Vacuums work well for removing dust and debris from rugs and carpets, but won’t be any help with spills or stains. Carpet cleaners, on the other hand, are designed to remove stains with hot water, cleaning solution, and suction power. While upright carpet cleaners are best suited for deep cleaning an entire carpet or area rug, smaller, portable carpet cleaners are excellent solutions for spot cleaning and stain removal.
Using a portable carpet cleaner is simple: First, fill the tank with hot tap water and cleaning solution. Then, spray the mixture onto the affected area and scrub 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.
Read on to learn more about how to choose the best portable carpet cleaner for your home.
- BEST OVERALL: Bissell 3624 Spot Clean Professional Portable Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bissell Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
- BEST FOR SPOTS: Bissell SpotBot Pet Handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner
- BEST STEAM: COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner
- BEST HANDHELD: BISSELL 20037 Pet Stain Eraser
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 you should 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.
Portable carpet cleaners typically have a tank capacity between 3/4 gallons and 1 gallon, or 96 to 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 you to clean more before stopping to refill it. Designed to spot clean small areas, portable carpet cleaners’ water reservoir capacity probably isn’t a make-or-break characteristic since it’s not likely you’ll go through a full tank of water in one cleaning session.
A portable carpet cleaner should be easy to move around your home, so it’s important to purchase a lightweight 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 should also be compact enough to stow away easily in a closet.
Cord lengths for portable carpet cleaners typically range from 14 to 20 feet. Generally speaking, the longer the cord is the better, because a longer cord will allow you to easily maneuver the cleaner without having to search for a new wall outlet. A cord length of 15 feet or longer is ideal. For cleaning hard-to-reach areas and the interiors of cars, a handheld, cordless model is 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 run at only 4 or 5 amps.
Suction power is an important consideration because you want your portable carpet cleaner to leave as little water on your carpet as possible. Not only is it inconvenient for your carpet or rug to take a long time to dry, but it can also result in the development of mildew.
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 you may want to research which carpet cleaner manufacturers sell hoses as spare parts so you can easily replace yours if it fails.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about portable carpet cleaners, it’s time to start shopping. These recommendations are based on such factors as durability, tank capacity, weight, cord length, and suction power.
Bissel is the top name in carpet cleaners, and this is the most powerful of their portable models designed for home use. It’s designed for use on carpets, stairs, upholstery, and auto interiors.
The Spot Clean Pro comes with two handy tools, a 6-inch stair tool and 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.
The Bissell Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is a versatile machine, offered at a lower cost compared to other devices. It can be used to clean carpets, upholstery, stairs, area rugs, and auto interiors. It has powerful suction capabilities, easily removing stains from the soft surfaces in your home.
Bissel’s portable carpet cleaner has a lot going for it: It has removable water tanks that are easy to fill and clean, each of which has a capacity of 48 ounces. It comes with a hydro rinse tool attachment which allows you to clean out the hose after use. It includes a 3-inch tough stain tool as well as a sample-size bottle of the brand’s cleaning solution. It has a 15-foot cord and it’s pretty lightweight, too, weighing just 9.6 pounds.
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 you don’t have to put in the same amount of elbow grease that you would 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 you can clean a spot manually if you choose.
SpotBot Pet comes with a trial-size Pet Stain & Odor and Pet Oxy Boost Formula and weighs 14 pounds.
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. While standard carpet cleaners do a great job of lifting stains, 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.
Bissell’s lithium-powered, cordless carpet cleaner is lightweight and convenient for areas that don’t have access to an electrical outlet. It weighs just 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.
FAQs About Portable Carpet Cleaners
Here 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.