Turn Your Shop Vac Into Carpet Extractor Quickly: Easy And Affordable Way

Also known as a bucket vacuum, shop vacs were originally made for use in workshops and construction areas that kick up high amounts of wood chips, dust, and debris.

Because the industrial grade vacuums are so large, they gained the nickname bucket vacuums based on their appearance.

An unusual use of these machines has recently come into light. More people are using shop vacs to clean their carpets and tackle other tough stains within the home.

This is due to the higher amount of suction that they have in comparison to household vacuum cleaners.

Turn Your Shop Vac Into Carpet Extractor Quickly: Easy And Affordable Way

If you own or plan on renting a shop vac for a day, it could be worth following these steps to turn your shop vac into a carpet extractor to ensure you get your money’s worth.

This is a complete guide with everything you need to know about using a shop vac as a carpet stain extractor.

Why Use Your Shop Vac As A Carpet Extractor?

Firstly, it is worth noting that shop vacs were not originally created for domestic use. They do not have the air filters that regular vacuum cleaners have, and are considerably more difficult to empty and clean out.

They are heavier and also more difficult to maneuver.

However, the suction is notably stronger than many household vacuum cleaners. This alone has encouraged people to try shop vacs out for themselves, and make use of them to tackle more stubborn stains.

If you have a shop vac, you could save money on renting a carpet cleaner by using it to clean your carpets instead.

Additionally, if you are planning to rent a shop vac, it could be better value for money than a carpet cleaner and you will not have to worry about storing it.

Most shop vacs nowadays are wet/dry vacs, which means that they can tackle wet and dry debris.

This can be highly beneficial when you are cleaning your carpet, because of the possibility of stain removal and increased suction that is unlike any household grade vacuum.

Shop vacs can be a little more effective at removing carpet stains or extracting odors than other means due to the strength of it and durability.

Step One: Decide Where To Clean

To prepare your carpet and shop vac for tackling stains, it is worth focusing on smaller areas.

A shop vac isn’t ideal for larger areas of carpet, so make sure that you are only using it to clean small stains or places that get heavy traffic.

This is especially important if your carpet is a more delicate material, or if it is already damaged in some way.

It is also worth avoiding this method of carpet cleaning on older carpets because you are more likely to cause damage to it or even risk pulling it up using the shop vac.

Once you have settled on a particular area to focus on, you should try to clear the space around the stain or mark.

This helps prevent people from walking on it while it is drying and stops any potentially harmful chemicals or detergent from getting on your furniture, rugs, or other surfaces.

Step Two: Wet The Stain

Once you have decided which area you want to work on, it is time to get the area or specific stain prepped. Dampen the area before working in some carpet cleaner.

The type of carpet detergent that you use depends on the type of stain and what material your carpet is made out of.

Of course, more delicate materials will need extra care and gentle products, whereas more standard carpets are a little more resistant to a range of cleaning chemicals.

You could also consider a pet-friendly carpet cleaner if you have a dog or cat who likes to lie on the ground.

These brands are also great for eliminating odors and releasing some of the hidden dirt underneath the surface of the carpet.

Alternatively, naturally non-toxic options include homemade combinations of water, steam vapor, vinegar, and salt.

However, it is worth noting that certain active ingredients in cleaning chemicals tend to have a more visible effect, and help eliminate odors and other unpleasant scents in the long run too.

Scrub this in using a soft bristled brush, but make sure that you are carefully following the instructions on the detergent.

For example, certain brands of carpet cleaning products require you to dilute the solution with water, whereas others need to be left for a certain amount of time in order to work correctly.

Step Three: Vacuum

Turn Your Shop Vac Into Carpet Extractor Quickly: Easy And Affordable Way

Next, it is time to put your shop vac to the test. If you do not have access to the different attachments, it could be worth finding the ideal one for the task online beforehand.

Try to look for the smallest attachment head that is compatible with your shop vac or brand of wet/dry vacuum.

Find the smallest attachment head and fit it to the shop vac before vacuuming the water and soap. This can allow a more focused suction that ensures you are doing a thorough job at removing the carpet.

Once you have removed most of the water and debris, switch off the shop vac and dampen the area again.

Then, agitate the remaining suds with a paper towel or clean rag before using the shop vac to suck the soap and water up again. Do this on the area until most of the moisture has been removed.

Step Four: Rinse And Repeat

Once you have done this at least once, try to take a minute to see how well the shop vac is working and whether you need to go over it again.

Generally, it will take a couple of repeats of steps two and three until the stain is fully removed. You will be left with a clean carpet that smells and looks fresh.

Leave to completely air dry once you have finished before sitting on it or putting furniture on the section of carpet. For this step, it could be worth waiting until a warm or sunny day to scrub your carpet stains.

This is so that you can open plenty of windows and encourage air flow that will help everything to completely dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a shop vac and a carpet cleaner?

Carpet cleaners have the shampoo inside the water solution, which is constantly being fed into the carpet to dilute the dirt and general stains to make it easier to suck away.

Shop vacs, on the other hand, simply provide an industrial level suction that works by removing the dirty liquid.

Because of this, you need to spend extra time scrubbing the stain away by hand rather than relying on the machine to do it.

Shop vacs are considerably cheaper than carpet cleaners, so that alone is worth considering.

Apart from removing stains from my carpet, what else can I use a shop vac for?

If you have invested in a high quality shop vac, you can use it around the house for a range of purposes.

These include removing pet hair after grooming, keeping the backyard decking clean and free from leaves, cleaning your fireplace or fire pit, removing condensation, and removing stains from car seats.

Are all shop vacs suitable for wet and dry cleaning?

Not necessarily, but they can usually be adapted for suctioning water or wet messes. You will need to remove the filter completely in order to avoid damaging the vacuum and its filters.

However, once this has been done, you are all set to remove water. The main thing to remember when you are finished is to empty the shop vac before fitting the filters again.

If you don’t do this, then you will get dust flying everywhere the next time you want to tackle a dry mess.


A shop vac is a heavy duty industrial tool that you never knew you needed. It has a range of uses around the house, from tackling stubborn stains on carpets to keeping the deck clean and even shampooing car seats.

Make the most out of your shop vac by using the smallest attachment and your favorite carpet cleaner to eliminate odors and stains that don’t seem to budge with regular vacuuming.

It could be worth renting a shop vac for the day, because they are a little cheaper than carpet cleaners. However, they do not force the dirt out of the carpet by feeding water and shampoo into the material like a carpet cleaner does.

Because shop vacs are heavy duty industrial cleaners, it is worth focusing on smaller areas rather than entire rooms.

The high suction strength means that your carpet is more prone to damage if this is done on a regular basis. Check what materials make up your carpet, and how strong it is overall.

This can help you determine the best cleaning method and type of detergent to use.