A photo of a carpet cleaning machine

Comparing the Costs of Carpet Cleaning

Wondering which makes the most sense: renting a carpet cleaner, buying one, or hiring a service to do the work? The answer depends on your budget and how you want to spend your time. To provide an idea of the costs, we priced the options for a house in Kansas City, Mo., with 1,600 square feet of carpeting in a living room, four bedrooms, an office, and two hallways.

Renting
With Rug Doctor, you can rent a machine from a partner location (Home Depot or Walmart, for example) for about $30 a day. The cleaning solution costs about $17 for 48 ounces; you’ll need three bottles for 1,600 square feet of carpet. Pretreating solution starts at $6 each.

Total: $87 per cleaning

More on Carpet Cleaners

Hiring
Stanley Steemer, a company that does everything—including moving your furniture—charges by the room. The minimum starts at $99, though that figure can vary depending on where you live.

Total: $257 per cleaning

Buying
Our runner-up carpet cleaner, the Hoover Dual Power Max Pet, costs $150. Detergent to clean 1,600 square feet of carpeting in our house would cost about $60.

Total: $150 + $60 per cleaning

So while the initial cost of buying is higher, the overall cost of renting would be roughly the same around the fifth use; it’s cheaper to own at the sixth use. Buying will always be less expensive than hiring a service.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the June 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.