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The 5 Best Portable Carpet Cleaners (2022 Review)

While many commercial-grade carpet cleaners are bulky, heavy, and costly, portable models are lightweight, affordable, and easy to maneuver. In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the five best portable carpet cleaners on Amazon to help you find the one that’s right for you.

A dog in a carpeted living room with a carpet cleaner near by. iStock

If your home has carpeted areas, it’s worth investing in a trustworthy carpet cleaner to minimize hair, dandruff, food stains, and other blemishes. Fortunately, carpet cleaners are lighter, more powerful, and more accessible than ever before. There are a variety of models on the market, so the This Old House Reviews Team researched the best portable carpet cleaners on Amazon. To make an informed purchase, learn more about our top five recommendations below.


Compare Top Portable Carpet Cleaners

Product Cord Length Weight Capacity Warranty
Product Cord Length Weight Capacity Warranty
Hoover Compact Carpet Cleaner 20 feet 12.5 pounds 0.5 gallons of liquid 1 year
Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless 4.4 pounds 8 ounces of liquid 2 years
Rug Doctor Portable Machine Not listed 19.8 pounds 64 ounces of liquid 2 years
COSTWAY Steam Cleaner 10 feet 13 pounds 52 ounces of liquid 60 days
Bissell Portable Deep Cleaner 15 feet 14 pounds 30 ounces of liquid 2 years

Best Upright Cleaner: Hoover Compact Carpet Cleaner

Hoover Compact Carpet Cleaner

Hoover Compact Carpet Cleaner

  • $90
  • $120
  • 26% off

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This portable carpet cleaner combines the stain-removing power of a water tank with the convenience of an upright vacuum cleaner. Although it’s not designed to target stubborn stains in isolated areas, it’s a useful everyday carpet cleaner to keep high-traffic areas clean. 

Courtesy Amazon

Key Features

  • Has a 20-foot power cord
  • Weighs 12.5 pounds
  • Holds 0.5 gallons of liquid

What Customers Are Saying

Customers appreciated the intuitive design and impressive performance of this compact carpet cleaner. They cited that it was useful for everyday cleaning tasks in high-traffic areas, such as hallways and living rooms. However, other customers experienced longevity issues, stating that the machine lasted less than a year.


Best Handheld Cleaner: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser

  • $134

Prices taken at time of publishing.

You can access tight spaces using this cordless carpet cleaner. It’s light enough to hold with one hand. It uses a rotating brush and a premixed cleaning solution to remove stains from carpet and upholstery. If that doesn’t work, you can attach the included rubber head for intense scrubbing. 

Courtesy Amazon

Key Features

  • Has a cordless design
  • Weighs 4.4 pounds
  • Holds eight ounces of liquid

What Customers Are Saying

Many customers highlighted the light weight and simple operation of this carpet cleaner in their reviews. For a cordless carpet cleaner, many users were pleased with how well it picked up pet hair, pet stains, and other blemishes. Other users complained that its suction wasn’t powerful enough to remove deeply embedded grime.


Best For Stairs: Rug Doctor Portable Machine

Rug Doctor Portable Machine

Rug Doctor Portable Machine

  • $220

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This spot cleaner is a good option for cleaning stairs. Because of its narrow, bottom-heavy build, it sits on a stair without falling. When you’re done cleaning every step, you can use the retractable handle and wheels to bring it back to your storage closet.

Courtesy Amazon

Key Features

  • Has a 5.5-foot hose
  • Weighs 19.8 pounds
  • Holds 64 ounces of liquid

What Customers Are Saying

Users thought that this carpet cleaner offered performance that was comparable to a rented full-size machine. They specifically highlighted the larger-than-normal head that could clean entire steps in two or three passes. Conversely, other users said that the water tanks leaked.


Best Steam Cleaner: COSTWAY Steam Cleaner

COSTWAY Steam Cleaner

COSTWAY Steam Cleaner

  • $120
  • $150
  • 21% off

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This portable machine is more than just a spot cleaner—its steaming function disinfects surfaces, removes old wallpaper, dry-cleans garments, and more. It preheats in five or six minutes and produces steam for 30 or 45 minutes. Even when it’s full of water, you can transport it easily with the built-in wheels.

Courtesy Amazon

Key Features

  • Has a 10-foot power cord
  • Weighs 13 pounds
  • Holds 52 ounces of liquid

What Customers Are Saying

The main benefit of this cleaner that customers repeated over and over again in their reviews was that it was versatile. Satisfied users liked that it could disinfect and clean a wide variety of surfaces—not just carpet. Unsatisfied customers had complaints about the machine leaving a greasy residue on the surfaces that it cleaned. At just 10 feet, the relatively short power cord was also a common complaint.


