Best Carpet Cleaners

We looked at professional carpet cleaner reviews and consumer ratings to find the best cheap carpet cleaners, steam mops, steam cleaners, and spot cleaners from Bissell, Hoover, Shark, and other top brands. You don't have to spend more than $150 to buy one of these tools and keep your floors looking their best.

What We Considered

Carpet cleaners are reviewed extensively by several expert sites, including Consumer Reports,, and Top Ten Reviews. All three make their picks based on hands-on testing. In an older report, Wirecutter tests and recommends two portable carpet and upholstery cleaners. Although one has been discontinued, the top recommendation, the Bissell SpotClean Pro, is still available and still very highly rated in more recent reviews. Wirecutter also tests steam mops, as do Top Ten Reviews and the home product review site Your Best Digs. We also consulted owner reviews on major retail sites like Amazon and Walmart, where the best carpet cleaners get tens of thousands of ratings that exceed 4 stars.  

We Looked At

Carpet cleaners need to do one thing well: clean carpet. You shouldn't have to make a zillion passes or pretreat too much (although that will always be necessary for particularly bad pet messes or red wine spills). The suction on the carpet cleaner should be sufficient to leave the carpet dry enough to walk on within a fairly short period of time. The biggest complaint we saw with low-rated carpet cleaners was that the carpet was left sopping wet. Steam mops and steam cleaners need to be able to heat water efficiently and produce enough steam to loosen dirt quickly and thoroughly.

Bells and whistles are less important in this category than in many others, mostly because carpet cleaners, steam mops, and steam cleaners are pretty straightforward. While it might be nice to have a hose and attachments for a carpet cleaner so you can clean upholstery, as well, these aren't a must-have for many consumers. Steam mops usually don't include accessories at all, while even the least-expensive steam cleaners generally come with a decent selection of hoses or nozzles.

Our Top Pick

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe FH50150
Our Picks
Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe FH50150

Consumer product experts are near-unanimous in their praise of this Hoover carpet cleaner. In testing, the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe FH50150 performed very well on even the toughest food stains, including grape juice, marinara sauce, and red wine. Testers also found that carpet dries more quickly with its powerful water extraction. Not only does this Hoover model clean carpets well, it also includes accessories to clean upholstery, stairs, crevices, and more. Ease of use is superior, right down to taking apart and cleaning the carpet cleaner itself (an often-yucky necessity).

  • A top carpet cleaner in testing by and Top Ten Reviews.

  • Leaves carpets dryer than competing models.

  • Separate container for detergent and a rinse setting to release clean water only (recommended for removing residual cleaning solution from carpets), a terrific bonus at this price.

  • Relatively long 8-foot hose.

  • Water reservoir holds 1 gallon, requiring frequent refills, some owners complain, but models with bigger tanks often cost more.

  • Scattered reports of leakage or other durability issues in the first year.

Bissell SpotClean Pro 3624

Earning kudos for its performance in professional testing and "real world" use, the Bissell SpotClean Pro portable carpet cleaner is described by some as a "lifesaver" when it comes to cleaning up pet messes from carpet, refreshing upholstery, and even cleaning cloth car seats. Simple as it is — just a basic, hot-water extraction machine — this Bissell carpet cleaner makes short work of even the toughest stains, like chocolate, red wine, and coffee, reviewers say. We didn't spot a lot of complaints, although some say it's larger than they thought it would be. A few disappointed reviewers say the hose split just after the warranty expired.

  • Top performer in testing by Wirecutter.

  • 96-ounce water tank is large for a portable model and requires fewer refills.

  • 5-foot hose and 22-foot cord give it a generous reach.

  • Some users complain about the hose splitting or breaking.

  • A bit bulky to store, some reviewers note.

Bissell SpotBot Pet 33N8A

Pet owners are enamored of the Bissell SpotBot Pet portable carpet cleaner. It features two cleaning modes: a hands-free option, which sprays, scrubs, and suctions stains of up to 7 inches, and a hose with a brush attachment, like a traditional portable carpet cleaner. The hands-free mode has two cleaning cycles, deep and express, although users say the deep-clean cycle leaves the carpet wet. Some solve the problem by either blotting the spot with a towel or using the hose/nozzle mode to soak up more water.

  • Versatile; cleans hands-free or with a hose.

