The Best Portable Carpet Cleaners of 2022

Get rid of stains on rugs, carpets, and upholstery quickly and easily with a high-quality portable carpet cleaner.

By Savannah Sher and Debbie Wolfe | Updated Mar 30, 2022 8:49 AM

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The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

Vacuums may work well for removing dust and debris from rugs and carpets, but they won’t be any help with spills or stains. Carpet cleaners, on the other hand, are designed to remove stains with hot water, a cleaning solution, and suction power. While upright carpet cleaners are best suited for deep cleaning an entire carpet or area rug, smaller and more portable carpet cleaners are excellent solutions for spot cleaning and stain removal.

There may be many kinds on the market, but the best portable carpet cleaners tend to be easy to use. It’s typically as easy as filling the tank with hot tap water and cleaning solution, then spraying the mixture onto the affected area and scrubbing to lift the stain. The suction vacuum is then used to draw in the dirt and liquid to deposit it into a separate “dirty” tank. Most models are designed to work on both carpets and upholstered furniture.

We tested the top portable cleaners to find out which is best for specific types of situations. Read on to learn more about how to choose the best portable carpet cleaner for your home.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Bissell Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hoover PowerDash GO Pet+ Portable Spot Cleaner
  3. BEST FOR STAIRS: Hoover Onepwr Spotless Go Cordless Carpet Cleaner
  4. BEST PROFESSIONAL: Bissell 3194 SpotClean Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner
  5. BEST FOR SPOTS: Bissell SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner
  6. BEST STEAM: COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner
  7. BEST HANDHELD: BISSELL 20037 Pet Stain Eraser
  8. BEST FOR TOUGH STAINS: Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner

ALSO TESTED:

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

What to Consider When Buying the Best Portable Carpet Cleaner

Before you choose the best portable carpet cleaner for your needs, there are a few factors to think about. Though you might assume that all carpet cleaners work the same way, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Here are some of the most important design features to consider when shopping for the best portable carpet cleaner.

Tank Capacity 

Portable carpet cleaners typically have a tank capacity between ¾ gallon and 1 gallon, or 96 ounces and 128 ounces. Some models have just one tank, while others have two tanks: one for water and one for a cleaning solution. A higher-capacity tank allows a user to clean more before stopping to refill it.

Designed to spot clean small areas, a portable carpet cleaner’s water reservoir capacity probably isn’t a make-or-break characteristic since it’s not likely many home users will go through a full tank of water in one cleaning session.

Weight 

A portable carpet cleaner should be easy to move around a home, so it’s important to consider the weight of the model. The more powerful a portable carpet cleaner is, though, the heavier it tends to be.

Most models on the market weigh less than 14 pounds. That’s the weight of the machine itself and does not include the additional weight of a full tank of water and cleaning solution.

They are not everyday appliances, so portable carpet cleaners usually need to be compact enough to stow away easily in a closet.

Cord Length 

Cord lengths for portable carpet cleaners typically range from 14 to 20 feet. Generally speaking, a longer cord is better because a longer cord will allow a user to easily maneuver the cleaner without having to search for a new wall outlet.

A cord length of 15 feet or longer is usually ideal. For cleaning hard-to-reach areas and the interiors of cars, a handheld cordless model can be the most convenient option.

Power and Suction

The power rating of a portable carpet cleaner is typically measured in amps. Given that these devices are meant to be lightweight and easy to use, their motors are small, usually between 3 and 10 amps. While one may think that a higher power rating means superior performance, some of the top models on the market are only 4 or 5 amps.

Suction power is an important consideration because a portable carpet cleaner needs to leave as little water on a carpet as possible. Not only is it inconvenient when the carpet or rug takes a long time to dry, but long dry times can also result in the development of mildew.

Durability 

Portable carpet cleaners are designed to be durable, and because they’re used relatively infrequently, they should easily last for several years. One element that does tend to require replacement is the hose.

Portable carpet cleaners’ hoses occasionally break and leak, so it’s helpful to research which carpet cleaner manufacturers sell hoses as spare parts. Then, it can easily be replaced if it fails.

