Budget Barbie: I compared Hoover and Bissell Carpet Cleaners for DAYS and here the one I finally chose... and why


For those that don't want to read anything at all here it is:    Cutting right to the chase, I ended up choosing the  Hoover Dual Spin Pet Plus Carpet Cleaner. 

If you want to know some thoughts behind my choice, read on...

BACKGROUND:  I've owned a Bissell for years that I loved. 

It was a Bissell ProHeat 2x Premiere.  About 1 1/2 years ago I lent it to a family member and finally (FINALLY) got it back last week after begging and reminding for months.  Unfortunately, when I went to use it, I realized the motor ran, but it no longer actually worked

Although I was a Bissell owner for years, when I started to look at the current options, I found myself comparing both Bissell and Hoover.  I went back and forth and back and forth (and back and forth) for a full week of researching for hours.  I have papers and note cards filled with notes, charts and comparisons.

Every time I thought I had finally made up my mind for sure... I'd check one more thing, or think of something I hadn't considered before and I'd find myself an hour into more research. 

One of the frustrations of researching is you can't find all the information in one place.  Even on Hoover and Bissell's own websites!  Hoover is AWFUL for trying to find out specifications.  They seem to be more concerned about posting the cord length and hose length than they are the width of the cleaning path or the amps! 

This is why it takes so long to research!  I was all over every site on the internet digging out information so I could compare apples to apples... not oranges.

In the end, I have 4 machines I liked.
Four (4) machines that were in the running and are all good machines but have pros and cons of course.

The thing is, I had to wade through reviews to find out WHY people rated their machine high or low.  Someone giving a machine just 1 or 2 stars might have what I feel is a really stupid reason for rating it so low.  Someone else may rate it a full 5 stars based on something that was important to them that I actually don't like, don't want or don't feel is important.


For me, I was looking for:

  • A wide cleaning path
  • At least 10 amps
  • A trigger to release the cleaning solution
  • A large water reservoir

Things I didn't care about as much but many people were rating the machine a 1 or 2 over;  the length of the power cord, the length of the hose, having a bunch of accessory hand-held tools, how heavy it was when it was filled with water... etc.

I found most Bissells were only 6.8 amps.  (Not counting the Big Green, which is out of my budget!).  They used to have a couple options but currently, none available or made any longer.  A lot of their machines also have a smaller water tank - which means the machine might be 'lighter' but it's because it's holding less water.  This means stopping numerous times and making trips back and forth to the kitchen to empty and refill the tanks. 

Hoover had the amps I liked and the size water tanks but two of their models that I really loved (at first) ended up having a lot of reviewers mentioning the cleaning solution area drip down onto the motor and smoking, sparking and ashes were mentioned. 

Looking DEEPER into the Hoovers (because I came really really close to buying one of them first) I realized the two very popular models (SmartWash)  right now have a couple things that were deal-breakers to me (not counting the leaking issue mentioned above).  They both are dummied down so they spray cleaning solution when it moves forward and sucks when it is pulled backwards.  There is no trigger to release the cleaning solution when YOU want to.

Having owned a carpet cleaner for the past 10 years, I know this is important to me.  I WANT to control when the solution is spraying out.  Why?  Because when you are cleaning, you will want to pass over some areas twice or even three times to suck out more water.  With both the SmartWash versions, every time you move the machine forward to get it in place to pull it back to suction... it squirts more water/cleaning solution!  You would literally have to pick it up, move it 2 or 3 feet ahead, put it back and down and then pull it backwards to suction a certain area again.

The purple SmartWash also had a bit selling point of being able to remove the wand to pinpoint spray a spot - which is something I don't need or want.  I have a smaller carpet cleaner for pet accidents, little stains, etc.  The larger upright carpet cleaners are more for cleaning whole rooms.  I don't need or want a removable wand (and that's on top of the leaking issues and the 'no trigger' cleaning solution release).

In the end, the ability to release cleaning solution when and where I want it, as well as the ability to go back over areas two or three times to suck up more water without solution automatically being sprayed, as well as the wider path (13") and the 10 amps of power verses 6.8... I went with the Hoover Dual Spin.

I had to search hard to find the amps and path width (Hoover's site didn't have it listed for this model) but Home Depot did!




