Best Carpet Cleaners in 2020: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

girl cleaning the living room

Using the best carpet cleaners for your home will not only keep your carpets clean and smelling great, but they can also remove harmful pollutants that you and your family are breathing in, such as pesticides tracked in from outside, dust mites, pollen, and more. But since there are so many top-selling models on the market, narrowing down your search and finding a model that will work for your specific type of carpet and your cleaning needs will take plenty of research.

If you’ve never purchased a carpet cleaner, let alone used one, then you may not know what features are essential and which ones you can live without. I’ve created a buyer’s guide that will help you zero in on the perfect model, based on carpet type, how much carpeting is in the home, and the type of cleaning power you’re searching for. I’ve also created a top four list of the leading models on the market. I’ve tested out each of these cleaners, rating them on durability, cleaning power, versatility, and ease of use.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the four models, their rating, and their top features.

Carpet Cleaners Comparison Chart

ProductAttachmentsCord LengthWeightRating
Hoover SmartWash
Carpet Cleaner

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122 Feet20.5 LBS
BISSELL Turboclean
Carpet Cleaner

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120 Feet12 LBS
Bissell Big Green
Carpet Cleaner Machine

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025 Feet53 LBS
Hoover Power Scrub
Carpet Cleaner

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220 Feet19 LBS

Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner


Our Rating: (5/5)

This model offers an automatic cleaning feature, complete with a triggerless design that works by automatically dispensing and mixing up the water and cleaning solution the moment you begin to move the appliance forward. This feature alone makes this model very beginner friendly. The included stain removing wand pretreats an area, for those stubborn stains. The wand detaches from the base of the machine, providing fast and instant cleaning action for stains that have set. The wand uses an Oxy pretreatment solution for tougher stain fighting power. Buyers will also have the option of using the dry only mode combined with the heat force feature that provides a faster drying time, reducing the chances of mildew and mold growth and allowing you to walk on the carpet in a fraction of the time compared to models that don’t offer this innovative feature.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Fast drying mode
  • Detachable wand
  • Automatic cleaning feature

Cons

  • Suction doesn’t stop automatically when dirty water container is full

Conclusion

This model comes with an antimicrobial pet tool attachment, which allows you to treat tough pet stains. The included hose measures in at eight feet in length, so you can reach those hard to access areas in the home. Overall this model comes with some great features that are specifically designed to clean old stains and deep-down dirt, leaving your carpets looking and smelling fresh. This is a great buy for homes of all sizes, especially those with pets. If you’re looking for a machine that can handle heavy-duty use, your search is over.

BISSELL Turboclean Carpet Cleaner


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This latest model by Bissell is designed to remove pet messes and tough stains, taking care of embedded dirt. The included four-row brush features powerful suction so you can easily treat older stains. This model weighs in at just twelve pounds, which makes it perfect for homes with stairs. Now you can easily clean stairs and carry this model up and down a flight of stairs, no problem. This model comes with an Oxy-based cleaning solution that works on all carpet types and is designed to penetrate deep down into the carpet fibers to reach the stains and lift it up to the surface. The four-row brush is designed to loosen and remove any tracked in dirt. If you live in a home with pets, then this model is a must-have and one that will help you tackle any type of stain, especially pet messes.

Pros

  • Four-row brush
  • Lightweight design
  • Includes Oxy-based cleaning solution
  • Perfect for homes with pets

Cons

  • Dirty water tank is very small

Conclusion

Every purchase supports the Bissell Pet Foundation, which will give animal lovers more incentive to buy. The lightweight design allows you to easily pick up this cleaner and carry it up a flight of stairs. Additionally, the retractable handle makes storing this model a cinch. Built tough and designed to handle even the toughest pet stains, this versatile cleaner is powerful, easy to use, and designed to quickly and efficiently remove embedded dirt and old stains.

