Last Updated On April 25th, 2019
In the name of research we’ve swallowed hard, rolled up our sleeves and dug into the subject of home carpet cleaners, researching the hundreds of models currently on the market – all in search of the best carpet cleaner.
Of course, determining the top choice isn’t a simple matter, it depends on your particular needs. Some people will use their carpet cleaner regularly, whether it’s because they’re overly neat, they believe in annual or semi-annual deep cleanings, or they simply have to deal with continual messes which rambunctious children and uncontrollable pets (or the other way around) make.
Some people assume that an easy way to choose the top carpet cleaner is by looking for the highest price, but we’ve found that’s a big mistake; some of the most expensive models aren’t worth their inflated cost. After all, a long list of high-tech features doesn’t help if a carpet cleaner can’t efficiently get rid of the mud your son ground into the rug or the “gift” your dog left deep in your carpet fibres, right?
As far as we’re concerned, performance matters more than anything else. This is the primary focus of our carpet cleaner reviews – to help you find the best carpet cleaners for home use.
So, let’s get started. The stains are waiting!
Our Favourite Carpet Cleaners Compared
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If you’ve ever struggled to get your stairs and other awkward areas clean, the Vax W90-RU-P Rapide Ultra 2 could be a great choice. Complete with a number of attachments to wash stairs and light furniture, as well as a large capacity – you are sure to get your home gleaming with only one or two fills.
The built-in rotating brushbar loosens and lifts dirt from within your carpet easily, even if it has been trodden deep into the fibres. The accompanying hose and handheld wash tool are perfect for your stairs, and can also be used to rapidly suck up any spillages on both carpets and hard floors. Furthermore, if you encounter a particularly tough stain, simply use the supplied pre-treatment wand and solution beforehand for an effortless clean.
Once done, there’s no need to wait hours for your carpet to dry, thanks to the Dual V technology. This works to efficiently extract all liquid and suds from your carpet, so you can get back to enjoying the room in no time.
However, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of. The most notable of these is that water doesn’t seem to be released evenly, which can sometimes result in a patchy clean. Therefore, you may need to go over certain areas again.
This is confounded by the fact that this carpet cleaner is somewhat bulky and heavy, so it can be quite difficult to move around for extended periods of time. Furthermore, some users complained that they experienced leakages with relatively light use -so you might end up replacing it quicker than you’d like.
Whether you are looking to revive old, tired carpets and for a fresher smelling home or trying to restore lighter colours to their former glory, this budget-priced carpet cleaner from Vax makes a great choice.
Its dual rotating brushbars and 800 watts of power provide deep-down cleaning leaving your carpet both looking and smelling better. In addition, hidden dust and debris are removed making your home more hygienically clean which is a must for homes with allergy or asthma sufferers. The twin-tank system ensures that your carpets are only washed with clean water and that dirty water is kept separate for disposal.
It is lightweight compared to most carpet cleaners so it is easy to move around as well as bring up and down stairs. Moreover, its narrow floorhead makes it easy to get around and under furniture. However, it does not come with any cleaning accessories for stairs or soft furnishings. So if you are after a carpet cleaner for cleaning upholstery too, then you would be better considering another model.
As this carpet cleaner is lightweight, the 2.7-litre clean water tank is a little on the small side for large rooms and you may need to stop to refill several times. The main issue with the Vax Dual Power is how difficult it is to remove fluff from the brushes after cleaning. As the brush bars and fittings cannot easily be removed, this process can be rather frustrating.
If you’re one of those people who needs a really deep clean, but often struggles to find the time, then the Rug Doctor X3 is a great option.
With a unique triple action brush, it can get deeper into carpets and loosen up more dirt for beautiful results in a single pass. On top of this, it also offers powerful vacuum technology for much faster drying times.
Featuring simple, single button activation, it also has an extremely large 11.4-litre capacity – so you’ll be able to save time by cleaning most of if not all of your carpets with only one tank.
However, the size of the tank contributed to weight and bulk issues for many users. Whilst you can move it around a flat surface relatively easily, if you want to bring it up and down stairs, it can be very cumbersome.
