The best carpet cleaner machines in 2024

Why bring in the professionals or rent a carpet cleaner, when you can buy?

Best overall

An upright vacuum, the Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner against a plain background.

Hoover PowerDash Carpet Cleaner

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Best smart

The black and white Tineco CARPET ONE Smart Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner features an LED screen, hose, and canister for water.

Tineco CARPET ONE Spot Smart Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner

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Best budget

The Eureka Uprgith Vacuum Cleaner, which is gray and blue, and black, with some attachments in the foreground against a plain background.

Eureka Lightweight Powerful Upright Vacuum

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Let’s be honest: Unless your carpets are dark gray and constructed for what manufacturers call “heavy traffic,” i.e., a lot of wear and tear, you’ll probably need a carpet cleaner. Whether it’s a glass of red wine, a mishap with some makeup, or a pet accident, carpet stains and messes will happen, and that’s where a carpet cleaner comes in. But, if you’re reading this and thinking, “not my problem, no carpets in my home,” bear in mind that the best carpet cleaner machines will also tackle stains on upholstery and on car interiors—so if you’ve got fabric, and you’ve got stains, we’ve got the picks.

How we chose the best carpet cleaner machines

There’s an array of carpet cleaner machines on the market, so how can you work out which is the model for you? Suppose you’re an adult living in a carpeted space. In that case, you’ve got to think about how frequently you’re likely to want to clean your carpets and weigh that up against the cost of hiring a machine on an ad hoc basis versus the cost of buying a carpet cleaner and finding somewhere to store it year-round.

But if you’ve got kids and pets, and you’ve also got carpets, sofas, or cars … it could be a very sensible investment. We’ve got the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions which, hopefully, will help you work out the best carpet cleaner for you and your home. We’ll talk about the differences between a domestic carpet cleaner and a commercial carpet cleaner, between a portable carpet cleaner and a cordless carpet cleaner, and much more besides. And we looked to top brands to find the latest models with dirt-and-stain-fighting technology.

The best carpet cleaner machines: Reviews & Recommendations

Pets shed. Kids spill. Dust builds up. No matter how hard you try, your carpet will get dirty sometimes—but with a good carpet cleaner, it’s not a big deal. The best carpet cleaners are easy to control, powerful, and, most of all, effective. A clean carpet means less dust and dander, improving air quality and the overall ambiance of the room. To help you find the best carpet cleaner machine, we’ve rounded up our recommendations for a range of situations.

Best overall: Hoover PowerDash Carpet Cleaner

Best overall

Hoover PowerDash Carpet Cleaner

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 0.5 gallons
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Weight: 12.5 pounds

Pros

  • Powerful cleaning for homes with pets
  • Uses HeatForce feature to speed up drying process
  • Lightweight design

Cons

  • Not heavy-duty enough to address serious damage
  • Only comes with a trial-size container of cleaner

The Hoover PowerDash Carpet Cleaner is a lightweight solution that looks just like a standard vacuum but has far more benefits. Using steam technology, the tank connects to the cleaner trigger and sprays the cleaning solution onto the carpet. Then, the vacuum lifts dirt from the fibers and channels the dirt into a separate tank. Both receptacles are clear, enabling you to see the progress as you go. 

This carpet cleaner is designed with a powerspin brushroll that picks up hair and removes stains. The removable nozzle makes it easy to maintain and helps ensure a deep clean. Hoover’s HeatForce component then speeds up the drying process. Powerful, durable, and complete with a 20-foot cord, this carpet cleaner is a solid choice overall.

Best smart: Tineco CARPET ONE Smart Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner

Best smart

Tineco Carpet One Smart Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: N/A
  • Cord length: Cordless
  • Weight: 18.81 pounds

Pros

  • Designed with a smart sensor that detects stains
  • Saves water and energy by determining the severity of stain
  • Cordless, so it’s easy to transport

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not a comprehensive carpet cleaning solution

Looking for a smart appliance that takes care of carpet cleaning and stain removal for you? That’s the promise of Tineco’s CARPET ONE Smart Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner and its Set and Go function. It’s designed with an iLoop sensor that finds stains and automatically adjusts water levels and brush speed based on the severity of the stain, saving water and energy. It has three modes: spot mode, auto mode, and suction mode. Then, the cleaner lets you know the task is completed through an LED screen that provides updates in real-time and works with voice controls. 

Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the Carpet One runs up to 40 minutes on a full charge. Being cordless makes it easy to use this machine on the stairs, upholstery, or in your car. Once the task is completed, you can plug the machines into a self-cleaning box that removes water from the hose and brush after each use.

