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A carpet cleaner is the best way to remove embedded dirt, stains, and smells from wall-to-wall carpeting and large area rugs. We tested dozens of carpet cleaners at The Lab and in real-world situations, evaluating their effectiveness, portability, and included attachments. We tasked each with removing orange juice, ketchup, wet potting soil, and coffee stains, and noted how noisy or quiet the appliance was while operating.
The Bissell Jetscrub 25299 Upright Pet Carpet Cleaner is our top pick. It's lightweight, and has a spot-cleaning feature and LED light on the floor head. It's also very easy to maneuver.
Here, the best carpet cleaners, backed by our testing.
Best Overall : Bissell Jetscrub 25299 Upright Pet Carpet Cleaner
Has a stain pre-treatment feature
LED light on floor head
No hose or attachments
Need to vacuum some stains first
What do buyers say? 86% of 1,300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Bissell Jetscrub 25299 Upright Pet Carpet Cleaner is our top pick for a carpet cleaner, hands down. It has multiple cleaning modes, a pre-treatment feature, and a LED light on the floor head. It's portable enough that you'll actually use it in your home to suction up stains, dirt, and more.
Our testers gave the upright appliance a 5-star rating for ease of assembly since it was ready to go from the moment they opened the box. It came with a storage mat and collapsible handle for stowing it away in a small closet when not in use. It was also incredibly easy to fill the water tank and add solution since there were lines indicating how much of each to add. In addition to the simple and straightforward setup, the cleaning modes were clearly labeled on the machine. The carpet cleaner has an express clean setting for surface cleaning, a deep-clean setting for stains, and a CleanShot feature to pre-treat tough stains. In our testing, we found that all modes dried in under an hour.
A floor head LED light helps illuminate any stains that might be hard to see, and the machine self-propels so you don't have to put in a ton of elbow grease to have clean carpets. This feature earned it a perfect, 5-star rating in maneuverability, especially when compared with bulkier machines that require a full-body effort to push forward. This one quickly turned and maneuvered almost on its own, which really impressed our testers. It sucked up the fresh coffee stain in one forward and backward swipe and a set-in orange juice stain in two back and forth swipes.
For the tougher ketchup and potting soil stains, we used the built-in CleanShot feature to pre-treat the area. After a few minutes of letting the pre-treatment set in, we ran this machine over the stains. It amazed us as it completely cleaned those areas in a few swipes. The only thing it didn't suction up was the synthetic hair that was mixed in with the wet potting soil. However, you could easily vacuum that up pre- or post-clean.
Emptying the dirty water was easy and mess-free. An included brush helps clean the tank, but we found we didn't need to use it. There are no hoses or other special attachments, so the cleaner isn't the most versatile, but it works so well with the two available settings and has a small floor head for concentrated cleaning. Not much is left to be desired. It's also relatively quiet (similar to an average vacuum) and more lightweight than other models we tested. All in all, this carpet cleaner is highly effective, easy to use, and more portable than similar machines, so it's well-deserving of our best overall spot and your money.
Best Budget: Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner
Effectively removes pet hair
Brush compartment is difficult to clean
The Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner is designed to loosen and suck up pet hair from your carpets as well as attack tough stains. For the lower price, we believe it's a great value. Pet parents will appreciate the PowerSpin Pet antimicrobial brush roll that drives bristles into the fibers of carpets and rugs to loosen and collect hair. Cleaning this brush roll can be a challenge, though Hoover includes a cleaning tool to assist with the dirty job.
We tested this pick at home and in The Lab. In product testing at The Lab, this carpet cleaner sucked up the fresh coffee stain in only one forward pass, but it required more effort for set-in stains. It dragged the potting soil, so we recommend thoroughly vacuuming up any noticeable 3D stains beforehand. Our tester loved that this machine was lightweight and easy to maneuver but wished it came with attachments to help tackle tougher stains.
However, for the affordable price, this is still an excellent pick for pet owners or those that need to clean small spaces. When cleaning large rooms or area rugs, the half-gallon water tank requires more frequent pauses to stop, empty, and refill. However, in exchange for a smaller capacity, the machine is more compact and easier to store than many other carpet cleaners.
Best Portable: Bissell 1400B Little Green Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
Comfortable hose and attachment design
Large water tank
Excellent spot treatment
A little bulky
Narrow cleaning path
The Bissell Little Green rose to fame on TikTok, as users filmed themselves cleaning impossible-looking stains on carpet, couches, and chairs while posting with the tag #littlegreenmachine. When we brought the portable carpet cleaner into The Lab (on multiple occasions), we had low expectations that it would live up to the hype. We were wrong.