This also extends to the dirty water storage, which is a lot bulkier than anticipated. Because of the size of the tank, it can be very difficult to empty without spilling; thus running the risk of ruining your freshly cleaned carpet.
Not many carpet cleaners offer the technology to keep water temperature high while cleaning, which is why this BISSELL StainPro 6 stands out from the crowd. Thanks to its Heatwave Technology, you’ll be able to achieve a deeper and more even wash from start to finish.
Showcasing the Edge Sweep Brushes and a stair attachment, it can more easily get close into corners and up against walls, so you won’t need to struggle with hard to reach areas. Dirt, stains and debris are quickly dealt with by six rows of rotating DirtLifter brushes – enabling the StainPro 6 to get deep to the heart of your carpets and rugs.
Furthermore, it is much easier for you to save water with this carpet cleaner, as the dirty and clean water is stored separately. This is particularly useful if you have a small home, as you can save the clean water for next time should you have some left over.
However, there are a few negatives to this product. Most notably, customers experienced issues with the water flow suddenly stopping, causing an unwelcome interruption to their progress. On top of that, the instructions aren’t easy to follow, which may end up leading to further problems and unnecessary delays when they are encountered.
Lastly, the attachment for cleaning stairs and awkward areas, while a great idea, can sometimes spray too much liquid and therefore make them more difficult to wash and dry.
Many carpet cleaners are known for being rather bulky and difficult to store. However, if you live in a smaller home and are looking for a lightweight yet effective carpet cleaner, the Vax VRS5W Rapide Spring could be the best carpet steam cleaner for you.
With high-powered steam jets, it can dig deep into your carpet in order to loosen up and extract both surface stains and hidden dirt at the base of the fibres. It’s also got a wide cleaning nozzle, so you can cover a larger area with each sweep.
Coupled with a 5.9-metre long power cable, you’ll be able to wash big rooms in no time, without having to change sockets. It’s also extremely easy to assemble and weighs only 5.6kg, making cleaning a lot less of a chore.
However, there are a few negatives with it. Chief among these is that the spray jets can be uneven, so it may end up leaving small patches that will need to be gone over again. Furthermore, some users found that the tank is prone to leaking when filled.
There’s also the fact that the built-in filter needs to be cleaned regularly, and the small 2.1-litre tank means you’ll likely need to stop and refill often, which can slow you down.
The Rapid Power Advance is another of our top picks. With its powerful 1200 watt performance and six patented SpinScrub bars in addition to an XL brushbar, it has been designed to out-clean professional carpet cleaners.
Even deeply ingrained dirt is removed from your carpets thanks to the brushes’ scrubbing action. In fact, they are so effective that they can even restore some lost volume to high traffic areas. The Rapid Power has a choice of quick mode or deep clean mode. This gives you the choice to opt for fast, one-hour drying times when you choose the quick mode or to focus on stain removal when you choose the deep clean mode.
It features twin XL capacity water tanks and comes with an accessory hose as well as an upholstery tool, making it an excellent choice for cleaning your sofa as well as your stairs. It can be a little heavy and unwieldy to use when full. However, you won’t have to stop as frequently to refill it.
There are two areas that could be improved for this carpet cleaner. First is the cable outlet. It comes from the base and is frequently in the way making it easy to run over. Second, as seen with similar models, the fluff and fibres from the brushes can be awkward to clean.
If you have particularly dense and deep carpets, the Vax W86-DP-B could be the right option for you. Featuring dual rotating brush bars, it can lift densely packed fibres effortlessly, leaving you with a fresh looking carpet without requiring too many sprays or chemicals.
This compact, lightweight carpet cleaner also showcases handy twin-tank technology which keeps clean and dirty water separate. Furthermore, the design behind it means that the tanks are easy to fill and empty without causing any inconvenience spillages – although a few people found water tends to dribble from the back during use.
As an added benefit, a wide cleaning nozzle allows you to wash even your larger carpets quite quickly without too much hassle. However, that being said, some people complained that it didn’t work terribly well along the edges of furniture and walls.
