Should you rent or buy a carpet cleaner?

A cylinder carpet cleaner being used to clean the carpet
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We’ve all had shocks and horrors when it comes to sudden stains on the carpet. Whether you're trying to remove a red wine stain, or your kids have force you to look up how to get paint out of the carpet, all kinds of stains can make an unwelcome appearance and force us to scrub on our hands and knees.

Whether you have to deal with a singular stain, or your whole carpet needs a refresh, there’s one appliance that can really help: a carpet cleaner. 

Carpet cleaners are designed to remove stains in a single pass using a combination of detergent and water. But, while they serve a useful purpose, they’re rather bulky in size to store and can cost a lot of money to buy outright. Plus, if you need it to refresh your carpet you will likely only use it once a year or so. That’s why many of us will lease carpet cleaners rather than buy them. 

But, with more compact and affordable carpet cleaners coming to the market, it raises the question of whether it’s worth buying one of these spill saviors. Here, we will look into the advantages of leasing a carpet cleaner versus buying one to help you decide.

In any case, here's how to clean carpets with or without a carpet cleaner.

What is a carpet cleaner?  

First, let's look into exactly what a carpet cleaner is and what it can do. When first introduced, carpet cleaners were predominantly leased for consumers to clean their own carpets. They had a large, industrial appearance with a cylinder design — picture a more bulky version of a cylinder vacuum cleaner. 

The method of cleaning has remained much the same as it is today with water and detergent being applied to the carpet through the head and then sucked back up at the same time, carrying any dirt with it. With this method, you can make your way across the carpet similar to how you would with a vacuum cleaner. 

BISSELL TurboClean DualPro Pet Carpet Cleaner

(Image credit: Bissell)

The design and performance of carpet cleaners has since improved, resulting in more compact models, which are now often upright in shape for better convenience. That’s why carpet cleaners now look like bulked up upright vacuum cleaners. There are usually tools and attachments which allow you to clean other areas too, such as upholstery. 

You can also now find even smaller portable carpet cleaners which are designed for spot cleaning. These can be carried around by hand and are designed explicitly for spills and stains rather than refreshing whole rooms of carpet. Both kinds of carpet cleaner can be rented by the day or even by the hour, or purchased outright. They’re more commonplace on the market these days and can be found in most electrical appliance stores. 

The benefits of renting a carpet cleaner  

1. You don’t need to store it — Carpet cleaners are pretty sizeable and heavy, with some weighing as much as 57 pounds. The machine will take up a good amount of space even without accounting for the detergent. By renting, you’re saving this space.

2. You will get a more professional performance — Generally speaking, a carpet cleaner which is rented will have more of an industrial design and will provide a stronger performance. Those that are bought in store are more for everyday use. This isn’t always the case, but you should be aware of it. 

3. You only pay for as long as you need it — You can make sure you’re not overpaying by renting the carpet cleaner for only as long as necessary. Some can even be rented by the hour, particularly the handheld carpet cleaners. 

Rug Doctor carpet cleaners available to rent at a store

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Cheaper option versus paying for a professional to do it — By taking matters into your own hands, you save money compared to paying for a professional to clean your carpets. Plus, you can then clean the carpets when you want, rather than working off their schedule.

5. You are not responsible for any immediate faults — if the carpet cleaner arrives faulty, you can report it and use another one. Whereas if you face the same problem with your own carpet cleaner, and it’s out of warranty, you need to buy a new one.

6. A better source of advice — If you need guidance or tips on cleaning your carpets, a brand which specialises in the subject will likely be more helpful versus a large corporation.

The benefits of buying a carpet cleaner 

1. You’ve got it on demand — If there are any sudden spills or stains, you’ve got a carpet cleaner ready to go and you don’t need to worry about any time constraints.

2. It’s technically cheaper — After a number of years of renting a carpet cleaner, the cost will inevitably be cheaper to buy. For instance, if a machine costs $50 to rent, or $250 to buy, you will have spent the same amount of money after 5 years, but by buying you have an asset at the end. 

3. You won’t need to rely on the availability — You might be in desperate need of a carpet cleaner, but if there’s none available to rent in your immediate area you’re a bit stuck. You either need to wait for one to become available or drive further afield. By owning a machine, you don’t need to worry about this.

BISSELL TurboClean DualPro Pet Carpet Cleaner

(Image credit: Bissell)

4. You won’t have to drive or carry the carpet cleaner to/from where it was rented — This is actually a lot more effort than it sounds, particularly if you don’t own a car. Carpet cleaners are heavy and bulky, and generally when you rent them you need to pick them up and drop them off at a specific location.   

5. Again, cheaper than paying for a professional — This is naturally cheaper than paying for a professional to clean your carpets, and you can fit the chore around your schedule. 

Should you rent or buy a carpet cleaner?

Ultimately, whether you should rent or buy a carpet cleaner depends on your circumstances and needs. If you don’t have the cash to hand or the storage space to hold more appliances, then leasing is the obvious choice. However, if your home is constantly facing spills and stains — especially from children and pets — you might be better off investing in a handheld carpet cleaner, so you always have it ready to go. 

If your carpets are in need of deep cleaning, you might also opt for a professional to do it to save yourself from the chore. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but be sure to consider your needs before making a decision and remember that buying will eventually be the cheaper option versus renting.   

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.