This machine impressed our tester as it cleaned perfect 3-inch paths through each stain. You could see the Little Green sucking up the fresh coffee spill, and with a little bit of elbow grease, it was able to clean the set-in stains of orange juice, ketchup, and potting soil with no pre-treatment and only a faint stain left behind. As a result, we think it works best on fresh stains, but it still worked well enough on set-in stains to score a 4.5-star rating for effectiveness.
Additionally, the beloved Bissell machine took our tester around eight minutes to set up. The directions were a little unclear; however, once they followed the pictures, assembly made more sense and the large tank was easy to fill up. Just make sure you take note of which tank is for clean water versus dirty water. Our tester also noted the Little Green might feel a little cumbersome if you're carrying it around your home, but if it's sitting on the floor while you use the hose and attachment, it's easy (and, admittedly, a little fun) to use. So, add this machine to the list of TikTok hacks worth trying and carpet cleaners worth buying.
Best for Tough Stains: Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner
Multiple cleaning modes
Immediate, visible results
Useful tools and attachments
Some assembly required
Anyone looking for a deep-cleaning machine with easy-to-use features and impressive cleaning power will be satisfied with the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro. This upright carpet cleaner features two cleaning modes. The Max Clean setting is ideal for deep-cleaning heavily soiled carpeting, while the Express Clean uses less formula and water for faster drying times.
This model undoubtedly cleaned the best in our product testing—once it was assembled properly. Due to the so-so assembly process and the fact that it's so large, it resembles a commercial carpet cleaner, this cleaner lost its previous spot as our best overall pick. However, if you frequently encounter tough stains, are looking to clean a large area, and have the space to store this machine in a utility room or garage, this is an excellent pick.
You'll need a screwdriver to assemble this machine, and be sure to follow the directions closely. Some parts come assembled, but double-check that they are locked in tightly. During testing at The Lab, our dirty water tank completely leaked out during the first test because we didn't double-check that it was locked in extra tight. Once it was in place, the machine powered through all of the stains with ease, and our tester loved utilizing the CleanShot feature to pre-treat tough stains.
The attachments that come with this carpet cleaner are very thoughtful and work well. The two-in-one pet upholstery tool can be used in wet or dry mode, and it has rubber bristles for capturing pet hair. A small bin on the attachment itself contains collected hair and dirt instead of sending this debris into the dirty water tank. Even people without pets will appreciate this useful tool when cleaning upholstered furniture. A 3-inch scrubbing tool is also included for hand-scrubbing stains along with a nozzle cleaning tool for clearing the brush head.
Best Spot Treatment: Hoover FH11300PC Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner
Easy to assemble
Easy to use
No additional attachments
The Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner was not only effective at cleaning fresh and set-in stains, but it was also one of the easiest devices to use. It has two separate tanks—one for dirty water and one for clean water. The tanks are clearly labeled, and the release button on top of the machine makes emptying the dirty water tank straightforward and mess-free. The center handle ensures it's easy to carry around your home, and the 5-foot hose wraps around the machine for compact storage when not in use.
Thanks to its powerful cleaning abilities, this one was a standout in our testing. It impressed our tester as it sucked up the set-in ketchup stain just as easily as it cleaned the fresh coffee stain. Since it's on the more affordable side, it scored a 5-star rating for overall value.
There aren't any additional attachments with this machine, but the one included is so powerful that it's all you need to make set-in stains disappear. At 84 decibels, it's a little louder than other carpet cleaners, so you won't want to operate this machine while trying to have a conversation.
Best Commercial : Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Commercial Carpet Cleaner
Can clean large areas
Can order attachments separately
Easy to set up
Difficult to empty and store
Of the three commercial carpet cleaners we tested in The Lab, the Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 was our favorite. If you're looking to invest in a professional-grade carpet cleaner for your home or workspace, this is the one for you. In our testing, it cleaned the fresh coffee stain, set-in orange juice stain, and set-in potting soil stain in just one pass. It cleaned the set-in ketchup stain in two passes. This stellar performance earned it a 5-star rating for effectiveness. It also came out of the box ready to use, so setup was simple. And while it doesn't come with attachments, you can order a hose with an attachment separately.
This carpet cleaner is powerful, yes, but commercial carpet cleaners come with a downside. For one, they are bulky and hard to store. They are also noisy and heavy. This one was particularly difficult to empty because the clean water tank isn't detachable, so we had to place it in a large plastic tub and hold down the solution release button until it was completely empty. In your home, we'd recommend just using the machine until it completely runs out of solution. Ultimately, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting or find yourself renting a commercial carpet cleaner often, invest in this one.
