Carpet Cleaner Reviews – Best Carpet Cleaning Machine 2021


Carpet is great flooring. It’s soft, warm and quiet, all advantages over hard flooring. The drawback is that it is harder to clean. If you have carpeting, you need a proven carpet cleaner. Clean carpet looks newer, smells fresher and lasts longer.

We’ve put together an all-star list of the 4 best carpet cleaning machines including the best carpet steam cleaner.

This guide begins with the List, then gives an Overview of the top 3 features of each. It’s concise, bottom-line information. That’s followed by a brief Carpet Cleaner Buying Guide with tips on the most important features of your next carpet cleaner. We conclude with Full Reviews of each model that includes the most useful comments from verified users of each carpet cleaner.

Best Carpet Cleaning Machines

Best Carpet Cleaners Overview: 3 Top Features of Each

This section allows you to get in, find the best carpet cleaner for your needs, buy it if you want to, and get on with your day.

Best Overall Carpet Cleaner: Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner, FH52000

This unit is too highly rated not to be #1. Nearly 100% of users give it high marks for deep cleaning and ease of use. That’s unheard of in the carpet cleaner niche – except for this machine.

What makes this carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment and hose so highly recommended?

  • As easy as vacuuming: Push the unit forward for cleaning mode. Pull it back and it’s a powerful extractor – which is the most important part of the process. Motion-sensing technology makes it possible.
  • Deeeeep cleaning: Clean all the way to the carpet backing with the FlexForce PowerBrushes and trigger-free operation. Automatically and precisely mixed cleaning solution provides optimal cleaning without leaving too much detergent behind, an issue that will ultimately dull carpet’s vibrancy.
  • Hot drying: It’s not just an extractor. The HeatForceTM dry-only button speeds the process. This means less “down-time” for the carpet when it can’t be walked on and no risk of water damage.

Best Affordable Carpet Cleaner: Hoover Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner, FH50251

This Hoover carpet cleaner proves a machine can be affordable and get the job done. It has some very nice features that rival its sister machine – the SmartWash FH52000 that tops the list.

Here are three features you’ll appreciate, because it’s all about the cleaning:

  • Fast cleaning: Less water and solution are put down in Quick Clean mode. When a spill or pet accident happens, it allows you to quickly suck them up before the mess sinks deep into the carpet. Quick Clean provides quality surface cleaning plus heat to dry your carpet in about 45 minutes depending on the humidity level of your home. The mode is also useful for touching up carpet that isn’t heavily soiled.
  • Deep cleaning: More water and solution are sprayed in Deep Clean mode. Rotating scrubbers agitate deep into carpet nap to loosen and remove more dirt. You can use heat with this mode too.
  • Easy rinse mode: If you don’t like the idea of solution residue remaining in the carpet where kids play and pets lounge, it can be easily removed. Rinse mode is available with the flip of a switch.

Best Professional Carpet Cleaner: Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine, 86T3

The Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Pet Pack carpet cleaner gets a lot of attention and is certainly worth considering.

But we’ll take the Bissell BigGreen every time. We’ll tell you why here and in the complete review below.

It’s top three features are:

  • Two dedicated motors: One turns the brush roll and the second powers the suction/extraction. The result is pro-grade performance.

Let us clear up the motor myth. The myth is that this unit has only one motor while the BG10 has two. Not true. The 86T3 is a dual motor machine. Bissell fails to communicate that this unit has both extraction and brush motors.

  • Professional specs: The freshwater tank has a fill line at 1.75 gallons but can be filled to 2 gallons with room remaining for cleaning solution. The dirty water tank is matched in size, so you’ll always empty and fill at the same time. The 25’ cord gives you plenty of room to roam before having to switch plugs.
  • Proven value: The Bissell BigGreen 86T3 has been widely used for more than 6 years with proven results. That’s a long track record, and this carpet shampooer continues to sell well and be highly rated.

There’s more. This package includes a hose for above-floor cleaning and is backed by a 5-year warranty. The Bissell BG10 is virtually the same machine, doesn’t have a hose and comes with a 1-year warranty. And it costs more.

Most Versatile Carpet Cleaner: McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner with 18 Accessories

All the machines in this list are primarily floor and upholstery tools. That’s great, since those surfaces account for 75% or more of the cleaning in most homes.