Hoover's Dual Spin Pet Carpet Cleaner delivers enhanced performance for removing tough pet messes and deeply embedded dirt on carpets. The Dual Spin Power Brushes provide the extra effort you need for a heavy-duty clean while the coated brush roll helps protect the unit from odor-causing bacteria. With the power of HeatForce, you can be back on your carpets even faster. With double the tools, you're equipped for a deep clean on your carpets, upholstery, stairs, and more. Now with the addition of our Clean Complements Odor Eliminator, your carpets can stay fresher for longer.

  • Dual Spin Carpet Cleaner Machine, 8 ft. Attachment Hose, Upholstery Tool, 2-in-1 Spot and Stain Tool
  • Double the brushes for a deeper clean, our Dual Spin Power Brushes work powerfully against embedded dirt and tough pet messes
  • Coated brush roll protects the unit from odor-causing bacteria
  • Get back on your carpets faster with the power of HeatForce Technology that applies hot air and suction to speed up drying time
  • Dual Tank System keeps clean water and solution separate from dirty water
  • Includes the Spot and Stain Upholstery Tool and the 2-in-1 Scrubbing Tool so you can clean upholstery, area rugs, and more
  • Easily reach and remove stains under furniture with a low profile design
  • 1-Step Removable Nozzle allows for easy release for quick access to the brush rolls
  • Transport from room to room without hassle
  • 2-year limited warranty


And if you are looking for the manual for it (which really isn't very well done at all - shame on Hoover for that one) it's here:   https://tti.a.bigcontent.io/v1/static/FH54020_FH54050_DSP_Manual_lr_trilingual_R0

UPDATE: It was delivered and I like it!

It was ridiculously easy and quick to put together.  It was intuitive really.  You put the handle in one end, you put that piece into the machine and push until it clicks.  You immediately get to fill the tank with water and start cleaning!

The only tiny thing I'd point out is that when you push the long handle into the machine, it will 'click' and you think it's in place but you may need to push harder one more time.  Go ahead and try your machine - if it isn't dispensing and sucking the water, just turn it off and push it just a bit harder and it will click a second time - THAT is the click that means it's firmly inserted and now it will work.

I cleaned the family room immediately.  It was incredibly easy and fast to wipe out and rinse clean after.  ZERO concerns with my machine.   




Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner, FH52000, Turquoise - Love this one for the price, availability, water tank size, etc. but it automatically releases cleaning solution when you move it forward and sucks up water when you move it back.  Some love that, but I want more control over releasing the solution.  It also had a lot of mentions of leaking cleaning solution and water onto the inner motor.  Hmmm.



Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner I gave very, very close to buying this one. It has a nice 12" cleaning path but again, uses a 'triggerless' application which I want more control over.  




Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Max Clean Pet Pro Full-Size Carpet Cleaner, 1986 - this came very, very close to being the one I bought.  The model 1986 and 1964 are basically the same but the 1964 is the Walmart version.  The price on this one was a little out of my league and it only has the 6.8 amps verses the 10 I was hoping to find. 





Craft - Homemade Wood Block Nativity Scene for Toddlers and Children - My quick and easy craft for the kids Christmas Nativity Scene

Wood nativity blocks for kids


If there was an award for taking a photo of the most adorable, cute little wooden toys and making them look ridiculously yellow-tinted and ugly... I would win that award.  

These photos are horrible - but the little wood nativity scene I made is so, so cute.  Smooth, safe blocks of wood with adorable little printed images of the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus) along with the wise men, shepherds, the man who told them he had no room in his inn and more.  

I've been looking at nativity scenes for toddlers for a few years and had always planned on purchasing the Little People Nativity version by Fisher Price, but it was never in my budget at the time and never 'got around to it'. 

Many years ago, a Mom-blogger posted some wood blocks she had painted and sanded and mod-podged cute toddler/children style pictures on depicting the Holy Family, the barn animals, wise men and more.  They were cute so I downloaded her free printables from Prepared Not Scared, and tucked them away 'just in case' as an idea for a kids nativity set.  I believe she uploaded the images back in 2010

I used her free printables (link: https://www.mediafire.com/file/sufud5x5fobj0u5/Nativity_Story.pdf/file).

 homemade wood nativity christmas blocks



You Need:

Prints of the images
Wood blocks (use untreated wood and make sure they are sanded completely smooth)
Matte Mod-Podge
Craft Brush

Cut out your images as detailed as you wish. Lay them on the blocks you wish to use.  If you need to resize the images, do this on your computer using your printer's settings to enlarge or shrink. 