Best value: Bissell TurboClean PowerBrush Pet Upright Carpet Cleaner Machine

Best value

Bissell TurboClean PowerBrush Pet Upright Carpet Cleaner Machine

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 0.5 gallons
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Weight: 12 pounds

Pros

  • Collapsible handle for easy storage
  • Works on carpet and area rugs
  • Two-tank system

Cons

  • Smaller than other carpet cleaner machines

Cleaning your carpet is a routine task that doesn’t have to be expensive, making the Bissell TurboClean PowerBrush Pet such a great value pick. This upright vacuum features a power brush that’s used alongside a suction mechanism to scrub away stains and lift out deep-seated dirt. The machine’s bristles help tidy up edges and furniture corners, while the two-tank system helps separate dirty water from clean water.

Best heavy-duty: Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner

Best heavy-duty

Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 1.75 gallons
  • Cord length: 25 feet
  • Weight: 41 pounds

Pros

  • Features a 25-foot power cord for extra reach
  • Compatible with several different cleaners
  • Works powerfully and consistently on all carpet types

Cons

  • Fairly high price point relative to the competition
  • Nine-foot hose can kink or tear when navigating corners
  • Bristles require maintenance for peak performance

If you’re looking for deep cleaning, consider the Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner. Bissell is a trusted name in carpet cleaning, and this pick, comparable to the models you would otherwise rent, features two large tanks (one for clean water and the other for dirty). This cleaner also comes with an adjustable handle, a 9-foot hose, and a 25-foot power cord that provides even more flexibility and ease of use.

This powerful 12-amp carpet cleaner comes with six attachments, each designed to address a certain type of stain or damage, including a 6-inch Tough Stain Tool for carpets, stairs, and upholstery. The cleaner also arrives with three 8-ounce trial-size bottles of Bissell’s PRO MAX CLEAN + Protect, for deep cleaning.

Best commercial: Rug Doctor Mighty Pro Commercial Carpet Cleaner

Industrial Level Cleaning

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 3.9 gallons (clean water), 3 gallons (dirty water)
  • Cord length: 28 feet
  • Weight: 47 pounds

Pros

  • Deep cleans
  • Features large tanks
  • Long cord

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

This commercial carpet cleaner’s spraying system injects cleaning solution deep into the carpet, which helps begin the process of detaching dirt, stains, and odors. Next, the Rug Doctor’s triple-action vibrating brush works on all sides of each carpet fiber before professional-level suction is applied to remove dirt, odors, and solution, leaving a clean carpet that dries quickly.

Best steam: McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

Best steam

McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 48 ounces (0.375 gallons)
  • Cord length: 15 feet
  • Weight: 10 pounds

Pros

  • Balances power with affordability
  • Steam cleans instead of using chemicals
  • Works on all different carpet types

Cons

  • May require a separate chemical supplement for some stains
  • Tank size only allows the vacuum to function for up to 45 minutes

The McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner is a safe option for those who avoid chemicals during regular cleaning. The 48-ounce tank heats up in fewer than 10 minutes. It can steam your carpet for up to 45 minutes, though using the continuous stream function can deplete it more quickly.

Though the tank may run out, it still cleans efficiently thanks to the heavy-duty design and focused steam. So long as you use the correct accessory (and the set comes with 18 of them), it can tackle stains and dander with ease. With the 9-foot hose, you can easily roll the cleaner around and reach tougher spots without changing plugins.

Best for pets: Bissell ProHeat Lift Off Pet Carpet Cleaner

Smart Design

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 3/4 gallon
  • Cord length: 22 feet
  • Weight: 24.25 pounds

Pros

  • Two cleaners in one
  • Portable spot remover
  • Great for upholstery and car interiors

Cons

  • Some users say suction is weak
  • May leak

When it comes to an effective carpet cleaner, pets and pet hair can make deep cleaning more difficult. This Bissell carpet cleaner has a powerbrush that has 10 rows of bristles designed to loosen dirt and odors in combination with a cleaning solution before sucking them into a waste tank. It can be converted to a portable and has two specialized tools to tackle tough stains and crevices. Get started with one of the best robot vacuums for pet hair.

Best portable: Bissell Spot Clean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner

Compact But Effective

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 3/4 gallon
  • Cord length: 22 feet
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Pros

  • Professional quality
  • Easy to transport
  • Effective spot remover

Cons

If you’re looking for a carpet cleaner machine that’s both powerful and portable, look no further than the Bissell Spot Clean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner. Weighing 13 pounds and with a 22-foot cord, this carpet cleaner is easy to transport but provides a professional-level clean. This carpet cleaner comes with two heads, including a six-inch brush designed especially for stairs and a trial-size bottle of cleaning solution that will help remove those pesky stains.

