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How to Clean a Carpet Cleaner

By: Sheryl Cannes
Updated on: April 05, 2024

Usually, when you’re cleaning carpets, you’re focused on the carpet. But you have to keep the carpet cleaner in top condition to ensure it continues to run at peak efficiency. We’ll go over the cleaning basics and give you a few tips on how to get the most out of your carpet cleaning machine.

Cleaner Carpet, Better Health

Your carpet can only be as clean as the carpet cleaner. Improper maintenance may result in mold or mildew developing in the appliance. That, in turn, finds its way into the carpet, where it can trigger allergies and other detrimental health conditions.

Carpet Cleaner Maintenance: How to Clean a Carpet Cleaner

Every carpet cleaner is a little different. Before you start with the steps below, be sure to read through the owner’s manual. There may be unique attachments or components that need special attention not detailed in this guide. Also, check out the manufacturer’s cleaning solution recommendations. They may recommend using a commercial cleaner or plain soap and water to disinfect the carpet cleaner.

And, of course, before starting, unplug the carpet cleaner.


The first step is to detach the nozzle. Dirt, fibers, pet hair, and other debris get caught in the nozzle’s cracks and crevices. Once it’s removed, run it under the tap to flush out debris. Use a clean cloth to remove any remaining debris. If grime or hair sticks, you can use a cotton bud or other narrow cleaning tool to loosen dirt in the smaller spaces.

Check for Lint

This step depends on the carpet cleaner model. Check the filter and hose for any lint build-up. Some filters are only accessible after you’ve removed the nozzle. Removing lint improves the carpet cleaner’s suction and efficiency.

Clean or Replace the Filter

If the carpet cleaner has a filter, clean or replace it. Some models have reusable filters, and others don’t. Those that are reusable may be cleaned with either a vacuum or rinsed under a faucet. If you rinse the filter, be sure to let it dry before replacing it. If it goes in the vacuum wet, it could grow mold or mildew.

Clean the Brushes

Hair, string, and carpet fibers get wrapped around and stuck on the brushes. Remove this type of debris by either cutting or pulling it off of the brush. After you’ve removed the initial debris, remove the brush (if possible). Run it under tap water to fully clean it.

Tank Maintenance

Remove and wash the tank with soap and hot water. Rinse and dry it thoroughly. Also, be sure to empty the tank of cleaning solution after each use. Then, fill it with clean water to flush out the rest of the system. That prevents clogs from developing in other areas of the carpet cleaner.

Check and Wash the Exterior

The exterior of a carpet cleaner doesn’t usually get too dirty. Still, wipe it down to remove any dirty water or debris that have clung to the housing. This is also your chance to check the exterior for missing or loose hardware, scratches, or dings that could affect performance.

Wipe Down the Attachments

Wipe down and clean any attachments. If the attachments have brushes, remove hair, lint, or debris from them.

Dry Everything

Dry everything thoroughly. Any water left on the attachments or in the tank could develop mold or mildew.

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

There are a few tips and tricks to keeping a carpet cleaner in good working order.

  • Always clean the tank before storing the carpet cleaner. Dirty water and cleaning solution can both cause clogs if not removed and flushed out of the carpet cleaner’s system.
  • Only use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning products. The owner’s manual usually contains a list of approved cleaning products, which may include some simple home cleaning solutions like adding hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar to the clean water tank.
  • Check high traffic areas for stains that need pre-treatment, and spot treat tough stains. This is an important step before using your carpet cleaner.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner before using a carpet cleaner to remove debris that could get caught in the brush. You should also vacuum after the carpet has dried to remove any residue left over from the cleaning solution.


How often should I clean my carpet cleaner?

Rinsing the tank should take place after each use. A deeper clean should take place every three or four times you use the machine. If the carpets happen to be particularly dirty, you may need to do a deep clean every other time you use the machine. Homes with children or pets, for example, may get the carpet cleaner dirty enough to require a thorough cleaning after one or two uses.

Can I use homemade cleaning solutions with white vinegar or dish soap in a carpet cleaner?

The approved cleaning solutions will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Manufacturers list the approved commercial and home cleaning solutions in the owner’s manual. We recommend following those suggestions to prevent from damaging the carpet cleaner. Doing so also ensures that the warranty remains valid.

Do I use cold or warm water when washing the carpet cleaner?

Warm water offers some sanitizing benefits because it can kill germs and bacteria. However, some types of stains, like dark juices and blood, respond better to cold water. Consequently, the best choice will vary, depending on the dirt you’ve accumulated in the carpet cleaner.

How does a carpet cleaner work?

Carpet cleaners force water into the carpet when pushed forward, then suck the water back into the machine when pulled backward. Professional carpet cleaning involves hot water to maximize the disinfecting and stain removal properties.
Once you’ve cleaned the entire room, rinse out the tank, and fill the carpet cleaner with fresh water. You’ll use this water-only tank to remove as much cleaning solution as possible for fresher carpets.


Heavy foot traffic and carpet stains need the deep cleaning power of a hot water extraction carpet cleaner. However, your home appliance needs cleaning and maintenance to keep it running at peak efficiency too. Regular cleanings remove dirt, grime, dust, and debris so that the machine can work its magic on Berber, shag carpets, area rugs, and other types of carpeted flooring.


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