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Everyday Cheapskate: Here is the best thing I ever bought, again

Dear Readers: Of all the columns I’ve written, the one on the care and cleaning of the carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest and, shall I say, creative feedback! It’s also had the most requests to reprint. Since you asked, here it is again. Enjoy!

I have a love/hate relationship with carpet. I love how it looks, but I hate dirty carpet. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heebie-jeebies.

When it comes to keeping carpet clean and pristine, its two enemies are: 1) soap and 2) water. And guess what carpet cleaners use to clean carpet? Soap and water.

The problem with the soap is that there is always a residue that remains. Most cleaners use way too much to start with, leaving no way to retrieve every last bit. Any soap left in the carpet becomes a sticky dirt magnet, which is a huge problem.

The problem with the water is that it is not extracted fully, which leaves the carpet wet for too long, causing it to mold and mildew. That sets you up for an icky mess.

But, I am so proud to say, I’ve licked the problem. After more than 8 years, my carpet is still lovely. Pristine. Stain free. No paths, marks or problems. I owe it all to my Hoover SteamVac.

This home steam-cleaning machine (cheaper than one visit from a carpet-cleaning company) is truly an amazing machine, but only because I have made a few adjustments to the way I use it. Let’s just say I have slightly rewritten the owner’s manual. Yes, I am a brave woman.

First, I do not use any soap or cleaning liquid in the machine. None. Nada. I’m no fool. I know that I will never be able to get that soap out, no matter how hard I rinse. Instead, I use a good liquid spot remover to take care of spots as quickly as I can, when they happen. That is so important. I vacuum often, which is also important. Then every few weeks or months, I pull out my buddy, Hoover.

The instructions say to fill the top canister with hot water. I go one step further. I boil the water and pour it in there carefully, boiling hot. Do not worry. This is OK! After all, what do you think steam is? It’s very, very, very hot water! Most home cleaners do not use the power of boiling water, but I do.

Now here’s the bonus: Because the water is so hot and it gets sucked back up so quickly, the carpet dries in no time. I know, you are suspicious about this. But it is so true. Hoover has such a powerful extractor, I think I get up almost all of the water I lay down.

And the best part? No sticky residue — just the feel, look and smell of beautifully clean carpet. Yes, my Hoover SteamVac is the best thing I ever bought.

NOTE: I do not suggest trying this on all steam cleaners. I have only done this with my Hoover SteamVac, which has tanks, not bladders. If your steam cleaner does not have a very sturdy tank, it’s not wise to pour boiling water into it, is it?

Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com. a personal finance member website.

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

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