Our Top Picks

We’ve put some of the top portable carpet cleaners for spot cleaning through their paces with hands-on testing in real-world applications. The following picks are organized by their performance and are based on such factors as durability, tank capacity, weight, cord length, and suction power.

Best Overall

Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Options: Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet
Photo: amazon.com

The Bissell Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is a versatile machine. It can be used to clean carpets, upholstery, stairs, area rugs, and auto interiors. It has powerful suction capabilities, efficiently removing stains from the soft surfaces in a home. Bissell’s portable carpet cleaner has removable water tanks that are easy to fill and clean, each of which has a capacity of 48 ounces. It includes a 3-inch tough-stain tool, a hydro rinse tool attachment, and a sample-size bottle of the brand’s cleaning solution.

Bissell is one of the top carpet cleaning brands specializing in pet stain removal. The Little Green is a popular portable carpet cleaner for pet owners due to its cleaning power and ease of use. We liked that the machine has a generous-sized clean and wastewater tank. It’s lightweight, and its 15-foot cord makes it easy to move around. We especially like the HydroRinse self-cleaning tool attachment that allows users to clean the hose without spilling water everywhere. The Little Green is easy to use and clean, making it the top choice for portable carpet cleaning.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 48 ounces
  • Weight: 9.65 pounds
  • Cord length: 15 feet

Pros

  • Generous clean-water and dirty-water tanks
  • Powerful suction
  • HydroRinse self-cleaning tool for cleaning hose

Cons

  • Tanks slightly leak over the edges of the container if not upright

Get the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best Bang for the Buck

Photo: amazon.com

With its 14-foot power cord and 4-foot hose, the Hoover PowerDash GO Pet+ Portable Spot Cleaner comes with two interchangeable tools: a Spot and Stain Pet Tool that scrubs and lifts away messes and the Rubber Nubs Tool to clean the carpet without worrying about pet hair clogs. It also features dual tanks to keep clean solution and dirty water separate and a sample-size Hoover Paws & Claws premixed spot-cleaning solution.

Weighing in at 6.5 pounds, it is a corded version of the same compactly designed Hoover Onepwr Spotless Go Cordless Carpet Cleaner with just a few more add-on features.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 8 ounces
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Cord length: 14 feet

Pros

  • Dual tank system keeps dirty and clean water separate
  • No mixing solutions
  • Lightweight and compact

Cons

  • Small solution tank

Get the Hoover PowerDash GO carpet cleaner on Amazon, at The Home Depot, or at Walmart.

Best for Stairs

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Option: Hoover Onepwr Spotless Go Cordless Carpet Cleaner
Photo: homedepot.com

Cleaning carpeted stairs is a challenge, but the Hoover Onepwr Spotless Go Cordless Carpet Cleaner makes it possible without the worry of tripping over a cord. This machine weighs in at 6.5 pounds and features a compact design with a 24-inch hose. It features dual tanks to keep clean solution and dirty water separate so users can quickly fill, empty, and rinse. The machine also comes with a sample-size Hoover Paws & Claws premixed spot-cleaning solution.

We like how compact and lightweight the Hoover PowerDash is, making it easy to use while cleaning carpeted stairs and the inside of vehicles. Overall, it performed very well on tough stains, and the cordless design makes it easier to get to a hard-to-reach area without needing to be near an electrical outlet. However, the solution tank is small—8 ounces. That means users need to keep refilling the solution tank or just clean very small areas.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 8 ounces
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Cord length: Cordless

Pros

  • Dual tank system keeps dirty and clean water separate
  • No mixing solutions
  • Lightweight and compact

Cons

  • Small solution tank
  • Only 13-minute runtime

Get the Hoover Onepwr carpet cleaner at The Home Depot or Target,

Best Professional

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Option: Bissell 3194 SpotClean Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Bissell is a well-known brand in the carpet cleaning industry, and this is among the most powerful of their portable models designed for home use. It’s designed for use on carpets, stairs, upholstery, and auto interiors. The SpotClean Pro comes with two handy tools, a 6-inch stair tool and a 3-inch tough stain tool, as well as a sample bottle of the brand’s Pro Max Clean + Protect Formula. It has a 96-ounce tank capacity and a handy 20-foot cord. It weighs 13 pounds.