Best cordless: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless Portable Carpet Cleaner

Lightweight u0026 Cable-Free

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 8 ounces
  • Cord length: Cordless
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Easy to use
  • Rechargeable

Cons

  • Not super powerful

A rechargeable lithium battery powers this cordless carpet cleaner that’s ideal for whipping out whenever a spillage happens. The ready-mixed formula is stored in the machine, so it’s always ready for use. Just spray, scrub, and suction. This model is great for pet owners, even if it’s less powerful than some other picks.

Best for spot cleaning: Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner

Impressive Spot Cleaning

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Specs

  • Tank capacity: 51 ounces
  • Cord length: 14 feet
  • Weight: 9 pounds

Pros

  • Targeted stain removal
  • Lightweight
  • Self-cleaning

Cons

  • Not comprehensive carpet cleaner

Lightweight (just 9 pounds) and compact (15 inches tall), this Hoover carpet cleaner incorporates self-cleaning technology that flushes the hose after each use to help remove dirt and bacteria, keeping the device clean and odor-free. A 5-foot hose gives a long reach and makes cleaning stairs, upholstery, and more easier.

Best budget: Eureka Lightweight Powerful Upright Vacuum

Best upright

Eureka Lightweight Powerful Upright Vacuum Cleaner

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Specs

  • Capacity: 3.9 liters (1.03 gallons)
  • Cord length: 25 feet
  • Weight: 11 pounds

Pros

  • Upgraded model with increased speed and suction
  • Works on all types of carpets and hard floors
  • Powerful suction reaches deep into the carpet fibers

Cons

  • Only features dry vacuum technology
  • Requires a separate stain remover for major spills

The Eureka Lightweight Powerful Vacuum is a solid choice for those dealing with smaller messes. It works in between steam cleanings or, in conjunction with a chemical cleaner, as a full-service carpet cleaner. Equipped with five height options, the vacuum adjusts to the type of carpet in your home. The vacuum features a 7-foot hose that connects to an attachment on one side while the other hooks up to a quick-release lever. Together, this makes it easy to clean and maintain the vacuum between uses.

What to consider when shopping for the best carpet cleaner machines

Buying a carpet cleaner is all about balancing the upfront investment with savings over time. Consider the following when making your plans:

Type and size of carpet

A thick carpet and a thin rug are two entirely different beasts. The lower a carpet’s pile, or how thick a carpet’s fibers are, the easier it will be to clean. Denser, heavier carpets require more effort. Material is another consideration. Most carpets are synthetic, made from nylon, polyester, or acrylic. Others are made from natural fibers, such as wool. Ensure that the cleaner you’re using is appropriate for your carpet’s material.

Size is another factor in picking the right cleaner. Larger carpets take longer to clean, making it worth the cost of a bigger cleaner. Smaller carpets are easier to clean by hand, so it’s less viable to invest in a costlier system.

Domestic carpet cleaners vs. commercial carpet cleaners

There’s nothing to stop you from buying a commercial carpet cleaner rather than a domestic carpet cleaner. After all, as you might expect, they’re designed to cover large areas quickly, so, in many ways, they are more efficient than domestic machines.

But there are a few things that you should probably know before buying one. First of all, they’re pricey. You can expect to pay a lot more for a commercial carpet cleaner than you would for a domestic one. They’re also a lot bigger and heavier, so if you’re going to want to clean carpets on the top floor, you might want to think twice about storing one in the basement.

On the upside, a bigger machine usually means a bigger engine—which means more suction power. It also means bigger tanks—both for cleaning and waste fluid—so you can clean a larger area in one go without stopping.

Pets

Let’s be honest: One of the reasons that you’re probably thinking about getting a carpet cleaner in the first place is because you have a pet and want to be able to deal with their accidents, so yes, it makes sense to factor that in when you’re looking. That said, most carpet cleaner manufacturers know that their market is often pet-owners so a lot of that functionality is pre-packaged into a machine, even if it doesn’t specifically say it’s a carpet cleaner designed for pets.

What you might find when you buy a pet-specific carpet cleaner is that it comes with a few additional tools or features. That might include a pre-treat function, a separate tool designed to remove pet stains, hair, and mess, with a separate tank that keeps this debris out of the main tank. This makes cleaning the machine easier and also gives the ability to spot treat rather than treat an entire area.

