Best Carpet Cleaners of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent more than 120 hours researching and testing the most popular carpet cleaners. 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 set at a fair price.   

Best Overall
Hoover Power Scrub
The Hoover Power Scrub performed well in our stain removal and suction tests and costs less than $150 – just a couple of reasons why we believe it’s the best carpet cleaner.
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Best Value
Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact
The Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact has decent cleaning power and costs less than $100. However, there are definite drawbacks to buying a machine this small.
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Best Water Removal
Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner
Having saggy, soggy carpets is annoying and poses a danger for mold growth. In our tests, the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner had strong suction and left our carpets dry.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Performance
Price
Convenience
Accessories
Warranty & Support
Stain Removal
Maneuverability
Water Extraction
Motor Power
Cleaning Path
Rotating Brushes
Ease of Use
Maintenance
Weight
Noise
Cord Length
Tank Capacity
Detergent Tank
Heated Air Drying
Edge Cleaning
Carry Handle
Stretch Hose
Upholstery Tool
Pet Tool
Crevice Tool
Tool Storage
Warranty
Manufacturer Support
Service Centers
Online Tutorials
$2.88 M&D Mower and Appliance
5 4.2 4.7 5 3.8
85
95
28 Ounces
10 amps
11.25 Inches
90
90
18.1 Pounds
84 Decibels
20 Feet
4 Quarts
8 Feet
2 Years
$198 Wal-Mart
4.2 3.4 4.4 5 5
1
1
8 Ounces
10 amps
12 Inches
1
0.95
18.5 Pounds
87 Decibels
22 Feet
4 Quarts
8 Feet
5 Years
$99 Wal-Mart
4.2 4.9 4.8 0 3.4
60
100
24 Ounces
7 amps
10 Inches
100
100
13 Pounds
84 Decibels
10 Feet
2 Quarts
0 Feet
1 Year
$249.99 Best Buy
4.8 2.7 4.3 3.8 5
85
100
24 Ounces
6.8 amps
11 Inches
90
100
19 Pounds
88 Decibels
25 Feet
4 Quarts
8 Feet
5 Years
$88.9 Amazon
4.2 3.9 3.5 3.8 3.4
70
95
16 Ounces
12 amps
11.25 Inches
75
80
20 Pounds
91 Decibels
20 Feet
4.2 Quarts
8 Feet
1 Year
$94.05 Amazon
3.9 4.9 4.4 0 3.4
60
80
22 Ounces
6.25 amps
11 Inches
100
75
16.4 Pounds
80 Decibels
20 Feet
3 Quarts
0 Feet
1 Year
$159 Amazon
4.2 2.7 4.2 3.9 3.8
60
80
24 Ounces
10 amps
13 Inches
90
100
21.85 Pounds
90 Decibels
20 Feet
4.6 Quarts
9 Feet
2 Years
$200 Amazon Warehouse
4.5 2.5 3.4 3.7 3.8
0.4
0.9
33 Ounces
11 amps
12 Inches
60
90
25 Pounds
83 Decibels
28 Feet
4 Quarts
7.7 Feet
2 Years
$229 Overstock
3.9 3 2.9 3.9 4.3
60
65
24 Ounces
6.2 amps
12 Inches
60
65
24.4 Pounds
89 Decibels
22 Feet
5 Quarts
9 Feet
3 Years
$89 Wal-Mart
2.3 5 5 0 3.4
30
100
12 Ounces
3.4 amps
9.5 Inches
90
100
12 Pounds
85 Decibels
20 Feet
2 Quarts
0 Feet
1 Year
$88 Wal-Mart
2.2 4.9 5 0 3.4
30
100
8 Ounces
6 amps
11.75 Inches
95
100
13.2 Pounds
85 Decibels
20 Feet
3 Quarts
0 Feet
1 Year
Best Overall
We tested flashier machines than the Hoover Power Scrub, including some with smart features. However, most people don’t need that much machine.
The Power Scrub is a great price and doesn’t go overboard on features you don’t need. Further, it performs well in all the ways a carpet cleaner should. For example, it did an excellent job removing stains and extracting water during our tests. In addition to leaving our test floors clean, fresh and close to dry, the Power Scrub was refreshingly easy to use, maneuver and maintain. You just fill the tank to the water line, fill the detergent to the correct line and get going. All the pieces are easy to pull apart when it is time to empty the tank and clean the other parts. The Hoover Power Scrub isn’t the lightest machine we tested, but it is lighter than average. We found it easy to maneuver around furniture and other obstacles. The machine is also relatively compact, unlike some of the giant carpet cleaners we tested that might need their own closets for storage. Also, the machine comes with a hose and a host of attachments, so you can clean more than your carpets.
Pros
  • Removes stains quickly
  • Costs less than $150
  • Includes a hose and attachments for cleaning furniture and stairs
Cons
  • Doesn't include a tool for pet messes
  • Comes with a just average warranty
  • Has a shorter hose than some machines
$129.99Amazon
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Best Value
The Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact is limited compared to full-size machines. However, it impressed us with its cleaning power and may be useful in a small home or a home with pets.
When we tested the PowerDash Pet Compact, it was about average at removing stains and did a great job of extracting water. Also, since this machine is so compact and light, it is easy to carry up and down stairs. During our testing, we found it is easy to maneuver around furniture. However, we wished the PowerDash had a longer cord, wider cleaning path and bigger water tank – because of its size, large jobs take a long time. In addition, this carpet cleaner doesn’t have many extras. There isn’t room for a hose or the other accessories that usually come with this type of machine, so the PowerDash Pet Compact can’t clean upholstery or stairs. Still, its compact size is part of what makes it easy to use. You don't even measure detergent – you just fill the tank with water to the appropriate line, then add soap until you hit the next line. That simplicity is great if you just need to clean up after a pet.
Pros
  • Easy to carry and maneuver
  • Simple to set up
  • Costs less than $100.
Cons
  • Has a short cord
  • Requires more passes to complete big jobs because of its size
  • Doesn't include a hose or attachments
$99.99Amazon
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Best Water Removal
The Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner extracted more water from our carpet than any other machine we tested, so we didn’t have to wait around for the floor to dry.
However, it struggled in other tests. For example, it took a long time to remove stains. The machine removed them all, but it took longer to do so. The Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner is also relatively large and bulky, which makes it difficult to store. This is the heaviest machine we tested, which was noticeable at times as we maneuvered around furniture. Still, it moves well for its size. This carpet cleaner is user-friendly, and its tanks are easy to remove and clean. At times, it was hard to figure out how much detergent to use – other machines make measuring simpler. The Deep Carpet Cleaner is better suited to big cleaning jobs than other models we tested – it has a long cord, large tank and wide cleaning path, so it covers ground quickly. It also comes with a hose and attachments to clean furniture and stairs. This large machine is a pretty significant investment. In fact, the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner is the most expensive machine we tested.
Pros
  • Superior water extraction
  • Long cord and large tank
  • Hose and attachments included
Cons
  • Most expensive machine we tested
  • Slow stain removal
  • Heavy and bulky
$249.98Amazon
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Why Trust Us