I will go into a little more detail on how I decided to make our buildings, a little further down the post.

Spread a very thin layer of Mod Podge on a block.  Carefully lay your image on it.  Gently smooth with your fingertip and then apply another thin layer of Mod Podge over top.  It will be cloudy white when wet but dries clear.  Don't worry too much about any bristle brush lines, they will smooth out.  Be careful not to over-apply. Use the brush to gently smooth out the image and any air bubbles.

Continue with all the blocks.  They dry very quickly so by the time you finish, you will be able to go back and apply a second layer of Mod Podge on the blocks.  This makes them nice and smooth.  You could do a 3rd layer if you wish. I did 2 layers.  Once dry, they are ready to be played with.



Laying out my images on the blocks I was thinking of using for each.

DIY christmas nativity scene for kids, mod podge and printables

Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to a block of wood (I only did the front as I'm going to do other scenes on the backs later.)

Carefully lay down the image where you want it.  You don't have a lot of wiggle room if you use plain copy paper as it would rip if you try to move it later so put it where you want it.

Apply a layer of Mod Podge over top.  Don't worry too much about thin bristle lines, they'll smooth; and it will be cloudy white and opaque.  It dries completely clear.

Originally I thought I'd use one large block of wood and Mod Podge a stable image on it.  However, I realized I liked the idea of using more of the Melissa and Doug blocks for the buildings and letting the children 'build' those as well; like a 3 or 4 piece puzzle.

I laid out 3 of the large rectangles, and resized and printed the stable image until it was roughly the size I wanted.  Then I sliced it into 3 pieces to fit the rectangle blocks.  I added a small roof image on top. 

Some of the little men's heads or crowns were just a tiny bit too tall but I didn't want to waste printer ink reprinting so I just pressed them down over the edge a bit.

Here is everything while it's still wet - with the mod podge just applied and drying.
You can see how I cut the stable and added some palm trees.

I didn't care for the star that was included in the printables so I printed off my own version.

Still wet, but you can see the beginning of the set... I still had to work on the Bethlehem building and the other characters....

The rest of the set was quick and easy - literally done in about 20 minutes.  But this building, since I was making it up as I went along, took me longer.  In the end, I had to remind myself that little ones ages 1-5 were using these and they really didn't care if all the pieces fit or looked perfect. 

I found the blocks I wanted to use, then I resized and printed the building image about 4 or 5 times in order to get them even close to fitting the blocks.  I cut the images out and fit them together willy-nilly in order to get the idea I had in my head.

This is not actually what I planned, but it works just fine and the little ones love it!

I wanted to snap a quick picture of the playset and it happens to be 'out' and laid on a short toy bench in the family room as the 16 month old was playing with them yesterday.  I lined them up quickly and took some pictures with my old cell phone.

The set is adorable and MUCH cuter and brightly colored than my awful cell phone photos. I promise!  Ha ha.

I tried using a flash as I was taking these at 6:am in a poorly lit family room.  It washed out the colors but you get an idea anyway.  (Remember the star is one I printed myself instead of the one in the free printables so yours would look different if you use her star instead.)


The images are completely flat and very, very smooth.  Much brighter in color than my washed out photo using flash.




You might be interested in some of the Amazon links related to items in my post: 

Instead of cutting and sanding my own blocks, we already owned Melissa and Doug's building block set so I used this instead!

Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray (60 pcs)



When I planned this craft, we were almost out of the matte Mod Podge (with less shine).  We had glossy mod podge on hand but I wanted the images to stand out and not be marred by extra shine so I bought more of the matte version.


Mod Podge Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish, 8 oz, Matte, 8 Fl Oz



I don't like using sponge brushes with mod podge (personal opinion) - I prefer a wide bristle brush.


Plaid Taklon Flat Brush, Gold (2-Piece), 2/Pkg

This is the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Scene I mentioned that I wanted to buy for the last few years but it never was the right time/budget and never "got around to it" (yet?).

