Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Reviews – 2020

The correlation is simple. The more foot traffic your home has, the more likely there is to be a mess. Even if you are meticulous about cleanliness, it only takes a single rogue puppy with muddy feet, or an inadvertently upturned glass of wine to litter the house with spots.

While some DIY methods may lend you help in maintaining clean carpets and upholstery, you can only go so far with homemade formulas. So, what’s a rather reliable, consistent and quick fix to the problem? A portable carpet cleaner!

Picking the proper portable carpet cleaner will depend mainly on your needs and preferences. Some companies manufacture products with the hapless pet owner in mind. Other organizations focus on deep cleaning power that delivers professional-grade performance.

If you have looked over portable carpet cleaner reviews before, though, you know the options are endless. Companies inundate consumers with enough features, formulas, and functions to make the shopping experience a mind-numbing venture. It is simply overwhelming.

Our goal is to make your shopping more manageable. We have researched the best portable carpet cleaners on the market and distilled our findings into digestible reviews. Here is what we conclude after a solid digging about portable carpet cleaners in 2020.

Top 5 Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Reviews

  • Large tank capacity
  • Extra-long cord
  • High-powered performance
  • Compact design
  • 6-inch stair tool included
  • Durability complaints regarding the hose
Overall Rating:
5/5

Bissell is known for its vacuum cleaners and floor care products. That is, in part, because those are the only products in the company catalog at present. Their commitment to specialization has paid off with cutting-edge technology that allowed them to surpass Hoover in 2008 as the number one seller of floor-care products in North America.

The Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner draws on a legacy of innovation. It blends professional-grade spot removal with residential portability. The high-grade cleaning results make it a piece of ideal equipment to tackle wine, mud, or coffee stains.

The versatility of the Bissell 3624 is what sets it apart from many of its competitors. It has multiple cleaning mechanisms that ensure you have the right tool for the task. Each one of those features attaches to the sizeable ¾ gallon tank so that you can go longer between emptying the canister.

The most frequently used feature is the five-foot-long hose. It comes with robust suction and a power rating of 5.7 amps. There is also a six-inch stair tool, which provides precision cleaning when it comes to the stairs, furniture, and other hard-to-reach places.

You have a wide range of maneuverability, too, thanks to a 22-foot power cord. The Bissell 3624 also comes with a two-year limited warranty.

Bissell packs high-powered performance into a device that weighs only 13.2 pounds. Whether you are cleaning an apartment, car, or your home, there is a place in your life for the Bissell 3624. The fact that the company has nearly a century and a half of experience in the industry is a pleasant bonus.

  • Ideal for pet owners
  • Hands-free capabilities—set it on the stain, turn it on, and walk away
  • Includes a hose and tool for upholstery
  • $10 of every purchase benefits pets in need
  • Brush heads collect hair and can be difficult to clean
  • Loud
Overall Rating:
4.2/5

The Bissell SpotBot Pet Hands-Free Spot and Stain Cleaner was made precisely with pet owners in mind. It provides the intense suction power and stain removal capabilities necessary to tackle any mess Fido or Kitty might make at home. Additionally, ten dollars of each purchase goes towards the Bissell pet foundation.

One of the strengths of the Bissell SpotBot Pet is its intuitive design. You can start tackling stains or spots with the touch of a button. The unit is compact and easy to keep ready for use.

You can select from two preset cleaning cycles that spray, brush, and suction the mess into the 32-ounce tank. It features DeepReach technology, too, to inject the stain-removing solution and warm water deep into the rug or carpet.

Additionally, the Bissell SpotBot Pet has a tool head that is perfect for sucking up pet hair. The extensive reach and ergonomic tool head provide the necessary precision, whether you are cleaning upholstery, stairs, or the inside of a car. There are even two hands-free cleaning modes to get rid of pet stains and odors.

You’ll see the best results with this model by using Bissell formula stain remover. One option is the Bissell 2x Pet Stain & Odor Formula, which is a blend that removes deep odors and prevents pets from creating a mess in the same spot. There is also the Bissell Pet Oxy Boost Formula, which harnesses the power of oxygen to remove smells and stains alike.

