The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner That Will Tackle Your Worst Carpet Messes

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner That Will Tackle Your Worst Carpet Messes

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We all love the feeling of soft, thick, plush carpeting cushioning our feet. Carpeting warms up bedrooms, adds color and texture to our homes, and keeps us warm and comfortable.

But, as you well know if you’ve ever lived in a home with significant carpeting, it’s hard to keep your carpet clean. It’s even harder to keep your carpet the same soft texture it was when it was first installed.

It’s even harder if you have small children, pets, or clumsy friends.

Having a portable carpet cleaner makes it easier to take care of small messes as they happen. Cleaning potential stains immediately makes it simple to avoid stains. Building clean carpet habits also helps you go longer between professional deep cleanings, but you need a high-quality portable cleaner to get the job done.

In this article, we discuss 10 of the best portable carpet cleaners, including their pros and cons. By the end, you'll not only have a sense of which carpet cleaners might be right for you, but also the most important features and benefits you should consider when you make your decision.

The Best Portable Carpet Cleaners Reviews

1. Bissell Spot Clean Pro-Heat Portable Carpet Cleaner

Bissell is one of the biggest names when it comes to carpet cleaners. They'll show up several times on this list, partially because they produce a number of notable portable carpet cleaners.

But it’s worth saying as well, that their products have a reputation for being dependable, working incredibly well, and lasting far longer than users expect.

This one made the top of our list for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s well designed. Even when both tanks have water in them, the Pro-Heat Cleaner is a relatively lightweight and balanced machine.

Its design is also mostly vertical, which saves on shelf space and makes it easier to store in your utility closet.

But, most importantly, it's an effective deep cleaner. One of the problems many portable carpet cleaners encounter is not having enough suction and power to truly deep clean your carpet. The water and soap soaks into your carpet but doesn’t come back out.

This portable carpet cleaner doesn’t have that problem. It gets your carpets completely clean, leaving them only slightly damp after you’ve finished.

And while this carpet cleaner won’t heat water in its clean tank, it will maintain water temperature. So, when you go to clean a touch stain, simply add hot tap water to the tank. The extra heat helps lift stains out of the fibers of your carpet. Heat also makes the soap more effective, which means less time spent cleaning and more time spent enjoying other pursuits.

Even though wine and sauce stains are relatively simple to clean with this machine.

We were also impressed by the hose-cleaning function. While a dirty hose doesn't impact the performance of your carpet cleaner much, it is unsightly, and can even begin to smell if the build-up is bad enough.

The Pro-Heat Cleaner has a separate cleaning mode that washes the hose completely clean. That means cleaner carpeting, no mystery odors, and no embarrassment if you need to clean a spot in front of friends and family.

What We Like:

  • Heat-maintenance keeps hot water hot
  • Hose cleaning function
  • Storage friendly design
  • Only 9 lbs.
  • Included deep stain and upholstery cleaning tool
  • Double tank system for clean and wastewater

What We Didn’t Like:

  • No catch-all cleaner solution, need specialty solution for regular cleaning vs. pet stain cleaning
  • Requires manual cleaning

2. Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

The Hoover Spotless Carpet Cleaner is another good option if you are looking for an easy to store, effective, and lightweight system similar to the Pro-Heat Cleaner.

When it comes to vertical design and as a storage solution, this carpet cleaner is a match for the Pro-Heat cleaner.

However, it doesn’t have the heating benefits of the Pro-Heat system.

That said, the Hoover spotless is a slightly more affordable option. It’s durable, and it is an effective choice. While you won’t get the continuous heat benefits from this system, you can still use warm tap water to tackle the early, most difficult, part of cleaning.

It also has good suction, capable of lifting almost all the water and soap out of your carpet as you clean.

Hoover also offers trial-sized versions of their primary carpet cleaning solutions, a carpet cleaner, and a pre-wash treatment. It's useful to have those trial versions, since buying carpet shampoo can be costly and you want to know that you like the soap.