For the other 25% – windows, car detailing, greasy BBQ grills, dirty appliances, smelly pet cages, bathroom fixtures, moldy grout, the AC coil and 100+ other uses – you need a tool like the McCulloch MC1275.

Here’s how versatile it is:

  • Tools: This steam carpet cleaner ships with 18 attachments for cleaning in ways you might not have thought of.
  • Steam, not chemicals: Use the steam heat to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria without harsh chemicals. The large capacity tank gives you 45 minutes of steam before having to refill.
  • 10-foot hose and handle: Reach is very useful for miscellaneous cleaning and sanitizing in the house, garage, basement and exterior of your home. The long hose allows you to get on a ladder, reach under equipment or clean all your car’s upholstery while keeping the base in one location.

Carpet Cleaner Buying Guide – What to Look For

What do you need from a carpet cleaner? And what does it need from you?

Look for a machine that excels in three basics. Each is essential for effective carpet cleaning:

  • Deep carpet agitation
  • Strong extraction power
  • Durable performance

The process is simple.

  1. A mixture of water and cleaning solution is sprayed onto the carpet.
  2. The carpet cleaner’s rotating brush or scrubbers work the solution into the carpet nap. This loosens dirt from the nap and carpet backing. Surfactants in the solution lift and capture the dirt, so it can’t cling to the carpet.
  3. The solution and the dirt it contains are extracted (sucked) out of the carpet.
  4. This cleaning process is repeated regularly over years, proving the durability of the machine.

Good vs Best: Loosening dirt and extracting it, and doing it durably, make or break a carpet cleaner. Cheap machines don’t handle these tasks or don’t last long without breaking, leaking or quitting altogether.

What sets the best apart from the good are the additional features the unit has. Among the most useful are:

  • Rinse mode that gets rid of cleaning solution residue that can dull carpet’s vibrancy and actually attract dirt in the long-run
  • Cleaning options such as deep cleaning with lots of water and solution or surface cleaning with less
  • Heated drying
  • Long reach, either with a power cord of 18 feet or more and/or a hose and attachments of at least 8 feet.
  • Tools that raise cleaning above ground-floor to stairs, upholstery, vehicle interiors and more
  • Strong warranty protection of two years minimum

The reviews included here point out which features each unit has, so you can decide to buy a carpet cleaner tailored to your cleaning demands.

What your carpet cleaner needs from you: There are a few things you can and should do to ensure that you get the best performance and longevity from the carpet cleaner you choose.

  • Vacuum first. Thoroughly: A vacuum cleaner and a carpet cleaner are tools with different functionality and purpose. Your carpet machine will do a better job and last longer when loose dirt and hair has been vacuumed away instead of left to clog the carpet cleaner’s brushes and extraction system.
  • Pre-treat stained and heavy traffic areas: Pre-treating is like soaking dirty pots and pans before scrubbing them clean. Bissell Stain Pretreat and Hoover AH15078 Expert Pet Spot Treatment are two excellent examples.
  • Flush the cleaner’s system every one or two cleanings: Cleaning solution turns gummy when it dries out. That will clog the internal plumbing in any carpet cleaner. To prevent gumming up the works, run a quarter-tank of warm, clean water through the system when cleaning is done. Adding a cup of white vinegar to the tank is a safe and enhances cleaning.
  • Maintain the brushes and nozzle: Even when you vacuum before carpet cleaning, some hair and debris will remain in the carpet. A good carpet cleaner will capture it. After a few cleanings, it makes sense to clean the carpet nozzle and brushes to maintain their optimal performance.

Three Top Carpet Cleaner Types

  • Uprights: This is the most common type. It maneuvers like an upright vacuum, but without a swivel head. The Hoover SmartWash and Hoover Power Scrub Elite Pet are upright style. Most weigh 17 to 22 pounds, so can be operated like a vacuum.
  • Pro cleaner: The Bissell Big Green is a pro-style carpet cleaner. It’s like an oversized upright with larger tanks and motor(s) compartment. Maneuvering a pro cleaner takes more effort, and the basic motion is back and forth with slight adjustments in angles.
  • Portable units: The McCulloch steam cleaner is a portable unit. Like most portables, it functions something like a canister vacuum. The main unit sits on wheels, and you work with a hose and handle or hose and accessories to do your cleaning. Portable units are generally not considered full-house carpet cleaners. They are better suited to spot cleaning and versatility.

