A carpet cleaner can save you money by extending the life of your carpet. They work by spraying a detergent and warm water solution 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 cleaners have brushes. 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 powered brushes provide a deeper clean than static brushes. Here are the best carpet cleaners for home use.
Tackles tough grime
The Hoover Power Scrub doesn’t skimp on cleaning power. This machine glides through stains quickly and effortlessly. The water tank and base nozzle are detachable to help you clean out lifted debris after use. It comes with two hose attachments for cleaning furniture and drapes, reaching smaller spaces, or spot treatments.
- Removes stains quickly
- Includes attachments for cleaning furniture and stairs
- Shorter hose than some machines
The cleaner is light which means it's easy to guide, 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 the hose is shorter compared to others we evaluated. The machine's auto mix feature means it is easy to mix the soap and water solution without any tricky mathematics.
The Hoover Power Scrub has a good amount of suction and can extract water fast. There's also a heated air function which helps carpets dry quicker.
Good for pet stains
The Bissell Turboclean carpet cleaner has four rows of cleaning brushes to help loosen deeply embedded dirt and stains. It also features powerful suction to cut down on the need to pass over the area multiple times or to pull out your regular vacuum to clean up loose debris after cleaning.
- 2-in-1 pet tool
- Deep clean and stain removal
- Removes pet odors
- Difficult to clean out
This upright carpet cleaner is tough on pet stains and odors, featuring a 2-in-1 upholstery tool that is specifically designed to remove pet fur and orders along with the stains. It's also relatively compact, weighing only 12 pounds, so it’s easy to lift and move around your house.
The Bissell Turboclean isn't the easiest to clean out in between uses. Several parts need to be disassembled using a screwdriver to ensure all debris is out and reduce the risk of mold building up in a wet cleaner.
Quick spot cleaning
The Bissell Pat Stain Eraser carpet cleaner has a rechargeable battery and no cords, making it easier to clean stairs or car upholstery without too much fuss. It holds its cleaning formula inside, doesn't need to be mixed with water, and can be stored full and ready.
- No water mixing
- Limited cleaning area
- Short run time
This handheld Bissell is good for spot cleaning, too. It uses strong suction and perfectly places scrub brushes to get out hard stains like pet messes, tomato sauce, coffee, wine, and oil.
Because it is smaller, this machine doesn't clean a very large area, and when fully charged, will only run for about 15 minutes. It will take an additional 4 hours to fully charge the lithium-ion battery so it's ready to go again.
Offers a deep clean
The Hoover Smartwash carpet cleaner is programmed to know how much water and cleaner to use. It also sprays and suctions at the same time, so you don’t have to guess and coordinate pushing buttons and levers while cleaning.
- Powerful stain removal
- Large tank
- Trouble with water extraction
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. It is equipped with sensors for an automatic soap dispensing system that deploys more soap in heavily stained areas.
The downside is that Hoover's powerful, deep-cleaning action leaves carpets wetter than other models. The Hoover Smartwash includes a hose attachment to clean curtains, upholstery, and small spaces.
Just like the pros
This heavy-duty carpet cleaner, though big and bulky, has the power to deep clean any carpet from plush shag to low textured Berber. It suctions and cleans most carpet padding along with the carpeting, and is especially good at removing pet stains and odors.
- Superior water extraction
- Long cord and large tank
- Hose and attachments included
- Heavy and bulky
- Slow stain removal
The excellent brush design offers a wide cleaning area and a professional-level cleaning job. It’s compatible with several cleaner brands and has attachments available for cleaning upholstery, stairs, and curtains. This carpet cleaner comes with a range of features like a 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 makes 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 is a little slower to soak up stains than other machines, but it provides a deep clean and excels at water extraction so your carpet dries quickly.
What kind of carpet cleaner do I need?
There is confusion over the difference between carpet cleaners and steam cleaners. Steam mops 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 brighten 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 fewer 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 the 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.
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 varies 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 mean 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 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 favorite chair, cushion, or soft furnishings without drenching it.
* Stair Tool: A hose attachment that makes cleaning the carpets on the stairs easier. This is a pretty important tool to have with a stand-up cleaner that is 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.
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