Best Carpet Cleaners 2018 – Reviews and Top Picks

From sticky spills to puking pets, having a home rug cleaner can be a lifesaver. When a spilled glass of red wine hits your white living room carpet or Fluffy tracks mud all over your home, quick response with a rug cleaner can be the life and death difference for your rugs.

Reading on, you’ll discover a comparison chart, in-depth reviews, and a buyer’s guide to help you narrow down the number of options and find the perfect unit for you or your business’s needs.

1.   Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner (86T3) – Editor’s Choice 2018

The Rundown

With an extra-large dirt and stain lifting brush and a variety of stain specific solutions, the Bissell Big Green consistently out-cleans even the professional rental machines. This machine has superb suction capability to pull out soap, water and dirt leaving carpets clean without lingering soapy residue.

Able to clean on both the forward and backward passes allows for quicker cleaning and faster drying time and overall less work for you. Well made with quality parts and design, it’s no surprise that Bissell has a reputation for making excellent rug and floor cleaners.

For those of you with pets, Bissell also is consistently rated as one of the best rug shampooers to tackle those difficult critter “mistakes” that are bound to happen at one point or another. Bissell also offers optional pet stain removal packages to tackle stubborn pet accidents.

As the folks at Bissell love pets just as much as we do, they also generously donate up to $10 of all carpet-care pet packages to benefit pets in shelters and rescues.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 5-year
  • Cord length: 25 feet
  • Hose length: 9 feet
  • Weight: 52.5 lbs
  • Tools included: 6” tough stain tool
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank Capacity: 1 gallon

Pros

  • Offers exceptional deep cleaning
  • Great for pet stain removal
  • Powerful suction and rolling brush easily removes dirt and debris
  • Heavy duty machine is durable and will last for years
  • Clear rinsing and doesn’t leave behind soap residue that can cause carpets to get dirtier quicker after cleaning
  • Longest warranty program of all the machines reviewed

Cons

  • The weight of this machine can be fatiguing after a while
  • This machine is not only our pick for best carpet cleaner, but also one of the more expensive listed

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a product that’s going to last for years and do an incredible job cleaning your carpets then this product is a great investment. If keeping your carpets looking like new is a top priority, investing a few more dollars on this machine will keep you from needing frequent repairs or replacement machines, as seen in reviews of some lesser quality and more inexpensive machines.

This is a great example of you get what you pay for, as this is a well made machine that gives exemplary results.

2. Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner (FH50150)

The Rundown

Spin scrub technology® is what Hoover states sets their machine apart from the others. Using spinning instead of rolling brushes allows for more consistent carpet contact and a deep clean. An automatic shampoo mixing system makes certain you get the perfect ratio of soap to water every time.

With both a wash and a rinse option, you can make sure you get every last drop of shampoo and dirt out of your carpets and quick drying time thanks to forced heated air. Easy to fill empty and clean without having to take the machine apart each time.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 2-year
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Hose length: 8 feet
  • Weight: 25.8 lbs
  • Tools included:
    • Crevice tool
    • Stair tool
    • Upholstery tool
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: 1 gallon

Pros

  • Comes nearly fully assembled
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • With both a wash and a rinse option, you can lengthen time between cleanings by making sure all the soap is thoroughly rinsed and removed
  • Multiple tools make cleaning tight spots and baseboards a snap.

Cons

  • Turbine system may start to rust after contact with water and requires regular replacement
  • Requires cleaning and drying after use to prevent rusting and motor failure

The Bottom Line

A more affordable option than our Editor’s Choice model, although it may not be as reliable and long-lasting. To make sure this unit continues to function properly, clean and thoroughly dry it after use.

3. BISSELL PowerLifter PowerBrush Carpet Cleaner (1622)

The Rundown

Another Bissell product on our list, this one doesn’t live up to our Editor’s Choice, but is also not nearly as expensive for those not willing to drop the big bucks for investing in a household rug cleaner. Also considerably lighter than our top choice, this machine may be a better option for customers that cannot handle or lift a heavy machine like the fatigue-causing Bissell Big Clean Professional.

