Best Carpet Cleaners

UPDATED AUGUST 2018

From pet accidents to set-in stains, a carpet cleaner will do it all.

BEST CARPET
CLEANER 2018

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner

BOTTOM LINE

Bissell makes one of the only professional carpet cleaners that you can use at home. This model comes with a long cord and a powerful motor that helps you clean floors faster.

PROS

Included with this cleaner is a 25-foot long cord that helps you reach every inch of your home. As a professional machine, this one has more suction too.

CONS

Some shoppers think that this carpet cleaner is too heavy and cumbersome. You may not like the high price tag either.

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer

Hoover
Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer

BOTTOM LINE

Hoover gives you an automatic mixing system with this carpet washer, which mixes the soap and detergent that you use with water. It has both a wash setting and a rinse setting that flushes your carpets with fresh water.

PROS

Weighing less than 20 pounds, this model from Hoover moves easily around your home. It uses SpinScrub Technology that keeps the brushes spinning across the floor.

CONS

Some shoppers found that this carpet washer worked well for a few years but then suffered some failures. Other shoppers complained that their units arrived with some broken pieces.

Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner

Rug Doctor
Deep Carpet
Cleaner

BOTTOM LINE

Rug Doctor lets you purchase the same carpet cleaner that you could rent from a local store. This machine cleans deeper to remove more stains and uses powerful suction to help your carpets dry quicker.

PROS

This machine offers more suction than others do and removes more water with each pass to help your carpets dry faster. It comes with multiple accessories for cleaning furniture and other items too.

CONS

As this machine has a fairly small tank, you’ll need to refill it faster than you would like. You may find that the larger size of the cleaner makes moving it difficult.

Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro

Bissell ProHeat
2X Revolution
Pet Pro

BOTTOM LINE

Designed for homes with pets, this carpet cleaner helps remove stains and odors caused by your animals. Not only can you use the pretreat setting prior to cleaning, but you can use Express Clean Mode and have your floor dry in around an hour.

PROS

A CleanShot feature on this carpet cleaner lets you pretreat your floors to remove set in stains. It comes with attachments for cleaning upholstery too.

CONS

The small tank on this model only holds enough water for cleaning a single room at a time. A small number of users found that the brushes on the cleaner failed.

Dirt Devil Quick and Light Carpet Washer

Dirt Devil
Quick and Light
Carpet Washer

BOTTOM LINE

A good choice for those on a budget, this Dirt Devil model is lightweight enough for you to pick it up and carry it anywhere you need in your home. It has an easy to use design and can remove the toughest of stains.

PROS

You can use this carpet washer to clean all your carpets after completing just three simple steps. It features a dirty water tank that keeps the water it pulls off the floors away from the fresh water that you use for rinsing.

CONS

This Dirt Devil carpet cleaner features a number of plastic parts that can break during shipping or as you use it. Some shoppers complained that it didn’t do a good job of removing soap from their carpets.

Shopping Guide for Carpet Cleaners

No matter how much you spend on a new vacuum cleaner, a vacuum just can’t handle all the messes around your home. Investing in the best carpet cleaner helps you tackle the stains on your carpets caused by food, pets and kids. The best carpet cleaner 2018 models work on both new stains that you just noticed and those that existed for years.

Many home improvement stores and grocery stores rent carpet cleaning machines, but renting one is almost like throwing away money. You can get a good carpet cleaner 2018 model for less than it would cost to rent one of these machines a few times a year. If you want to clean your carpets every few months like experts recommend, buying a new machine makes financial sense.

Breaking down the cost per use is one of the easiest ways to see how much you can save. If you spend even $500 on a machine and use it twice a year, you’ll come out ahead after only 2.5 years. Our list of the top models includes some more affordable options that will work well on basic carpets as well as carpet cleaners that are similar to the ones that the pros use.

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Selection Criteria​

The chart that you see at the top of this page shows you the top five models we included on our list of the best carpet cleaners for 2018. We included a short list of the pros and cons associated with each one. If you want to learn more about these machines and the benefits of using one in your home, you can check out our in-depth product reviews that go a little deeper into each model.