Unfortunately, another negative is that it can quickly collect fluff and hair around the brush housings, which are not very easy to clean. This will mean you may find yourself picking fluff out with your fingers after each use.
A lot of carpet cleaners can be on the bigger or bulkier side because they need to pack in a lot of technology. However, that doesn’t have to be the only way, and the Bissell SpotClean PRO Portable is a great example of that.
This lightweight carpet cleaner packs a lot of portable cleaning power, which means you’ll be able to wash your stairs, upholstery and even car interior with relative ease. Furthermore, despite its small size, its tank is large enough for you to wash an average sized room without needing to be refilled.
These tanks have also been designed so you can effortlessly refill and empty them without any spilling, which is another added bonus. Because of its size, you might expect that it would be tough to tackle larger stains, but the large and tough stain attachments negate this. These attachments enable you to get up close and personal with the stain but also means there’s some hefty scrubbing on your hands and knees required.
While this Bissell model is certainly compact and convenient, it is also incredibly noisy compared to bigger models. This is probably because it has to put in a lot more effort in, in order to provide similar cleaning quality.
Also, the suction isn’t fantastic, so you’ll likely have to tiptoe around damp carpets for a good few hours after cleaning.
With its dual rotating multi-brush bars, this Vax model can loosen up and wash deep dirt relatively easily, making it a good choice of carpet cleaner for normal use.
Offering a larger capacity than the average tank, at 7.7-litre, you’ll be able to get almost all of your carpet cleaning done without needing to refill the tanks. Both dirty and clean water are kept separately, so you can rest assured that you will only ever be spraying clean water into your carpet.
Having said that, though, the large tank size naturally adds a lot of weight, even when the tanks are only half full. Therefore, you may get fatigued quickly if you have a big job to do, and it is likely not suitable for older or weaker individuals. However, on the plus side, the tanks are very easy to fill and empty, so there’ll be very little mess when you’re doing either.
Because the Vax ECB1TNV1 is too heavy to be easily used on the stairs, some convenient attachments are included for stair carpets, as well as those in more awkward areas, such as in between furniture. The wide floor head also means that you’ll be able to wash more of your carpet with each pass, thus reducing the time it would normally take.
Unfortunately, the brushes on this heavy duty carpet cleaner can be pretty difficult to wash, which is one of the few issues to pop up with this model. There’s also the fact that the tanks for both the clean and dirty water have a habit of leaking, which can be particularly frustrating if you’re already feeling tired from pushing it around.
When you’ve got ‘portable’ in your name, you should be able to live up to it, and this Rug Doctor Portable Spot mini carpet cleaner does it spectacularly. Being very lightweight, it’s already easy to manoeuvre; but the inclusion of a retractable handle and carpet-friendly wheels means you’ll find it more effortless to use than many other small models.
Despite its size, it boasts got extremely powerful suction, perhaps enough to rival some of its bigger competitors. Part of this is down to its motorized brush, which loosens up most of the dirt in your carpet before efficiently sucking it up.
Furthermore, if you particularly hate cleaning the stairs, this carpet shampooer could actually make this chore enjoyable. Specifically designed to safely and easily fit on a standard stair, you simply place the unit on the stair below while you wash, without any worry about it toppling off and tumbling down.
However, the compact design has some downsides. Firstly, because of its shape, accurately filling up the area for the cleaning solution is rather awkward, and may lead to spilling until you get the hang of it.
The tanks are also smaller than you’d expect, so you will likely need to empty and refill a lot, leading to the potential for mess. Lastly, when compared to other models we have seen, the Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner isn’t very long lasting.
Many users found this handheld carpet cleaner started to lose suction after only a few months, which is a disappointment considering given how well the rest of this carpet cleaner works.
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Carpet Cleaner Buying Guide
When you buy the wrong carpet cleaner, not only can it be an expensive mistake; it can also lead to hours of discomfort and frustration every time you use it.