Spot-cleaning

Do you have to clean the whole carpet? In a word, no! While you might want to clean an entire carpet as part of a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule, many carpet cleaners are designed for what’s known as spot-cleaning. Either they’re an upright machine that has a lift-off section (like how a vacuum can be converted from an upright to a hand-held), or they’re designed to be handheld devices. These types of cleaners tend to be known as portable carpet cleaners, and they’re ideal for you if you don’t have a carpet but do have a rug, sofa, or car upholstery that you want to remove stains from at your discretion.

While an upright or commercial machine is ideal for covering large areas, a portable carpet cleaner is designed to work on smaller areas or isolated spots. The cleaning head tends to be smaller, and some of the automated processes that you’d get with a full-size cleaner are manual—for example, rather than having automated scrubbing brushes, you have to scrub manually.

Portable vs. cordless carpet cleaners

Simply put, while a cordless carpet cleaner is a portable carpet cleaner, a portable carpet cleaner is not necessarily a cordless carpet cleaner. There aren’t a lot of cordless cleaners on the market because using a battery to generate suction power is significantly less efficient—and less powerful—than using plugged-in power. So, broadly speaking, an outlet-powered portable cleaner is going to be the best option.

But, if you want to spot-clean car upholstery, for example, and it’s not practical to run an extension cable onto the street, a cordless carpet cleaner could be what you need. Just bear in mind that they’re likely to be less powerful and less efficient, so might not be as productive when it comes to tackling tough stains on large areas.

Safety of ingredients

Checking the safety of any chemical cleaners is essential, especially if you have kids or pets around the house. You can always find the ingredients and risks of any cleaner by looking at its material safety data sheet (MSDS). Many industrial cleaners can be irritants, so it may be better to opt for a steam cleaner. Learn more about the safety ratings of carpet cleaners from the Environmental Working Group.

Price

The best carpet cleaner machine we could find for less manages to pack an awful lot of punch for its price and size. It’s worth noting that if you’re on a budget, you’re better spending your money on a higher-end portable cleaner, like our pick, rather than a lower-end full-size cleaner, as you’ll get more effective cleaning from the portable option.

You might miss some of the features that the more expensive cleaners have, so no “keep warm” facility, which means that they redirect some of the heat from the motor towards the water tank to try to maintain the heat of the water (although you have to put hot water in, as very few machines actually heat the water themselves), no additional tools and tanks for cleaning up solid mess before attacking the stain, and manual rather than mechanical scrubbing (and sometimes even manual rather than mechanical spraying too.)

That said, if you research, you can get a very good carpet cleaner for under $200. Just try to buy one from a reputable brand and retailer, ideally with a warranty.

FAQs

Q: How often should carpet be cleaned?

Obviously, it makes sense to spot treat when there’s an accident, but in an ideal world, your carpets should be cleaned annually, just to freshen them up and undo the damage that 12 months of daily wear and tear inflicts. If you smoke in your home or have a lot of pets, you might want to consider doing it every quarter or twice a year.

Q: Is it better to shampoo or steam clean carpets?

Shampooing your carpet used to mean a lot of foam and a lot of damp carpet, while steaming was seen as preferable as it didn’t leave fibers quite so sodden. But the best carpet cleaning machines now don’t churn out a lot of foam and have powerful suction to remove as much water as possible. So you can either use a good carpet cleaning machine or a modern steaming machine, like the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner.

Q: What is the best way to get stains out of carpet?

How to get stains out of carpets, you ask? The best way to get stains out of a carpet is to tackle them when they’re fresh. Use a clean cloth to absorb as much of the liquid as possible, and then think about using a special stain remover to tackle the problem. You want to minimize scrubbing as much as possible as you run the risk of damaging the fibers, so even if you remove the stain, the carpet may look roughed up. That’s why a machine designed to remove stains is such a good idea. The best carpet cleaners will minimize abrasion while lifting the stain from the fibers.

Final thoughts on the best carpet cleaner machines

Hopefully, working your way through these questions has helped you answer that one big question: “What’s the best carpet cleaner for my home?” Whether you’re buying a commercial carpet cleaner that can effortlessly keep acres of carpet stain-free and showroom-fresh, or you simply want a cordless carpet cleaner to spot-clean the upholstery in your car, there are pros and cons to them all. This isn’t new technology—but it’s definitely technology that has been refined in recent years, so it’s still possible to get a cheap carpet cleaner that holds its own against more expensive gadgets.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.