This machine relies on a row of four rotating dirt-lifting power brushes to scrub carpets and lift embedded dirt, which users claim worked well. This is a full size machine with an 11-inch cleaning path that allows for quicker cleaning due to its size. Bissell offers some carpet cleaner maintenance tips on their site that could be beneficial for both Bissell and non-Bissell cleaners.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Hose length: N/A
  • Weight: 16 lbs
  • Tools included:
    • Removable nozzle
    • Lint screen
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: .75 gallons

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • 2-in-1 tank makes for easy refill and emptying
  • Great for families with pets and small children
  • Wide cleaning path and large brushes allows for quick cleaning with less work

Cons

  • Unit may not be as durable as some of the others on our list
  • A few have reported that pet hair can get clogged in different areas of the machine and may be somewhat difficult to remove

The Bottom Line

Think of this machine as Bissell’s “B” level rug cleaner. It does a great job cleaning the carpets, but has a few issues you have to deal with. Think of this as a generic, with our Editor’s Choice Bissell being the brand name equivalent. This machine is a great choice for those needing a lighter and more affordable machine.

4.   Bissell Proheat 2x Premier Full-Size Carpet Cleaner (47A23)

The Rundown

This is the only machine in our carpet cleaner reviews article that continues to heat the water throughout the cleaning process. Bissell’s patented Heatwave Technology® is credited for keeping the water warm throughout cleaning and by staying warm, offering a deeper clean from first cleaning pass through the end. Surround Suction® means this machine has the ability to draw dirt and water equally well across its entire 12 inch cleaning width, also allowing for quicker and more uniform drying time. With 10 rows of dual rotating brushes, there’s a lot of cleaning power in this machine.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 3-year
  • Cord length: 22 feet
  • Hose length: N/A
  • Weight: 24 lbs
  • Tools included: 3-inch tough stain tool
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: 1.25 gallons

Pros

  • Users of this machine believe that the heated water gives it the ability to clean deeper and better than other machines where water would cool during the cleaning process.
  • Stubborn and old stains often come up in one slow pass of this machine, as opposed to other machines that may take more passes and time to remove.
  • Suction remains consistent across the entire cleaning allowing for quick and even rate of drying.
  • Users often comment on the machine’s durability and that even a few years after purchase and with regular use, the machine is still working as well as when first purchased.
  • Three year warranty is one of the longest found on the market for a home rug cleaner.

Cons

  • This is one of the more expensive machines on our carper cleaner reviews article
  • Recommended cleaning solution is more expensive than some others.
  • Both clean and dirty water are stores in the same tank with a flexible membrane separating the two. If you need to dump out dirty water, the clean water comes out with it, causing a waste of the unused cleaning solution.

The Bottom Line

One of the more expensive machines on our list, but also one of the best reviewed. Again, if you are looking for an investment, you might want to look into this machine, as most praise it for its durability and great results even after years of service.

5.   Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner (3624)

The Rundown

This is not a full size rug cleaner, but designed specifically for stubborn stains and cleaning stairs, area rugs, car interiors, upholstery and other hard to reach areas. The recommended Bissell 2X Professional Deep Cleaning Formula also contains Scotchguard, to help protect carpets and lengthen time between cleanings.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 2-year
  • Cord length: 22 feet
  • Hose length: 5 feet
  • Weight: 13.2 lbs
  • Tools included:
    • 6-inch stair tool
    • Tough stain remover tool
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: .75 gallons

Pros

  • Large capacity tank allows for more cleaning time between refills
  • Extra long cord allows for easy cleaning of stairs, auto interiors and upholstery that may not be near a power outlet
  • Large stair tool allows for quicker cleaning of bigger areas
  • Users regularly report this machine is able to remove stubborn stains they could not remove with standard upright rug cleaners
  • Families with small children and pets find the ease of set up and use a huge plus when unexpected accidents arise.
  • Smaller size takes up less storage space, making it great for apartments and homes with little storage.

Cons

  • A few have reported issues with hose breakage over time, as the way the hose is coiled for storage puts undo strain on the thin plastic that will eventually crack.
  • This machine does not have a rotating or spinning brush, so old-fashioned elbow grease is needed to remove stains.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a portable product that can clean car interiors or will be less cumbersome dealing with cleaning upholstery or stairs, a portable machine may be what you need.

6.   BISSELL DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet Carpet Cleaner (24A4)

The Rundown

What sets this machine apart is its 2-in-1 design. Not only can it be used as a full size upright machine but it also can be used as a portable spot cleaner. This is a great option for those that not only need a regular rug cleaner, but also may need regular spot cleaning due to mishaps with children and pets.

