Best carpet cleaners 2019: carpet shampooers to keep your carpets clean

Best Carpet Cleaners 2019 - Steam Cleaners for Deep Stains

The best carpet cleaners can free your precious pile from embedded dirt, pet stains and odors. Carpets are an expensive investment, and using the proper tools to maintain and clean them will keep your home welcome and looking gorgeous for all your visitors. A carpet cleaner is a wise investment for prolonging the life, and appearance of your carpets. 

Owning a carpet cleaning machine at home is more affordable than ever and takes the hassle out of finding a carpet cleaning service in your area. 

Based on our results, the Hoover Power Scrub is the best one for deep cleaning your home. This machine was great at removing stains during our tests, and it left our carpets drier than most. In fact, the Power Scrub performed above average in all the important areas we tested: stain removal, maneuverability, water extraction, ease of use and maintenance. Finally, it’s a fair price.

ProductPriceOverall RatingPerformancePriceConvenienceAccessoriesWarranty & SupportStain RemovalManeuverabilityWater ExtractionMotor PowerCleaning PathRotating BrushesEase of UseMaintenanceWeightNoiseCord LengthTank CapacityDetergent TankHeated Air DryingEdge CleaningCarry HandleStretch HoseUpholstery ToolPet ToolCrevice ToolTool StorageWarrantyManufacturer SupportService CentersOnline Tutorials
Hoover Power ScrubView Deal4.5/554.24.753.88595281011.25909018.1842082 Years
Hoover Smartwash Automatic UprightView Deal4/ Years
HOOVER Powerdash Pet Compact Carpet WasherView Deal4/ Year
Bissell ProHeat 2X View Deal4/ Years
Hoover Steamvac SpinScrubView Deal4/ Year
Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush 1622View Deal4/ Year
Hoover Max Extract 60 Pressure Pro FH50220View Deal3.5/ Years
Rug Doctor Deep Carpet CleanerView Deal3.5/ Years
Bissell DeepClean Premier 17N4View Deal3.5/53.932.93.94.36065246.212606524.48922593 Years
Bissell PowerForce PowerBrushView Deal3.5/52.35503.430100123.49.590100128520201 Year
Hoover Dual Cleaner FH50900View Deal3/52.24.9503.4301008611.759510013.28520301 Year

Best Overall

Hoover Power Scrub

Hoover Power Scrub

Removes stains quickly
Costs less than $150
Includes a hose and attachments for cleaning furniture and stairs
Doesn't include a tool for pet messes
Comes with an average warranty
Has a shorter hose than some machines

The Hoover Power Scrub is a low cost carpet cleaner that offers a powerful clean. The fact that this carpet cleaner is a slightly older model, and designed for people on a budget means that it doesn’t come with all the fancy features a newer model would have. This striped back nature leaves it feeling a little lacklustre and basic.

The one area that the Hoover Power Scrub doesn’t scrimp is cleaning power. This machine glides through stains quickly, and effortlessly. It’s light build makes it easy to guide and push, with the only frustration coming from its inability to get right up against hard edges and corners.The crevice tool on the hose makes light work of these areas, though it slows down the cleaning process. The machines auto mix feature means it is easy to mix the soap and water solution without any tricky mathematics.

The machine has a good amount of suction and can extract a water fast, and heated air function which helps the carpets dry quicker. As it is a budget model the life-span of the model is short, and we wouldn’t expect the machine to outlast the warranty.

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Best Value

Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact

Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact

Easy to carry and maneuver
Simple to set up
Costs less than $100.
Has a short cord
Requires more passes to complete big jobs because of its size
Doesn't include a hose or attachments

The Hoover Power Dash Pet Compact is an interesting model of carpet cleaner that feels like it is in it own unique category of class. Its basic, bare-bones design and small compact size makes it feel like a bigger, more full sized spot cleaner that is ideal to whip out and clean out small spots or transport between multiple sites.

The compact nature of the Hoover Power Dash Pet Compact is its greatest strength, but also its greatest weakness. To keep the machine compact the water tank is smaller than other models, which meant we had to fill the tank more often than bigger models. The machine also has a smaller clean path, and power cord. Despite its size, the machine still has a very good water extraction rate and removes stains easily, but it might take a couple of more passes.

The Hoover Power Dash Pet Compact is a low cost carpet cleaner which does not have a hose or any accessories. However, if you want a basic mobile carpet cleaner or a more robust spot cleaner this model is the ideal buy.

