A Buyer's Guide to Walk-Behind Extractors

If you're looking for a way to deeply clean your carpet, then a walk-behind extractor is the right tool for the job. These cleaners spray water and cleaning solution, then use a powerful vacuum to extract all the fluid and loosened dirt. This guide will help you choose an extractor from the new and pre-owned models listed on eBay.

What are the different types of walk-behind extractors?

There are several types of extractors, some compact for home use, others large enough for commercial use. The most common varieties are:

  • Box style - These extractors look like large boxes with wheels, and they have two tanks for clean and dirty water, along with a heater and high water pressure. Most models have a wand to clean smaller carpeted areas.
  • Self-contained - Self-contained units have a brush and pump in the front and a large cleaning area. This is good for clear, spacious areas where you can move without obstruction. Most of these units do not heat water, but you can put hot tap water in them.
  • Rapid-drying - These specialize in pulling up more water than most other models. They are designed to leave very little moisture in the carpet after use.
How much water pressure do you need for an extractor?

Walk-behind extractors use PSI (pound-per-square-inch) pressure for cleaning. A unit's PSI rating is what determines how strong it is and how much water and cleansing solution it can push into a certain area. In general, a higher PSI rating means better performance. You will want to choose a unit with at least 100 PSI, but closer to 1,000 PSI or higher is optimal.

The only exception is if you are cleaning upholstery, which cannot withstand high pressures. In this case, get an adjustable unit that you can set at 100 PSI or lower.

What extra features are available with these extractors?

You can choose extra features that may enhance the usefulness of the cleaning unit. They include:

  • Heating - Heating the water and solution makes the unit more effective because it can better penetrate carpet fibers.
  • Number of water tanks - Some units come with more water tanks. This allows you to clean larger areas without having to dump out the dirty water.
  • Power cord and hose - In general, a longer power cord and hose will make the extractor easier to use.