This machine also comes with Heat Wave technology® that keeps extraction water warm throughout the cleaning process. With three different tools, this is one of the few machines with a spraying crevice tool that can clean deep into corners and next to baseboards that most machines are not designed to reach.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 3-year
  • Cord length: 22 feet
  • Hose length: 5 feet
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Tools included:
    • 6-inch stair tool
    • 3-inch stain remover tool
    • Spraying crevice tool
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: .75 gallons

Pros

  • Versatile machine that works as both an upright and as a detachable spot cleaner in one.
  • This machine is the only one to have a spraying crevice tool that is specifically for cleaning next to baseboards and other hard to reach areas.
  • Long cord length allows for safer cleaning of car upholstery and stairways.
  • Heat Wave technology keeps cleaning water warm throughout use, a fact that many users believe helps with the machine’s overall cleaning power
  • This machine also comes with one of the longest product warranties of the machines on this list.

Cons

  • The hose on the lift off unit has been noted to be rather flimsy
  • When used as an upright model, carpets take longer to dry due to poor machine suction.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a versatile 2-in-1 unit that can function as an upright as well as a detachable spot cleaner, this might be the machine for you. From a brand like Bissell and with an exceptionally long warranty, this unit has a lot to offer.

7.   Hoover SteamVac with Clean Surge Carpet Cleaner (F5914900)

The Rundown

Hoover’s spin scrub technology combines rotating brushes with three speed control to allow for one machine with numerous uses. High speed is great for regular carpet cleaning, low for delicate rugs, and when the brushes are shut off this machine can pick up spills. For carpet areas needing a little more TLC, Hoover’s Clean Surge Control allows fingertip control of adding additional detergent to combat stubborn stains. Easy to remove separate tanks for clean and dirty water make clean up and refills easy. Unlike many other machines, this one has a no-belt design that means never needing to change or replace a broken belt.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Hose length: 8 feet
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Tools included: Spin scrub powered hand tool
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: 1.03 gallons

Pros

  • Three speed setting allows for more options on different surfaces from deep cleaning on high speed to a gentler cleansing for more delicate fabrics and carpets on low.
  • With the brushes off, the manufacturer states this machine can be used for spill extraction as well as for cleaning, making this machine much like a wet vacuum and rug shampooer in one model.
  • Clean Surge option allows for fingertip control of amount of detergent used to clean spots that need additional attention.
  • Designed without belts, this often-replaced item is one less part to worry about.
  • Separate tanks for clean and dirty solution allows for easier refilling and emptying than models that have tank that holds both.
  • One of the largest tank capacities available allows you to spend more time cleaning and less time emptying and refilling the machine.

Cons

  • While in the name, this unit doesn’t actually offer a steam or heating function
  • There have been some reports that this machine may leave water behind during spill extraction

The Bottom Line

With its large tank capacity, multiple speed settings and belt-less design, this unit has a lot of unique features not found in the other units we have listed. One thing to keep in mind, however: although in the name, this unit doesn’t have the ability to steam carpets.

8.   Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner (931461)

The Rundown

Rug Doctor certainly has listed everything the average homeowner wants to see in their rug cleaner. Claiming their machine sports 75% more suction power than the average upright home rug cleaner, that’s an impressive statistic considering lack of suction was a major concern users faced in multiple machines on our list. Additionally, this machine features a full 12 inch suction nozzle that showcases immediate beautifully clean carpets with super fast drying time.

Ease of use was also important to the Rug Doctors, as they made their water storage tanks easy to fill and empty as well as creating a collapsible handle for compact storage when not in use. Large wheels allow for ease of maneuverability over all styles of carpet.

14 rows of dual-cross bristles deep clean carpeting from the bottom up, ensuring deeply embedded dirt gets removed as easily as that on the surface. Super boost mode is also an option on this machine for heavily traveled carpets like those in located in hallways and near exterior doors.

Rug Doctor offers some tips for prepping your carpets before cleaning them on their website, which we believe are beneficial whether or not you purchase a unit from Rug Doctor.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 2-year
  • Cord length: 28 feet
  • Hose length: 7.7 feet
  • Weight: 25 lbs
  • Tools included: Upholstery tools for stains, furniture, stairs and cars
  • Great for pet stains?: Yes
  • Tank capacity: 1.1 gallons

Pros

  • Easy to use design
  • Stronger suction allows for quicker drying time and better cleaning results
  • Design of bristle and cleaning brushes allow for exceptional results
  • Machine design allows you to see immediate results without having to wait for the carpet to dry
  • One of the largest tank capacities means more time cleaning and less time refilling and emptying tanks
  • Super boost ability is great for tackling seriously dirty or high traffic carpets without having to do numerous repeated passes with the machine.

Cons

  • A few have reported issues with the customer service side of things at Rug Doctor
  • A clear plastic piece in front of the machine might inadvertently trap lint and pet hair over time, leading the user to manually remove it

The Bottom Line

We were pretty excited by this machine as it seems like the folks at Rug Doctor found all of the negative feedback from other machines, and created a machine that corrected them all. Aside from one small flaw in design, users found there wasn’t much to complain about.