If you own a pet, the Bissell SpotBot Pet deserves a place on your radar. The hands-free technology and reliable cleaning capacities make it ideal amongst portable carpet cleaners. The ability to wash away stains without being on the scene, too, will let you spend time and effort on things that matter most.

  • Strong company reputation
  • Easy to use
  • Robust suction power—twice the industry average
  • ½ gallon tank capacity
  • Motorized brush
  • Retractable handle and attached wheels for easy transport
  • Tank has an odd shape and can’t be set down while filling
  • Suction nozzle is on the small side—not ideal for large areas
Overall Rating:
4.9/5

Rug Doctor has delivered professional-grade cleaning performance to homeowners for more than four decades. The company has become an iconic part of households across the world with its red carpet cleaners. Perhaps one of the most reliable signs of quality, though, is that Rug Doctor has one of the highest levels of consumer loyalty in the industry based on Nielsen ratings.

The Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner Vacuum comes with the strength to clean any accident. The key is its motorized brush head, which does the scrubbing for you. It vibrates back and forth 20 times per second to attack stains rooted in the upholstery or carpet.

You can also enjoy suction power that its twice the industry average. During the cleaning process, you do not have to worry about compromising the carpet or rug, because the vacuum does not use heat or steam. Additionally, the robust suction ability is not only practical as a stain-remover but also yields short drying times, too, because there is little remaining moisture.

Rug Doctor makes things easy for you when it comes to replacing water tanks, too. The tank comes with clear lines along the outside, so you do not have to guess when it is nearing maximum capacity. When it is nearly full, the removable tank lets you empty and refill with ease.

Each Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner delivers high-powered performance inside a compact case. It is versatile enough for indoor or outdoor applications as well as less traditional cleaning surfaces, like furniture, beds, and boats. The Rug Doctor even includes a handy easy-to-carry handle and wheels for effortless transportation.

The Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner delivers when you need it. No matter the type of stain or surface, this cleaner has the features and functions to finish the job. While the durability has lingering questions, shoppers can find solace knowing it’s one of the best-handheld carpet cleaners on the market.

  • Professional-grade pet cleaning solution
  • ¾ gallon capacity
  • 22-foot power cord
  • Extra-long 5-foot suction hose
  • Stain trapper tool provides a sanitary option for pet messes
  • Dirty water tank is difficult to clean
  • Prone to small leaks
Overall Rating:
4.6/5

When it comes to portable carpet cleaners, Bissel has dominated the rankings. Time and again, the company finds new and innovative ways to cater to the needs of users. The Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner is no exception.

This small carpet shampooer packs some serious power into an 18-pound body. Despite its compact appearance, it delivers enduring suction that lifts spots and stains directly from the surface. It also comes with a five-foot hose and useful attachments that offer the flexibility to clean stairs, furniture, and car interiors.

One of the distinguishing features is Bissell’s stain trapping tool. The mechanism contains liquid messes to a restricted area while you clean. It also has the power of a full-sized carpet shampooer distilled to a fraction of the space.

Bissell is also known for its extensive line of cleaning formulas. These provide a more effective clean than sprays or foams, which only attack surface-level mess. Combining Bissell cleaning formulas with the SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner ensures you will get exceptional results.

Perhaps most important is the carpet cleaner’s ability to eliminate pet stains and odors. Bissell provides professional-grade removal when used with the Eliminator plus Oxy formula. The proprietary liquid is “the best Bissell pet machine formula” and discourages pets from marking the same spot again. 

Bissell is one of the best portable carpet cleaner manufacturers, and this is one of their best products. It delivers on every feature, from deep cleaning technology to durability. While it is a tad more expensive than other models, the performance more than merits the price.

  • Affordable
  • Extremely lightweight—9 pounds
  • Self-cleaning hose
  • 14-foot cord
  • Moderate performance
  • Prone to leaks
Overall Rating:
4.4/5

Hoover is a yet another trusted name in carpet cleaning technology. The company has produced vacuums for more than a century, in addition to floor care products and domestic appliances. Its propensity for ingenuity and affordability is on full display with the Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner.

This carpet spot cleaner machine is noticeably lighter than competing models as it tips the scales at just nine pounds. Despite its lightweight and compact size—it’s only 15 inches tall—it holds 51 ounces of cleaning solution and has a 36-ounce holding tank for dirty water.