  • 2 cleaning cycles: express and deep.

  • Water tank is easy to fill, users say.

  • Some owners consider the hose and nozzle hard to clean.

  • Heavy-duty cycle leaves the floor wet, according to some reviews.

  • Rather large footprint for a portable model.

Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940

If you like to keep your bathroom floors squeaky clean, the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940 makes that a breeze. It heats quickly, in about 30 seconds in testing, and then supplies about 20 minutes of continuous steam. Given the size of the water tank, it's not suited to larger areas. But it's very easy to use, reviewers say, and does a good job getting into smaller nooks and crannies. Experts praise its performance, as do users, saying it really loosens up grime and leaves the floor sparkling. Just don't expect it to clean carpets; testing suggests that's not gonna happen. Check out one of our recommended carpet cleaners instead.

  • Variable steam control with 3 settings.

  • Lightweight, at 6 pounds; highly maneuverable.

  • Removable water tank is easy to fill, reviewers say.

  • Continuous steam; no need to hold down a trigger.

  • 15-ounce tank is relatively small.

  • Carpet glider does not actually clean carpets, just "refreshes" them.

McCulloch MC1275 Steam Cleaner

Think of the McCulloch MC1275 as a canister vacuum for the rest of your house. It comes with every accessory you need to tackle grout, tile, grills, car engines, floors, upholstery, and more. Users say it works better on some things than others, of course, but there doesn't seem to be any consensus on that; for every user who says it worked great on floors but not grout, there is another who states the opposite. One thing most do agree on: Some of the smaller accessories don't hold up well for heavier cleaning jobs.

  • 15 cleaning tools and attachments.

  • Can tackle even heavy jobs, like car engines and grills.

  • Provides 45 minutes of continuous steam, users say.

  • Water heats to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit to sanitize and clean.

  • Some owners say it takes up a lot of storage space.

  • Users say some of the accessories are flimsy.

Bissell PowerLifter 1622

The Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush upright carpet cleaner is a reliable choice for basic carpet cleaning, refreshing high-traffic areas, and giving carpeted rooms regular touch-ups. Many owners rave about how well the four rows of scrubber brushes remove dirt and pet stains, making carpets look almost brand new. Unlike some upright carpet cleaners, the Bissell PowerLifter is very easy to maneuver around furniture, reviewers say. With a water tank that holds less than a gallon, this model cycles through water too quickly for some consumers. We also read a handful of user complaints about cleaners that broke soon after purchase.

  • Cleaned a variety of stains well in testing by

  • Weighs 16.4 pounds, less than most carpet cleaners.

  • Water tank is easy to fill and empty, users say.

  • Nozzle can be removed for cleaning.

  • No accessories for upholstery or spot cleaning.

  • 96-ounce water tank needs frequent emptying and refilling.

Bissell Little Green 1400B

A portable carpet cleaner comes to the rescue after those inevitable spills and spots, and reviewers say the Bissell Little Green is up to the task. This small, lightweight spot carpet cleaner is the tiniest in the well-respected Bissell Green line of carpet cleaners. It comes with a handheld scrub brush for tough stains but no other tools (some are available for an added cost). Owners seem unabashedly in love with it, giving it very high ratings for how effectively it handles spills and stains on carpet and upholstery.

  • Lightweight and portable, at 12 pounds.

  • Relatively large 48-ounce reservoirs for clean and dirty water.

  • Tanks are easy to fill, empty, and clean, owners say.

  • 3-inch brush is a bit small, some users say.

  • Dirt accumulates in the nozzle, and it doesn't come apart for cleaning.

  • Some reviewers report leakage from the nozzle after a few uses.

If you have hard floors that need thorough scrubbing, the Shark Steam Pocket Mop can handle sticky messes with ease. In expert tests, it heated quickly and did a good job cleaning floors, which dried in about 2 minutes. Owners particularly like the design of the "flippable" microfiber pad, as they can clean longer before having to change it out. The 15.2-ounce tank on this Shark steam mop holds enough water for about 12 minutes of steam, but you have to hold the trigger down; there is no continuous steam function.

  • Weighs less than 5 pounds, making it easy to maneuver.

  • Users report excellent performance on sticky floors.

  • Heats quickly and provides up to 20 minutes of steam, owners say.

  • Doesn't stand up by itself.