Best Spray: Folex 32 oz. Instant Carpet Spot Remover
Requires no rinsing
Can be used in a carpet cleaner
Less ideal for pet accidents
Some stains may require repeat treatments
While most of the carpet cleaner models we recommend come with their own solution, Folex's solution is an effective and affordable option if you're just looking for a carpet cleaner spray. This formula is water-based and odorless. It also is VOC, solvent, and petroleum-free. If you have an aversion to strange-smelling cleaning products that cloak odors, you'll appreciate Folex's gentle yet effective formula. You can use it to quickly spot clean stains or spills, or dilute it for use in a residential carpet cleaner.
After testing for color-fastness on an inconspicuous area, saturate the stain with the solution, agitate with your fingers or a soft-bristle brush, then thoroughly blot with a clean, dry towel. The formula works quickly to break down the bonds in any kind of stain or spill—including wine or chocolate stains—so you can blot them up and leave behind a fresh-looking carpet. While we have used this carpet cleaner spray on a variety of tough messes with great success, take note that our product tester recommends an enzyme-based carpet cleaner spray for pet accidents.
Our top pick for a carpet cleaner is the Bissell Jetscrub 25299 Upright Pet Carpet Cleaner. It's easy to use and comes with clever features, such as a collapsible handle and floor head LED light. It's also compact and incredibly effective at removing stains and spills from carpets or rugs, as seen in our testing. A budget-friendly option is the Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner. It is lightweight, easy to maneuver, and effective at removing stains and pet hair.
Other Options We Tested
BLACK+DECKER Spillbuster: We loved that there's no water involved with this device—you just add a small amount of solution to the tank, and this cordless model is ready to use. It's also nice that the vacuum function is separate. However, the spray nozzle wasn't very accurate when targeting the stains, and all-in-all, this model didn't remove the stains effectively. If you're looking for a small carpet cleaner, opt for a portable one with an included hose and attachment for a more accurate and precise clean.
Bissell Crosswave Pet Pro Wet/Dry Carpet Cleaner: We loved this popular carpet cleaner's quiet performance and easy maneuverability, but this model fell short when it came to tough stains. It doesn't come with attachments or a hose for spot cleaning either, so we think better, more efficient models are available for the price.
Bissell Big Green Commercial Carpet Cleaner: We loved that this one came out of its box ready to go with almost no assembly required. However, in its main form, this carpet cleaner didn't work well and spread the dirt all over our carpet sample. When our tester used the hose and attachment, it performed much better. For a commercial carpet cleaner, we expected a more efficient clean.
How We Tested the Carpet Cleaners
During our carpet cleaners test at The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn, we put 23 carpet cleaners—commercial, upright, and portable—through the same series of tests to compare their strengths. First, we tested the ease of setup by timing how long it took to unbox each cleaner. We evaluated the instructions and how many steps were involved in the process. We extended that category by testing how easy it was to fill the water tanks and noting if the machine included a heating feature. Then, it was time to test each appliance's effectiveness. We smeared 4-inch stains of orange juice, ketchup, and wet potting soil mixed with synthetic hair onto a carpet and let them sit overnight. The next day, right before each test, we spilled coffee on the carpet as well. In doing so, we were able to test effectiveness on daily fresh stains as well as tough, set-in stains.
We also considered each cleaner's noise level, portability, and versatility. We tested the noise level with a decibel meter and weighed if you could have a conversation over the machine's noise. For portability, we scored on whether you could lift the carpet cleaner with one hand or two and how heavy the machine was when the water tank was full. Then we assessed versatility by observing what attachments are included that would clean other surfaces besides carpet.
We also took into account the usability by reporting on the machine's design features such as cord length, water tank size, and hose attachments that would make it practical to use in your home. We also recorded whether it was difficult to empty the dirty water tank and clean the machine after use. We weighed these factors against the price to determine the overall value of each, and whether we would recommend the cleaner to a friend or family member. At home, several other models were put to the test in real-world situations and rated on the same attributes. Our editors boiled down all the insights and data from our testing to create this list of the best carpet cleaners.
What to Look for in a Carpet Cleaner
Design and size
When shopping for a carpet cleaner, first consider what type you're looking for: a commercial, upright or a more compact, portable model. Each design has its advantages. You can use a commercial or upright cleaner to cover more square footage or a compact version for spot cleaning small messes or tidying up the interior of a car. While a portable carpet cleaner can fit on a shelf or in a cabinet, commercial and upright appliances will take up space comparable to a vacuum cleaner, so consider whether your home has room for a full-size machine.
It's also helpful to consider whether the carpet cleaner you're considering uses a single water tank or has a two-tank design—one for clean water and another for dirty water. A larger tank treats you to a lot more cleaning power in a single session, but it can also make the product heavy and very difficult to maneuver. Many of the most popular models use a half-gallon or one-gallon clean water tank and pair it with a dirty water tank for efficiency and cleaner carpets.
