Home Top 10 Best carpet cleaners 2023 – strike out stains with our top picks

Best carpet cleaners 2023 – strike out stains with our top picks

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Best carpet cleaners 2023 – strike out stains with our top picks

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A great vacuum cleaner is essential, but present it with ground-in dirt, dried-up stains or a persistent odour and there’s only so much it can do. Whether you have pets, kids, short-sighted party guests or messy hobbies, you can bring carpets, rugs, soft furnishings and more back to life with one of the best carpet cleaners.

But how do you choose the one that’s right for you? The market is large and varied, ranging from full-sized, heavy-duty carpet cleaners that can refresh an entire house, down to compact, portable and battery-powered examples, designed for small rooms or localised stain removal. Here, we’re covering just regular carpet cleaners. Some steam cleaners have accessories for carpets, but they’re best suited for smaller areas.

If you’re looking to banish blotches, snuff out smells, or simply give your floors, rugs and carpets a thorough cleaning, we’ve got exactly the right buying advice. We’ll help you decide the type of model you need, the features you want and find the ideal appliance for your budget. Below you’ll find how we test, our top 10 cleaners and our guide on the features and performance to look for in your ideal model.

Best carpet cleaners at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test carpet cleaners

We put every carpet cleaner we review through a thorough series of tests. Where models are designed to also vacuum, we conduct all of our relevant vacuum cleaner tests, which include edge cleaning, powder clearance, hard floors and pet hair.
1. For all models, we test performance on supported floor types, using the manufacturer’s chemicals where provided, or appropriate generic ones where they aren’t.
2. We check wet-stain performance (how well the cleaner sucks up a spilt liquid) and dry stain performance (how well the cleaner copes once a stain has dried). Where supported, we test stain removal on soft furnishings, too.
3. We experiment with muddy footprints, sticky fruit juice and – that ruiner of all things carpet – red wine.
4. We also test performance on plain old household dirt. With spot cleaners, we test smaller spills of various household items on pale carpet tiles.
5. Beyond cleaning performance, we look at practicality: what accessories come with a cleaner, and are they easy to use?
6. Our reviewers will note if a cleaner is heavy, bulky or noisy, and they’ll tell you if there’s a warm-up time, or if the water tanks need frequent top-ups or draining.
7. Finally, we’ll let you know if any hoses or cables are too short, and where there’s a battery we’ll test how long it lasts and how quickly it’s recharged.

Vax Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner

The best overall carpet cleaner

Pros

  • Three-tank system offers the perfect mix of cleaning solution
  • Incredible power makes carpets look like new
  • Handheld tools let you tackle spot stains

The pet version of this product is also on this list, which is effectively the same product, only with an additional sprayer for dealing with pet mess. If you don’t have pets, then you might as well save the cash and buy the Vax Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner.

A solid and large carpet cleaner, this is a great model for fully deep cleaning your house. It has two brushes in the chunky floor head, which are built to agitate dirt. This model has a 1.9-litre water tank, plus a separate tank for concentrated detergent: the mixing takes place automatically, and mixed detergent is dosed automatically. That’s a brilliant combination as only the amount of detergent required is used, cutting costs on detergent costs. A 1.9-litre tank is used for dirty water. Typically, then, the dirty tank has to be emptied a couple of times for each clean.

For getting stains, there’s a plug-in hose and tools, including the automatic SpinScrub, which agitates dirt automatically.

Once the carpet cleaner has been used, it can be put into dry-only mode, to suck up as much moisture as possible, reducing drying time.

Cleaning performance is excellent. Our mud stains were gone fast, and our tricky ketchup stain dramatically reduced when using the Vax Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner in normal upright mode; switching to handheld mode, we managed to clean up the rest of the stain fast.

If you’ve got a lot of carpets and want to keep them in the best condition, then this is a great tool.

Full review: Vax Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Bissell PowerClean

The best compact carpet cleaner

Pros

  • Powerful cleaning
  • Quite compact
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Loud
  • No spot cleaning tools

If you don’t have much carpet, say just one room or a couple of rugs, then the Bissell PowerClean could be for you. This is a compact carpet cleaner that doesn’t take up much room. The main downside is that it lacks handheld tools, so it isn’t ideal for spot-cleaning stains. You’ll either need a separate spot cleaner or a bigger upright if you want handheld precision.

This upright cleaner stacks the tanks on top of each other: a 2.36-litre tank for water and detergent, and a 1.72-litre tank for dirty water. Typically, a clean will mean emptying the dirty tank once before the clean tank is empty.

Detergent is manually dispensed. It’s worth squeezing while moving forwards and then releasing to clean up the mess. Carpet cleaners that auto dose are easier to use but more expensive.

Cleaning performance is good: our mud stains took a couple of swipes to clean up, but our tough ketchup stain took quite a bit of working to get out (a cleaner with a handheld tool is faster for this kind of mess).

