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How To Choose the Best Carpet Cleaner

Updated Dec 21, 2022

Updated Dec 21, 2022

Home > Flooring > How To Choose the Best Carpet Cleaner

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Carpet cleaners are handy tools that can improve the hygiene, appearance, and lifespan of carpets, rugs, and upholstery. These devices use the combined power of stain-removal solutions, scrubbing brushes, and suction technology to provide a deeper clean than you can achieve with a vacuum cleaner. This guide will help you figure out which carpet cleaning tool is best for your home. 

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Carpet Cleaner

Before buying a carpet cleaner, the best carpet cleaning tool for you depends on factors like the kind of mess you need to clean and the carpets you have in your home. We’ll address a few of these considerations in the sections below.

Type of Carpet

Depending on the type of carpet in your home, you might need a carpet cleaner with different capabilities and features. Some carpets are thin and durable, while others are plush and thick. Before investing in a carpet cleaning machine, assess what kind of attention your carpets need based on their materials and pile type.

Carpet TypeDescription
Low-pile-Shorter fibers
-Easy to maintain and clean
High-pile-Also known as “deep-pile carpets” because they have the longest fibers
-Don’t show wear very easily, so they’re good for high-traffic areas
-Deep fibers trap dirt and grime, making them harder to clean
Loop pile-Fibers connect to the backing twice for a looped appearance
-More durable and low-maintenance
-Tight loops improve stain resistance
Cut pile-Fibers are cut off at a specific height and twisted to form tufts
-Softer than loop pile carpets
-Harder to clean because dirt and stains can get trapped in the tufts
Cotton-Easy to clean but hard to remove stains
-Completely organic and very soft
-Prone to fading in sunlit rooms
Nylon-One of the most durable carpet materials
-Strong fibers bounce back in high-traffic areas
-Not stain-resistant but easy to clean
Polyester-Durable, thick, and surprisingly soft carpet material
-Not as resilient as nylon carpets
-Offers good stain resistance
Wool-High-quality, long-lasting fibers
-Decent stain-resistance as long as you perform routine cleaning
-High-maintenance carpet material 

Carpet Warranty

No matter what kind of carpet you have, check the manufacturer’s manual for information on cleaning frequency. 

Sometimes, using specific carpet cleaning tools or liquid agents can void a warranty designed to replace your carpet should it fall apart. So, make sure to check the manual to ensure cleaning won’t void any warranties. Additionally, warranties like this one from Home Depot require the homeowner to clean the carpet with specific products and at specific frequencies to maintain the contract.

Type of Mess

The types of messes you encounter can help determine the cleaning methods and tools needed to tackle them.

If you face pet stains from muddy paws, slobbery toys, and indoor accidents, you’ll need a carpet cleaner designed for spot cleaning. This tool is also helpful if you have messy kids or have the occasional red wine spill on your sofa. Carpet cleaners with hose attachments are helpful in these scenarios; they can reach stubborn stains on your furniture, rugs, and carpeted stairs.

You should also consider the cleaning agent you’ll need for your home. Depending on the carpet cleaning machine you buy, the brand will likely have a corresponding liquid shampoo. These solutions come with antibacterial, stain removal, and restorative properties that can meet various homeowners’ needs.

The Best Home Carpet Cleaners

Best for Pet Owners: Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro

The Bissell ProHeat Revolution Pet is a top choice for pet owners seeking a deep clean for their paw-trampled carpets. Every Bissell Revolution Pet product purchase supports the Bissell Pet Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping homeless animals. 

The Bissell ProHeat features the MAX clean mode, which scrubs deep to remove dirt, stains, and allergens in your carpet. The device comes with a hose attachment, specialized Pet Stain Tool, and Tough Stain Tool to access hard-to-reach spaces. 

Use Bissell’s Pro Max Clean + Protect formula to loosen stubborn carpet stains or the Deep Clean + Antibacterial formula to eliminate odor-producing bacteria. Pair these solutions with hot water for the best results. The cleaner’s Heatwave Technology maintains the water’s warmth while you clean.

Best Portable Carpet Cleaner: Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Bissell’s Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is an excellent choice for homeowners seeking deep-cleaning power in a portable package. The Little Green machine’s compact size makes for easy storage, while its lightweight, portable design is ideal for cleaning upholstery, rugs, stairs, and auto interiors. Despite its small size, the machine includes a 48-ounce tank for longer cleaning between refills. 

The device comes with a Tough Stain Tool and stain trapper attachment to easily tackle serious messes. The product also features Bissell’s HyrdoRinse Self-Cleaning Hose Tool to descale and sanitize the device after each use. When you purchase specific Bissell cleaning products, such as the Little Greener Cleaner, a portion of the proceeds goes toward the Bissell Pet Foundation’s mission to help animals in need.

Best Spot Cleaner: Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner

The Hoover PowerDash Pet is our top pick for a compact, upright spot carpet cleaner for small spaces. It’s also a must-have for homeowners and renters with indoor animals. The machine weighs just 12.5 pounds, which is lighter than most leading carpet cleaners. Its lightweight design makes it easy to maneuver around hard-to-reach surfaces, and its compact size offers simple storage in tight closet spaces.

