Reviews

Bissell Little Green Review: Can This Portable Carpet Cleaner Really Handle Anything?

Some spills call for more than a rag and some blotting. See how the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner performed on set-in stains in my car, on my couch, and more.
Michelle Larson Avatar
Bissell Little Green sitting on carpeted stairs
Photo: Michelle Larson for Bob Vila

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Our house has wood floors in the main living areas and kitchen, but there’s carpet everywhere else. As outdoor lovers with pets, a child, and virtually no entryway for wet paws and muddy shoes, we make a bit of a mess. Enter the Bissell Little Green, a portable carpet cleaner designed to suck up spills and scrub away stains before they set in.

But what about those stains that have become part of your home—the grubby arm of the couch, a mystery spot on the stairs, or the latest place your pup decided to gnaw on a treat? I put the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner to the test on the toughest stains in our house (and garage), as well as on a few surprise areas that popped up during testing. After several hours of tests on just as many surfaces, I know what the Little Green can handle and what is just beyond its reach. See what I liked, what I wish was different, and if I’ll keep using the Bissell Little Green.

Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner: At a Glance

Bissell Little Green accessories, cleaner, and box
Photo: Michelle Larson for Bob Vila

Rating: 8/10

PROS

  • Easy and intuitive to use with a lightweight, go-anywhere design
  • Spray and suction are strong enough to clean substantial spills quickly
  • Large tank capacity plus long cord and hose help tackle multiple messes in 1 session

CONS

  • Some stains will just be too much for anything other than a heavy-duty machine
  • Spray mechanism is a bit wide for some projects, sending a mist of cleaning solution to unwanted areas
  • At about 76 decibels, operation is on the loud side, drowning out conversation

Get the Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner at:

What is the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner?

The Little Green is a carpet cleaner designed to be highly portable without sacrificing capacity or suction. The small machine uses a cleaning solution and the power of suction to loosen and remove dirt and suck up spills, including fresh messes or set-in stains. The Little Green is similar to a wet vac, but in addition to sucking up liquid, it also sprays it on.

Able to be used on upholstery and automobile interiors in addition to carpets and area rugs, the Little Green can clean virtually any soft fabric surface. It comes with a 3-inch tough-stain tool that has a set of scrubbers for spots, a trial-size stain-removing formula scented with Febreze that freshens as it cleans, a HydroRinse head to clean the machine’s hose, two water reservoirs (one clean, one dirty), and onboard cord and hose storage.

The Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner is small enough to store in a closet and is affordable at under $150 at most retailers. As a family-owned business, Bissell has been making cleaning products for almost 150 years. The company cares about its local community in Grand Rapids, Michigan; donates a part of every purchase to its pet foundation; and has sustainable development goals in line with those of the United Nations.

Bissell Little Green water tank with dirty water
Photo: Michelle Larson for Bob Vila

How easy is it to set up the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner?

The Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner took me less than 5 minutes to assemble. My setup time included going to the garage for the necessary Phillips-head screwdriver, installing the machine’s hose clip and storage bracket, and filling the tank with warm water plus the included cleaning solution.

Noting that the instruction manual suggested warm water under 140 degrees Fahrenheit, I even fished out my food thermometer and waited for the water to reach 125 degrees. While waiting, I filled the clean-water tank to the marked “formula” line (about 4 ounces) with the cleaning solution and added water to its marked line. I screwed on the water tank’s cap, clicked on the 3-inch tough-stain tool, and the Little Green was ready to use.

The last part of setup was taking the Little Green out to my first project in the garage—a stain on the ceiling of our Subaru I’d noticed just the day before. Before we got a hitch rack, we’d sometimes stow a bike in the back of our Outback. If you’ve done this, you know it isn’t easy, and you probably have a few chain-oil marks in your car that could use removing as well.

A great feature of this carpet cleaner is that its cord is substantially long at 15 feet, but unfortunately, I instantly found a project the cord couldn’t reach. The Bissell has a 3-amp motor, so I plugged it into a regular-duty extension cord, took it to the back of the car, and got into position.

Is the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner easy to use?

Because my first test was tackling the stain on the interior of our car’s roof, I turned the Bissell on and pressed down the trigger at the end of the hose while I reclined underneath. Gravity caused water to mist onto my face as I sprayed, but the Little Green had no issue spraying upside down.