Fisher-Price Little People Christmas Nativity Scene







Kids Crafts for Autumn: Hanging Leaves

Originally posted in 2012 - re-posting in 2021 because it's still a pretty cool and simple craft idea!

When the kids were little it seemed our house was filled with Autumn decorations.  Handmade by small children, it seems they came home with a new craft daily from their respective schools.  As they got older and made less school crafts, it was fun to buy decorations to supplement and/or plan our own crafts to do at home.

Whether or not you have kids, this is a craft I think would be fun for any age.  Plus, it doesn't have that goofy knick-knack feel to it (where you are left wondering where to put something) - it hangs beautifully from anywhere, alleviating  the need to find 'another' place on the mantel.

This mobile mimics fluttering foliage — minus the raking. Collect leaves with intact stems and press in a heavy book for a few days.


  • Wrap twine or ribbon around an 18-inch embroidery or craft hoop; secure ends with hot glue. 
  • Tie eight 3-foot-long waxed strings at even intervals around it, attaching pine cones at the bottoms as weights. 
  • Knot the string around each leaf's stem, spacing randomly. 
  • Secure hoop to a ceiling hook using twine






If you've read my previous post(s) about trying to find a cover for a very old Samsung tablet (circa 2012 maybe? A LONG time ago.) I finally GAVE UP and made my own.  I had tried off and on for probably a year or two to find one that would fit and it was almost impossible.  I checked all the obvious places - including Samsung's site, Best Buy, online at Walmart.com, Target.com, in retail stores like TJMaxx, etc.  And of course I obviously spent hours upon hours at Amazon reading through descriptions, reviews, looking at photos....

Here is part of the post on when I finally made my own - which barely touched on the frustration I had with trying to find a cover I KNEW would fit.

"I went online and found some at Amazon but after a while my head was swimming with the conflicting information on sizes.   There are SO MANY different tablets and readers available now than ever before, and they are all different sizes.  The problem is that my tablet is OLD so it's not even listed.  I had the exact measurements of my device but even that got confusing as the exact item by two or three different sellers found some saying it would fit and others saying it would not."


My self-made cover was good and I was happy with it, but I still wanted a legit tablet cover if I could ever find one (I had pretty much given up).  AND THEN I FOUND ONE!!!

I found it on Amazon - and here is the information directly from the listing.... 


Case Compatible with Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 / P3100 - PU Leather and Canvas Cover with Stand Feature - Black/Brown Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 / P3100  

  • COMPATIBILITY: Made to fit Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 / P3100 / P3113
  • MIXED MATERIAL: Made of synthetic leather and textile fabric for a trendy look and protects your tablet from dirt, dust, scratches and fingerprints
  • FULL PROTECTION: Slim and durable cover protects against shocks, falls, bumps and drops
  • STAND FUNCTION: Place tablet in landscape view to watch movies and videos comfortably. Just sit, relax and enjoy!
  • EASY ACCESS: Precise cutouts on flip case enable easy access to all buttons, ports and camera 
  •  8.78 x 7.23 x 0.71 inches



Here are some photos I snapped of my tablet in this cover. 
It has the flip case capability I know a lot of people like as they use their tablet to watch movies, surf the net, etc.  I don't care about that as I literally only use this tablet as my ereader.  As a matter of fact, the flip capability is a small "con" for me as I would have preferred it to be solid - like a hardcover book. I know I could remedy this by using some sticky velcro on the back of the reader and the cover to hold the 'half fold' solidly in place.

But for anyone who wants it to 'stand' for movies, or to read a recipe online while they cook, etc., yes it has it.  


Here is a close up of the stitching on the cover....




It has a cut out for the photo lens in the back as well!


It's a canvas material on top with a fake leather strip across the bottom.  There are button covers built in and the only thing I can think of that is a 'con' (but barely) is the power button is hard to operate with this cover.  I did read a reviewer cut out the power button to make it easier to access and press; which I totally 'get' because I've done the same thing on a couple of my cell phone covers that made it hard or impossible to press the power or volume buttons.  However, this one doesn't bother me enough yet to cut it out with an exacto-knife - but it would be very simple to do.

At the time of this posting the cover is just under $15.  I'm THRILLED I finally found a cover after so, so long searching. 

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