are many bells and whistles that you can have on your carpet cleaner and you need to think about what you will be using the machine for, how often you will be using it, how dirty your carpets get, and who will be walking or crawling on the carpets.
Probably the most important feature you need to decide on is whether your carpet shampooer will have a fixed or rotating brush system. There are advantages to both. Fixed brushes are better for more delicate fabrics, but they often do not clean as deep or get as much grime out of the carpet. Rotating brushes clean deeper, but they wear on your carpets. A lot of scrubbing over and over can break the fibers or even pull fibers out. Keep in mind that the rotating brushes will be working on pulling dirt out of your carpet even when the machine is standing still, but with the fixed brush systems you need the motion of the entire machine to encourage the brushes to scrub and work dirt out of the rug. In general if you have high traffic areas and lots of stains on your carpets then you should go with the rotating brushes.
There are certain features that I consider a necessity on any good carpet steamer. First, make sure that the power cord is long enough so that you can run the cleaner through an entire room without having to find a new plug. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop your cleaning activities to find a new plug. I like to plug into an outlet that is outside the room I am working on so that the cord is never in my way. Two other must haves are an easy to use cleaning solution container and waste water container. You want to try these out in the store. Make sure you can get the canisters out of the machine easily. If the waste water canister is full, the last thing you want to do is spill that dirty water on your newly cleaned carpet because you cannot muscle it out of the machine.
You need to think about what other types of jobs you want to complete with your carpet cleaning machine so that you get the right attachments and capabilities. There are some carpet cleaning machines that can be used on hard surfaces as well. Check for settings that will allow you to run the steam cleaner on slate or tile floors. You could theoretically clean all the floors in your home with one machine. If you want to be able to clean upholstery or drapes make sure that the machine has the appropriate attachments. There are different size hand held brush attachments available on some models as well as crevice tools for those seems and hard to reach places. Other possible features include things like a heater. Some carpet cleaners heat up the cleaning solution before introducing it to the carpet. Many detergents and cleaning agents are activated by heat. You will not have to worry about using very hot water when mixing your cleaner. You will lower your risk of getting scalded.
Still other machines have something handy like a separate reservoir for antifoaming agents. Leaving behind any soap residue when you are done cleaning your carpets is one of the worst mistakes you can make. The dirt that is lodged very deep in the carpet and underneath in the pad will migrate toward the soap residue and then leach to the surface. This phenomenon is called wicking. To minimize this problem many people add antifoam to their cleaning solution. But it is hard to tell how much to use. Some machines come equipped with a separate reservoir specifically for the antifoam additive. Then the machine adds it to the cleaning stream as needed.
No matter what extras come with your carpet shampoo machine, it will be one of the best purchases you ever made. Being able to clean your own carpets is a great time and money saver. You do not have to take time off work to be at home during normal business hours and you will pay for the cost of the machine in one or two uses. It is also helpful to have your own steam cleaner to handle spot cleaning for spills.