Before creating our list, we turned to the internet and consulted with past shoppers. We looked at their reviews and talked directly with them to get an idea of what they loved and didn’t love about each unit. Our reviewers then headed into the lab and put the top machines to the test. They looked at factors like weight and ease of use as well as cost. We also looked at how well each model performed in regards to different types of stains, including stains left behind by food spills and pets.

You can use our research to determine which carpet cleaner is right for your home. Use all the other information on this page before you shop to make sure you know what features are the most important.

How Do Carpet Cleaners Work

The two most important components of any carpet cleaner is the brush and the water tank. These machines have a brush or a roller on the bottom that works in the same way that the brush on your vacuum does. You’ll add water directly into the water tank. Carpet cleaning machines also have a soap compartment. You can use soap and detergent made by the same manufacturer of your machine or your own mixture.

When you plug in the machine and turn it on, it automatically mixes the soap with the water. As you move the machine across the carpet, it dispenses a small amount of this mixture onto the floor. The brush works quickly to pull up dirt and other debris from beneath the carpet fibers. This helps the machine target older stains and those that go beyond the surface of your carpet.

Carpet cleaners also have a motor that produces quite a bit of suction. As you move the machine, it uses that suction to pull up both the debris that it encounters and some of the water left behind. Not all machines have a good amount of suction though. You may need to use your vacuum once the carpet dries.

How Do Carpet Cleaners Work

Did you know?

Steam Cleaners have a reservoir that you fill with water. The machine heats that water to a high temperature, which creates steam. This steam then enters the carpet fibers to remove stains from below.

One of the only professional quality carpet cleaners that you can buy and use in your home is this one from Bissell. The Big Green does a better job of cleaning your carpets than rental machines do. It preserves the brightness of your carpet fibers and works on set in stains. Unlike other machines that only work when you move those units in one direction, the Big Green will clean your carpets as you move the machine in any direction, which helps you clean faster.

Bissell designed a DirtBuster PowerBrush for this model. That brush actually lifts dirt from deep inside the carpet fibers and brings that dirt to the surface. As the suction in the machine pulls that dirt out of the flooring, it leaves your carpets looking brighter and newer.

Another top feature on this model is its 25-foot long cord, which lets you maneuver the machine all around your home. This cord also allows you to clean an entire room without pausing to find a new outlet. Bissell also gives you a spot cleaning tool that cleans an area of up to six inches in size.

In-Depth Product Review Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine

Expert Tip

Bissel makes spot cleaning pads that you can place on spilled liquids before the stain can set.

Another professional grade carpet cleaner suitable for home use is this Rug Doctor model, which is the same one that you can rent from a store. Many shoppers like the roller on this one, which features a series of brushes that move in multiple directions at the same time. Those brushes hit the carpet at different angles and levels and will remove more dirt and debris as the brushes hit the floor.

The Carpet + Rug Institute gave this carpet cleaner a gold rating for its overall performance. It produces up to 75% more suction than other similar models do and removes so much water from your floors that your carpets will dry in four hours or less.

When working in a high traffic area, you can use the Super Boost Spray setting to penetrate deep into your carpets and eliminate more of the stains left behind by your family. It also comes with an upholstery tool that lets you clean any type of furniture with the same soap and water that you use on your floors. This tool works on most types of couches and chairs.

In-Depth Product Review Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner

Did you know?

Rug Doctor makes cleaning solutions specifically designed for pet stains. These cleaners eliminate both the stain and the odor caused by that stain.

No matter how much you love your pets, you probably don’t like the messes that they leave behind. Both younger and older pets can have accidents on the floor. A dog might have an accident because it couldn’t get out in time, and your cat might use your carpet as its bathroom because you didn’t clean its litter box. This Bissell carpet cleaner is one of the top options for pet-friendly homes.

This model comes with a base that features multiple brushes that wrap around several rollers. The rollers and brushes work together to remove as much pet hair as possible from your carpets. A simple cover snaps off to help you remove any hair that might catch on those brushes.

You also get the CleanShot Pretreater that lets you target some of the more odorous and intense stains left behind by your pets. This feature lets you treat the floor ahead of time before you clean your carpets. Bissell includes a trial sample of the liquid cleaning product that it designed for use on pet stains too. That liquid will even work on intense odors like a skunk spray.

