How to Choose the Right Floor Cleaning Machine

Life can get messy at times. Between kids, guests, messy dinners and the family dog, keeping your floors clean can feel like an impossible task.

A good vacuum can go a long way in keeping carpets like new, but a floor cleaner will take it one step further. Using the power of heat, water and suction, these powerful machines remove deep-down dirt and leave your carpet fibers looking clean.

It’s the next best thing to putting your carpet in the washing machine.


Making the decision to buy a floor cleaner is easy, but finding the right machine is difficult. Keep the following things in mind when choosing your machine:

1. Power and Cleaning Style

One of the first things to look at when choosing a floor cleaner is the machine’s power and its cleaning style.

Power is important because it will determine how deeply the machine cleans your floors. The more power, the deeper the clean – in most cases. But there’s also a fine line between having just the right amount of power and having too much.

Too much power may damage your flooring, depending on the type of carpeting or hard flooring you have.

Look for a machine that’s designed for your flooring type, and choose a power level that you feel comfortable with. Some models are simple carpet cleaners, while others are designed for deep cleaning.

The cleaning style is also important, and there a few different styles to choose from. The Bissell Big Green Floor Cleaner, for example, is a water-filtration vacuum, carpet cleaner and hard floor cleaner in one, while the Rug Doctor Floor Cleaner is designed only for use with carpeting (think steam cleaner).

A water-filtration vacuum, as LiveStrong explains, is a vacuum that sucks dirt of the carpet and runs it through water before venting. The water catches the dust and dirt, so it doesn’t make it back into the air.

Check out the video below to see how a water filtration vacuum works:

Weigh all of your options, and consider which one is the right choice for your home.

2. Machine Style and Design

Along with power and cleaning style, you also want to consider the machine’s design and style. There are many different types of vacuums out there, as Good Housekeeping points out, so it’s important to look at all of your options before making a decision.

These styles include:

  • Upright: The classic tilt-and-push vacuum with both bag and bagless options.
  • Canister: The tank and long-hose option with a slew of attachments.
  • Stick: The slim and lightweight option, which is similar to the upright vacuum.
  • Handheld: The compact and lightweight option, which is ideal for small messes, upholstery and cars.

Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Upright machines are more powerful, but they’re difficult to lug up stairs and can be hard to push.
  • Canister models allow you to clean hard-to-reach places and are more powerful (according to Sears), but can also be difficult to move around and bulky to store.
  • Stick machines are lightweight, but not as powerful as an upright or canister vacuum.
  • Handheld machines are great for small messes, but they can’t be used to deep clean an entire room.

Some people have more one floor cleaner to accommodate all of their needs, but if you’re considering going this route, make sure you have enough space to store multiple machines.

3. Versatility

Some floor cleaners are more versatile than others. Some models can do deep cleaning and vacuuming, while others can only vacuum.

Yet others have attachments that let you clean different areas of your home with greater ease. A hose attachment for example, makes it easy to clean stairs and furniture.

Consider your needs and your space. If you’re limited on space, you might consider a model that does both deep cleaning and vacuuming, so you don’t have to compromise on space or your needs.


4. Drying Time

When choosing a floor cleaner, it’s also important to consider drying time. Wet carpeting is an open invitation for mold and mildew, so you want a machine that speeds up the drying process.

As Angie’s List points out, you are at the mercy of the weather when it comes to drying time. If you clean your carpets on a wet and cold day, it will take much longer for everything to dry. But if you clean on a warm and sunny day, the drying time will be much quicker.

And SF Gate recommends waiting at least 24 hours before removing the protectors from under your furniture (if applicable) is recommended because drying time can vary so much.

Many modern floor cleaners also come with built-in heating, which can speed up the drying process significantly. Ideally, you want a model with this feature, as it can help keep your home and carpet looking and smelling fresh.

These are the four most important things to keep in mind when choosing a floor cleaner, but it’s also important to keep your budget in mind. Find a model that you can afford, and one that will meet your needs without taking up too much space in your home.