Best Carpet Cleaners: Full Reviews

We’ve done thorough research, and you get the facts.

Here are the full best carpet cleaner reviews.

Best Overall Carpet Cleaner: Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner, FH52000

Price on Amazon

Hoover’s attempt to make carpet cleaning as easy as running a vacuum has succeeded.

There’s no trigger. Push the cleaner forward, and it sprays an optimal mix of cleaning solution and warm water onto your floor as the brushes scrub out the dirt.

Pull it back, and the captured dirt and grime is powerfully sucked up and out of your carpet.

The hose and pet tool attachment increase the usefulness of the Hoover SmartWash carpet cleaner.

Best Feature: It cleans your carpet with automated ease. Those are the two essential sides to the coin. This machine makes our list because of its superior cleaning. It’s ease of use pushes it to the top.

Biggest Concern: It kicks into wash mode whenever it moves forward, even if you’re just trying to move the machine to another spot.

To overcome this, push the handle into upright/locked position, lift the machine so it doesn’t roll forward or switch on the Dry button. This quirk is a result of the trigger-free design and is most noticeable when working in tight spots.

With a few uses, you’ll be very comfortable planning your way in and out of such locations to avoid rewashing areas.

Ratings and Most Helpful User Reviews:

Positive ratings are 96% to 98% across sites including Amazon and Bissell. That doesn’t leave much room for unhappy users – about 2%.

Here are 10 great insights from those who are using the Hoover PowerWash FH52000:

  • Two beater bars instead of 1 seem to make a difference in cleaning power.
  • If you only want to rinse your carpet, you have to take out the cleaning cartridge. A bit of a nuisance.
  • It brought matted, dirty, smelly shag carpet back to life. Saved me thousands not having to replace it.
  • Not having to pre-mix cleaning solution and water reduces hassle.
  • Removing the brushes to clean them – which you can’t do on many machines – is quick and easy. I always feel like I’m starting with a clean machine.
  • Much lighter than bulky rentals and cleaned my dirty carpet just as well IMO.
  • The dry-only button is great, but to use it means another pass over the floor. It’s best for when company is coming that night, and you can’t wait for the floor to air dry.
  • Got rid of really nasty pet stains and smells my last cleaner couldn’t.
  • Pulls fibers out of my 10-year-old carpet.
  • Attachment hose connects/disconnects easy and comes with a bag with a handle for hanging.

Buy this Carpet Cleaner If: You want superior carpet cleaning and the trigger-free design, despite its minor quirk, is appealing to you.

Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner FH52000 specs:

  • Weight: 19lbs
  • Cord: 22 feet
  • Tools: 2-in-1 antimicrobial pet tool, 8’ hose with bag, sample bottle of cleaning solution. Amazon gives you options of including 64oz CleanPlus standard cleaner or 32oz PetPlus solution with your purchase.
  • Fresh water tank size: 1 gallon
  • Cleaning path: 12 inches
  • Warranty: 5 years – longer than most.

Here are a few points that haven’t been covered.

Removable nozzle and brushes: You know how hair and gunk get caught in the nozzle – the thin slot where water gets sucked up? And how hard it is to clean?

The nozzle on this tool can easily be removed, so you can flush out the debris under the tap. Try that on a nozzle still attached to the cleaner. Ditto for brushes.

Low-profile foot: The foot fits under furniture, a feature most carpet cleaners don’t offer.

2-in-1 pet tool: The tool attaches to the hose and has two inserts. The hard tip is ideal for general cleaning and nasty pet messes. The bristle insert scrubs away tough dirt.

Best Affordable Carpet Cleaner: Hoover Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner, FH50251

Price on Amazon

Spending a lot of money isn’t always the key to getting carpet clean. This machine’s proven effectiveness shows that you can do it for at a cost that doesn’t break the budget.

Like the SmartWash, the Power Scrub has the heated drying option and 2-in-1 pet tool. It scrubs out dirt with a series of gentle but effective rotating scrubbers.

Best Feature: Quick Clean mode. It allows you to clean up spills and messes right after they happen without soaking the carpet as you do in Deep Clean mode.

Because it uses less water, you can go further before changing the tanks.