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

If you have a larger home with many carpeted rooms then you will definitely benefit from buying this pro quality carpet cleaner from Bissell. This model comes with a massive nine-foot cord, a stair tool, a long cord that measures in at twenty-five feet, and the type of heavy-duty suction you need in order to treat older stains. The suction works to remove lifted dirt and debris, while also extracting the majority of water, allowing your carpets to dry quickly. Low priced models have a difficult time extracting water, which can result in a longer drying time. A longer drying time can lead to mildew and unpleasant odors. You won’t have that problem with the Big Green. The machine’s extra-large brush roll results in fewer passes needed, which will prevent you from oversaturating your carpet. There’s no question that this model is built tough. However, the biggest problem most people have with this pro quality machine is the weight, which comes in at fifty-three pounds. So, if you’re looking for a machine you can use upstairs and downstairs, you may need to pass this model on by since lifting it up a flight of stairs can be a major challenge.

Pros

  • Powerful suction
  • Large brush
  • Long hose
  • Pro quality

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Price

Conclusion

This professional grade cleaner is perfect for larger homes, but the sheer weight of the machine may make it a poor choice for homeowners looking for a model that’s easy to take upstairs and downstairs. Overall, it offers the type of quality many buyers are looking for, including powerful suction, a large roller brush that results in fewer passes needed, and a large motor that’s designed for heavy-duty use. This model is also covered by a five-year warranty, which will also give shoppers more of an incentive to buy.

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner


Our Rating: (4/5)

This is another popular model from Hoover. It features an innovative spin scrub brush system that’s powerful and effective. The brush system is designed to safely deep clean floors, removing embedded dirt using 360-degree spinning action. The included dual nozzle design will evenly clean your carpets using equal suction for a faster cleaning process. If you’re tired of waiting for hours for your newly cleaned carpets to dry, then you’ll definitely appreciate the heat force feature that’s designed to speed up the drying time by using impressive extraction power. Coming in at just nineteen pounds, moving this lightweight machine up and down a flight of stairs is a cinch. This model comes with an eight-foot hose, which allows you to access those hard to reach places. It also comes with a stair tool, to make cleaning your stairs fast and efficient, and a powerful upholstery tool that you can use to remove spills and stains on your furniture.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Includes upholstery tool
  • Powerful spinning action
  • Automatic cleaning feature

Cons

  • Narrow cleaning path requires more passes

Conclusion

This model comes loaded with some great features including the upholstery and stair attachments, the automatic cleaning feature, and the powerful dual nozzle design that will allow you to clean your carpets in a fraction of the time. Well-built, this user-friendly model will allow you to tackle embedded dirt, old stains, pet messes, and so much more.

Carpet Cleaners Buyer’s Guide

Cleaning your carpets weekly or monthly can have a big impact on how long they last, how your home looks, and even how your home smells. Many of the leading models are packed with some great cleaning tools and features that are designed to help you deep clean your carpets and remove dirt, debris, pollen, clean up pet messes, and restore an old dirty carpet to one that’s plush, soft, and clean. Before I discuss the features you should look for, first, I’ll go over the benefits of buying this type of appliance, and how it can make keeping your home looking great, a breeze.

Benefits of Carpet Cleaners

sweeping the floor

  • Regularly cleaning your carpets will make your home look great and will extend the life of the carpet itself.
  • Cleaning carpets will also remove harmful contaminants and pollutants from carpet including pollen, dust, dust mites, pet dander, and more. If you or someone in your home has allergies, then cleaning your carpets regularly, using a powerful appliance will be crucial to both their health and comfort in the home.
  • If you live in a part of the country that has heavy rainfall throughout the year, then you know how stressful it can be to deal with tracked in mud. You also know that carpets have to be cleaned regularly in order to stay on top of this type of mess and prevent dirt from penetrating deep down into carpet fibers. In order to better manage the dirt and grime that gets tracked into the home whenever it rains, use a carpet cleaner with tough stain fighting power and treat stains and tracked in dirt immediately.
  • Hiring professionals to come in and clean your carpets monthly or every two to three months can cost you big, especially if you have a large home with several carpeted rooms. Purchasing a carpet cleaner can essentially save you hundreds of dollars a month.