Consider how effective the shampoo is, how difficult it is to completely rinse the soap from your carpet, and whether you like the scent. If you like its performance on all three of these measures, it’s likely a good soap for you.

We’ll also say that this machine performs well with or without soap. It can also be used with a weak vinegar or other DIY cleaning solution instead of a commercial carpet shampoo.

While this carpet cleaner doesn’t feature a hose cleaning mode, its hose is still a major benefit. The hose is 5 feet long, easily long enough to make cleaning stairs, or multiple spots from toddlers and pets, easy. 

What We Like:

  • 5 ft long hose
  • Storage-friendly design
  • Comes with trial carpet shampoos
  • Has an effective upholstery cleaning tool
  • Only 9 lbs.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • No Hose Cleaning Function
  • Doesn’t Heat or Maintain Clean Water Temperature

3. Hoover Power Dash Pet Carpet Cleaner

For a slightly different design, the Hoover Power Dash Pet Carpet Cleaner is a step between a traditional spot-cleaner and a large professional whole-carpet cleaner. Designed like an upright vacuum, and only slightly heavier than smaller spot-bot designs, this carpet cleaner is a good choice if you need to clean larger sections of carpet.

This is particularly a good option if you have young pets or children. The larger design lets you take care of whole sections of carpet in one go, instead of spot cleaning accidents and spill as they happen.

It’s also a deep cleaning machine. While not quite as effective as a professional steam carpet cleaner, it’s more than enough to clean and maintain your carpeting.

Since it’s designed like a normal vacuum, you can also use this machine to clean whole rooms, rather than just treating problem areas.

But, there is one serious trade-off that comes with this carpet cleaner. The Power Dash weighs slightly less than 13 pounds. But that lightweight design leaves little room for a water tank.

It can hold only .5 gallons of water. A professional carpet cleaner holds several gallons. Similar, but less portable, carpet cleaner designs can usually hold at least 1 gallon.

That makes this a good choice if you're worried about the weight of your carpet cleaner, or plan to take it up and downstairs often. But it's not as good an option if you are concerned about having to refill your water tank several times as you clean a room.

What We Like:

  • Able to clean a larger area
  • Lightweight design
  • Highly effective suction
  • Dual tank system
  • Heated system for faster carpet drying

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Small tank size
  • Bulky footprint complicates storage

4. Bissell Spot Clean Professional Carpet Cleaner

This spot cleaner is a good choice if you’re looking for power deep cleaning action, and not worried about a spot cleaner that’s a little heavier than average.

This is another Bissell spot cleaner, although the squatter and rounder design is a big departure from the tall thin Pro-Heat version. It also has a longer cord that the Pro Heat, making it a better choice if you have large open spaces in your home since it will be easier to move the spot cleaner through the whole room.

The Spot Clean Professional also comes with two different brush heads. The 3-inch head focuses the water and suction into a smaller area, giving you concentrated power to tackle tough stains and dried-on debris.

A larger 6-inch head makes it fast and easy to tackle your stairs and larger carpet stains.

The combination of these two heads is highly effective. While you won’t want to use this carpet cleaner for whole rooms, it’s able to take care of larger areas and deeper stains than many competitors.

However, it may also be a slightly more time-consuming task since this spot cleaner can't heat water. Since hot water is more effective for cleaning and boosts the effectiveness of soaps and carpet shampoos, you'll need a few more passes to eliminate dried on and dark stains.

This carpet cleaner also has the advantage of coming with a trial-sized bottle of Bissell's professional carpet cleaner. Like the Hoover trial cleaners, this allows you to test their shampoo and see if it's a good and effective option for you and your carpets.

