At some point, you’re going to need to have your carpets cleaned. It’s inevitable. It’s also potentially nerve-wracking because if you hire a poorly qualified person to clean your carpets you could wind up with a bigger mess than when you started. Which is why a lot of homeowners make the decision to clean their carpets themselves. But that has its own pitfalls because there are a lot of different carpet cleaning machines on the market and knowing which one is right for your circumstances can be difficult. Not to worry. We’ve done the homework for you and determined the best carpet cleaners out there today. Here they are.
The Best Carpet Cleaner
A great upright carpet cleaner should be light, powerful, able to cover a large room and have lots of useful attachments. It also shouldn’t clean out your bank account. The Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer hits all those beats. It’s light (19 pounds), powerful (6.5 amp motor), able to cover a large room (22-foot power cord and 8-foot cleaning hose) and has lots of useful attachments (chairs, stairs, corners and more). The Cherry on the cake is the price, which is at the low end of the quality upright spectrum. Add it all up and you get our Best Choice. Be sure to combine this with a robotic vacuum cleaner from our list.
Forced heat drying.
Rinse option for a more thorough clean.
Includes stair, upholstery and crevice tools.
Weighs less than 19 pounds empty.
High-quality cleaning of all surfaces.
Automatic detergent mixing.
- Weight18.1 pounds
Goes together remarkably easy.
Comes apart for cleaning just as easy.
The 20-foot cord is long enough to satisfy most every need.
The forced heat system speeds up drying.
Like all rug cleaners it takes on weight when you fill the tank.
The Bissell SpotClean small carpet cleaner looks like something from the future but it’s no gimmick. It provides robust spot cleaning capabilities with plenty of suction power (via the 5.7 amp motor), multiple attachments and an extra-long power cord so you can take it up onto the stairway landing or out to the car if need be. It’s not light but the large ergonomic handles make toting it around a relative breeze. And once you’re done you can tuck it away under the kitchen counter.
Extra-long 22 foot power cord.
Tank capacity 3 quarts.
Lightweight 13.2 pounds.
Great for house or car.
Tough on spots.
- Weight16.75 pounds
Ultra-compact design stores away easy.
Has a nice long 22 foot power cord that will reach into all corners.
It has a fairy robust motor for such a compact machine.
Best for cars or small rooms.
At 40 pounds empty the Big Green lives up to its name. But every ounce of that weight is put to good use. It has heavy duty suction to beat the band, the brushes are large and hungry, the two big tanks will keep you going across the largest space and there are myriad attachments that enable you to clean upholstery, stairs or whatever your heart desires. Take your time with this puppy and watch your carpets come back to life in front of your eyes. Just remember, quality isn’t cheap. Be sure to also check out our list of the best handheld vacuums for more great items like this.
Patented anti-tip design.
Ideal for whole room cleaning.
Bissell rug cleaning formula included.
5 year limited warranty.
No assembly required.
- Weight40.6 pounds
It’s heavier than most other machines but the results will make it worth it.
Comes with a wide array of attachments including a 9’ cleaning hose.
A smart choice if you have multiple rooms of wall to wall.
You need to be fairly strong to manipulate it effectively.
The PowerDash from Hoover is a pet-oriented upright that’s light, reasonably powerful and features the company’s HeatForce technology to facilitate shorter drying times. It’s highly maneuverable, great for area rugs and small to mid-sized rooms and it takes care of urine stains, pet vomit and more with relative ease (though you might have to clean twice to remove all the odor). While the marketing says you can clean high traffic areas with it we’d say that for really dirty, high traffic areas you’ll likely need something just a bit more robust.
PowerSpin Pet Brush.
Accelerated drying with HeatForce.
7 amp electric motor.
Ultra-light 12.5 pounds.
- Weight12.5 pounds
One of the lightest carpet cleaners on the market at just 12.5 pounds.
Does a good to an excellent job handling pet stains and odors.
