How to use a Rug Doctor

I get a lot of hits to my site from people looking for information on Rug Doctors. I’m not sure if they’re looking for where to find them or how to use them. So I’m going to cover both topics, just in case.

Where to find a Rug Doctor

Rug Doctors, and machines similar to it (Easy-Off is one such example) can be found at most major grocery stores. In Calgary (where I happen to live), you can find Rug Doctors at your local Safeway. That’s where I found the one I rented. You can also find Rug Doctors at many “big box” hardware stores (e.g. Home Depot).

How to use a Rug Doctor

There is one thing you have to make sure you understand before you rent yourself a Rug Doctor. If you do not understand this one specific detail, you will waste your money because you won’t use it the way you’re supposed to.

A Rug Doctor is not a vacuum cleaner.

Yes, Rug Doctors do have a vacuum system, that’s how they extract the dirt and solution from the carpet. But it does not behave like a regular vacuum, so don’t try to use it like one. If you do, you won’t get the results you need, and you’ll probably have to go back and redo your cleaning.

This is the reason that a lot of apartment contracts state that you can’t use a Rug Doctor to clean your carpets before you leave. You’re usually asked to get a professional cleaner in, usually at a considerably higher cost. This is why the appeal of Rug Doctors is so high.

So can you use a Rug Doctor on your apartment carpets? Of course you can, if you use it correctly. When I moved out of my last apartment, I used a Rug Doctor, and it worked very well. In fact, the Manager was quite impressed, as she thought it wouldn’t work.

Here’s the trick, and it ain’t rocket science: Rug Doctors can only work when pulled slowly in one direction. I can’t emphasize the “slow” enough. Pull too fast, and it’s useless. Push it forward? Forget it.

If you look at the underside of the unit, you’ll see the suction opening and the spray nozzle. You’ll note that the nozzle is “behind” the suction opening. That’s because the spray needs to hit the carpet before you suck it back up — that’s how it works. That means you need to always pull it back, never push forward.

And pull it slowly. You should only cover about a foot every two seconds. Make sure you have enough of the cleaning solution in hot water — don’t use too little or too much, follow the directions exactly. Too little, and it won’t clean. Too much, and you’ll get suds.

When you’ve filled the receptacle about halfway, consider emptying it. Don’t try to run it as long as you can before dumping. It’s heavy when it’s full, and it sloshes a lot.

And above all, take your time — you cannot use a Rug Doctor quickly. It’s a slow process, but it’s not something you want to rush. You need time for Rug Doctors to work well. You might even want to consider doing it twice. But the results, when done well, speak for themselves.

Incidentally, and this probably doesn’t need to be said (but I’m going to say it anyway), don’t use a Rug Doctor on anything but carpets and rugs. Rug Doctors will do nothing for your linoleum, hardwood, or tile floors. You should also consider not cleaning your nice Persian rug with them, since the solution might fade the colours.

Rug Doctor Upholstery Attachment

If you’re considering doing furniture, or you have stairs that need cleaning, invest in the upholstery attachment. I can’t speak for cleaning the furniture, but I can say that you can’t do stairs any other way.

The process is the same as doing your floors. Take your time, and move only in one direction, pulling the nozzle along the surface towards you. You might want to spray some extra solution before using the suction, but that’s a case-by-case thing. Beware of colour loss, though. Testing on a hidden surface is always a good idea first, just to be sure.