The Hoover PowerDash features the PowerSpin Pet Brush Roll to remove pet hair, allergens, and stains in high-traffic areas. It also includes Hoover’s HeatForce technology, which uses powerful suction and warmth to provide faster drying times. This means you won’t have to stay off your carpets and area rugs for long post-cleaning. The device comes with a hose attachment, removable nozzle, nozzle cleanout tool, and trial-sized Expert Pet Solution. 

Best Upright Carpet Cleaner: Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner

The Hoover SmartWash is our choice for the best upright carpet cleaner, thanks to its automatic cleaning technology. Its motion-sensing design automatically dispenses water when pushed forward and activates suction drying when pulled backward, removing the guesswork of which buttons to push. As you clean, the SmartWash uses Hoover’s HeatForce technology to dry your floors, producing a quicker, more thorough clean.

The upright cleaner comes with FlexForce PowerBrushes to remove dirt, grime, and pet stains from carpets and rugs. It also features a multifunction pet attachment, stair tool, and 12-foot hose to tackle upholstery, stairs, and other hard-to-reach spaces in your home.

Best Professional-Grade Cleaner: Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3

The Rug Doctor Mighty Pro is the closest you’ll get to a commercial clean without calling in the experts. The Mighty Pro uses powerful jets and a triple-action vibrating brush to dislodge dirt, dust, and grime deep within carpet fibers. The machine’s enhanced vacuum motor pulls debris and dirty water from the carpet for cleaner results and faster drying times.

The cleaner’s high-capacity tanks allow you to do more in one pass. Simply fill the 3.9-gallon clean water tank with a solution mixture and empty the 3-gallon dirty water tank when it’s full. For more cleaning capabilities, purchase Rug Doctor’s Universal Hand Tool to tackle upholstery, stairs, and other small spaces.

Costs Involved With DIY Cleaning

Budget is important to consider before buying a carpet cleaning machine. Most carpet cleaners cost well over $100, so you want to ensure you choose the most practical solution for your home and family. 

If you think the cleaner will just sit in the closet year-round, you might instead opt to rent a cleaner whenever you need one. Renting a cleaner is an easy way to save money and storage space while still caring for your home’s carpets.

The following chart details out the average cost* for carpet machines, cleaning solutions, and rentals:

ProductRetail PriceAverage Rental Price
Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner$412$30 per day
Rug Doctor Mighty Pro$600$40 per day
Carpet Cleaner and Detailer$124$27 per day
ProductAverage Retail Price
Bissell Deep Clean Pro 2X Formula$22 (48-ounce bottle)
Bissell Pro Pet Urine Eliminator$24 (48-ounce bottle)
Hoover Oxy Deep Cleaning Carpet Shampoo$18 (50-ounce bottle)
Hoover Renewal Deep Cleaning Shampoo$16 (64-ounce bottle)
Rug Doctor Triple-Action Oxy Carpet Cleaner$23 (96-ounce bottle)
Rug Doctor Pet Carpet Cleaner$26 (96-ounce bottle)

*Average prices accurate as of publish date

When To Call in a Professional Carpet Cleaning Service

Sometimes a DIY clean isn’t enough to cure your carpets of stains and smells. You might wonder if you should call a professional carpet cleaner or just replace the carpet altogether. The OCD Home Carpet & Tile Cleaning lists the following signs your carpet needs professional cleaning or a replacement.

You should call in a professional cleaning service if your carpet:

  • Hasn’t been cleaned in over a year
  • Is giving you allergies
  • Looks dirty or dull
  • Has stubborn stains you can’t remove

You should consider a full carpet replacement if your carpet:

  • Has multiple permanently embedded stains
  • Has irreparable damage you try to cover with rugs and furniture
  • Emits a lingering odor
  • Has uneven, wrinkly, or crinkly-sounding padding
  • Is over 10 years old

Cost Considerations for Hiring a Pro Cleaner

According to Shiny Carpet Cleaning, a professional carpet cleaning typically costs between $123-$250. Your price will depend on the carpeted area’s square footage, material, and the level of difficulty. 

Organic carpets like cotton and wool cost more to clean, while cut and loop carpets are generally cheaper. The price can go up as the size of the carpeted area increases. On average, carpet cleaning costs between $0.20-$0.40 per square foot. 

Here are some average price ranges for professional cleaning:

Size (Square Feet)Price Range
200-400$70-$130
500-1,000$100-$250
1,000-1,500$200-$300
1,500-2,000$250-$450
2,000-3,000$400-$600

You may have to pay extra depending on hourly labor charges, stairs, and other special services like steam cleaning, dry cleaning, or deep shampooing. The aforementioned cleaning prices are general, so get a quote from your chosen carpet cleaning company first to avoid any surprises come cleanup day.

Choosing Your Carpet Cleaning Solution

We hope this guide helps take the hassle out of carpet cleaning. Remember that factors like lifestyle, carpet type, and everyday messes determine the best carpet cleaning machine for your home. Luckily, several fantastic options are available to provide the right solution, whether you just need to freshen up your floors or tackle some serious stains.

If a DIY approach isn’t cutting it, you can always seek professional help or opt for carpet replacement. Read our carpet installation cost guide for more information on the costs and considerations that come with buying new carpets.

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