The 7 amp motor is decent enough for a small to mid-sized room.
It will clean stubborn stains though you might have to go over it twice.
Not ideal for larger rooms or more than one room at a time.
From the comfortable handle to the large wheels that facilitate easy motion to the low riding front end that slips under the sofa to snag dirt and grime this is an upright that’s built for your success. It sports an antimicrobial pet tool, HeatForce technology that helps speed up drying of the carpet, a dual water tank system and motion detection that switches from clean to dry depending on your direction. If you’re looking for a lightweight, standalone rug cleaning machine that simplifies the process and produces reliably high-quality results, the Hoover Smartwash is near the top of the best carpet cleaners list.
Antimicrobial pet tool.
8-foot cleaning hose.
HeatForce technology for faster dry.
Motion sensing design.
Dual water tank system.
Weighs only 18 pounds.
- Weight18.5 pounds
Unlike some, this is an easy carpet shampooer to move around.
The HeatForce hot air technology speeds things up, just don’t expect miracles.
The large tanks allow you to clean a whole room without changing the water.
Has a nice low profile that allows you to slip under chairs and stools.
If you don’t take your time the HeatForce it won’t do much.
At 37 pounds empty this is not a small carpet cleaner but the outstanding ergonomics, balance, and construction mean it doesn’t take Hercules to move it around. Rug Doctor is a carpet cleaning company with a long history and they’ve put their experience to good use here. The Deep Carpet Cleaner is not self-conscious about its looks. It’s too busy focusing on performance. It’s a big machine that will take some getting used to but it will get your carpets clean to a degree most uprights can’t touch.
Tank capacity 1 gallon.
Dependable 1300 watt motor.
Multiple rows of oscillating bristles.
Great for upholstery.
Quick dry: 4 hours or less.
Super Boost Spray option.
- BrandRug Doctor
- Weight24 pounds
A pro-grade household carpet cleaner from a well-respected rug cleaning company.
Surprisingly easy to maneuver on any type of carpeting.
The integrated stain remover is highly effective.
The hoses and other attachments pop off for easier storage.
You might want to practice on an old rug first.
With so many similar machines on the market, you need a reason to pick one over the other. Sometimes, that might be a more powerful motor or some spectacular accessories. In the case of the ProHeat 2X, it would be the 25-foot power cord that will let you reach just about anywhere and the 11-inch cleaning width that’s wider than most other lightweight uprights. Throw in the 2 in 1 Pet Tool for cleaning up after your furry ones as well. Of course, the 6.8 amp motor is no slouch either and the 8-foot cleaning hose is one of the longest in its class.
Cleans multiple types of carpeting.
Ideal for homes with pets.
Effective upholstery tool.
25 foot power cord.
8 foot cleaning hose.
6.8 amp motor.
- Weight17.5 pounds
Like most of the small scale carpet cleaners, it doubles as an effective upright vacuum.
Does a legitimately outstanding job removing pet stains and odors.
It can be assembled in about 5 minutes with no special tools required.
With Deep Clean mode it releases a lot of water so be careful.
If you have pets you know that accidents happen. Urine, feces, hairballs and more can all appear in the blink of an eye and leave unsightly stains on the carpet or chairs. In such cases you almost never need a full sized carpet cleaner. What you need is something that will let you attack the problem and resolve it quickly. That would be the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser. It’s powerful, lightweight and the easy to remove nozzle makes cleanup a breeze. If there’s a downside it’s that the lithium-ion battery provides a fairly pedestrian 15 minutes run time.
Ultra-small carpet cleaner for maximum convenience.
Designed to handle the worst pet stains.
15 minutes run time from a lithium-ion battery.
Weighs less than 5 pounds.
Completely removes odors.
Includes 2 Hoover rug cleaning samples.
- Weight6.4 pounds
A small carpet cleaner designed for pet stains that can be used for just about any stain.
It’s ready to go whenever you need it as long as you keep it charged.