While the Hoover Spotless Portable carpet cleaner is above average at getting rid of stains, it does not provide the same deep-cleaning capacities as other models on this list. Leaking is one of the most common problems associated with this model.

Performance aside, this carpet clean is highly maneuverable and comes with an extendable hose. You can take advantage of the long cord to use it both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, the hose measures 44 inches and comes with various attachments for precision suction.

Another useful feature is its self-cleaning technology. Hoover engineered the Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner to flush the hose of residual dirt and grime. Thanks to this innovation, Hoover limits the chances of cross-contamination between cleanings.

There is a lot to love, even though the overall performance leaves something to be desired. It is lightweight, maneuverable, and thoughtfully designed. This machine is best suited for people who want an easy-to-use, small carpet cleaner that fits any budget.

Buying Guide - Portable Carpet Cleaners

If you’re shopping for a personal carpet cleaner for the first time and wish to conduct a bit of a research before blindly concurring with random reviews online, we’ve discussed below, everything that you need to comprehend to make an informed purchase.

What are the Different Carpet Cleaning Techniques?

Depending on the nature of your carpet flooring and the type of stains, there’s a variety of carpet cleaners to choose from. Certain types can cater your personalized requirements better than the others. Hence, it becomes important for you as a consumer to know if your selected model is best-suited for your carpet type and nature of stains.

1. Dry Powder Cleaning

This technique doesn’t employ a dedicated carpet cleaner but is rather an augmented method of carpet cleaning with a vacuum. Here, a powdered natural cleaning agent is mixed with a very small amount of water, detergent and a carpet-friendly solvent to be formed into fine crumbs. The crumbs are then scattered over the stained area. The dirt is then absorbed by these clumps and finally the carpet is vacuumed to reveal a cleaner surface.

As evident, dry carpet cleaning only cleans the surface of the carpet and hence cannot be counted as a deep-cleaning method. This method has limited advantages as it could leave behind pungent odors from stubborn stains.

2. Wet Carpet Cleaning

Wet cleaning is a more thorough method of carpet cleaning and is widely practiced for household and commercial purposes. The two majorly distinguished types of wet cleaning include ‘hot water extraction’ and ‘steam cleaning’.

A. Hot water Extraction 

Traditional carpet cleaning machines and portable carpet cleaners that are available in the market majorly employ the ‘hot water extraction’ method for cleaning. You need to fill the tank with hot water (up to 100°C) and a suitable carpet cleaning shampoo, following which the cleaner disperses the solution, scours out dirt and vacuums the stained surface thereby cleaning it. Full-sized carpet cleaners often have a design element to maintain the water temperature for a couple of cleaning rounds but portable upholstery cleaners lack this feature.

Warm / Hot water extraction is a more effective cleaning technique than dry cleaning owing to the added shampooing and scrubbing. Due to a higher cleaning temperature, this method also kills breeding germs and bacteria. However, the water temperature being lower than 100°C in this type of carpet cleaning, it is an inferior option to professional steam cleaning machines.

Note: Some hot water extraction carpet cleaners falsely call this method ‘steam cleaning’ which may be misleading for buyers. This method essentially uses hot water in liquid form and hence doesn’t technically produce any steam in the process.

B. Steam Cleaning

Out of all other carpet cleaning methods, steam cleaning is the most effective and naturally a comparatively expensive carpet cleaning option. Genuine steam cleaning machines use water up to 150°C, and hence can be truly categorized as deep-cleaning machines.

Portable steam carpet cleaners are thought to damage fibrous carpets because of the higher temperature but, in fact, it is a rather subdued cleaning method. Steam cleaners often do not use chemicals in conjunction with steaming and vacuuming making them a lesser harsh alternative.

3. Bonnet Cleaning

Bonnet or spin cleaning is popular among people for two reasons. One, it is fairly inexpensive and second, it’s easier to do. While it may be suitable for superficial spot cleaning, it is not recommended for long-term overall carpet care.

