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Everyday Cheapskate: About my love-hate relationship with carpet

Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted the response I would get to the column I wrote about the best thing I ever bought — a carpet cleaning machine. Trust me, it’s not just any carpet cleaner. MY machine has a solid tank for hot water, not simply a “bladder.” Please, please do not do what I do if you have any other kind of carpet cleaning machine. You could ruin your machine, and then I would feel terrible.

I’ve had so many letters about the challenges of cleaning carpet, I think we have sufficient numbers to start a Carpet Anonymous group and also a Hoover Fan Club!

And now I have more of the story to tell you. When we remodeled our home, we replaced some of the carpet with hardwood. What a revelation. Now I could see the dirt and dust, and honestly, I couldn’t believe what accumulated in such a short time on those wood floors. Of course I never saw it on the carpet, but have no doubt that it was there all along. You can be sure that I am vacuuming much more thoroughly and often than ever before.

On the one hand, I love carpet for the warm, cozy way it can make a room feel, especially in a bedroom. But the thought of what’s in it gives me a slightly creepy feeling. I used to think that weekly vacuuming was sufficient. Now I’m not so sure.

And what about those stains? On the wood, I wipe up spills instantly. But stains or spills on the carpet? Aha. That’s where my best purchase — ever — comes in. I may not vacuum daily, but I can promise you there are no stains in my carpet and no dirty paths, either.

The machine I love and use at least as often as I use my quite amazing vacuum is my Hoover Steam Vac ( This thing is totally amazing because it has a big, strong tank for the clean water and another for the dirty. And it is so affordable — far less than the cost of one visit from a carpet cleaning company.

Here is my carpet cleaning routine.

First, I treat stains as soon as possible with Spot Shot. Then I pull out Hoover. The instructions say to fill the tank with hot water from the tap. I take it a step further. I carefully pour in boiling water. Yes I said it. Boiling water. I do not use any carpet detergent or soap whatsoever. Only boiling water. There is some detergent in the spot treatment and that is all that I find to be necessary.

Going over the area with Hoover until the water coming back up into the machine appears soap free and clean, I get to watch the stains and dirt disappear. It is so gratifying it’s almost fun. Almost.

And because I’m using hot water and Hoover is so good at extracting nearly all of the water I put down, it dries quickly.

The carpet in my home is very light-colored and about 12 years old. It still looks fantastic, if I do say so myself, with no dirty paths or stains. I can’t take the credit here. I owe it all to my beloved an’ faithful friend, Hoover!

Mary Hunt is founder of, a personal finance member website.

You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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