In-Depth Product Review Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro

Did you know?

Bisell started life in 1876 with one product that it called the Bisell Carpet Sweeper.

Weighing less than 20 pounds, this Hoover carpet washer allows you to clean any room and even rooms on two or more floors without missing a beat. It comes with an upholstery tool that works on any type of furniture, but this tool also helps you more easily clean carpeted stairs and steps. You also get an eight-foot long hose that attaches to the end of that tool.

The SpinScrub Technology designed by Hoover moves in a 360-degree orientation and spins across the floor, which ensures that those brushes remain in constant contact with the carpet. Many shoppers like that this unit has four different handles on the front, top and sides because those handles let them carry the machine in a way that feels comfortable to them.

A simple selector knob on the front of the machine lets you choose between cleaning and rinsing settings. When you add soap to the built-in detergent tank, the cleaner will automatically mix that soap with water for effective cleaning. This unit comes with a specially designed nozzle that removes more water from your floors too. A forced air option dries your carpets quickly.

Did you know?

The founder of Hoover created a new vacuum cleaner design because he wanted to help people diagnosed with asthma.

In-Depth Product Review Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer

Whether you have a smaller home or a large home with small rooms, this Dirt Devil model can help you keep your home clean. As it uses a number of plastic parts, this model is more lightweight than other carpet cleaners. You’ll have no problem lifting it off the floor to carry it into another room. That lightweight design also keeps the machine from leaving behind tracks or marks in your carpet as it dries.

Using this machine is easy because of its three step design. You simply fill the tanks with water and soap, run the machine across the floor to wash it and then go over the floor a second time with more water to rinse away any soap residue. Thanks to the clear plastic design on the front, this machine actually lets you see all the dust and dirt that it removes from your floors.

As the Quick and Light features two separate tanks, you’ll never worry about dirty water splashing on your floor. Those tanks let you use fresh water for cleaning and rinsing. The second tank collects all the dirty water that the machine removes from the carpet.

In-Depth Product Review Dirt Devil Quick and Light Carpet Cleaner

Expert Tip

One thing you may not like about this Dirt Devil model is that it lacks the tools and attachments that other models have.

Carpet Cleaning Tips

When you buy a new carpet cleaner, you’ll get instructions that tell you how to use that machine.
We turned to the experts to find some tips that you won’t see in your instructional manual.

  • Most manuals tell you to use a large amount of soap, but you can use at least one tablespoon less than the instructions state. Using less soap helps the detergent reach deeper into the carpets without producing as much foam.
  • When you add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the water that you use for rinsing, you create a mildly acidic mixture. This mixture will remove any soap residue and also kill any bacteria or germs in the carpet.
  • You can test any commercial carpet cleaning product or homemade remedy ahead of time. Apply a small amount of the liquid onto the floors before adding it to your machine. Some liquids may break down certain materials or change the color of those materials.​

Things to Consider When Shopping

Attachments and Accessories

Even if you think that you’ll only use a carpet cleaner on your carpet, you should still look at whether it comes with any attachments or accessories. If it doesn’t, you can see if it’s compatible with any of those accessories.

The most common type of attachment is an upholstery wand or tool. This tool has a large opening with brushes surrounding that opening. When you attach the tool to the carpet cleaner, the machine allows water to come out of the opening. That opening will also use the suction power of the machine and pull water out of the carpets. Other tools can help you reach tight and confined spaces and clean your stairs.

Things to Consider When Shopping

Tank Size

Though you may think that other features are more important than tank size, the size of that tank becomes important when working in larger rooms and spaces. Some machines have a tank that can only hold 0.5 gallons of water or even less. Those machines require that you refill the tank multiple times before you finish cleaning the room. Even if you have a smaller home, a larger tank will come in handy because it lets you clean several rooms before adding more water.

Many of the popular carpet cleaner 2018 models come with other features that work with the tank like an indicator light. This light comes on when the water in the tank runs low. Other models come with an automatic shut off that monitors the tank and shuts the machine off before you run out of water.

Things to Consider When Shopping - Tank Size

Expert Tip

Look for Carpet Cleaners that come with a tank capable of holding at least one gallon of water.