We spent hours poring over articles about cleaning carpets and removing stains as well as reading reviews of popular carpet shampooers. After we homed in on the products you are likely to come across in your search, we narrowed our list to the 10 best and purchased them to test hands-on.

Since you may prefer to rent a commercial carpet cleaner from a big-box store, we tested a few, including a Rug Doctor and a Bissell Big Green Machine. They extracted water better than the household models we reviewed. Still, some left behind stains. Also, the cost of renting adds up after a while – as does the residue from all that soap, said Doug Payne, owner of the Utah-based Payneless Floor Care.

Payne has more than 30 years of professional carpet cleaning experience. He said the problem with both the store-rented and the store-bought machines we compared is they don’t have enough suction and overuse soaps and detergents, most of which are completely unnecessary. Payne said nothing can replace a professional cleaning every six months to a year, depending on your budget.

"Your carpet is the largest filter in your house," said Payne.

You need to switch out that filter, like any other, or at least have it thoroughly cleaned. Even frequent vacuuming is not enough to maintain carpeting properly because it only picks up loose dust. Vacuuming can't release the sticky stuff that accumulates – cooking oils, body oils and other stuff dragged in on your feet. Dust and other residue then sticks to that.

He concedes that the machines we tested might be useful for maintenance between professional cleanings and for spot cleanings, especially if you have pets in the home. However, he recommends using very little soap because it just makes your carpets stickier, which attracts more dirt.

How We Tested

I took all the machines to my home, assembled them and used them to clean a variety of messes.  For one test, I piled potting soil onto light-colored carpet, moistened it, ground it in and then vacuumed it the next day. I also poured grape juice on the carpet and left it to dry. The machines that cleaned those messes off the carpet with the fewest passes scored the best.

I also measured how much dirty water each carpet cleaner extracted after running the tests. The more water the machine extracted, the better it scored.

In addition, I scored the carpet cleaners based on maneuverability and maintenance. These scores account for how long it took me to perform basic maintenance, such as emptying and cleaning the tanks, as well as how easy the machines were to maneuver around furniture.

Finally, I consider the amount of noise each machine makes while it runs. Quieter machines were preferred.

Things to Look for in a Carpet Cleaner

Performance
The best carpet shampooers clean effectively and leave carpets damp but not soggy. Even though it is unlikely, wet carpets can lead to mold growth, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute, so CRI recommends opening windows and doors and using fans to speed drying times after cleaning. The units we tested that had a combination of strong suction and powerful rotating brushes were the most impressive. More motor amps are usually associated with better cleaning capability, so take those into consideration as well.

Convenience
Lighter machines are usually easier to move from room to room and maneuver around furniture. Also, carpet cleaners with wide cleaning paths make shorter work of big jobs. It helpful to buy a machine with a long power cord, especially if you have a lot of carpet to cover. In addition, you should consider the tank size – carpet cleaners with large tanks don't have to be emptied as often. 

Accessories
If you plan to use your machine to clean furniture and other non-flooring surfaces, look for a model with a long hose. Also, consider which attachments come with carpet cleaner. For example, some machines have crevice tools or specialized tools for removing pet stains.


Warranty & Support
A carpet cleaner is a significant investment for most households, so we recommend finding one that’s covered by a long warranty. Also, consider how easy it is to contact customer service representatives. 

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