March 24, 2022
Tired of ugly carpet spots, stains, and accidents…
But don’t want the ongoing cost and hassle of hiring outside crews and machines to clean them up?
Sometimes, folks just don’t wish to invest several thousand dollars to replace their carpet. So they look for the next best thing to extend its life and make it as hygienic and hypoallergenic as possible.
I went through 10 of the very best carpet shampooers and either personally tested them or had clients put them through their paces. This will hopefully help you decide which one is best for you.
Each model’s performance across several factors was examined to give you a realistic evaluation of each carpet floor cleaner’s capabilities.
The tests covered weight, cleaning technology, suction, price, and many other important items.
Maintaining your shampooer is an important part of owning one since it can break down if not properly maintained however some models are more robust than others. Whether you need one for occasional or more frequent use, I hope this review has you covered.
Just before diving into these machines, I’ve put together this brief guide to help you with your evaluation.
Here are the top three things to look out for when buying a carpet cleaning machine:
What are your specific needs?
Do you have pet/kid accidents and just need a machine that is great at spot cleaning? Or are you regularly cleaning your home and/or rental properties and need something more heavy-duty?
The machines reviewed below all have their intended purpose so be sure to understand which machine does what so your expectations are met.
Secondly, when you have hundreds or even thousands of online and independent reviews, you will notice a general trend or consensus on a particular product.
If the overwhelming majority of them are positive, then that’s a great sign you’re onto a very high-quality product.
There will always be unsatisfied customers in any market or about any product.
Yes, the occasional lemon's surface as do competitors, damage during shipping, and fake reviewers but generally speaking, when you see reviews heavily leaning towards one direction, you’ll very likely be very happy with it.
This is the most important aspect of your machine: does it clean well? If yes, what additional value does it provide over more/less expensive machines?
Having a powerful motor is great if it’s highly effective but it’s always best to focus on the results rather than what bells and whistles each one has.
Look for a machine that gets the job done according to your needs. If you can wait the typical 24+ hours for the carpet to dry after cleaning it, then great. If not, then look for one that has a quicker drying period.
Once you’ve established its suction and power are satisfactory to you, look at its overall ratings and go with the one that ticks off the most boxes for you.
Remember to care for your shampooer because a well-looked after and maintained machine can easily last over a decade.
Be sure to be very conservative with the amount of detergent you use! I cannot stress this enough because a lot of people incorrectly believe the more shampoo, the better and cleaner the carpets will be.
In fact, the exact opposite is true because excess detergent lingers behind in the carpet fibers, becomes sticky, and draws dirt to it as honey does to bees.
Less is more.
This may come as a surprise to many reading this but a large number of machine owners end up breaking or damaging them by simply not knowing how to use them properly. Sometimes it’s their fault for not taking the few minutes to read their manufacturer’s manual but other times, the machines are just poorly designed and difficult to use.
Since most people aren’t good with technical stuff or fixing machines, look for a machine that requires little to no assembly and is relatively straightforward to operate. Remember, you paid money for it so it’s on the maker to deliver a user-friendly product.
The simpler the better.
You can minimize any issues or disappointment by doing something that surprisingly very few does and this alone can save you so much headache: read the instruction manual!
It’s downright comical seeing folks complain about a perceived fault when it could have been remedied by simply following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to operate the machine correctly.
Do that, clean it after use, and take care of it and it will last for many years.
The top spot of this entire review goes to the Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner 86T3 and is our recommendation for the best overall carpet cleaner/shampooer.
While it will run you considerably more compared to other models, it’s clearly a cut above the rest across almost all areas making it a standout for homeowners who want the best possible deep clean of their carpets, rugs, and upholstery without hiring outside crews or renting one.
If you’re looking for the very best, then here it is.
This bad boy is not cheap or lightweight coming in at 52.5 pounds but boy does it clean carpets and clean them well.
Marketed as a professional carpet cleaner, the overwhelming majority of clients who have purchased and reviewed this machine are homeowners but such is its practicality; that anyone can use it and get awesome results.
Stairs, carpet, upholstery – it does it all.
It far surpasses any carpet cleaning machine you would rent at your local store (and this was actually tested to verify) due to its powerful motor and robust, anti-tip design.
Its extra large DirtLifter PowerBrush covers a much larger area than other cleaners allowing you to deep clean your rooms very quickly. Add to this the fact it cleans on both and backward passes, it slashes your cleaning time compared to other shampooers where you need to only clean on a forward pass.
Since its water tanks are so large coming in at over a gallon, it allows you to have continuous uninterrupted cleaning sessions which is ideal if you’re in a hurry.
Not only does it clean carpets and rugs like no other, but it also has a very convenient set of accessories and kits to help you with pet accidents like vomit, urine, hairballs, etc. as well as non-floor materials like steps and upholstery.