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Best Water Removal

Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner

Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner

Superior water extraction
Long cord and large tank
Hose and attachments included
Most expensive machine we tested
Slow stain removal
Heavy and bulky

The Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner is a mid-range machine that offers a professional level cleaning job. The Rug Doctor is a little slower to soak up stains than other machines, but it provides a deep clean that dries quickly due to the design of it’s brush. The excellent brush design offers a wide cleaning area, its side bristles can clean right up to the hard edges.

This machine was designed to be friendly, offering features like the super boost spray, which easily allows you to apply extra soap to tough and stubborn stains. The ability to remove the tool caddy and fold the handle down make it super easy to store. The water tank comes with a handle and can be detached from the machine for easy filling and decanting.

The Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner excels at water extraction, beating every other machine we’ve tested in this area.

We found the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner a little heavier than most carpet cleaners, meaning more effort was needed while cleaning, but this didn’t impact our ability to control the machine.

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Best for Quiet Operation

Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush

Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush

Quietest machine we tested.
No upholstery attachments.

Quiet for a carpet cleaner isn’t necessarily very The Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush carpet cleaner offers relatively quiet operation.

quiet, but the PowerBrush was still quieter than most, creating just 80 decibels of noise – close to the noise level of city traffic. There were competitors that produced more than 90 decibels – about the noise level of a lawnmower.

The PowerBrush was only average for stain removal and it lacked any additional accessories to help clean things like upholstery and stairs; however, it was one of the more budget-friendly options. It’s also relatively compact and easy to move around, which can be helpful for bigger jobs. Bulkier machines get hard to drag around after a while.

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Easiest to Maneuver

Hoover Smartwash Automatic

Hoover Smartwash Automatic

Trouble with water extraction.

The Hoover Smartwash Automatic is a carpet cleaner designed for ease of use. Despite being on the heavier side for a carpet cleaner, this machine was easy to control and almost glided across the carpet. Its ease of use is aided by the fact that it is self propelling, taking a lot of the strain and effort out of carpet cleaning - making it an ideal model for people who struggle with weight. This combined with the large tank makes it ideal for large scale carpet cleaning.

The water and detergent loading system is simple and easy to use. The triggerless design makes using this carpet cleaner as easy and natural as vacuuming. The Hoover Smartwash Automatic is equipped with sensors for an automatic soap dispensing system, that deploys more soap in areas that are heavily stained. Although, we experienced mixed results with this system, and it needed to be over-rode often to ensure it was drying the carpet.

The Hoover Smartwash Automatic is also the best carpet cleaner for removing stains from carpets. The downside is that its powerful, deep cleaning action leaves carpets wetter than other models, meaning the carpet takes a lot longer to dry.

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How a carpet cleaner works

Carpet cleaners work by spraying a solution of detergent and warm water into the carpet to loosen dirt, and wash away stains. Most machines have two separate tanks, one for clean water to wash the carpet and a second tank to suck the dirty water from the carpet. A lot like a standard vacuum cleaner carpet cleaner has brushes. The brush design of the carpet cleaner is the most important factor in determining the effectiveness of the carpet clean. Some of these brushes are static on a brush bar, while others are motor-powered and will rotate or move side to side. Our tests demonstrated that the powered brushes provide a deeper clean than static brushes. 

What kind of carpet cleaner do I need?

There is confusion over the difference between carpet cleaners and steam cleaners. Steam cleaners and carpet cleaners operate differently and clean in different ways. There are a few different styles of carpet cleaners to consider: 

  • Shampoo Cleaners: Most of the cleaners feature in this review are shampoo based cleaners. These cleaners used heated water and soap to clean old and worn carpets, and treat them chemically to bright them up a little. They are generally a surface level clean and do little to remove the bottom layers of dirt. 
  • Steam Cleaners: Steam cleaners operate on a different principle to carpet cleaners, and are not limited to cleaning carpets alone. They heat water into steam to create pressure and release jets of steam that penetrate deeper than a carpet cleaner, shaking loose the underlying dirt. They generally don’t use chemicals to bright up or treat carpet, just remove dirt. This means they don’t give carpets a nice new sheen. There are less models available to buy, and they have smaller tanks due to pressure creating mechanics. 
  • Spot Cleaners: Spot cleaners are smaller, handheld versions of a full sized shampoo carpet cleaner. These small machines don’t offer the same level of deep cleaning or whole carpet cleans as a full sized model but they are great for cleaning up after puppies or kids on a daily basis. They are also fantastic for sprucing up the upholstery in a car with the right attachments.  
  • Multi-Surface Cleaners: Multi-Surface cleaners are not as dedicated as a shampoo carpet cleaner for washing carpets. However, these multi-surface cleaners can be used more regularly, across a range of sealed hard surfaces in addition to carpets while doing the vacuuming. They are just not as good for giving a carpet a bright, new lease of life as a shampoo based carpet cleaner. 