We were highly impressed with the Bissell Spot Professional machine’s cleaning power. It has a powerful 5.7-amp motor that delivers incredible suction power. It’s easy to disassemble and clean, and we especially loved the extra-long hose and power cord that made maneuvering the machine a breeze. The carry handles on the tanks were a nice bonus, too. It’s a heavy machine and one of the most expensive machines on our list. However, for those who live in a multiple-pet household or have young children, this machine can help battle those frequent stains on carpets.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 96 ounces
  • Weight: 13.25 pounds
  • Cord length: 20 feet

Pros

  • Extra-long hose and power cord
  • Generous water/solution and waste-water tank
  • Tanks have carry handles

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Get the Bissell SpotClean carpet cleaner on Amazon.

Best For Spots

Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Options: SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

This carpet cleaner from Bissell is designed to remove tough pet stains and uses DeepReach technology that penetrates even high-pile rugs and carpets. What sets this device apart is that it offers automatic scrubbing, meaning users don’t have to put in the same amount of elbow grease that is needed with a standard carpet cleaner. It has preset cleaning cycles that automatically spray, scrub, and suction for an entirely hands-free experience. It also has a 15-foot hose and cleaning tool attachment so it’s possible to clean a spot manually. SpotBot Pet weighs 14 pounds and comes with a trial-size Pet Stain & Odor and Pet Oxy Boost Formula.

The Bissell SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner effectively removed set-in stains in testing. Getting it ready was extremely easy, and the two programmed buttons make the decision-making simple. After use, we did notice that the cleaned area seemed to have a fair amount of water left in the carpet. We used the hose attachment to remove the excess water. The water wasn’t a deal breaker, just an extra step that seems a tad inconvenient.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 32 ounces
  • Weight: 14 pounds
  • Cord length: 16 feet

Pros

  • On-board hose and tool for hard-to-reach areas
  • Really removes set-in stains
  • Easy to use preprogrammed cleaning settings

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Need to use hose attachment to suck up excess water

Get the Bissell SpotBot carpet cleaner on Amazon, at Walmart, or at Kohl’s.

Best Steam

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Option: COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

While most carpet cleaners on the market are extraction-style cleaners that use hot tap water, some people prefer the performance of a steam cleaner. Standard carpet cleaners do a great job of lifting stains; however, they are not able to disinfect. Steam cleaners, however, eliminate most bacteria, viruses, and pathogens along with bedbugs and mold. Another key benefit of a steam cleaner is that it can be used on both hard and soft surfaces.

The COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner can clean tile, glass, and metal surfaces as well as carpets. It takes between 8 and 9 minutes for the water to heat up to the maximum temperature of 226 degrees. Once the water is hot, the machine will operate for up to 45 minutes. This portable carpet cleaner has a 16-foot power cord, a 51-ounce tank, and comes with 19 handy accessories for cleaning different types of surfaces. The total weight of the steam cleaner is 16.42 pounds.

While it’s not designed to remove stains from the carpet, the cleaner’s high-steam temperature and pressure up to four bars allowed it to efficiently remove dirt and disinfect various surfaces. In testing, the cleaner did not remove stains but otherwise performed well as a steam cleaner. This cleaner is a good follow-up to disinfect any soft or hard surfaces without chemicals.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 51 ounces
  • Weight: 16.42 pounds
  • Cord length: 16 feet

Pros

  • Compact design rests on smooth-rolling wheels for mobility
  • Features a lot of attachments for various cleaning needs
  • Produces superheated, low-moisture steam

Cons

  • No visual indication of water tank level
  • Mop head doesn’t swivel

Get the COSTWAY steam cleaner on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Handheld

Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Options: BISSELL, 20037 Pet Stain Eraser
Photo: amazon.com

Bissell’s lithium-ion-powered, cordless carpet cleaner is lightweight and convenient for areas that don’t have access to an electrical outlet. It weighs 4.6 pounds and uses a built-in brush and suction tool to remove stains. This portable carpet cleaner has a clean water tank that houses the cleaning formula, which doesn’t need to be mixed with water, and a dirty water tank. This appliance can remove red wine, coffee, food grease, motor oil, and more from carpets, upholstery, and auto interiors. The suction nozzle is removable for easy cleaning. The Pet Stain Eraser comes packaged with a bottle of the brand’s Professional Spot & Stain + Oxy cleaning formula.