Stores away easily under the sink or on the shelf in the hall closet.
Not just for pet owners.
Been known to leak if you move it about aggressively.
A lot of carpet cleaners claim to be able to handle multiple surfaces but you can count the number that actually do it well on one hand. One of the ones that does is the Max Extract 77 from Hoover. It will tackle the toughest stains on your wall to wall today and your hardwood floor tomorrow. With a robust 10 amp motor it digs right down to the root of the pile to remove stubborn dirt and grime while the heated cleaning system helps to remove nasty food spills and grease that have accumulated on the hardwood or linoleum.
Multisurface cleaning capability.
Doubles as an upright vacuum.
Lightweight and affordable.
Tank capacity 1 gallon.
AutoRinse saves time and hassle.
Powerful 10 amp motor.
- Weight22.5 pounds
When you don’t need to clean you can use it to vacuum.
The hardwood floor cleaner works better than we expected.
The 1-gallon tank is usually enough to do an entire room.
Whether it works on tile depends on the type of tile.
While the HeatForce system that Hoover makes so much of isn’t all it’s cracked up to be that doesn’t mean you should take a pass on the Power Scrub Elite. Instead, you should pay attention to the Quick Clean and Deep Clean modes which together are worth the price of admission. With Deep Clean the Power Scrub really reaches down into the carpet to pry loose dirt and debris and with Quick Clean you’ll make short work of less serious dirt and have your carpet back in action in no time.
Deep cleans to remove odors.
Dual tank system.
Ideal for homes with pets.
Extra-large tank capacity.
Lightweight at just 18 pounds.
- Weight18.5 pounds
The relatively light weight means most any adult can handle it.
The edge cleaning brushes do a good to excellent job.
The brushes scour microbes from the fibers.
Take the Quick Clean super-fast drying claim with a grain of salt.
The Bissell Turboclean Pet Upright Carpet Cleaner is ideal for small rooms and area rugs. Even better for homes with small rooms, area rugs and pets. That’s because it’s designed specifically to address pet hair along with dirt and grime your pet tracks in from the yard or street. It features 4 rows of rotating brushes that scour the carpet to dig out troublesome materials, a durable 3.4 amp motor to power those brushes and a half gallon tank that’s just right for those area rugs and small rooms we mentioned. At a svelte 12 pounds it’s light enough for anyone.
Effective stain removal.
1/2 gallon tank.
12 pounds when empty.
3.4 amp electric motor.
Dual tank system.
9.5 inch cleaning width.
- Weight11 pounds
The aggressive brush configuration makes it highly effective on stains.
It collapses down to almost nothing for easy storage in any closet.
Ideal for area rugs and small rooms. Not so for large rooms.
Although it’s light carrying it around is a bit clumsy.
Carpet Cleaner Buying Guide & FAQ
Weight - The weight of a carpet cleaner should interest you greatly if you are looking to buy one, as it determines how fast and convenient you can get the cleaning done. Buying a relatively heavy carpet cleaner would mean you are likely to get the cleaning done painstakingly, as the weight would make it difficult to be moved around easily, especially for large homes. Getting a smaller, medium and lightweight cleaner means you can work faster and conveniently.
Noise - This is a no brainer. Cleaning machines generally are not the quietest, and thankfully not the noisiest. However, it would be worth your while if you select a carpet cleaner that produced less noise when in use, as a noisy one would not only be a nuisance to neighbors but the environment as well. An ideal carpet cleaner should have noise levels up to 65 decibels.
Storage - One key factor to consider when looking to get a carpet cleaner is storage. Given the different kinds of carpet cleaners and the storage spaces they typically occupy, it would be ideal to get one that is compact and easy for storage. Because carpet cleaners are not used every day, it is important to get one that has ergonomically foldable parts so as to make storage easier. Having a bulky machine that has to be dragged out every now and then, especially when you may not have enough space to boast of, is not so cool is it!