What We Like:

  • 22 ft power cord
  • 5 ft hose
  • Larger than average ¾ gallon water tank
  • Comes with a trial professional cleaning solution
  • Stair cleaning tool
  • Bissell’s most powerful suction

What We Didn’t Like:

  • No Water Heating, or Temperature Maintenance
  • Slightly heavier than average

5. Bissell Hands-Free Pet Spot and Stain Portable Cleaner

If you're looking for a carpet cleaner you can turn on and leave, this is a great option.

One of the only truly hands-free carpet cleaners, the Hands-Free Pet is both convenient and powerful enough to clean pet spots and eliminate odor.

Instead of using a cleaning tool to soak, scrub, and suction up stains, you place the scrubbing mechanism over the stain you need to clean, turn the cleaner on to your preferred setting, and walk away. It will handle the soaking, scrubbing, and some of the suction and carpet drying.

The only real downside of this design is that it doesn’t tend to get your carpet quite as dry as a traditional carpet spot cleaner.

You’re also limited by the size of the scrubbing area. Large spots and stains, like from spilled drinks and large dog accidents, may require more than one cleaning cycle.

But, even if you must run the spot bot several times in order to clean the entire stain, it's still an effective time saver. While the cleaner is working, you can attend to other household chores.

This design also has some of the easiest to remove and empty/refill water tanks of any spot cleaners. The tanks aren’t large, so you may have to refill them a little more often than some competitors. But, doing so is quick and easy.

One minor flaw with this cleaner, the tanks occasionally develop a minor leak at the top. This isn’t enough to cause problems with the cleaning function of the carpet, but it can make the tanks themselves slick, and you may need to wipe down the outside of the carpet cleaner from time to time. 

What We Like:

  • Convenient and time-saving
  • Deep cleans carpets, effective scrubbing
  • Strong enough to tackle difficult stains

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Rather loud when it’s on
  • Doesn’t fully dry carpets
  • Needs multiple clean cycles to take care of large spots

6. Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner

The Rug Doctor Portable Cleaner is an effective machine. While it's slightly larger than other spot cleaners, it's wheels and pull-along handle make it easy to move from place to place. The only difficulty with this larger spot cleaner is going up and downstairs.

One of the bigger advantages of this spot cleaner, over its competitors, is that the handle vibrates to scrub the stain for you. Instead of working the handle to help lift stains with the scrubbing bristles, you can simply move slowly over the stain and let the spot cleaner do it for you.

It also offers deep suction, leaving your carpets close to dry after a cleaning cycle.

This cleaner doesn’t use either heat or steam, but it’s powerful enough in other respects that that shouldn’t impact your results.

Being a wheeled carpet cleaner, this is also one of the easier carpet cleaners to take out to clean your car’s upholstery, despite being heavier than average at 16 pounds. 

What We Like:

  • Auto scrubbing bristles
  • Powerful suction
  • Wheeled for easy transport
  • Large water tanks

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Heavier than average
  • Not designed to go up and downstairs

7. Carpet Cleaners Portable Professional Pressure Steam Cleaner

A slightly different design, this isn’t a specialty carpet cleaner, but rather a more versatile steam cleaner that can also tackle grout, tile, and other cleaning tasks, in addition to lifting and removing carpet stains.

This is a good option if you’re looking for a multi-purpose cleaner, or need to replace an existing grout cleaner in addition to getting a new carpet cleaner.

It comes with several different cleaning brushes, to help you tackle every household mess.

It’s also fast and efficient, taking only 6 minutes to heat water and produce steam. While it’s only able to operate for 35 minutes at a go, that’s more than enough to tackle even large and difficult carpet stains.

The Professional Pressure Steamer is also small enough to be easy to move and to store. But, with a 60 inch, or 5 foot, hose, it can reach all the crevices and corners that need cleaning attention.

What We Like:

  • Multipurpose cleaning tool takes care of more than just carpets
  • Steam cleaning quickly and efficiently cleans even difficult stains
  • Heats water quickly
  • Reasonable cleaning duration

What We Didn’t Like:

  • No suction or scrubbing ability

8. Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner – Large and Portable

Another standing carpet cleaner, this is a bit closer to professional carpet cleaner for whole rooms but is still designed with portability and convenience in mind.

