Can You Use A Carpet Cleaner As A Vacuum?

Use A Carpet Cleaner As A Vacuum

Both a carpet cleaner and a vacuum cleaner are efficient in cleaning carpet flooring. But they are two different cleaning machines. However, as they look very similar to each other, people often think that they do the same job. But is it so?  Can you use a carpet cleaner as a vacuum cleaner? NO!

Ideally, you should not use a carpet cleaner as a vacuum. Vacuum cleaning does a completely different job to that of a carpet cleaner. Also, vacuum cleaners can be used on almost any flooring or surface while carpet cleaners are definitely for carpets only. But there lie other disparities too. 

To understand why it is not so wise to mix up between a carpet cleaner and a vacuum cleaner, you need to know the differences. As you get the functions they play in cleaning, you will definitely not use one as the other’s alternative. So let’s dive deeper into the matter.

Carpet Cleaner Vs Vacuum Cleaner: Know The Differences

Before I explain why you can’t use a carpet cleaner as a vacuum cleaner, knowing the differences is very important. Not only are their functions different but there are also some other disparities. 

I will first provide a comparison chart to note down the basic differences and then discuss them in detail. So here is the comparison chart: 

Factors Carpet CleanerVacuum Cleaner
Using frequencyOccasionally when the carpet is really dirtyUsually used everyday 
FunctionDeep cleaning carpet and removing stainsRemoving dry debris or dirt
MechanismReleasing liquid, scrubbing with a brush, and sucking up the liquidSucking up the dry debris, dirt, etc. that are on the surface only
Ease of useTime-consuming and a bit tricky to manage the machineVery simple and easy to operate
Ease of setupSetting up is a bit complicated and lengthy procedureNo special setup is necessary
Site of usingUsed on carpets that are dirty, stained, and need a deep cleaningUsed on any surface like flooring, sofa, carpet, etc. to remove loose dirt

Now, let me tell you more about a carpet cleaner and a vacuum cleaner: 

Carpet Cleaner: 

A carpet cleaner is only for cleaning a carpet. You can’t use it on any other surface. Basically, when a vacuum cleaner is not enough to clean the carpet, you need a carpet cleaner to do the job.

A carpet cleaner has a water tank in which you mix water and a carpet cleaner. As the machine is turned on and you use it on the carpet flooring, it releases the liquid to the carpet. The brush attached to the carpet cleaner scrubs the carpet thoroughly and removes dirt, stains, spills, and residues from the carpet fibers. I mean, it deeply cleanses the carpet. Next, it soaks up the liquid from the carpet and leaves it dry. 

A carpet cleaner is also known as a carpet shampooer or a carpet steamer. While the old carpet cleaners were not able to remove the water or liquid from the carpet, the modern carpet steamers soak up the liquid and dry the carpet well after cleaning it. 

Dog litter, liquid food spills, chemical stains, or residues stuck in the carpet fibers can be cleaned out by a carpet cleaner and this can’t be done by the vacuum cleaner. The device is also not as handy as a vacuum cleaner and you need to set it up before using it. Also, cleaning the water tank is important after every clean. 

Note that you can also rent a carpet cleaner as you only use it occasionally. 

Vacuum Cleaner: 

A vacuum cleaner is a very handy and easily portable cleaning device that you will need every day. The best part is you can use it on any surface. While a carpet cleaner is limited to the carpet only, a vacuum cleaner can be used on any type of flooring starting from hardwood flooring to carpet flooring.

 A vacuum cleaner is not for deeply cleaning a surface. Unlike a carpet cleaner, it doesn’t remove stains or stubborn spills from any surface. It can only clean out the dry debris like leaves, hair, loose dirt, dust, biscuits, etc. These are basically dry dirt that the surfaces come in contact with regularly. So a vacuum cleaner is used regularly while a carpet cleaner is used occasionally. 

Note that before you clean the carpet with a carpet steamer, you will need to vacuum it to remove dry dirt. Also, for regular cleaning, a vacuum cleaner should be used on the carpet or any other surface. But when it comes to freshening up the carpet and clearing out stains or stubborn residues, you need a vacuum cleaner. 

A vacuum cleaner sucks up dirt from surfaces. It has a suction to do so. After vacuuming, you need to empty the dirt box in the machine. No extra setup is required for using a vacuum cleaner. 

Related Questions:

Do You Need A Vacuum If You Have A Carpet Cleaner?

You use a carpet cleaner only when the carpet gets really dirty. Otherwise, a vacuum cleaner will do the job. In fact vacuuming before using the carpet cleaner gives the best result. Also, you can’t use a carpet cleaner every day. So you will need a vacuum cleaner for regular cleaning. Therefore yes, you need a vacuum cleaner even if you have a carpet cleaner. 

Is A Carpet Cleaner The Same As A Vacuum?

No, a carpet cleaner is not the same as a vacuum. A vacuum cleaner is used on any surface having dry dust and debris. But a carpet cleaner deeply cleanses the carpet and uses liquid for cleaning. So as you see, not only do they have different working mechanisms but also have distinct functions. Thus a carpet cleaner is not the same as a vacuum cleaner. 

Can You Use A Carpet Shampooer On A Rug?

You should not use a carpet shampooer on a rug. The fibers in an area rug are different from the fibers in a carpet. And as a carpet shampooer is designed for carpet fibers only, using it on a rug can damage it. So you should not use a carpet cleaner or shampooer on a rug. 

Do You Vacuum Before Steam Cleaning? 

Vacuuming the carpet to remove clay, dirt, hair, or any dry debris is always necessary before steam cleaning the carpet. If you remove the dry debris first, steam cleaning becomes faster and more effective. Also, you should vacuum the carpet regularly to avoid stubborn buildups. So vacuuming is necessary before steam cleaning. 

Can You Use Your Hoover Carpet Cleaner As A Vacuum?

A Hoover carpet cleaner is solely designed for cleaning carpets. It can’t vacuum the carpet as the working mechanism is completely different. You will mess it up if you try using a Hoover carpet cleaner as a vacuum cleaner. So don’t use a Hoover carpet cleaner as a vacuum as it is not recommended at all. 


It is now clear that you can’t use a carpet cleaner as a vacuum cleaner. Their functions and purposes are completely different. So there is no way you can use one as the other’s alternative. 

Therefore, for effective cleaning, you should use the device that is necessary for the particular situation. 

Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

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