Heating and other features
Some carpet cleaners are equipped with an internal heater. This feature increases and maintains water temperature to provide a more thorough clean. Aside from lifting dirt and stains more easily, hotter water can mean faster carpet drying times. This is a plus if you plan on frequent carpet cleaning but don’t want to wait any longer than necessary for soggy carpets to dry.
Another feature to consider when looking for a carpet cleaner is in-tank solution mixing. Instead of pre-measuring, just fill the water tank and solution tank of these cleaners. The machine will mix the solution as needed. While some machines require you to pull a trigger to dispense the solution (then pull back on the handle to suction up loosened dirt and moisture), others automatically sense the motion of the machine and respond accordingly. This useful feature makes using your carpet cleaner similar to using your vacuum cleaner.
Most full-size carpet cleaners also have a brush roll to agitate carpet fibers. Since the brush roll can become tangled with hair or fibers, similar to your vacuum cleaner, consider how easy it is to access the brush roll for cleaning. Some models come with a removable cover that makes it simple to clean the brush without disassembling the carpet cleaner.
Many models of carpet cleaners also include additional brush or tool attachments to match various cleaning situations. For pet owners, consider a brush tool to clean upholstery. If you frequently deal with spills or stains, you'll likely appreciate a carpet cleaner that includes a tool specifically designed to treat tough stains with increased agitation.
If you're dealing with set-in stains on your carpet or upholstery, you'll need to pretreat them with a carpet cleaning spray or solution before shampooing your entire carpet. Some carpet cleaning machines like the Bissell Jetscrub or ProHeat 2x Revolution ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner have a built-in feature that targets the set-in stain, so you can pretreat the area before cleaning (without having to purchase an additional spray bottle). Activate this built-in feature by pulling a trigger button on the machine, and it will spray the cleaning solution directly onto the stain. After a few minutes, you can shampoo your carpets as you normally would.
Gone are the days of waiting overnight for your freshly cleaned carpet to dry. All carpet cleaners recommended on this list left our testing carpet dry after only two hours. Some machines, like the Hoover Powerdash, have a heating feature that helps aid in a quick-drying process. This carpet cleaner shampoos when you move the machine forward and applies heat to dry the carpet when you pull the machine back toward you. If you're hoping to quickly clean before guests arrive, look for carpet cleaners that have an express clean mode. This mode promises to dry the carpet in 30 to 45 minutes.
How do carpet cleaners work?
A carpet cleaner dispenses liquid cleaning solution, then a brush or agitator tool gently scrubs carpet fibers to extract as much dirt as possible. Once this process is complete, the machine is tasked with suctioning up the loosened dirt, grime, and moisture into an onboard reservoir.
How often should I use a carpet cleaner?
Many people maintain the appearance and cleanliness of their carpets and rugs by using a carpet cleaner on a regular basis. While professional carpet cleaning is frequently recommended by carpet manufacturers on an annual basis, having a home carpet cleaning machine means you can take advantage of a deeper clean more often.
Some people use a carpet cleaner on a monthly or even weekly basis, but your specific needs will vary based on the type of carpet you have in your home, the volume of foot traffic, and whether or not you have children, pets, or habits that contribute to more rapid dirt build-up.
What kind of stains can carpet cleaners remove?
Stains from dirt, mud, food and drink, grease, oil, and bodily fluids can often be greatly reduced or even eliminated with the help of a carpet cleaner. Some stains may disappear with a single treatment, while others may require repeated cleaning sessions. To take stain-fighting power up a notch, you might consider using a specialty carpet cleaning solution, like one formulated for pet stains.
Can carpet cleaners remove pet odors?
The short answer is sometimes. Whether or not a carpet cleaning machine will remove pet stains and odors largely depends on if the padding underneath the carpet has been contaminated. If urine has saturated the carpet padding, cleaning the fibers on top is unlikely to completely remove the odor. However, if you use a carpet cleaner in combination with an enzymatic cleaner, you are more likely to be successful in neutralizing the odor.
One important thing to note is that you should not use hot water to clean carpets with pet odors. The heat can bond the proteins in urine to carpet fibers, resulting in a hard-to-remove stain and lingering odor.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Erin Johnson is a commerce editor at The Spruce, specializing in appliances, organization, and cleaning products. She tested 23 carpet cleaners in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn, to find the best options for various household needs, and considered the insights from in-lab and at-home testers to create this list. She has first-hand knowledge of how our lab tests were developed and performed. When selecting models, she considered customer reviews, features, and practicality. Additionally, she pulled picks from a variety of brands and retailers.
Erica Puisis also contributed to this roundup. She considered reports from our product testers and interviewed Marilee Nelson, a certified building biologist, environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics for additional insight on treating spots and stains.