  • No on/off switch.

  • Some users report leaking.

PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner

If you're tired of the amount of elbow grease you have to expend to clean grout or tile, the PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner makes a handy addition to your cleaning arsenal. It heats quickly and, according to users, produces about 10 minutes of steam, although some report shorter or longer run times. While it's not meant for heavy-duty jobs, like cleaning grills or baked-on grime, it does loosen tough-to-scrub soap scum so you can just wipe it down. The happiest owners are those who understand this handheld steamer's limitations.

  • 9 accessories for a variety of cleaning tasks.

  • Owners say it does a good job steam cleaning grout and tile.

  • Good reviews for responsive customer service.

  • Doesn't clean heavy stains well, reviewers say.

  • Need to wait for the cap to cool before refilling.

Other Products We Reviewed

Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution 1986

People with a lot of pets (or just really hairy, messy pets) appreciate the convenient features on the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner. It has a button you press with your foot to spray pretreatment fluid on stains as you go. The detachable tank is easy to fill, and the water is heated throughout the cleaning cycle to maintain its temperature. The brush roll disassembles to make it easy to clean out accumulated pet hair and other yucky stuff, another nice touch. This Bissell carpet cleaner is just as good for cleaning entire rooms as it is for targeted pet messes, too.

  • Deep-cleans very effectively, owners say.

  • Integrated pretreater for the heaviest stains.

  • Powered upholstery tool.

  • 25-foot cord, longer than those found on similar cleaners.

  • Can leave carpets wet, some users say.

  • No rinse setting or separate container for cleaning formula, which we'd like to see at this price.

Bissell Big Green 86T3

If you find yourself renting carpet cleaners a lot, why not just buy your own? If a rental costs $30 a day, this model will pay for itself after 12 or so uses (based on the retail price at the time this report was compiled). If you choose the Bissell Big Green Machine Professional Carpet Cleaner, you'll be the proud owner of one of the most effective carpet cleaners on the market, according to experts and users. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles here, but it's fast and it's effective. Just be sure you can wrangle its heft.

  • Provides a superior, deep clean.

  • Cleans with both backward and forward motion.

  • Includes an upholstery tool.

  • 9-foot hose and 25-foot cord make for a long reach.

  • Large and very heavy, at 40.6 pounds.

  • Experts and users report that it's very noisy.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Carpet Cleaner

There are few cleaning tools that save as much time, money, and aggravation as a carpet cleaner. While you can hire a pro or rent a machine, most carpet cleaners cost less than one visit by a professional, and every carpet cleaner in this report gets very positive reviews from both experts and consumers. We've also identified some other top steam-cleaning appliances — steam mops for floors and steam cleaners for grout and tile — so you can deep-clean the rest of your home, as well.

Full-Size Carpet Cleaners

This type of carpet cleaner looks much like an upright vacuum with a water tank. Some have separate tanks that mix the cleaning solution with water before spraying it on the carpet; others require the user to mix the water and solution and then add it to the reservoir. Clean water is squirted from the tank onto the carpet, a brush mechanism scrubs the area as you push it over the carpet, and then the machine extracts the excess water, which goes into a separate tank for dirty water. Full-size carpet cleaners can handle bigger jobs, like heavily trafficked areas or big spills. Some full-size carpet cleaners are behemoths — the professional-grade Bissell Big Green weighs about 40 pounds — but they also get carpet as deeply clean as a professional job. However, for most people, a smaller, lighter, full-size carpet shampooer like our top pick is more than adequate.

Portable Carpet Cleaners

Also known as spot carpet cleaners, portable carpet cleaners operate much like their bigger siblings, although they're easier to store than a full-size carpet cleaner. They have one tank for clean water, one for dirty. A hose with a brush attachment and nozzle squirts the water, which you manually scrub, and the suction function extracts the excess water. A portable carpet cleaner is a great choice if you need to deal with only occasional barf bouts, small pet accidents, or fairly minor spills. This type of portable cleaner is also a good choice for cleaning upholstery or car seats. Of course, a portable carpet cleaner isn't suitable for very large spills or entire carpets; you would wear out your knees before the job was done.