It’s also nice when you want to freshen your carpeting before guests arrive or give it a once-over after they’re gone.

Biggest Concern: The cleaning solution line gets clogged on some machines because the cleaner dries and turns gummy. This problem is not unique to this model.

To alleviate the problem, run all the solution out of its tank, fill it with quite-warm water, and run that through to clear the line. It’s simple and effective maintenance.

Ratings and Most Helpful User Reviews:

Positive ratings for this unit are +/- 90%, and it has a low percentage of negative ratings, 6% to 8%. That’s a great combination. User satisfaction is high.

Here’s what they say about the Power Scrub Elite Pet carpet cleaner:

  • Works best when you methodically clean to allow the scrubbers to do their thing.
  • Having a trigger allows you to dispense some cleaner and then scrub a dirty spot without constantly putting out more solution.
  • Hoover customer service isn’t responsive to my concern about a part that arrived broken.
  • I have arthritis in my wrists but found this machine light and easy to maneuver without causing pain.
  • Sometimes when you go over a heat vent or edge of hard flooring, it stops sucking. You have to turn it off and back on for it to suck again.
  • Easy to assemble, 5-10 minutes and we were in business.
  • Quick Clean picked up fruit juice without leaving a trace. Great job!
  • Bought this when a local carpet shop wanted $150 to clean an old and really dirty area rug. Saved money by buying this machine, and the rug cleaned up beautifully.

Buy this carpet cleaner if: You are willing to take your time to get professional results. The scrubbers and cleaning solution will do the job, but on heavy dirt, you might have to make 4+ passes to agitate out all the grime.

If you’d like to own a very capable machine for the cost of renting one 2 or 3 times, this best budget carpet cleaner is an excellent choice.

Hoover FH50251 Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner specs:

  • Weight:5lbs
  • Cord: 20 feet
  • Tools: 2-in-1 antimicrobial pet tool, 8’ hose with bag, sample bottle of cleaning solution. You can also include 64oz CleanPlus standard cleaner or 32oz PetPlus solution in your order.
  • Fresh water tank size:25 gallons
  • Cleaning path: 12 inches
  • Warranty: 2 years

We’d be remiss without mentioning a few other features.

Four handles: There are four places to grab this unit when carrying it. The handle on top of the tank is centrally located and balances the machine. It’s the right spot for carrying the carpet cleaner up and down stairs.

Scrubbers are anti-microbial: If your old carpet cleaner developed a bad odor, this one likely won’t.

Best Professional Carpet Cleaner: Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine, 86T3

Price on Wayfair

This machine is built with commercial-grade components – less plastic, more metal where it counts. That means heavy-duty cleaning with less chance of mechanical failure. That’s why it is backed with a 5-year residential warranty, one of the best available.

Best Feature: Dual Power. It’s worth repeating from above due to the confusion. This unit has dual motors. One that drives the brushes and the other to power the suction. They are 12-amp, heavy-duty motors with plenty of life.

Biggest Concern: A small percentage (less than 2%) of units have seals that leak. Sometimes the issue can be resolved by repositioning the tank to fit tighter. Other times, you’ll have to make use of the 5-year warranty and get it repaired.

Ratings and Most Helpful User Reviews:

An impressive 93% to 95% of Bissell 86T3 carpet cleaner ratings are favorable. The Rug Doctor’s ratings are about 10% lower. And the Rug Doctor unit has more than 10% negative ratings compared with 4% for the Bissell commercial carpet cleaner.

Here are great insights from homeowners and commercial users of this machine:

  • Started with the dirtiest carpet in the house, determined to return the machine if it didn’t get it clean. It did a great job, and I’m keeping it.
  • I’ve had this machine 5yrs, 4mos and 0 problems. It’s a workhorse in my home with 2 pre-schoolers and 3 dogs we raised from puppies.
  • Using other than Bissell cleaning solution voids warranty – just a heads up.
  • Carpet dries within an hour most times, which I chalk up to the super extraction power of the Big Green.
  • Dirty water tank leaked after 11 months and maybe 7 cleanings.
  • I’ve had a few $200 carpet cleaners for comparison. This one outdid them by far on soiled Berber and shag.
  • Hose is 9 feet long. Everyone asks.
  • Not good on light throw rugs. It bunches them up. You have to weight the corners with like 50lb weights. Shows how strong it is, just NOT for light area rugs.
  • I worked as a janitor for a few years. This unit has the feel and performance of a commercial cleaner.
  • 9” cleaning path could be wider, but the cleaning is very concentrated.