Armed with a beater bar and powerful, but gentle bristles, this is probably the deepest reaching carpet cleaner on our list. Built like a full-size carpet cleaner, the narrowing folding handle makes this carpet cleaner a little smaller and easier to store.

While the tank size isn’t as large as a true professional cleaner, it will still hold more than enough water to clean entire rooms with minimal refills necessary.

That said, the Rug Doctor Large and Portable is still one of the heavier portable carpet cleaners out there. This isn’t a good solution if you have back injuries or other disabilities that might make it difficult to maneuver a heavier cleaning machine. 

What We Like:

  • Deep cleaning power
  • Beater bars break up ground-in dirt and grime
  • Handle folds for easy storage
  • Easily cleans whole rooms

What We Didn’t Like:

  • At 24 pounds, this cleaner is significantly heavier than the competition.

9. Bissell Pet Stain Eraser

If you’re looking for extreme portability, this is a good option. Much smaller than other carpet cleaners, the Eraser is purpose-built for small pet messes. The whole machine is hand-held. It’s also completely cordless, so, as long as you keep the battery charged, you aren’t limited by the availability of outlets.

Like most carpet cleaners, you can also use the Eraser to clean and maintain furniture, and even some mattresses!

The cleaning path is a little more conservative than some options, at only 3 inches wide, but still more than functional for most purposes and stains.
Weighing less than 5 pounds, this is the lightest carpet cleaner on our list. It’s a good option for users with back, shoulder, or elbow and wrist problems.

The suction nozzle can clog easily if you try to pick up larger solid debris in addition to liquids. But, it's also a removable nozzle. You can take the nozzle off and clean it in your sink easily. However, the design does mean that this cleaner works best in areas that are already mostly clean, not places with other dirt and debris in addition to the stain.

The fully charged battery has a run time of approximately 15 minutes. That’s enough time to clean a stain or two, but not enough to clean dirty section of carpet or deep clean a chair or couch. 

What We Like:

  • Easy to use
  • Most portable option
  • Lightweight design
  • Powerful suction when the nozzle is clean

What We Didn’t Like:

  • The nozzle clogs relatively easily
  • 15 minutes is a limited run time

10. Aqua Pro Vac Portable Carpet Cleaner

This Aqua Pro Vac is yet another take on the portable carpet cleaner design. Built more like a canister vacuum than any of the other cleaners on this list, it's still lightweight and maneuverable enough to go wherever the mess is.

This machine also has the highest water pressure, 58 psi, in its sprayer. The extra pressure helps you get deeper into the pile of your carpeting. This is a good choice if you have shag carpeting or other especially thick carpet styles.

It also has the largest tank of any carpet cleaner on our list. At 1.5 gallons, you can tackle most stains and large sections of carpet without having to refill this cleaner.

The Aqua Pro Vac is also on wheels, which makes it easy to move around a single flor of your home. You can also quickly and easily take it outside to clean your car. However, like the Rug Doctor Large and Portable, this is a slightly harder machine to move between floors. 

What We Like:

  • Powerful water pressure
  • Large tank
  • Great suction
  • Follow behind cannister is easy to move and maneuver

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Harder to take up and down the stairs
  • More expensive than most alternatives

Conclusion

We took a close look at each of the carpet cleaners on this list. Each of these cleaners addresses a slightly different need and is targeted at a slightly different kind of user.

That said, these are all high-performance cleaners, built not only to clean your carpeting thoroughly but also to last through years of wear and tear.

Whether you choose to use carpet shampoo or water alone, each cleaner will tackle deep stains and help keep your carpeting pristine. If you’re a homeowner, preserving the color and quality of your carpeting is an important step in maintaining the value of your home.

Plus, effectively cleaning your carpet and furniture cuts down on the potential allergens in your home, keeping you, and your family, healthier. 

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