The power button is easily located on the back of the handle and because it’s so stable, it won’t tip or lean in any direction while going at full throttle.
A very noticeable element of this machine is its build quality. It feels so robust and sturdy and the way it’s constructed just looks and feels like the real deal. It doesn’t have the hollow, plastic feel other cleaners have and when its engines rev up and start working, you can genuinely feel the deep clean it gives out.
This shampooer exceeded expectations across all fronts and for the price, you still get excellent value for money when you consider the cost of repeated professional carpet cleaning and/or equipment rental over the course of just one or two years.
Now if you don’t want to drop $400.00 on the top shampooer on the market, here’s a perfect option for you.
Second up, we have the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe FH50150 Carpet Cleaner, by far the most popular machine on the market today.
This unit is lightweight, super easy to assemble and use, and most importantly, cleans phenomenally well even if just hot water is used.
This machine has the most number of customer reviews due to its popularity and with good reason: it’s simply loaded with unique features at a very reasonable price that makes cleaning your carpets a breeze.
It’s very lightweight for such a large cleaner coming in at just under 19 pounds. This means it will be easy for you to move it around from room to room or even up and down stairs without too much trouble.
It comes with a “Smart Tank” system which makes filling, emptying, and cleaning the tank really easy with no mess at all. See, unlike other cleaners, it automatically shuts off once the dirty water tank is full so just keep going until that happens – there’s no need to constantly switch it off and check back and forth.
Best of all, you don’t need any special tools or anything like that so it’s a huge time saver as well.
One of the biggest benefits of this shampooer is its “SpinScrub Technology” which means it allows for a complete 360 degree cleaning around the actual carpet fibers. It has counter rotating brushes that give you continuous contact with the carpet providing for a more thorough clean. Coupled with this, it also has a “DualV Nozzle” that gives you equal suction for an even but fast clean and equally fast dry time via heated air.
It gives you the option to wash your carpet either with soap and water or just water in the event you wish to rinse it afterward.
I found it even more effective if you start with hot water first then go over it with the soap and water option afterward for an even deeper clean.
The main thing to be mindful of is its power cord is only 20 feet long so depending on your home, it may need to be disconnected and replugged back in when going from room to room. Yes, it’s a slight inconvenience but nothing major.
You don’t have to worry about mixing the detergent and getting the ratio right either as this is done automatically for you so you never have to mess with solutions. giving you more time to focus on cleaning your carpets.
This was as good a machine as I tested and your carpets will love you for using it.
The suction on this thing is off the charts strong to the point the handle sometimes can feel slightly flimsy even though it held up well over the entire test.
We cleaned an entire 3,400 square foot home to ready it for showing over a weekend.
Let me just say the shock and awe you get after seeing what it manages to pull out is truly amazing. It’s as good as any commercial grade machine, very well built, and comes with all the tools you need to do upholstery, furniture, and hard-to-reach areas.
The side-to-side agitating brush is unique in the sense it’s one of the very few that operate this way on the market. The main difference between this mechanism and the rotating ones is the rotating ones tend to over time, remove some of the carpet fibers due to their aggressive scrubbing and cleaning.
It’s exceptional for pet stains as well so make sure you use the included Pet Formula Carpet Cleaner and Urine Eliminator Spray for optimal results.
Like other Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machines, it only works on a backward pass.
Go slowly and deliberately over the carpet and it will remove as much grime in that single pass as other machines take to do in two or more.
Up next, we have the Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush 1622; which is an excellent value for money unit.
This shampooer was great overall and perfect for anyone who wants an inexpensive alternative to professional cleaning but with the same results.
Packing a mighty punch for its size, you can actually feel its robust machinery going to work on the carpet as you glide it across and back and forth. Other customers, as well as us, noticed it gets rid of both stains and any accompanying smell so it literally refreshes as it goes.
It’s bulky yes but surprisingly light and easy to maneuver thanks to its quickly adaptable wheels. Super easy to assemble (takes seconds and a Phillips screwdriver) and work – just add hot water and the unit works very well to purify your carpet. I simply kept using it and refilling the water tank until the water came out clean.
All you need for this machine to work its magic is to put in as hot tap water as you can find and it will go after even the most stubborn stains.
Just be aware if you have dogs or cats that shed a lot, it’s very important you dry vacuum your carpet first to remove this surface hair, otherwise you’ll be left with wet globs of hair that you need to pick up afterward!
The biggest advantage I felt with this machine is the depth and efficiency at its cleaning power – the 4-Row DirtLifter Powerbrush system has basically had a “loosen and suck” mechanism. The brush gets deep into the carpet to loosen up dirt and stains that ordinary vacuums leave behind then the strong suction removes it for good. Since it gets to the bottom of the carpet and removes stains at their root, it leaves the area smelling better than before.