9.   McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner (MC1275)

The Rundown

This is a different type of machine than the others – this one is a true steam cleaner, and not a rug shampooer. This machine pumps out extremely hot water and steam, does not need detergent, and does not have suction ability.

With that said, this little machine can pump out some serious disinfecting power. Heating up in less than 8 minutes and able to pump out over 45 minutes worth of continuous steam, you can get some serious cleaning done in that time. Great for cleaning sealed surfaces without needing chemicals, this machine got its best feedback cleaning bathroom grout and tile floors. It comes complete with 18 attachments ranging from mop heads to scrubbing pads able to sanitize almost every surface in your home.

With any machine that produces steam, there is always the potential for burns and sometimes differences in pressure and decreasing water levels through use can cause the machine to spit hot water. With any machine that heats water to boiling temperatures, additional caution is needed.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Cord length: 15 feet
  • Hose length: 10 feet
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Tools included: 18 different tools included
  • Great for pet stains?: No
  • Tank capacity: .375 gallons (48 ounces)

Pros

  • Great product capable of sanitizing nearly all surfaces in your home
  • No need for chemical cleansers, as the power of steam is enough to sanitize many surfaces
  • Lightweight
  • High heat of steam loosens caked on dirt and debris that otherwise may have required hard scrubbing for removal
  • High heat allows for removal of dirt and debris on surfaces that are too delicate for scrubbing but still need a thorough cleaning.

Cons

  • This is NOT a rug shampooer but a true steam cleaner. Any steam used will make the area wet, and there is no tool to pick up the water used. You will need to either wait for surfaces to dry, mop/towel dry areas, or use a shop vac after steaming to extract residual water from surfaces
  • There have been a few reports questioning the long-term durability of this machine

The Bottom Line

Steam cleaning is great for chemical free sanitizing of tile and grout, but not for cleaning carpets. If you are looking for a machine to take some of the elbow grease out of scrubbing bathrooms or whitening grimy grout this machine can be a big help.

10.   Steamfast Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner (SF-375)

The Rundown

Much like the McCullough, this is another steam cleaner, not a rug shampooer. Using the power of steam to clean without chemicals, this machine is great for solid sealed surfaces, tile, flooring and grout.

With a machine that produces steam, there is always the potential for burns and sometimes differences in pressure and water levels can cause the machine to spit hot water. With any machine that heats water to boiling temperatures, additional caution is needed.

Specifications

  • Warranty: 2-year
  • Cord length: 17 feet
  • Hose length: 10 feet
  • Weight: 10.7 lbs
  • Tools included: 18 different tools included
  • Great for pet stains?: No
  • Tank capacity: .375 gallons (48 ounces)

Pros

  • No need for chemicals, as the power of steam is enough to clean and sanitize surfaces
  • Wide variety of tools allows for a multitude of uses
  • Lightweight
  • High heat of steam loosens caked on dirt and debris that otherwise may have required hard scrubbing for removal
  • High heat allows for removal of dirt and debris on surfaces that are too delicate for scrubbing but still need a thorough cleaning

Cons

  • This is not a rug shampooer, but instead is a steam sanitizer; if you do use it on carpets, you will need a shop vacuum to extract water or otherwise allow plenty of time for them to air dry
  • Some users report difficulties with the attachment tools breaking with heavy use

The Bottom Line

Just like with the McCulloch, this is not the right type of machine to clean your rugs, but can do a nice job on cleaning tile and grout. Once again, you need to be careful with any machine that heats water to boiling, as occasionally, these machines may spit or leak boiling water.

Best Carpet Cleaner Reviews Buyer’s Guide

What I think is important in a rug cleaner may not be want is important to you. So when comparing and contrasting, here are the main points you need to weigh to make sure you make the right choice for you and your family.

What job do you need it to do?

There is a big difference between a machine that you will mainly use to clean grout or one that you need to clean high traffic rugs. If you have hardwood floors and the only carpeting you need to clean is a stair runner, then maybe a portable machine is best, but if you plan to scrub your carpets monthly, you are going to want a sturdy and durable upright machine. Correctly assessing your needs and requirements for a machine is the first step in making sure you are happy with whatever product you choose.

How often do I plan to use it?

Will you be getting a un-housebroken puppy anytime soon, or do you run a home daycare? Will you only clean your rugs once a year before the holidays? The more you plan to use it, the more money you may want to invest into a higher quality and more durable machine.