As instructed, I let the solution soak into the car’s upholstery for 3 minutes, scrubbed it, then pulled and pushed the suction tool against the fabric to remove the excess liquid. Chain oil isn’t easy to clean, especially once it’s had months to get comfortable in its position. To my surprise, I was able to significantly lighten the set-in stain, lessening the dark black streaks by about 50 percent, though I could not remove the stain completely.

I found the spray function on the Little Green not only effective but also comfortable to use. As with many carpet cleaners, the trigger is located on the hose beneath where the tool head attaches. This location makes the button easy and intuitive to press—just watch that you don’t accidentally press it when you’re trying to use suction only. I did this a couple of times while getting used to the machine and again when I was really putting my weight into pressing the suction against the upholstery.

Another user-friendly feature of the Bissell Little Green is that it comes with a HydroRinse self-cleaning hose tool. Instead of allowing dirt and gunk to hang out in the machine’s hose post-use, you simply click this little head onto the hose, pull the trigger, and hold it upright while it washes out the hose. Pro tip: Do this part over the sink, as the small holes at the end of the HydroRinse tool let a few drips of water come out. These holes are necessary for air intake, and with the machine’s long hose, it’s easy to do this over the sink.

I did struggle to remove my HydroRinse tool once I was done using it, however. There’s a button near the end of the hose that, when pressed, should release whichever head is attached. I pushed it over and over, even using the end of a pen to make sure I was getting it all the way down, and nothing happened. The button was down, but the tool was stuck, and I had to work a flat-head screwdriver around the hose head to separate the two pieces.

One thing that’s different about cleaning the Little Green versus some of Bissell’s other models is that the clear front cover of the scrubbing tool isn’t removable. Some scrubbers have a button that pops the cover off for easy cleaning, but that’s not the case on the Little Green. I didn’t want to store it with dog hair and dirt still in it, so I put the sprayer nozzle of our kitchen faucet inside the tool and blasted that gunk out. While I prefer being able to remove that part for cleaning, this method definitely works.

As for the onboard hose holder, when the hose and tool head are properly stored, the trigger of the Little Green is pressed down. This is not an issue when the machine is unplugged for storage, but make sure you remove the hose from storage before turning on the machine lest you get a face full of cleaning solution.

Bissell Little Green in the back of an SUV
Photo: Michelle Larson for Bob Vila

Is the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner effective at cleaning up spills and removing stains?

Overall, the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner does exactly what it’s intended to do. Based on my tests, it’s particularly good at dirt stains as well as virtually any fresh stain. It may struggle to fully remove set-in stains that are oil- or acid-based, but honestly, those are pretty big asks for anything other than a heavy-duty machine.

Our daughter gets the occasional bloody nose, and while hydrogen peroxide is an effective DIY option for removing blood stains, getting the mix of liquids drawn up out of the carpet is a challenge. An aptly timed bloody nose gave me the chance to try a new method.

In mere minutes, I was able to spray the carpet’s stain and suck up the mess. I still had plenty of cleaning solution in the large 48-ounce tank, and I watched as the liquids were sucked up through the translucent face of the stain tool and shot into the machine’s separate dirty-water tank. The carpet was clean, just a little damp to the touch, and it smelled fresh.

Even while rushing into the house when my daughter called me, moving the Little Green from the garage to a bedroom couldn’t have been easier. Despite going through two doors and up a set of stairs, carrying the machine was effortless. It weighs under 10 pounds, and the only nuisance was trying not to trip on the 15-foot cord and 4-foot hose, which I didn’t bother to wind up before hurrying into the house. Normally, however, this wouldn’t be an issue, as the Bissell features onboard cord and hose storage that keeps every piece of the machine in place.

Just after I’d finished cleaning that mess, our cat gifted me with her partially digested breakfast next to my office chair. I grabbed most of it with a paper towel, then used the Little Green on the liquid and yellowy stain. The carpet was good as new!

Can the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner remove old, set-in stains? 

I have to admit that I had some insurmountable challenges for the Little Green, testing it on set-in chain oil, a grubby couch arm, and mystery stains on our carpeted stairs. The results of these tests were mixed. In each instance, the stains were absolutely lighter, but the only ones that I could entirely remove were those on the stairs.

