Glossary of Carpet Cleaners Terms
A spray crevice tool, a bare floor tool, an upholstery brush and a tough stain brush are attachments that are typically included in the price of the cleaner. Attachments vary by model and will be determined by your specific needs.
Auto Mix Cleaning System
This ensures that the hot water and cleaning solution mix are at the right concentration for optimum results.
The rows of bristles on the brush bar can vary. Some models can have 10 or 12 rows that will help increase the agitation of the carpet fibres for a more thorough clean.
Built In Heater
With a built in heater the water will generally be thermostatically maintained at the optimum temperature for the job in hand. Most models allow temperature selection. Cheaper models may not include a heater and will require you to pre-heat the water before pouring it into the cleaner's tank with a consequent risk of scalding. The water, once transferred to the cleaner's tank can start to cool rapidly and will reduce the cleaning effectiveness
The longer the cable, the further you can use your cleaner away from a mains plug socket. A longer cable can save you time and effort looking for and plugging in an extension cable.
Some models have a handle built into the body. This is particularly useful when you need to carry the cleaner to a different place for another cleaning job, such as taking it upstairs.
If a large object is accidentally caught up in the brushes of your cleaner, a circuit breaker will automatically shut off the brush movement to prevent damage to the machine. Similarly, a circuit breaker can potentially detect an electrical problem and shut down the machine to prevent damage or danger to the operator.
This is the width of the head of the cleaner. The wider the head the less time it will take to finish the job but the harder it will be to clean intricate areas -- which is why many carpet cleaners come with multiple attachments.
Clean Water Tank capacity
This is capacity of the tank holding the fresh water used to clean the carpet and is typically in the region of 4 litres for a domestic cleaner. The waste or dirty water tank generally has a similar capacity.
These portable lightweight models are ideal for the odd accident or as a spot cleaner, as well as upholstery cleaner. Because of their size, they are also easy to store but tend to sacrifice suction power, water capacity and functionality in order to achieve reduced weight.
Dirty Water Tank Capacity
Tank capacity is measured in litres and can range from 2 litres up to 5.2 litres, depending on model. The more liquid in the tank, the heavier the cleaner will be to push and the more effort that will be required from you. For cleaning a 10x12 ft room, a 2 litre tank will generally be large enough before the water needs changing.
The more powerful the motor and suction power of the cleaner, the drier your carpet will be after cleaning, as more of the wet solution will be removed from the carpet.
The cleaner has side brushes and suction in order to provide edge-to-edge or up-to-the-wall cleaning.
A flexible hose with an attachment allows you to get into tighter areas for cleaning applications such as car or caravan upholstery and interiors.
Heat Indicator Light
Lights up to let you know that the water has reached the desired temperature.
Heat Up Time
Heat up time is determined by the power of the carpet cleaner's internal heater, together with the temperature of the water used to fill the clean water tank. If you fill the tank with hand hot tap water, the on-board heater will only take a few minutes to reach its working temperature, usually around the 25 degree Celsius mark -- but do be careful not to scald yourself with the hot water.
Lay Flat Handle
This is a useful feature when faced with the challenge of cleaning under low furniture and similar places. It allows the handle of the attachment to lie almost if not entirely horizontally whilst keeping the attachment head at its operating position.
Here, the cleaner's tools will always be to hand when you need them, stored in or around the body of the cleaner. This removes the need to go searching for them and wasting valuable time and effort in doing so.
Measured in Watts. The higher the wattage of the cleaner the more powerful the motor. Motor wattage can range from 600W to over double this at 1400W. Do bear in mind that a higher wattage suggests but doesn't guarantee greater suction power. Different cleaners operate at different levels of efficiency depending upon their design. Also remember that total power consumption will include both the motor and the water heater and the balance between these two will vary significantly from model to model.
Powered Hand Tool
These include a powered brush, usually electrically powered although some are air-driven. They are ideal for stair cleaning and for removing pet stains and odours from upholstery.
Power jet Technology
A high pressure spray technology that injects the tap water and the cleaning solution into the carpet fibres to get down deep into the pile of the carpet.
Two powered scrub brushes oscillate to agitate embedded dirt and stains for a more thorough deep down clean.
Rotating Brush Bar
For a deep cleaning, especially on longer pile carpet and rugs, a rotating brush bar agitates deep into the carpet fibres to remove hidden dirt. Some models have two brush bars for double the effect.
Scotch Guard Protector
Scotch Guard is a patented solution that can be applied to your carpet and upholstery so that it becomes more resistant to dirt and stains. Some carpet cleaners include a Scotch Guard spray facility as part of the main cleaning process. The use of this facility is invariably optional.
Pressing this, sprays your cleaning solution onto the carpet fibres beneath your cleaner and then the brush bars beat it into the carpet fibres as part of the cleaning process.
Static Brush Bar
This agitates the fibres on the surface of the carpet and assists in loosening the dirt.
A hose length for cleaning full height stairs (13 steps) is an extremely useful feature. By definition, many carpet cleaners are fairly heavy and of significant size. Trying to balance them halfway up the stairs is likely to lead to disaster.
Tank Carrying Handle
Positioned on top of the tank, this makes it safer and easier to carry when you remove it from the cleaner to fill up with water or to dispose of the dirty water that has been removed from your carpet.
The larger the tank size, the less time you will spend on refilling / emptying the cleaner, but the greater the weight of the cleaner during operation. Tank sizes vary significantly from model to model.
The tubes used as part of the cleaner's attachments can be either plastic or metal depending on the model. Metal tubes offer the advantage of durability but must be manufactured from high quality stainless steel to avoid corrosion. Plastic tubes are cheaper and lighter but their connections may not be as durable.
See powered hand tool above.
Most modern carpet cleaners are in upright form, akin to the upright layout of a vacuum cleaner. Some are, however, available in cylinder form, with professional cleaners often preferring the manoeuvrability and larger storage capacity of a cylinder model.
See built-in heater above.
Weight can vary from a lightweight model of around 5 Kg, to 11 Kg or greater. Weights are almost always given 'dry' so remember that once the tanks have been filled up with water and cleaning solution, the cleaner will be heavier. Weight trades off against motor / suction power, tank capacity (and thus running time) and functionality. The balance between these will be determined by your own specific requirements.
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