Power - The power of a carpet cleaner is perhaps the most important feature to look out for when getting a carpet cleaner, as it determines how fast the job gets done. Ideally, the suction power of a good carpet cleaner should be strong, so as to perform a thorough cleaning job when called upon. The stronger and more powerful the machine is, the faster its ability to deliver desired results. It is important to note, however, that the carpet cleaner should also have a good heat control system so as to guard against overheating, as that can not only damage the machine but also leave the work unfinished.
Ease of Use - A carpet cleaner that is difficult to maneuver with ease can be frustrating. An ideal choice is one whose use is not so complicated and needs little or no instructions on using it, particularly for cleaning corners and hard-to-reach areas. Make sure your choice of carper cleaner is not difficult to maneuver.
Speed - Whether it's cleaning or drying, the faster your carpet cleaner can get those tasks completed, the better. This is another key feature to look out for when getting a good carpet cleaner. Getting one that gets the job done within a relatively shorter time means you get to save time and energy.
Maintenance - When it comes to machines in general, maintenance is like oxygen for the effective running of the machine. If you are looking to buy a carpet cleaner, it is key to buy one whose maintenance you can easily handle. Because machines cannot always be reliable, getting one with a DYI maintenance process is important.
Types Of Carpet Cleaners
Commercial - Commercial Carpet Cleaners are usually ideal for public spaces with more traffic, like schools, conference centers, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and more. Due to the regular footfall in these places, the likelihood for dirt to settle in the carpets are high, hence the need for a more rigorous carpet cleaner to guarantee quality and crisp cleaning. Commercial carpet cleaners are mostly more expensive than the domestic ones and have features unique to it, and come in bigger sizes.
Domestic - These are usually for minor cleaning jobs, ideal for homes and smaller establishments. Domestic carpet cleaners relatively smaller and can be moved with ease, compared to the commercial ones. They are also not that heavy and do not take much storage space.
Spot Cleaner - Spot cleaners work by focusing on stains that are persistent on particular spots of the carpet. To achieve this, most spot cleaners come with SpinScrub tools to make getting rid of spot stains much easier.
Shampoo - Carpet Shampooing involves deeper cleaning, with such machines performing much detailed and deeper cleaning on your carpet.
Carpet Cleaner FAQ
Q: How often should carpets be cleaned?
A: Ideally, cleaning your carpet should be done based on a number of factors. For instance, if your home has lots of traffic, say with pets and more kids, you will probably need to clean your carpet more than twice a week, as more traffic means more dirt and fur on your precious carpet! You can then have the carpet professionally cleaned about twice in a year.
If yours is an average home with relatively less traffic, you may want to consider vacuum cleaning your carpet say twice every week, and then have it professionally cleaned once a year.
Q: Which carpet cleaning method is best?
A: There are several carpet cleaning methods, with new innovations springing up every now and then. As to which of these cleaning methods is best for you, that depends on the type of carpet and your preference. All the methods are aimed at cleaning your carpet, and almost all the cleaning methods achieve great results. The most popular and common carpet cleaning methods include; The Traditional Method, Carpet Shampooing method, Hot Water Extraction, and Dry Carpet Cleaning. Whilst all these methods deliver great results, you may want to consider factors such as room size, thickness, and material when looking to choose a carpet cleaner that is just right for you.
Q: Does cleaning carpet ruin it?
A: Cleaning a carpet regularly does not necessarily ruin it as not cleaning regularly does. It is recommended that carpets are vacuumed at least twice in a week, as it will keep dirt and its attendant health risks far from you and your family. A carpet can, however, be ruined if you clean it with untested or just any detergent/shampoo. From colorization to stickiness which inevitably attracts more dirt, using a wrong detergent/shampoo for your carpet can ruin it.
Q: Can you shampoo a carpet?
A: Absolutely. Shampooing is one of the popular and most common methods of carpet cleaning and is also effective in getting rid of stubborn dirt on your carpet.