Must-Have Features

Now that you’ve decided to buy a carpet cleaner, the first step is taking a look online and checking for important features to see if a specific model has what it takes to handle the size of your home and meet your cleaning needs. There are many popular models on the market these days, each of which has a reputation for cleaning power, however, not all carpet cleaners are created equal. Additionally your choice will need to be based on certain factors, such as the color and type of carpet you have, how often you want to clean your carpets, how much carpeting is in the home, and the type of stains the cleaner will be used to treat.

If you have a two-story home, then a lightweight model will also be essential, since cleaning stairs and carrying one of these appliances up and down a flight of stairs can be some serious backbreaking work.

Weight

As I mentioned above, if you live in a two or three-story home, then you’ll need a lightweight model, one that’s easy to bring up and down a flight of stairs. A heavier carpet cleaner can be difficult to use on stairs and can be dangerous to carry up and down. Before you hit that buy now button, make sure you take a look at how much a model weighs.

Suction Power

A cleaner with strong suction power helps to remove deep down dirt faster and more efficiently. Large models equipped with a bigger motor will often offer better suction power.

Brushes and Attachments

If you want a versatile model, one that can handle a variety of stain types and surfaces, then look for one that comes with different types of cleaning tools and attachments. As an example, if you often find yourself cleaning up pet messes, a model that comes with a pet brush attachment that’s specifically designed to treat these types of stains is a must.

If versatility is important and you want a cleaner that also allows you to clean your sofa and other furniture in the home, then look for a cleaner that comes with an upholstery attachment tool. Many of the most popular models come loaded with a variety of cleaning brush styles, so you can clean a stain based on size and type, which will make cleaning up a cinch.

Water Tanks

A larger water tank will add to the weight of the cleaner, but it can also mean fewer interruptions when you’re trying to clean. A small tank will have to be filled up repeatedly if you have large carpeted rooms in the home. If you have a smaller home or your home has mainly hardwood floors, then a model with a small water tank will not be an issue.

Tank Design

A cleaner that comes with separate tanks for the cleaning solution and another tank for the hot water will make it easier to refill the tank since you won’t have to add more solution to your water and the design allows the solution to be mixed correctly. Many people aren’t aware of how highly concentrated these cleaning products are and tend to add too much to a tank, which can cause the carpet to become sudsy and difficult to rinse.

Full-Sized Models

If you have several carpeted rooms in the home then go with a full-sized model, one that’s equipped with a more powerful motor. These cleaners will work by scrubbing carpets with detergent and water, then vacuuming up the dirt and water. Full-sized cleaners can be pricier and can take up a lot of closet space, however, they’re also more durable than handheld models or detachable cleaners.

Detachable

Detachable cleaners will have a base and a handheld portion of the cleaner that will allow you to remove the handheld device to avoid having to bring the entire appliance up a flight of stairs. It also makes a cleaner more versatile, so you can easily clean furniture or fit the model in a tight space. This type of cleaner is often more affordable than the full-sized models but they often have a lower powered motor, which can make them a bad choice if most of your home is carpeted.

Hose Length

Most cleaners will come with a detachable hose, which is what you’ll use to attach a cleaning brush or other type of accessory. A longer hose will allow you to access those hard to reach places and can make it easier to clean stairs and upholstery.

Controls and Settings

Look for a cleaner that comes with adjustable controls, so you can change the setting based on the thickness of your carpet. If the cleaner has just a single setting, then it may not be able to reach deep down in thicker carpets such as shag. Many models will come with at least three pile setting options so you can choose the perfect thickness. This is also a must-have feature if  you have different types of carpet in the home.

Fixed or Moving Brushes

Moving brushes offer a more aggressive cleaning approach compared to models with a fixed brush setup. If the brushes are fixed, then you’ll have to move the cleaner back and forth several times to work on a stain. Moving brushes will spin as you roll the appliance over the surface, requiring less elbow grease from the user.