The only thing I felt could be improved is the 2-in-1 water tank size – it’s considerably smaller than other machines which means more frequent trips to empty the dirty water but apart from that, it’s a well-rounded shampooer that gets the job done very nicely. There is a positive trade-off though because the unit is very lightweight as a result so it’s ideal for anyone who struggles with heavier cleaners.
Bissell came out with this machine to specifically tackle pet problems – pee, vomit, tracked-in dirt, drool – you name it; whatever your pet can throw at it, the Professional Pet Urine Eliminator + Oxy formula combined with the pretreater will make short work of it (it’s even acclaimed to remove skunk odor).
Activated by foot, the Cleanshot pretreater goes right after problem spots and stains often caused by pets leaving them looking and smelling great. There’s another bonus here if you are looking for a machine to specifically help you with pet problems – included is also a 2-in-1 pet upholstery tool that’s specifically designed to remove pet hair, accidents, and odors from carpets and upholstery.
There are also two different modes you can set this shampooer on – “express clean” and “deep clean”.
The first provides you with a comprehensive clean without soaking your carpets or upholstery.
So for example, if you have guests coming, you can clean well beforehand and it will be dry within about an hour (give or take, depending on conditions, etc). However, if you’re looking for a deep clean, then you switch it to that mode and it will use everything in its arsenal to pull out things you would never imagine.
This pet accident blasting machine is also very versatile, easy to operate, and quite powerful. I think what really enhances it however is Bissell’s cleaning solutions for pet owners – they are very well priced and they work better than anything tested.
One thing to keep in mind is you need to clean this machine well after use because since there’s no direct access to the opening where suction occurs, it’s very easy for hair to stagnate there, dry, and really be unpleasant. Just pop the cover off and use the provided hair removal tool to ensure it’s as clean as a whistle for next use.
This entry-level cleaner is ideal if you want something basic that has excellent cleaning power, is super lightweight (12 lbs!) and the easiest unit to operate that we tested.
It worked best on areas like hallways, entryways, rugs, and smaller rooms.
Its 4-row rotating powerbrush lifts dirt allowing its strong suction to do the work. Bissell’s cleaning formulas for this machine worked very well on pet stains, coffee, and wine leaving the spots we tested as good as new.
Its collapsible handle makes it so convenient, that it neatly folds away in a small closet which is very handy.
The suction on this thing is huge which is great even though the carpet will still be damp afterward, the result when it completely dries was very impressive. It has a trigger that you hold down to release fluid as you run the machine over an area and it’ll do the rest.
The water tank although small, is easily located at the front of the machine and is airtight when clipped on so you will not get any complaints like leaks which seems to be a common thing among folks….who don’t correctly follow the instructions.
It also doesn’t have an automatic water heater to warm the water to the required temperature but states to use warm water – DO NOT use scalding hot or anything above 120 degrees as this can easily deform the materials on the unit and render it useless.
Weighing in at just 13.2 pounds, don’t let this flyweight fool you. This is the perfect machine for pet/child accidents whether on the floor or furniture.
Although not designed to do large areas of carpet, this little guy has some serious sucking power for tough spot stains like pet and child accidents and works equally well on upholstery and steps as it does on the carpet. It comes with its own stair tool that is designed for steps and other household items like couches, sofas, area rugs, and yes, even the interior of your car.
Since it’s portable, it’s very convenient to store or carry around based on your needs and since it’s not as cumbersome as the large shampooers, it’s quite the joy to simply whip it out in case of emergency, clean the area, and be done with it.
This can certainly be a lifesaver when you really need to remove small spots immediately or completely rejuvenate any sitting furniture.
The biggest advantage of this unit is how well it performs. Nothing seems to bother it be it pet urine, vomit, blood, dirty – it has a rotating brush that penetrates the carpet deeply but just keep in mind not to focus on one area too long otherwise you will get a cleaning spot there!
I also like how it automatically stops suction once the dirty water unit is full; preventing any unwanted accidents.
Quite a number of folks who bought this machine stated they would prefer it lasted a lot longer since 2-3 years seems to be the standard before it kicks the bucket.
For the price, however, it certainly saves you a whole lot of money than if you were to get a professional crew to spot treat your home.
The most noticeable thing about this machine when we tested it was..it sucks big time!
In a good way of course: it has a whopping 75% more suction power than many similar machines and not surprisingly, removes more dirt than them. It’s modeled around a professional-grade shampooer – it looks and more importantly, cleans just as good if not better than several commercial grade machines. Of course, it’s much lighter because it’s made from lighter materials for it to be easy to use for any homeowner.