If you don’t have much storage space or much carpet, this compact cleaner has comparable power to its bigger rivals.

Full review: Bissell PowerClean review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Tineco Carpet One Pro

The best high-end carpet cleaner

Pros

  • Uses heat to dry carpet
  • Automatically adjusts detergent dose
  • Powerful cleaning action

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Annoying voice prompts

Tineco’s first carpet cleaner is an incredible bit of engineering, bringing some of the smarts from the company’s cordless vacuum cleaner range. The good news is that the new tech needs no complicated controls to use it, and the Tineco Carpet One Pro is just as easy to use as any other carpet cleaner.

There’s a 2-litre detergent tank, which should be filled with water and detergent, plus a 1.5-litre dirty water tank, which has a float that cuts off water flow when full. This dirty tank has a foot pedal to remove it, which keeps the tank secure in place while the carpet cleaner is in operation.

What makes the Tineco Carpet One Pro different is its LCD screen. This shows you troubleshooting information and can show you how to set up the cleaner. The ring around the outside shows how clean the carpet is: if there’s any red, the carpet is dirty; when it goes completely blue, the carpet is clean. Cleverly the cleaner auto doses: dispensing detergent when pushing forwards and sucking up on a pull-back.

Next, the cleaner heats its cleaning solution to 40°C, which is the optimal temperature for the company’s cleaning products.

To help dry the carpet, the Tineco Carpet One Pro has a dry-only mode and can blow hot air at between 70°C and 80°C. Again, the LCD comes into action, showing how dry the carpet is, using the onboard humidity sensor.

The cleaning is impressive. Our mud stain was gone almost instantly, thanks to the powerful brush agitating dirt, while the cleaner left our carpet almost dry to the touch. Our ketchup stain needed a bit more work, and we finished it with the handheld tool.

The Tineco Carpet One Pro is a lot more expensive than the competition, but it has a lot more technology. If you want the best, then this is it.

Full review: Tineco Carpet One Pro review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Bissell SpotClean Pro

The best spot cleaner for simple jobs

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Powerful
  • Quickly deals with most stains

Cons

  • Fill line not clear
  • Few attachments

If you want to clean whole rooms then you should look elsewhere, but for zapping spills and stains, or cleaning stair carpets, the Bissell SpotClean Pro is ideal. Highly portable, with a powerful motor, the SpotClean Pro has decent-sized water tanks and dedicated tools for carpet stains and general upholstery cleaning.

A fraction of the size and weight of a full-sized cleaner, the SpotClean Pro is easier to store, and quicker to press into action when that glass of red slips onto the Axminster. Cleaning is a spray and vacuum away; there are no motorised brushes, however, so you’ll have to supply the agitation using one of the two brushes supplied (one large and one small).

Detergent has to be mixed in the 2.9-litre tank, which gives plenty of room for cleaning big stains. It is fiddly to fill up, as the detergent tank has one line on it for water, and instructions that say add 2 ounces of formula (that’s about 60ml of fluid in a real measurement).

A second 3.5-litre tank is where everything dirty ends up. This is easy to remove and easy to empty out. It has a float that should cut off the flow of water when it’s full, although I found that this didn’t work that well and the tank overflowed. Take my advice, and keep an eye on the tank, emptying it when it’s full.

This is a very effective carpet and upholstery cleaner, easily lifting our test mud and ketchup stains from our carpets. If you only need to tackle the occasional job on upholstery or carpets, then this is a great choice.

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full Review: Bissell SpotClean Pro

VAX Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design

The best carpet cleaner for pet owners

Pros

  • Separate detergent tank
  • Powerful cleaning
  • Useful collection of handheld tools

If you’re in need of a new carpet cleaner to tackle pet stains and odours, the Vax Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design is the pet version of one of the best and most powerful carpet cleaners we’ve reviewed, the Vax Platinum SmartWash

Like the standard SmartWash, the Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design is huge at 1070 x 325 x 480mm and 8.95kg. This makes it ideal for big jobs. 

The carpet cleaner has three tanks, including a 3.5-litre water tank and a 1.9-litre dirty water tank that automatically shuts the carpet cleaner off when it’s full. There’s also a third tank for concentrated detergent, with two 250ml bottles of Vax’s Platinum Antibacterial Carpet Cleaning solution included in the box. The detergent and water being mixed as you clean means there’s no waste as any unused detergent can be decanted back into the bottle. 

The biggest difference between the Pet-Design and the standard version of this vacuum is the handle, which lifts out with a smaller tank designed to hold the Vax Pet Stain & Odour remover. The tool is designed to tackle pet stains and neutralise odours directly and runs on two AA batteries. 

The Pet-Design is incredibly simple to use and we particularly enjoyed the auto-dosing machine, which takes the guesswork out of knowing how long to leave the trigger depressed. The only other carpet cleaner we’ve tested with this tech is the Tineco Carpet One Pro which has a sensor that shows how clean the floor is, but the Tineco is significantly more expensive. 