Indicator Lights

These lights can warn you that you’re running low on water, cleaning solution, or if the brushes become jammed. Some models will also have indicator lights that will alert you that the dirty solution tank is full and needs to be emptied.

Automatic Shutoff

An automatic shutoff feature is sensor operated and will stop the extractor’s suction once the sensors have detected that the dirty solution tank is full.

Maintenance

Man cleaning the carpet

Smaller cleaners that are lightweight will be easier to clean and care for, while bigger models often come with large water tanks that are difficult to empty and rinse out. Aside from cleaning out the dirty water tank, you’ll also have to clean out the brushes on the base and any attachments you use. Staying on top of maintenance will be important since you’ll want to avoid scrubbing your carpet with dirty brushes. Cleaning the attachments can be as simple as soaking them in the sink in warm water and dish soap. However, cleaning the brush system located on the base can prove more difficult. Before you decide to clean your machine make sure you read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and recommendations, in order to avoid voiding the warranty.

You’ll need to clean out your cleaner after each use, especially if you’ve dealt with particularly dirty carpets. Failing to clean out your model can cause unpleasant odors, such as mildew. This smell will be present the next time you clean your carpet and can leave this odor behind carpets and upholstery, making your entire home smell like mildew.

Price

The price of a cleaner will depend on how big it is, how powerful, and how many attachments are included. You can find a very basic model for around $100, while a cleaner that’s equipped with all the bells and whistles you could want can cost between $200-$400 dollars.

Warranty

On average, you’ll find six to twelve-month warranties on lower priced models. Higher priced cleaners will come with a one year to five-year limited warranty. High priced models are designed to last longer and come equipped with components that are durable and motors that are more powerful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Professional Carpet Cleaners Vacuum First?

Whether you have your carpets cleaned professionally, or you decide to do the cleaning yourself, yes, your carpet should be vacuumed first. However, if you have a professional come in to clean your carpets, you will be the one responsible for vacuuming your carpets, prior to a cleaning. Usually, a company will request that you do this before your scheduled appointment.

How Soon can you Walk on Carpet After Cleaning?

If you use hot water extraction to clean carpets, then you will need to wait around six hours before you or anyone sets foot on your carpet. If you have to walk on carpet that’s freshly cleaned before it’s had adequate time to dry, then make sure you do so by wearing a pair of clean socks and take as few steps as possible.

How do you Speed up Carpet Drying After Cleaning?

The simplest and fastest way to dry carpets after they have been cleaned is to bring more air into the home. You can do so by opening windows or doors or using some house fans. This can help to cut the drying time in half, which will be essential if you have small kids or pets in the home.

Should you Open Windows After Carpet Cleaning?

If the carpet is in a room with windows, then opening them up will speed up the drying time. It can also help to get rid of the smell from the cleaning product used, which may have a very strong scent at first.

Does Cold air-dry Carpets?

It can, but not as fast as dry heat. A carpet can dry faster if there’s low relative humidity. Carpet will not dry quickly if it’s very humid out. Try adding some dry heat to speed up the drying time. If it’s colder than fifty degrees outside, then crank up the heater.

Final Thoughts

The best carpet cleaners are equipped with powerful motors that offer better suction, large water tanks that will mean fewer refills during use, and a variety of cleaning attachments that will allow you to treat different types of stains or use the cleaner for a variety of surfaces, such as your furniture and drapes. The cleaners in my top four lineup each scored well for their versatile, powerful designs, in addition to their user-friendly design, cost, and overall quality. The type of cleaner you buy should meet your specific cleaning needs, whether you need a model that comes with cleaning attachments designed to treat pet messes, attachments for upholstery, or a lightweight design that makes it easier to take your cleaner up a flight of stairs. This buyer’s guide is designed to help you find the perfect model for you, your home, and your budget.