I really liked the upholstery tool that comes with it – it’s absolutely sublime for harder to reach spots and great for furniture. If you have a particularly difficult spot or area that needs extra attention, then there’s the ‘Super Boost’ spray which is a handy bell to have. It’s a fairly large unit so it cleans deeply and quickly and drying time is approximately 4 hours depending on humidity and conditions but still significantly shorter than many machines that leave your carpet damp even 24 hours later.
The way this machine works is mainly via what Rug Doctor calls “Dual Cross Action Brushes” which work by deeply cleaning each carpet fiber from every angle while the grooming brushes polish them giving a stellar, plush feel.
It comes with i’s own cleaning solutions so obviously use them for the best results.
Speaking of which, I was with a client when they put this bad boy to use when cleaning a rental property we were remodeling for them. The cleaning mechanism in the Rug Doctor worked exceptionally well by loosening dirt and grime embedded deep within then sucked the dirty solution up thereby also making the carpet fibers come to life.
A couple of things to be mindful of – although its water tanks are fused into one piece, they are quite small compared to other machines. Now, this may appear to be a disadvantage at first but I found it more than compensates for this with its superior suction power. Instead of needing to do several passes, the client only did one! Of course, some areas are extremely dirty and require an additional pass but overall, you will be doing less work cleaning since it simply collects more dirt per pass.
The second thing is it only cleans going backward unlike other units that have dual but many folks have stated this actually worked better for them since it was easier to work with.
This shampooer is a good middle-of-the-road unit that offers an array of features that give you many benefits.
First, it has a very wide nozzle at around 13 inches wide giving you about 20% more surface area to clean more carpet, faster. The SpinScrub Technology characteristic of many Hoover cleaners is also in this one and a brief overview of it may give you a greater understanding of exactly how it works and why it cleans so well.
Think of the brushes on this machine similar to a rounded electrical toothbrush. The bristles are straight and neatly placed in a circular design. So when this machine is running, the rounded-shaped brushes get 360° access to your carpet fibers giving them as thorough a clean as possible. We found this machine regularly gave “after” water that resembles a murky creek or chocolate milk such was the sheer volume of grime that it sucked.
It’s got a 12-amp powerful motor with heated cleaning as well – this means you don’t have to wait too long for the carpet to dry compared to non-heated cleaners where oftentimes, you may have to wait for 24 hours or longer.
The accessory it provides is also super handy – a “SpinScrub Powered Hand Tool” as well as an upholstery tool and removable tool caddy.
When we tested it on curtains, sofas, and other furniture items, it was as good as we tested in terms of its cleaning ability but honestly, we feel this machine is heavy and not suited to smaller, tight places or small and/or older folks.
It does its best work when it has a chance to go over large slabs of carpet so if you’re looking for a product that can knock out a large carpeted area relatively quickly, this is a very good option.
One distinguishing feature about this product is the Clean Surge control where you can simply adjust the amount of detergent you like with your fingertips.
If you come across a particularly difficult stain, then simply release more detergent at will to get it out easier. It shares the SpinScrub technology of other Hoovers so it will clean the carpet and upholstery fibers in a 360° manner giving you a thorough clean as possible.
Another much sought-after benefit is it dries the carpet quite well and doesn’t leave them too damp like most other cleaners do where you have to simply wait it out for everything to completely dry. The front of the cleaner is see-through plastic so you can see if any water is still being sucked up. If you’re in a hurry to dry your carpets then simply keep the vacuum on the area until no more water can be seen being sucked up.
True to Hoover’s legacy, this unit has very strong suction via its 12-amp motor so it may only take a couple of passes or more depending on your carpet’s condition to get it properly cleaned. If you haven’t cleaned your carpets in years or like…ever – then expect it to take a few runs before your carpet is adequately clean.
The 3-speed brush roll control is excellent and works well – you simply select your speed based on how aggressively you want the machine to clean.
This shampooer would have rated higher had it not been for the misstep many clients made by not setting it up properly before use. There is a one-time setup you must do where you squeeze the trigger and push the Clean-Surge button to lock a rod into place.
Do that, and it’s good to go. Don’t do it and your unit will leak. Not the unit’s fault obviously but then again, customers can be fickle even when it’s their fault!
All of these machines excelled in their respective categories to be the best in their class so whichever you go with, you can be assured of a very high quality product.
If used correctly and looked after, they will add many more years to your carpets you once thought were unsavable.
Just be sure to select according to your needs and maintain it after each use (clean it so it doesn’t accumulate grime and harden) and most importantly, follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
Remember to use the machines slowly and deliberately to give them ample time to give you the deep clean you’re after.
All of these machines are backed by 2, 3, and 5-year warranties depending on the model so replacement parts and repairs are very easy to source. Finally, if you have dogs that constantly destroy your carpet, consider helping them with a solid training program like Adriene Faracelli’s Brain Training.
I really hope this review has been of help to you in choosing your own carpet cleaner.