We found that the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser performed very well during hands-on testing. It suctioned up moisture effectively and removed most stains. The only con we had with the machine was its low-capacity solution container. It’s designed truly to be a small-area cleaner and will work well in vehicles or other hard-to-reach areas that do not have access to a power outlet. It’s worth getting as a backup cleaner.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 8 ounces
  • Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Cord length: Cordless

Pros

  • Extremely easy to clean
  • Powerful suction leaves little moisture behind
  • Fast recharge

Cons

  • Low-capacity cleaning solution container

Get the BISSELL Pet Stain carpet cleaner on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best for Tough Stains

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Option: Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

The Rug Doctor was designed to tackle the toughest stains, especially pet stains. Featuring a Dual-Action Pet Tool with rubberized bristles, the machine easily tackles loose pet hair and picks up pet hair from carpets, area rugs, stairs, furniture, upholstery, pet beds, mattresses, and more while removing pet stains and odors. It has a generous 64-ounce tank, which means less refilling through big or multiple jobs. The Rug Doctor also has twice the suction power of other comparable portable spot cleaners.

The Rug Doctor outperformed most of the other cleaners on suction and removing tough stains during tests. It’s a heavy machine and front heavy, making it awkward to carry around. However, the machine also features wheels and a carrying handle to help make it easy to maneuver and move between areas. It is an expensive machine. However, for those who have multiple pets, this may be an excellent addition to a cleaning arsenal.

Product Specs

  • Tank capacity: 64 ounces
  • Weight: 18.86 pounds
  • Cord length: 15 feet

Pros

  • Retractable handle and wheels
  • Long hose for extra reach
  • Power motor for extra suction power

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Get the Rug Doctor Pet carpet cleaner on Amazon or at Walmart.

Also Tested:

We also tested the Black & Decker Spillbuster Cordless Spill & Spot Cleaner. In testing, we found that it did not meet our standards even though the machine retails for nearly the same cost as our top pick. While the machine does feature a wide nozzle for quick and thorough pickup, we found that the nozzle did not spray in an even stream. Instead it was very patchy, so it was harder to apply the cleaner and did not clean efficiently.

Our Verdict

The Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner is an excellent choice because of its versatility and powerful suction capabilities that allow it to efficiently remove stains from soft surfaces. It worked extremely well on carpets and upholstery, and it is easy to clean and store. However, for those with tighter budgets, consider the Hoover PowerDash GO carpet cleaner for quick spot carpet cleaning at an economical price.

How We Tested the Best Portable Carpet Cleaners

We tested each portable carpet cleaner according to an established rubric that included how well it spot-cleaned stains on carpet and other surfaces, its efficiency in suctioning excess water, and the ease of cleaning the tanks and parts. We rated the sprays on a scale of 0 to 4 to determine their score.

First, we filled each cleaner with its appropriate cleaning solution, following the instructions from the manufacturer. We then used the machine and various attachments, if applicable, on different types of stains, noting how well it removed the stain with each tool and how well it suctioned the excess water. Lastly, we cleaned the components to determine how easy it was to clean, reassemble, and store the carpet cleaners.

FAQs 

There is a lot to consider when shopping for the best carpet cleaners for spot cleaning, so it’s understandable if there are some lingering or specific questions. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about portable carpet cleaners.

Q. Is an upright model better than a portable carpet cleaner?

Upright carpet cleaners and portable carpet cleaners serve different purposes. Upright models are designed to clean entire rugs or carpets, while portable models are designed for spot cleaning.

Q. Should I clean the tank of a portable carpet cleaner?

Ideally, the tanks of a portable carpet cleaner should be emptied and cleaned after each use.

Q. Do professional cleaning companies use portable carpet cleaners?

Some cleaning companies use more powerful steam cleaners to remove carpet stains, while others use portable carpet cleaners.