Top Lab Pick
Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner
This full-size machine deep cleans and works on stairs, upholstery, and can even tackle pet hair.
- Includes an attachment for tough stains
- Express mode has carpets dry in about an hour
- Brush roll cover is removable for easy cleaning
- Tools don't store on-board
Best to Rent
Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Deep Carpet Cleaner
For $30 per day, this option is best if you don’t want to own or don’t have adequate storage space.
- Large capacity tank requires less fills
- Has a 12-foot hose for long reach
- Handle folds down
- Heavy and difficult to maneuver for some
Best for Beginners
Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner
This budget-friendly model offers convenient features to get the job done without extra hassle.
- No measuring needed
- One-step removable nozzle to clean brushes
- Includes bag for attachments
- Can be awkward to carry
Best for Area Rugs
Bissell CrossWave Floor and Carpet Cleaner
Best for low, flat rugs, this lightweight Seal holder vacuums dry dirt and works on bare floors.
- Is a wet-dry vacuum
- Works on rugs and bare floors
- Comes with a tray for no-drip storage
- Not for use on silk or other delicate rugs
Best for Stubborn Stains
Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless Portable Carpet Cleaner
This Seal holder works indoors but is also easy to use on car seats and anything else on-the-go.
- Can remove older stains
- Acts as a wet and dry vacuum
- Easy to store
- Takes a little practice to aim the spray
If your home has lots of wall-to-wall carpeting that gets lots of traffic and stains, you're gonna want a carpet cleaner. Owning a machine is less costly over time compared to renting or hiring a professional to come by. Plus, you’ll have the machine on-hand to tackle stains the minute they happen. The good news: Most come with attachments to clean small areas and small bottles of detergents to get you started. You're going to want to professionally deep clean your carpets every 12-18 months, according to most carpet manufacturers (and some even require it to uphold the carpet’s warranty!) Rolling up your sleeves and doing so will give your carpets new life and give you the satisfaction of a super clean home.
Our Cleaning Lab’s top pick is the . It can clean everything from light to heavy soil and the double brush rolls help draw even the deepest dirt out of carpets. If you need to clean in a hurry, fear not: The Express Clean Mode had our test carpets clean and dry in only about one hour, one of the reasons it earned our GolfHr Seal. And because the clean and dirty water tanks are stacked (rather than side-by-side or front-to-back), the appliance has a slim design and low profile that’s easy to maneuver under furniture and to store. We’re all about less bulk!
A few things to keep in your back pocket as you consider this and other models:
Before You Buy a Carpet-Cleaning Machine
- Consider the machine's weight. Carpet cleaners are much heavier to push and more cumbersome to use than traditional vacuum cleaners. And once you add water, they weigh even more.
- Look for special features, like edge cleaning, rotating brushes, a heater, and attachments. Depending on your needs, they may be worth the money.
- Read over the machine's warranty (many manufacturers post this information on their websites). While you're at it, check your carpet's warranty to make sure you're not using a product that will void it.
Before You Rent a Carpet-Cleaning Machine
- Remember to factor in the cost of the cleaning solution. It doesn't come with the machine rental, and you'll have to purchase it separately.
- The machine is probably not brand-new and may not be in the best condition.
- Think about convenience: You'll need to lug the rental home and return it to the store when you're done.
How to Get the Most Out of a Carpet-Cleaning Machine
- Before deep-cleaning your carpets, vacuum the area thoroughly to pick up any loose dirt. When cleaning the entire floor, move furniture out of the way.
- For pieces that are too heavy to move, place aluminum foil or wax paper under the legs. This prevents wood finishes from staining the carpet as it dries.
- Begin cleaning at the farthest point from the doorway and work back toward it so you can step out when you're done.
- Never close up a room with a wet, newly cleaned carpet; it slows down drying time and can promote mold growth. Instead, keep the air circulating by opening the doors and windows.
- Once the carpet is dry, vacuum once more to pick up any remaining soil.
The Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab evaluates carpet cleaning machines for how well they clean pre-soiled carpet panels, how much moisture they put down (or how long the carpets take to dry), and how easy they are to assemble, use, and store. We’ll test any attachments on upholstered furniture. Stains are applied to carpet swatches for any machines that claim to remove them. Because we know that not all households have the same carpet cleaning needs, you’ll read more on our Bissell full-size pick below, along with other recommendations from our cleaning experts for those with pets, area rugs, or limited storage space.
TOP LAB PICK:
BISSELL PROHEAT 2X REVOLUTION PET PRO CARPET CLEANER
This cleaner is your carpet’s new best friend. One of this Bissell’s innovative features is a targeted spray nozzle for stains. It works with just the press of a pedal and without having to stop, bend down, and use a separate product. The 2-in-1 Pet Upholstery Tool works dry to pull out stubborn pet hair and wet to zap stains on furniture fabrics and mattresses. Carpet machines of the past have been bulky, but this one is lightweight and gets a high-five from the GH Cleaning Lab for its brush roll cover that removes for cleaning.
Weight: ~19 lbs.
BEST TO RENT:
RUG DOCTOR MIGHT PRO X3
If you're really serious about carpet cleaning, the Rug Doctor is the next best thing to a professional. If you purchase it, you get a hose and attachments for cleaning stairs and upholstery along with cleaning formulas. When you rent, everything is purchased separately. The Rug Doctor has earned the highest rating from the Carpet & Rug Institute — the trade organization of the carpet industry — for soil removal, water removal, and gentleness. Note it only works on the backward stroke.
Weight: ~39 lbs.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS:
HOOVER SMARTWASH AUTOMATIC CARPET CLEANER
The Hoover Smart Wash is a convenient full-sized carpet cleaning machine. To use, push the cleaner forward and it washes the carpet with a premixed combo of water and cleaning formula. Pull the appliance back and it removes the moisture to dry the carpet. By automatically dispensing the correct combination of solution and water, it’s one less thing you have to. If you’re worried your carpet is too wet, select the “dry only” setting and give it a few more passes. It also comes with a hose and attachments.
Weight: ~19 lbs.
BEST FOR AREA RUGS:
BISSELL CROSSWAVE FLOOR AND CARPET CLEANER
Low pile area rugs are easy to clean because dirt stays mostly on the surface, so you don’t need a stiff brush to get deep down. The Bissell CrossWave gently cleans area rugs with a soft microfiber and nylon brush, so there’s no fear of damaging the short pile or fraying the loops. And we liked that it dispenses just enough water for cleaning, but not so much that it wets the carpet back or the flooring underneath. It’s lightweight and has easy-reach controls so you can go from vacuuming to washing without missing a step. There’s even a spot to stash the wet brush until it’s dry.
Weight: ~11 lbs.
BEST FOR STUBBORN STAINS:
BISSELL PET STAIN ERASER 2003T
The Bissell Pet Stain Eraser is a super easy-to-use (and compact!) carpet stain remover as well as a dry and wet vac. Not only is it cordless, but the battery lasted 18 minutes in our tests. That’s surely enough time to get out those stubborn stains. We applied grape juice and coffee to white carpet and the Eraser removed them easily. It even got rid of stains that had been there for over a month! It is effective at getting rid of icky pet stains like urine, vomit, or feces (yuck!). Attached on board the appliance is the cleaning solution and a brush nozzle to use for extra scrubbing.
Weight: ~4.6 lbs.