Like the chain-oil stain in my car, the couch-arm stain looks better—the couch certainly doesn’t look brand new, but the Little Green lifted a good bit of the stain without damaging the upholstery fibers or the couch’s color. I did two passes on the arm, learning a trick between my first and second attempts. When pressed down, the trigger sprays cleaning solution in a fan shape about 5 inches wide. This was too wide for the arm of the couch, and cleaning solution got on the wood floor next to the couch as well as on the neighboring couch cushion. On my second pass, I put the wand a little closer to the stain to narrow the spray and held my hand next to the tool head to block the mist from our floors.

The Little Green carpet cleaner’s 3-amp motor is pretty typical for a portable carpet cleaner. I found that power sufficient for sucking up liquid, dirt, and debris, but I’m curious whether another stain-removing solution would perform better on my problem spots. The Little Green comes with a trial-size bottle of its Spot & Stain with Febreze Freshness formula, but Bissell also makes quite a few other cleaning solutions, including some specifically for set-in stains.

Also, regarding the portable carpet cleaner’s power, you’ll notice that the suction is enough to remove most of the water and cleaning solution you spray, but it will not remove it all. Each surface I cleaned was left just a little damp to the touch, but they all dried quickly. When testing the Little Green on our living room rug, which has only a very thin rug pad between it and our wood floors, I was pleased to find there was no moisture on our floors despite my dispensing a fair amount of cleaning solution onto the rug. And though I put a fair amount of effort into scrubbing, the tough-stain tool didn’t cause any damage to the rug’s fibers when pulling out the rug’s coffee stain.

Bissell Little Green accessories, cleaner, and box
Photo: Michelle Larson for Bob Vila

Is the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner worth the money?

With most retailers charging under $150, the Little Green is an excellent value. It will undoubtedly save money in the long run by extending the life of a home’s rugs, carpet, and upholstery. If you’re like me, living in a clean space and driving a clean car also improves quality of life—preventing and removing stains gives my brain one less thing to fixate on and worry about.

The Little Green has no maintenance costs, but its use does require a carpet cleaning solution of some sort. As mentioned, Bissell makes a whole line of cleaners for use in its machines, and I’m eager to try some stronger options on my more stubborn stains. I’ll also be trying this DIY recipe, cut down by two-thirds to match the Little Green’s size, in my portable carpet cleaner.

Once you see what you can pull out of the surfaces you clean, the Little Green will become part of your trusted cleaning arsenal. I was so shocked by the opacity of the dirty water in the tank after my tests that I took the tank to the toilet for dumping; after you see the filth pulled out of some of the home’s surfaces, you’ll agree that there’s only one place it belongs.

Should you buy the Bissell Little Green carpet cleaner?

If you have kids, pets, or like to entertain, a machine like the Little Green carpet cleaner is absolutely worth it. Having owned another Bissell carpet cleaner in the past, I can’t say that this model is significantly better. But between that experience and this, I can’t imagine not having some type of portable carpet cleaner. Bissell’s commitment to cleaning, alongside its commitments to sustainability and national pet care, make its products hard to beat.

Our previous carpet cleaner was Bissell’s SpotClean ProHeat Pet, a model Bissell no longer makes. It may be odd to say a carpet cleaner has a place in your heart, but when our previous dog was dying of cancer and repeatedly getting sick on our carpet, that machine made a big difference in having her at home during her last few weeks.

Bissell has an entire line of portable carpet cleaners, so you can find the one that’s best for you. There are options in different sizes, those that come with additional attachments, and even ones that maintain the water at a specific temperature. Each is highly rated, so you’ll likely be happy with any model you choose.

I’ll definitely be using the Little Green on a regular basis. I have more spots to tackle and am eager to try Bissell’s other cleaning solutions. The machine is super portable, convenient to use and store, and it does a great job of pulling messes out of soft fabrics before stains can set in. For day-to-day upkeep and general spills and spots, the Little Green makes cleanup less of a mess.

Where to Buy the Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner

Get the Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner at:

Meet the Tester

Michelle Larson is an assistant editor at BobVila.com, where she spends her days providing structure for product reviews and asking questions about commas. She’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years in the fields of health, business, and the home. Because she’d rather spend a little more up front than buy a tool or appliance twice, she strongly believes in the power of research and reviews for finding quality items that are meant to last.

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Michelle Larson Avatar

Michelle Larson

Assistant Editor

Michelle is a lifelong learner who lives and plays in the mountains of Park City, Utah, with her husband, daughter, and pets. She came to the Commerce team at BobVila.com in February 2022 with more than 5 years’ experience as a business owner, writer, and program manager.

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