Which carpet cleaner is best?

Accidents and stains happen, often right on your new carpet or brilliantly white rug. It’s difficult to remove those stains even if you act within moments, but with a good carpet cleaner, those tough stains get sucked away almost as easily as moving a vacuum over dirt.

Our top choice of carpet cleaner is the Bissell Big Green Professional Grade Carpet Cleaner. An extra-long 25-foot cord lets you reach even the farthest spots and the overall performance is one the best you can find in at-home carpet cleaners.

What to know before you buy a carpet cleaner

How carpet cleaners work

Generally, carpet cleaners work in the same basic fashion: The device has a tank that holds a cleaning solution, which is released into the carpet as you operate the machine.

The cleaner gets scrubbed in using rotating brushes that also serve to shake loose ingrained grime from your carpet. Then, using either a built-in suction device or your regular vacuum, you suck up the solution and offending substance. You pour the dirty tank water down a drain, and your carpet is left fresh and clean.

Benefits of carpet cleaners

Vacuuming only whisks away the surface dirt and debris, not the deeply rooted grime or larger spills that a carpet cleaner can handle. Pet owners, parents and anyone else who may have a lot of mud and stains to keep up with can save time and money by investing in their own cleaner instead of renting one or hiring professionals. 

What to look for in a quality carpet cleaner


Once you add a cleaning solution to your carpet, you need a way to suck it up. You can use a vacuum equipped for both wet and dry cleanup, or you can look for a carpet cleaner with good suction power. 

The higher the suctioning power, the better because it will be able to pull out more dirt and moisture from the cleaner. You don’t want to leave your carpets wet after you use a carpet cleaning solution. Typically, the more a carpet cleaner costs, the better the suction power.


Carpet cleaner brushes help activate the cleaning solution and pull out dirt from the carpet fibers. Brushes are either a built-in feature of the carpet cleaner or fixed onto the bottom of the unit. A fixed brush may be a cheaper option, but a built-in powered brush may yield better results.

Cords and hoses

Cords: The longer the cord on your carpet cleaner, the more access you have to the areas you need to clean. Find a cord that’s at least 15 feet long, although 20-25 feet is even better.

Hoses: Some carpet cleaners also include hoses that allow you to clean things like stairs with greater ease. If a hose is important to you, you’ll want one that’s at least 9 feet long.

Tank size

The size of the tank, or tanks, determines how much cleaning you can actually do in one sitting. The tank designs often achieve different goals. Larger tanks increase the carpet cleaner’s weight.


Some carpet cleaners come with accessories to help you get more out of your cleaner. You might be able to reach tight spaces or pick up certain kinds of messes with these attachments.

How much you can expect to spend on a carpet cleaner

Carpet cleaners come in a range of price points, but several are around $200. Carpet cleaners that cost more likely have bigger tanks, more features and extra cleaning power.

Carpet cleaner FAQ

Is there a carpet cleaner for especially heavy stains?

A. Yes, a carpet cleaner that features rotating brushes is your best option for those truly awful stains. The rotating brushes scrub the carpet fibers vigorously, which loosens the offending materials so they can be sucked away.

How long will it take for my carpet to dry after using a carpet cleaner?

A. That depends on the style and material of the carpet, in addition to how wet it became during cleaning. For a general idea though, you should budget up to six hours for your carpet to become dry enough to use again.

What’s the best carpet cleaner to buy?

Top carpet cleaner

Bissell Big Green Professional Grade Carpet Cleaner

Bissell Big Green Professional Grade Carpet Cleaner

What you need to know: The Bissell Big Green has a professional-grade performance, a large tank and a hose for easy cleaning.

What you’ll love: It’s very easy to control and a 25-foot cord makes it especially great for cleaning carpeted stairs.

What you should consider: The machine is heavy and costs more than other options.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top carpet cleaner for the money

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

What you need to know: This affordable carpet cleaner is exceptionally lightweight for easy cleaning around your home.

What you’ll love: A 20-foot cord makes reaching all of your carpets easy. A hot-air blower decreases drying time.

What you should consider: Some user reviews mention leaks and breaks.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Commercial Carpet Cleaner 

Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Commercial Carpet Cleaner 

What you need to know: One pass of this impressive carpet cleaning system does the job.

What you’ll love: The Rug Doctor features two large tanks, which makes it easy to keep cleaning all around the house.

What you should consider: This carpet cleaner can become very heavy, especially when filled with water.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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