We found that the Vax Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design cleaned brilliantly and easily, though it is quite loud. 

There are two brushes inside the floor head with an antimicrobial coating. For spot cleaning, there’s a 2.5m hose with a manual 2-in-1 antimicrobial wash tool (with a brush and rubber pet tool) and the rotating SpinScrub. 

Finally, there’s a dry-only mode that uses suction to pull water out of carpets so they can naturally dry faster. 

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full Review: Vax Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design

Vax SpotWash Home Duo

The best spot cleaner for messy jobs

Pros

  • Very compact
  • Two cleaner heads
  • Powerful cleaning

The Vax SpotWash Home Duo is our a great compact carpet cleaner, particularly for those with pets. The spot cleaner is a great option for dealing with minor day-to-day stains where pulling out a larger, heavier carpet cleaner like the Vax Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design might be too much hassle. 

The SpotWash Home Duo is small, easy to carry and easy to store. The spot washer features two water tanks, including a 1.1-litre tank for holding water and cleaning solution, and a 0.72-litre tank for dirty water. There’s also a float in the tank to seal it when it’s full. 

We found the spot washer very easy to use with a single button that turns the device on and a trigger to release cleaning fluid. The SpotWash has a transparent head so once you see the liquid run clear, you’ll know the dirt has been lifted. Vax also includes a 250ml bottle of cleaning fluid in the box which should cover you for the first few cleans. 

The Home Duo comes with two floor heads – the Extra Wide 2-in-1 Wash Tool to deal with most of the cleaning and the smaller Messy Clean Tool for other jobs like cleaning up pet mess. Keeping separate heads for different jobs is great for hygiene.

Both heads come with inserts, including carpet/upholstery brushes for both and a hard floor brush for the wide tool. Both have the same anti-microbial finish found on the Vax Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design to prevent fungal growth. There’s also a thin crevice tool in the box to get into the corners and wedges of a room. 

The spot cleaner did an excellent job in our tests, removing ketchup and mud from carpet quickly with some gentle scrubbing. The SpotWash also worked well when cleaning wet messes on hard floors, though a dedicated steam cleaner or hard floor cleaner will do better for most stains. 

All-in-all, the Vax SpotWash Home Duo is a great little tool for spot cleaning, with the dual heads making it easy to keep “dirty” and “clean” jobs separate. However, for larger areas, a full-sized carpet cleaner might still make more sense. 

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full Review: Vax SpotWash Home Duo

FAQs

Spot, shampoo or steam?

Choose the type of carpet cleaner to suit your house. Shampoo cleaners tend to be big and heavy, but they’re the best way to lift spills, deep stains or ingrained dirt from soft floor coverings in a single room – or even a whole house. A spot cleaner is for sucking up smaller spills, or dealing with localised staining; you can’t clean a whole carpet with one. Neither type is usually designed to clean hard floors.

Steam cleaners are great at cleaning hard floors, and you can usually turn them to all sorts of other jobs such as window or oven cleaning. They’ll do a decent job of lifting dirt from carpets, but it may take more work, and the carpet could end up pretty damp. If you have a mix of floor coverings, however, they could be ideal.

How much effort are they to use?

The amount of work you’ll need to put in varies greatly. A big shampoo cleaner will be heavy to lift around and push about, but with automatic soapy water dispensing, rotating brushes and a vacuum to recover the mess, they usually clean well in just one or two passes. With a spot cleaner, a steamer or if you’re using a shampooer’s detail attachments, you may need to manually add detergent, do some brushing and soak the mess out yourself.

What accessories do I need?

If your focus is carpets, the floorhead of a shampooer will cover most eventualities. Look for detail attachments that help you reach into corners, tackle stubborn stains, or clean soft furnishings. Steam cleaners can be versatile, but ensure there’s a carpet glider included or soft floors will be hard work. Don’t expect lots of gadgets with a spot cleaner, particularly a portable one. In all cases, check the photos with our review – we always show everything that came in the box. Consult the manufacturer if you don’t see everything you need, as some brands do sell additional accessories.

What else is important?

Our reviewers pay a lot of attention to practicality, and our full reviews always mention the particularly good or bad features we discover. Look for hoses that can reach high targets such as a curtain pelmet, and cables at least as long as your biggest room. Water tanks need to be big enough to support a decent run time – especially in the case of steam cleaners, which may take many minutes to warm up or cool down between fills.

What’s the best way to use a carpet cleaner?

If you have a carpet cleaner, it’s wise to use it for periodic refreshes to keep your carpets looking their best, but don’t overdo it – each pass will scrub fibre off your carpets, which could lead to them looking thinner over time. If you’re buying a spot cleaner for emergency spills, consider where you’ll put it: you’ll want it close at hand for when the kids spill Ribena on the sofa.

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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

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