Therefore, when choosing the best carpet cleaner, you need to make sure you have taken into consideration the following features before making your final decision:
If you’re accustomed to using cordless vacuum cleaners or traditional ones, you’ll quickly discover a key difference when you shop for your first carpet cleaner. Most vacuum models weigh about the same when you’re wheeling or toting them around, but when it comes to carpet cleaners, the weight varies considerably – for a reason that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Those designed to be used in big houses will have big tanks to match, and thus, this naturally adds to the overall weight and bulk. However, that’s not to say you should always opt to buy a smaller model.
Using an undersized carpet cleaner in your home will force you to repeatedly stop to empty the dirty water and refill the clean water tank – taking you much more time than necessary to finish the job.
Another important consideration when you buy is whether you or not you want a carpet cleaner with a tank heater.
Using heated water greatly increases the ability of the cleaning solution to break down dirt, grime and stains wedged deep inside your carpet fibres, but unfortunately, the heater also adds weight and bulk. In fact, units with built-in heaters can often weigh 10kg or more.
The bottom line is that a large carpet cleaner, particularly those with an integral heater, can be extremely difficult to manoeuvre. That might not be a deal-breaker if you’re just going to use it once or twice a year but can quickly become tiresome if you clean on a regular basis.
Therefore, determining how large a machine you need, and whether the heater is important to you, are some of the first steps you should take before you buy.
Standard or Multi-Purpose
The next decision to make is whether you prefer a multi-function (sometimes called a two-in-one) model or those that are strictly for washing your carpets. A two-in-one model also contains a vacuum, so the same unit can clean up the loose dirt sitting on top of the carpet before shampooing.
A multi-function model can, therefore, save time and effort but can also be an advantage if storage space is at a premium in your flat or small home. However, the vacuum in the two-in-one model is usually simply not as powerful or effective as dedicated vacuum models. If we’re honest, we’re not crazy about them.
That said, several other upper-level carpet washer functions are particularly useful and should at least be considered.
The first is heated cleaning, this type blows hot air onto the carpet during the shampooing process. This speeds up drying time considerably but may cause damage to particularly delicate rugs.
The second convenient feature you can choose when you buy is an automix system that pre-blends water and carpet cleaning detergent in the right proportions. This saves not only time but also the hassle of getting the combination perfectly right whenever you have to fill the cleaner.
Effectiveness, of course, largely depends on the technology the carpet cleaner uses, and the performance of a carpet cleaner is generally based on its cleaning heads and motor.
New higher-level models typically have separate rotating brushes or brush heads (containing a number of smaller brushes) which dig deeper into the carpet, while lesser models will usually have a single head. If required, you can also find some units with brush rollers which don’t penetrate as deeply but are more gentle and therefore ideal for use on delicate rugs.
Motor size usually ranges from 500-1850 watts and is generally a good measure of cleaning performance and suction, as well as how quickly your carpet will dry on its own once you have finished.
The final consideration involves attachments or powered cleaning tools.
Among the most useful are air-powered brushes that provide deeper clean, smaller brushes for spot cleaning and upholstery, and crevice tools for hard-to-reach areas. Many carpet cleaning machines will now come with attachments which are specifically designed for use on the stairs, which are well-known as one of the most difficult areas to clean.
We obviously love all of the products featured in this review, otherwise, we wouldn’t have chosen them. However, we have to decide upon a winner, and as far as we’re concerned, the best carpet cleaner just has to be the Vax W90-RU-P Rapide.
We were super impressed with the features packed into this carpet cleaner; from the large water capacity that enables thorough cleaning, to the built-in rotating brushbar which creates incredibly fresh and clean results with every use.
Furthermore, the accompanying hose and handheld wash tool are ideal for tackling your stairs and mean you won’t have to spend any more time than necessary getting the job done. Not only will your carpet be gleaming and free of detergent, but thanks to the Dual V technology, it will also be dry double-quick, leaving you to enjoy your clean carpet without any inconvenience.
And as if this wasn’t enough, the Vax W90-RU-P Rapide also comes complete with a variety of specially designed attachments, so you can give your sofa, rugs and car interior a spring clean too.
Overall, we think you’ll agree that the Vax W90-RU-P Rapide has to be one of the best carpet washers on the market today.