Buy this carpet cleaner if: You have a lot of carpet to clean, want pro results and don’t mind that a large machine like this one is heavier and not as maneuverable as one like the Hoover SmartWash.

Bissell 86T3 Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner specs:

  • Weight: 52lbs
  • Cord: 25 feet
  • Tools: 6” tough stain scrubber.
  • Fresh water tank size:75+ gallons
  • Cleaning path: 9 inches
  • Warranty: 5 years.

What more is there to say? Well, a few things.

The power brush is huge: This is how you get commercial cleaning results. Put a powerful motor in the machine with a large, heavy-duty rotating brush to agitate carpet and loosen dirt. Add a second high-energy motor to extract the dirty water, and there you go.

9-foot hose and tough stain tool: The upside is good reach for same-floor cleaning and a powerful scrubbing accessory for nasty spots on flooring, upholstery and stairs. The downside is that 9 feet might not get you to the top of the stairs, meaning you will have to carry the unit up the stairs to finish the job.

9-inch cleaning path: There’s good and bad here too. Nine inches is less than the cleaning path for many carpet cleaners. The upside is that the narrower path concentrates all this machine’s significant power, and the results are pro-quality cleaning.

Most Versatile Carpet Cleaner: McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

Price on Amazon

Dirt and germs aren’t safe on any floor or above-floor surface when this chemical-free steam cleaner is around.

While not a carpet scrubber, it offers sanitization with 43 psi of super-heated steam that kills germs and melts away grease and grime.

Best Feature: Besides steam, there are 18 of them.

  • Steam Cleaner
  • Carrying Handle
  • Steam Jet Nozzle
  • Extension Wands (2)
  • Mop Head
  • Microfiber Pads (2)
  • Water Funnel
  • Measuring Cup
  • Squeegee
  • Triangle Brush
  • Nylon Utility Brushes (5)
  • Brass Utility Brush
  • Scrub Pad

The bottom line is that you will have at your fingertips exactly the right accessory tool for every cleaning job in and around your home.

Biggest Concern: Most machines don’t blast out steam for a continuous 45 minutes. That’s the total steam time. Instead, it will shoot steam for up to a minute and then need time to heat to the boiling point again.

Also, there is no extraction with this machine. If you overdo it on carpet, you should remove the excess water with a shop vac or absorbent towels.

Ratings and Most Helpful User Reviews:

The positive reviews are 73% to 77%, which is fair. The negative reviews average 16%, which is somewhat high.

Some of the issue with poor reviews is unrealistic expectations. This tool isn’t designed to clean a large amount of carpet. Instead, it’s useful for stains, area rugs, stairs, hard-to-reach areas like around a toilet and many non-carpet cleaning tasks.

These comments from verified users share wisdom on using this McCulloch PowerSteam Series cleaner.

  • Nice to know that germs are killed!
  • Steam plus one of the brushes or pads is a powerful combination for cleaning grout, grills, toilets and other gunk.
  • Wear gloves when you’re going to use continuous steam, because the handle gets hot.
  • Impressive cleaning, but some of the plastic parts seem cheap. Nothing broken after 5 months, just a concern.
  • I’m a handyman and see every kind of job. I often reach for the McCulloch steam cleaner.
  • The steam cleaning killed bed bugs in our guest bedroom!
  • Waiting for re-heating when you want steam can be annoying.
  • Steam and bristle brush tool old stains out of the carpet that my last carpet cleaner couldn’t remove.

Buy this carpet cleaner if: You want a versatile accessory tool to complement your main carpet cleaner and one that will handle a wide range of nasty cleaning tasks.

McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner specs:

  • Weight:95bs
  • Cord:7 feet
  • Tools: 18, listed above
  • Cleaning path:5 inches
  • Fresh water tank size:
  • Warranty: 2 years

The bottom line on this McCulloch steam cleaner is that it makes a great tool for spot cleaning carpet and removing dirt and grime wherever it is found. It is a jack of all trades, but not a master of carpet cleaning.


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