What do I want to spend?

How much you should spend on your machine will depend on how often you use plan to use it. Like anything else in life, you will get what you pay for. If you are looking for a durable product that will last for years, it’s going to cost more than the more “disposable” cheaper models that may last a year or two, if you are lucky.

How heavy a machine can I personally handle?

Some of these machines are pretty heavy, and some users report the heavier ones can be quite fatiguing to use. No matter how infrequently you plan to use your machine, if you can’t physically lift a 40 pound machine, don’t even consider it. Especially if you have nagging upper body injuries or chronic lower back pain, a heavy machine can stress already weakened or injured muscles and joints.

Where am I going to store this machine when not in use?

If you aren’t blessed with ample storage in your home, making room for an unwieldy upright that you use infrequently can be a problem. Before you purchase, make sure you have a place to put this machine, with all its parts and accessories, so you don’t lose important parts. Storing everything together makes life easier when an emergency arises and you need to act fast to prevent permanent stains. There’s nothing worse than already being inconvenienced through whatever caused the strain and then having to find the time to deal with the inconvenience of cleaning up the mess. Add to that the frustration of not being able to find the right attachment for the job, and your stress level just tripled in as little time as it took to knock over a glass of red wine.

Conclusion

By honestly determining your needs prior to purchase and reading our guide to the best rug cleaners, you should have all the information you need to purchase the right machine for you and your family. Having a machine at the ready probably won’t prevent inconvenient accidents from happening, but will make clean up a snap and keep your home and your carpets, picture perfect.

A Few Words about Pet Stains and Odors…

Cleaning up after pet mistakes takes a lot more than just making the stain disappear. As our four legged friends have much more sensitive noses than we do, it’s imperative to remove all traces of odor by using an enzymatic cleanser to break down the stain.

Regular rug cleaners will not be able to break down the stain and remove all traces of odor. If any of the stain or odor remains, you can guarantee that Fluffy will find the remaining scent, and you will find recurring, repeated accidents at the same spot.

Nature’s Miracle is the product recommended hands down by veterinarians and pet owner for years. As a former veterinary technician, I have used gallons of this stuff over the years in my home and at work with fabulous results. I have only ever used the original formula that comes in a handy spray bottle, and also purchase gallon jugs of the same formula as a refill for my spray bottle. They do also make other formulas and also a rug shampooer product, but I have never tried those, as the original spray formula has always worked exceptionally well for me.

To mitigate your pet’s mistakes, here’s the best way to tackle cleaning your carpet. From tummy troubles to piddle puddles, here’s your 6 step plan to cleaning carpets.

  1. Remove any solid “items” from your carpet, being careful to not grind the item into your carpet. Using a spatula or a spackle knife is a great way to lift semi-solids for removal.
  2. For piddle puddles, use paper towels to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Blot until your paper towels come up almost dry.
  3. Once you have a mostly dry surface, spray the affected area with Nature’s Miracle. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then blot again with paper towels. If there is a stain involved, you may need to scrub a bit with a bristled brush to remove.
  4. A not about stinky smells – Until the Nature’s Miracle has completely dried, the odor may remain. As an enzymatic cleanser, until the enzymes have digested the odor causing biologics completely and the product has dried thoroughly, you will notice an odor.
  5. Once the carpet has completely dried and the odor has not dissipated you may have missed a spot and need to treat again. With carpets, make sure you saturate the carpet enough to have it sink down to treat the pad or you will never get the odor to go completely away.
  6. Once the spot has been thoroughly treated and dried, you may end up with a telltale “clean spot” on your carpets. If this happens, you may want to follow up with cleaning the entire rug with a thorough rug shampooing to make your carpet uniform in cleanliness and color. Again, those spots may have a slightly different odor when they get wet again, but will dissipate completely once dried.

How to Get out Red Wine Stains

The best red wine stain remover is called Wine Away, and it is a complete lifesaver when dealing with spills on clothing, carpets and tablecloths. It also removes stains from coffee, sodas and more. A 100% biodegradable solution made from fruit and vegetable extracts, this is a safe way to save soiled items. In a convenient travel spray size all the way up to gallon jugs, this is an item that should be in every home that has a regular red wine or coffee drinker. Simply blot the stain, spray, and let the product sit for at least five minutes to do its job. Then, use a damp cloth to blot the area, and you are done! You may need to repeat if necessary, but fresh stains usually come up quickly and easily, where as a set stain will probably be a bit more stubborn. For more information, check out this carpet cleaning article from Good Housekeeping.