Steam Mops

A possible companion to a carpet cleaner, or an alternative for a home with mostly hard floors, a steam mop cleans and sanitizes by using heated water to create steam and loosen dirt. Pads attached to the cleaning head wipe up the damp grime, leaving floors very clean. However, be warned: You can't use a steam mop on all floors. Steam mops can damage many hardwood and laminate floors, and using one may void your warranty. Most tile floors and many types of linoleum can hold up to the heat. Regardless, always check your floor's warranty before buying a steam mop, and always test it in an out-of-the-way area before tackling the entire floor.

Steam Cleaners

Large steam cleaners resemble canister vacuums with handheld steam nozzles. The handheld versions resemble water pitchers — you fill them with water and attach the lid, and steam comes out of the spout. Both types, also known as vapor cleaners, produce jets of steam for loosening dried-on grime, soap scum, grease, and general crud from tile, grout, and items like grills. Pet owners say they even neutralize pet odors on hard surfaces, and many parents (and day care operators) appreciate being able to use them to clean toys. Some larger steam cleaners come with attachments to clean other items, such as floors or upholstery, or to steam fabrics. In general, though, experts and users say that cleaning tools dedicated to those specific tasks do a better job overall. As with a steam mop, it's important to be sure the surface you want to clean can hold up to superheated vapor. Testing in an out-of-the way area is always a good idea.

Pricey vs. Cheap Carpet Cleaners

Upright carpet cleaners are surprisingly affordable; even very highly rated ones come in around $130 or less. All have two separate water tanks and include at least a starter bottle of carpet cleaning detergent. Those at the upper end of the range often include a few attachments, as well, such as different types of brushes or nozzles to clean upholstery, stairs, and other areas where an upright cleaner otherwise wouldn't be practical. A select few feature a separate detergent tank and a rinse setting, so you don't have to pre-mix cleaning solution or refill the tank with clean water.

More expensive carpet cleaners have additional features that make cleaning easier, such as multiple cleaning modes and powerful suction to remove excess water so carpets dry faster. Other nice-to-have extras include a self-heating reservoir (most carpet cleaners must be filled with water that's already hot) and a sprayer to pre-treat tough spots. However, these models can cost upward of $250, with professional-grade cleaners edging toward $400.

Steam mops, which deep-clean hard floors, generally cost less than $80. They're pretty simple and generally come with one or more reusable cleaning pads. Some manufacturers make steam mops that also vacuum, but they tend to get very poor reviews for the latter feature so probably aren't worth the premium price (usually around $100 more).

Steam cleaners have the broadest price range in this category, with small, handheld steam cleaners starting at around $30 and the priciest, commercial-grade cleaners topping out at $2,000 or more. Most people don't need that level of steam cleaning, so the priciest one we recommend is less than $150 and should be powerful enough for the average home steaming task.

Features Comparison

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Review Score:
Product Title
Tank Capacity
Cleaning Path
Weight (empty)
Other Features
Product Title
Tank Capacity
Cleaning Path
Weight (empty)
Other Features

Hoover Power Scrub...

128 oz. + 16 oz. detergent
11.25 in.
8 ft.
20 ft.
18.1 lbs.
Rinse setting, stair tool, crevice tool, upholstery tool, powered...

Bissell SpotClean Pro 3624

96 oz.
5 ft.
22 ft.
13.2 lbs.
3 in. stain tool, 6 in. stair tool

Bissell SpotBot Pet 33N8A

32 oz.
7 in.
5 ft.
16 ft.
14.1 lbs.
2 hands-free cleaning cycles, 3 in. stain tool

Bissell PowerFresh Steam...

15 oz.
12 in.
23 ft.
6 lbs.
3 steam settings, swiveling head

McCulloch MC1275 Steam...

48 oz.
10 ft.
15.7 ft.
9.95 lbs.
Trigger lock, triangle brush, small scrubbing brushes, squeegee,...

Bissell PowerLifter 1622

96 oz.
11 in.
20 ft.
16.4 lbs.
Removable nozzle

Bissell Little Green 1400B

48 oz.
4 ft.
15 ft.
12 lbs.
3 in. stain tool

Shark Steam Pocket Mop S3501

15.2 oz.
12 in.
20 ft.
4.8 lbs.
Double-sided pad, flask for filling tank

PurSteam Handheld...

11.8 oz.
9.8 ft.
5 lbs.
2 brushes, 2 nozzles, floor cleaner, extension hose, ironing cloth,...