Cord Length

Don’t bring home a carpet cleaning machine without checking the cord length first. The cord is what you plug into an outlet to power the machine. Machines that come with a shorter hose may limit where you use the cleaner and how you clean. You want a cleaner with a cord long enough that it will stretch across the largest room in your home.

You may want to check the length of the hose too. Many models come with a hose that works with any included attachments. A longer hose lets you reach more areas with fewer struggles. You can even clean your entire set of stairs with just the hose and without taking the machine up and down those stairs.

Features to Consider in a New Carpet Cleaner - Cord Length

Suction Power

As you look over the best carpet cleaner 2018 products, make sure that you pay attention to the suction power of each one. The more suction that you have, the quicker your carpets will dry and the faster you can clean a whole room or your entire home. Larger machines generally offer more suction power, but smaller machines provide enough suction for smaller rooms and spaces like an entryway.

Ease of Use

Considering the ease of use of the machine is the most important piece of advice that we can give to those looking at cleaning machines. If you purchase a machine that is heavy and bulky, you may have so many problems using it that you let it sit in your garage or closet before eventually selling it at a yard sale. Lightweight models are a good choice for men and women who want a machine they can use on two different floors.

Some of the features and factors you should look for when deciding how easily you can use one of these machines include:

  • Location and number of handles
  • Removable water and soap tanks
  • General set up

Are There Any Benefits to Using a Carpet Cleaner?

Even if you spent hundreds of dollars on a vacuum cleaner and vacuum once a week, you can’t remove all the debris from your floors. The problem with vacuums is that these cleaners primarily focus on the parts of the carpet that you can see. A vacuum will remove crumbs left behind when your child spills his or her snack and the hairs that your pet sheds, but vacuums cannot get to the dust and other debris trapped deep inside your carpets.

Carpet cleaners not only work on the visible stains that you can see with the naked eye, but these machines will also work on the stains that you cannot see. The right machine can remove stains hidden deep inside the fibers that cause stains to come back later.

Professional carpet cleaners charge a set rate based on the square footage of your home and the number of rooms that you need cleaned. It can cost hundreds of dollars for professionals to clean your home. Renting one of these machines can cost nearly as much, especially if you clean more frequently. Buying your own carpet cleaner upfront can save you money in the long run.

Expert Tip

Though carpet cleaners won’t work on tile and other types of flooring, you can use a steam wand or a steam mop to clean those floors.

Are There Any Benefits to Using a Carpet Cleaner

How Much Do Carpet Cleaners Cost?

When shopping for a carpet cleaner, you should expect to pay between $100 and $500. The Big Green from Bissell is one of the most expensive on the market, and it retails for $400. You can spend extra for a bundle package that comes with tools designed for use on heavier stains or pet stains. Larger and more expensive units work on older stains that you didn’t think would ever come out.

Some models range in price from around $200 to $400 and are a little more affordable for most shoppers. These units usually come with a larger water tank and enough suction that the units will work on any type of stain. Most of the models we found and ranked fall within this price range.

If you want to save some money, you can get a carpet cleaner for $100 to $200. The Dirt Devil Quick and Light Carpet Washer retails for under $100. Before investing in an inexpensive model though, you should keep in mind that these units usually come with a smaller water tank. Smaller and cheaper units may not have as much suction as you need too.

How Much Do Carpet Cleaners Cost

Did you know?

Heavier carpet cleaners can leave behind tracks in your carpet as the brushes and wheels move accross the floor.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: As carpet cleaners expel water into your carpet, you’ll find that the floor feels damp or wet to the touch when you finish cleaning. Depending on the machine that you buy, it may take a few hours for your carpets to dry. Bissell offers a special mode on some of its models that helps carpets dry in around an hour.

A: You should generally clean your carpets with one of these machines at least once every six months. If you have a larger family or a home that gets more traffic, you can increase those cleanings to once every three months or once every other month.

A: Water extraction refers to the process that professionals use when cleaning carpets. They use machines that extract the excess water from the carpets. This process prevents mold or mildew from developing. Some of the top residential carpet cleaning machines now come with an extraction feature that pulls most of the water from your carpets. Other machines use forced air or dry heat to dry your carpet and remove that water quickly.

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