Portable carpet cleaners act as both mops and vacuums with their suction for drawing in debris and their water tank for treating stains. Their small size and low weight also make them easy to carry with you as you travel around your home. To learn more about the models on the market, read our review below on the best handheld carpet cleaners.
Top 5 Handheld Carpet Cleaners
- Best For Medium Jobs: Bissell Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
- Best Cleaning Function: Hoover Spotless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner
- Most Lightweight: Hoover PowerDash GO Spot Cleaner
- Best Automatic Cleaner: Bissell SpotBot Pet Spot and Stain Cleaner
- Most Portable: Rug Doctor Pet Spot Cleaner
Best For Medium Jobs: Bissell Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
This carpet cleaner has a clean water tank capacity of 48 ounces, allowing you to complete medium-sized jobs before needing to stop for a refill. Its 15-foot power cord prevents you from having to move the cord to a different outlet multiple times during a cleaning session. While the machine only comes with one attachment, it has 14 scrubbing bristles and a long suction opening for easy cleaning.
Best Cleaning Function: Hoover Spotless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner
This handheld carpet cleaner has a self-cleaning function that flushes the hose between every use to prevent dirt and bacteria buildup. It comes with two tools—a standard tool that scrubs stains and sucks up water and a rubber tool that provides more scrubbing power for tough stains. It also has a five-foot hose, allowing you to reach tight spaces.
Most Lightweight: Hoover PowerDash GO Spot Cleaner
This spot cleaner weighs 6.5 pounds, making it easy to lift and carry as you move to different rooms in your home. It comes with a sucking and scrubbing tool and a rubber tool for more scrubbing power. It also comes with a trial-size version of Hoover’s cleaning solution. You can pour this cleaner directly into the solution compartment without diluting it with water.
Best Automatic Cleaner: Bissell SpotBot Pet Spot and Stain Cleaner
This carpet cleaner has an automatic cleaning function, allowing you to place it on the ground and let its rotating brushes scrub for you. In addition to its 30.6-ounce clean water tank, this carpet cleaner has a 29.2-ounce dirty water tank. It also features a control panel for scheduling the automatic cleaner and a hose for manual cleaning.
Most Portable: Rug Doctor Pet Spot Cleaner
This spot cleaner has two wheels and an extendable handle to drag it with you from room to room. The curved shape of the machine’s cleaning wand allows it to scrub or suction hard-to-reach areas, such as under a couch or bed, at an angle. The manufacturer has also created a specialized solution to use with the machine that has a bio-based formula to make it safe to use in homes with pets and children.
Read our buyer’s guide below to learn about factors, such as portability and reach, that can help you make an informed purchasing decision.
Because handheld carpet cleaners require a water tank to treat stains, they aren’t lightweight enough to continuously hold in your hands. However, they typically weigh around 10 pounds and come with a handle for easy carrying. If the machine is heavier than 10 pounds, it usually has wheels for easier transportation.
Your cleaner should have powerful suction to remove water, cleaning solution, and debris from your carpet. If the suction on your machine isn’t strong enough, you might have to run a vacuum over your rug to remove any lingering debris or run the cleaner over a spot several times to suck up any remaining moisture.
Your reach is limited to the length of the power cord and hose. The longer the cord and hose, the farther you can go before needing to pick up the base and move it to a new location.
Your cleaner pulls water from its tank to wet your carpet and treat stains. A larger tank allows you to clean for longer before needing to stop for a refill, but it also increases the weight of the machine. Some machines have two tanks—one for clean water and one for dirty water—which increases their weight even more.
Carpet cleaners usually come with several cleaning tools, such as stair attachments and tough-stain scrubbers, allowing you to target every area of your carpet. Oftentimes, they also come with trial-size versions of the manufacturers’ cleaning solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to rent a carpet cleaner?
It costs about $30 a day to rent a full-sized carpet cleaner. While this doesn’t seem like much, it can add up if you rent the machine a few times a year. Consider investing in a handheld carpet cleaner to save money in the long run.
How long will it take for my carpet to dry after using a handheld carpet cleaner?
While the drying time depends on the type of carpet and the amount of water used, it usually takes between four and six hours to dry. If you want your carpet to dry faster, point a fan or humidifier onto it.
Can I damage my carpet with a handheld carpet cleaner?
It depends on how sensitive your carpet is, how powerful the machine’s suction is, and what type of cleaning product you use. Before using the carpet cleaner, we recommend testing the machine in an inconspicuous spot, such as underneath your couch, to ensure that it’s not going to cause damage.
Can I use a steam cleaner to clean my carpets?
Yes. Steam cleaners are similar to carpet cleaners in that they use water to treat your carpets. However, they heat this water, using steam to loosen debris as opposed to room temperature water and cleaning solution. This makes them safer for the environment and your family.
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