How often should you clean your carpet? 

How often you clean your carpets depends on the household.  For a household that has low wear on the carpets we recommend that you clean your carpets every six months or so. Shampooing your carpet wears down the fibres and so frequent washing can attract more dirt. For households with high wear on the carpets, due to children or pets, clean the carpet every three or four months. Don’t clean your carpets every day or even every week unless you really have to. Cleaning carpets so regularly may lead to carpet damage or increase the chances of mold because the carpet doesn’t get a chance to dry out completely.

What features to look for when buying a carpet cleaner

When trying to decide on the best carpet cleaner for your home, it is important to keep your intended use for the cleaner in mind. Here we’ll break down the common features, how they vary and the impact they will have on how the machine is used.

  • Carpet cleaner tanks: The first feature to consider is the number of tanks and their capacity. The more practical carpet cleaners have a tank for both detergent and water. This is a handy feature as it means you don’t have to work out tricky ratios with the detergent. The weight of carpet cleaners vary greatly. The lightest in our guide weighs just 12 pounds, while the heaviest is 58 pounds.The heavier cleaners will need two people to operate comfortably, so won’t be ideal for some people. The base weight of the machine will increase with the amount of water that is placed in the tank, so bigger tank capacities means it can get very heavy. Weight affects maneuverability. The heavier it is, the harder it is to move around. 
  • Carpet cleaner hose length: Hose length varies greatly from machine to machine. Some of the more basic models do not have a hose attachment. If you have a lot of awkward steps to clean, or want to shampoo carpets tucked away in awkward nooks a model with a longer hose would allow you better access. A stand up only model might not be the most suitable solution to this. 
  • Carpet cleaner accessories: There are a lot of accessories, mostly featured around hose attachments that extend function and usability, similar to vacuum cleaner attachments. 
  • Crevice Tool: A crevice tool is a taper attachment to fit to the end of the hose that allows you to get to all those small, tight places that a stand-up cleaner can’t reach. This is a great attachment to have if you are cleaning out small areas, like your car. 
  • Upholstery Tool: An upholstery tool is a small brush head that you can attach to a carpet cleaner’s hose to give you greater control over both the flow, and area that you are cleaning. This allows you to concentrate on removing stubborn stains from your favourite chair, cushion or soft furnishings without drenching it. 
  • Stair Tool: A hose attachment that makes cleaning the carpets on stairs easier. This is a pretty important tool to have with a stand up cleaner that are not designed for narrow strips of carpet that are not laid flat. 
  • Noise: A standard vacuum cleaner, on average, is 70 dBA, whereas the average for a carpet cleaner is 80 dBA. It is recommended that earplugs or noise muffling safety equipment are used in conjunction with carpet cleaners that go above 80 dBA as long term usage could impair hearing.

What can I use my carpet cleaner on?

One of the biggest considerations is whether your carpet cleaner is fit for the purpose you intend to use it for. One of the biggest concerns and questions we are asked is on what surfaces the carpet cleaner can be used on? The most common questions we are asked are:

Can I use my carpet cleaner on mattresses? 

We would recommend against using a carpet cleaner on mattresses as a carpet cleaner can leave the mattress extremely damp. A damp mattress can attract mold and take a long time to dry out. 

A steam cleaner with an upholstery tool would be better suited to clean mattresses as the jets of steam offer a more penetrative clean, while leaving your mattress slightly less wet. But not all mattresses can be cleaned using steam, and it best to check the warranty label. 

So, a plain old vacuum cleaner might be the best tool to use to ensure you don’t damage your mattress. 

Can I use my carpet cleaner on upholstery?

A lot of carpet cleaners come with upholstery attachments, like the Rug Doctor Deep Cleaner. If you are buying a carpet cleaner with this purpose in mind, please check that there is a relevant accessory for this function. 

Can I use my carpet cleaner on wooden floors? 

We wouldn’t recommend using a carpet cleaner on any type of wooden flooring. The soap and chemicals can have a detrimental effect on the wooden finish, often striping off the vaneer and finish. We would recommend a chemical free cleaner like a steam mop for water-sealed floors only. Never use a steam device on an unsealed floor, such as natural wood, as this could result in water damage. 

Can I use my carpet cleaner on linoleum or vinyl floors?

We wouldn’t recommend using a carpet cleaner on linoleum floors. Water can get trapped under the linoleum which can cause bubbling and the floor to slip out of place. The brushes would also not clean a flat hard surface like they would a carpet. Steam mops are a better option, as long as they have a dial to adjust the amount of steam, as heat and condensation can also affect the adhesive holding the linoleum to the floor.

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