Most Efficient: Bissell Portable Deep Cleaner

Bissell Portable Deep Cleaner

Bissell Portable Deep Cleaner

  • $185

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This hands-free cleaner offers two different cleaning modes. In addition to its 30.6-ounce clean water tank, this carpet cleaner has a 29.2-ounce water tank for dirty water. It also features a control panel for scheduling the automatic cleaning mode or using the manual hose.

Courtesy Amazon

Key Features

  • Has a 15-foot power cord
  • Weighs 14 pounds
  • Holds 30 ounces of liquid

What Customers Are Saying

This machine’s preset, hands-free cleaning modes saved users valuable time and effort that they would have spent manually cleaning their carpeted and upholstered surfaces with a standard cleaner. Customers with accident-prone children or pets said that this cleaner was able to remove worn-in stains. Negative feedback included mentions of low suction power, loud operation, and soapy residue.


Buyer’s Guide

Weight, size, suction, reach, tank capacity, accessories, and other factors play into your purchasing decision when you’re shopping for a portable carpet cleaner online. Learn more about each of these factors below to make a confident and informed purchase.

Size and Weight

While it’s inconvenient to rent a heavy, professional-grade carpet cleaner for deep cleans, you can carry a true portable carpet cleaner by yourself with relative ease. Most portable carpet cleaners weigh under 15 pounds when their water tank is empty. They usually have a handle, wheels, or both.

Suction Power

A powerful cleaner is able to dry your carpet faster after soaking it with water and solution. It’s also more likely to dig deep and remove old stains that a normal vacuum cleaner can’t reach.

Reach

Despite the mobility of portable carpet cleaners, few models use a rechargeable battery. To achieve the suction that’s necessary to deep clean carpets, most portable carpet cleaners use a cord for continuous, powerful electricity. To cover a lot of ground without changing outlets, look for a machine with a cord that’s at least 15 feet long.

Tank Capacity

Most portable carpet cleaners hold around a half-gallon of water and solution. The more water and solution a model holds, the heavier it will be. If you’re primarily getting one of these machines to hit specific areas of your carpet, a large capacity won’t be a major concern, as you’re not likely to go through the whole tank in one cleaning session.

Accessories

Various attachments help you clean the carpet in vehicles, on stairs, between furniture, and in other awkward or hard-to-reach areas. Many carpet cleaners are sold with extendable hoses, upholstery-specific tools, scrubbing brushes, and other accessories.


How To Use Your Portable Carpet Cleaner

Portable carpet cleaners encompass various lightweight cleaning tools. Whether you’ve chosen a powerful spot cleaner or a traditional upright vacuum, here are some tips to help you efficiently clean your carpet without damaging it:

  • Before you use your carpet cleaner, run a vacuum cleaner over your carpet first. This removes surface-level debris.
  • Pretreat stubborn grime with a stain remover. Let the spray soak in for a few minutes before running the carpet cleaner over the area. Have your machine ready and close by before pretreating the stained area so that the spray doesn’t dry before you get to soaking it up.
  • Clean the bristles of your carpet cleaner’s brush after each cleaning session.
  • Consider going back over your carpet with just water to remove any leftover cleaning solution.
  • Give your carpet plenty of time to fully dry before walking on it.
  • Ventilate your home by opening windows and running fans to circulate air. Proper ventilation is especially important when you’re using a cleaning solution with harsh chemicals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a spot cleaner and a carpet cleaner?

These two names are usually used interchangeably. However, if you want to get technical, spot cleaners target small stains here and there, whereas carpet cleaners clean an entire surface.

Can portable carpet cleaners remove old stains?

Sometimes. However, you usually can’t remove old, worn-in stains without using commercial-grade rental equipment or contacting a professional cleaning company.

How long does it take for my carpet to dry after using a portable carpet cleaner?

It usually takes three to six hours for your carpet to dry after cleaning it. For a faster drying time, point one or multiple fans toward the carpet.

How often should I use a portable carpet cleaner?

We recommend deep cleaning the carpeted areas of your home at least once every three months. Increase the frequency to every one or two months if you have pets or children. Supplement your carpet cleaning with regular vacuuming every week.


Why Trust The This Old House Reviews Team

This Old House has empowered homeowners for more than four decades with top-notch home improvement content in the form of television programs, print media, and digital content on its website and social media platforms. The This Old House Reviews Team focuses on creating in-depth product and service review content to help inform your purchasing decision for just about any item or resource that you might need for your home. The This Old House Reviews Team has written over 1,000 reviews on products in the home space, from cordless drills to kitchen trash cans, lawn mowers, and dining room decorations.

We recommend products in each review using an intensive research process, spending hours combing through the best available models on Amazon. For a product to make our list of top picks, it must hold a solid sales record on Amazon, have consistently positive customer reviews, and offer unique features, among other factors. After narrowing down our list of recommendations, we conduct additional research and sometimes in-person testing to ensure that the products meet our standards. Once we conclude the research phase, we craft a well-rounded, user-friendly article that includes our recommended products and additional information to help homeowners like you make the right purchase.

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