Bonnet cleaning involves an axial rotary machine with an abrasive cleaning pad touching the carpet surface. The abrasive pad is soaked in a cleaning agent and whiteners such as bleach. The bonnet agitates and scours out dirt from the stained carpet and then carries along a part of it in the cleaning solution foam.

While the use of bleach or other optical whiteners may make the carpet appear whiter/cleaner, it isn’t almost always the case. Bonnet cleaners, besides taking away some surface dirt, result in pushing a lot of dirt deeper down the carpet.

Vacuums vs Upright Carpet Cleaners vs Portable Carpet Cleaners

All meticulous home-owners that have got their floors covered with carpets and/or stairs and furniture with fabric upholstery, seem to have a couple of questions in common. Of all the fancy cleaning machines, which one should I get? Is a vacuum enough or should I also get a wet carpet cleaner? There’re just so many options, which one has features that resonate with my needs? Find answers here folks, have it simplified.

1. Vacuums

Traditional Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuums are arguably the most elementary carpet cleaning machines. The math is simple, you’ve got fabric carpets and covers, you’ll need a vacuum to maintain them. But is it the be-all end-all carpet cleaning machine? Apparently not! Dry Vacuums are only helpful when the dirt on the carpets is loose and sparsely scattered.

Dry vacuuming is effective when the dirt hasn’t settled down. For spillovers, stubborn pet and coffee stains, you’ll need to invariably own a separate carpet shampooer. Some heavy duty vacuums that are marketed as wet and dry cleaners are often times wrongly confused with compatible carpet stain cleaners. The wet setting only sucks in spilled water and doesn’t extract it out of a surface like hot water extractors do. 

2. Upright Carpet Cleaners

Upright Carpet Cleaner

Upright carpet cleaners are intended for using over large carpet areas unlike spot cleaners. Their design has an integrated vacuum and shampooing system that in conjunction, can take out stubborn coffee, wine and pet stains. The machine is initially fed hot water and a cleaning solution in the tank which is then dispersed over stained spots on the carpet. The solution dissolves the dirt and subsequently the vacuum sucks in the foam leaving the carpet stain-free.

Upright wet carpet cleaners have a bigger surface contact area and hence are ill-suited to small stained spots. With a convenient long handle, a pair of castors and a high cord length these are better used for general cleaning of the entire carpet area.

3. Portable Carpet Cleaners

portable upholstery cleaner Reviews

Compact, effective and efficient, portable carpet cleaners are ideal for cleaning small stained portions of a carpet. Ideal for spot cleaning, these are also popularly known as spot carpet cleaners. Like their bigger counterparts, spot cleaners too work on the warm / hot water extraction principle.

Every spot cleaner machine has a water tank that is to be fed hot water and cleaning solution. Similar to upright carpet cleaners, these too do not have any mechanism to maintain the water temperature.

Additionally, small carpet cleaners are often optimized in terms of design for cleaning certain type of stains. You get variants for cleaning pet stains, stubborn wine marks and specialized upholstery cleaners. 

What to Consider When Buying a Portable Carpet Cleaner

1. Cleaning Power

There are two ways to measure cleaning power: suction and stain removal. Suction is a straightforward measurement of airflow at the vacuum’s opening. Many manufacturers will list the airflow in cubic feet per minute or air watts on the device itself.

Stain removal is more challenging to quantify because there are no standardized measurements. Regardless, an effective portable upholstery cleaner should reach the deepest stains, whether they are on a rug, carpet, or upholstery. Many companies will provide a proprietary cleaning solution for the best results. Remember to check if the model you choose can work with other solutions and price out what compatible formulas will cost.

2. Durability

If cleaning power is the most crucial characteristic, durability is not far behind it. High-quality materials will make a difference when it comes to long-lasting cleaning performance. You should not have to worry about internal components breaking down in the first weeks or months because of poor design.

Remember, investing in durable materials will pay dividends in the future. While durable carpet cleaners cost more upfront than industry-standard versions, they will pay for themselves over time. Not only will you replace it less frequently, but also you will also enjoy superior performance.

3. Versatility

Whether you have a home, apartment, or RV, there are seemingly endless ways to make a mess. That includes, but is not limited to, dirt, wine, pets, urine, blood, vomit, feces, food, and candle wax. Make sure you have a carpet cleaner that is up for all these tasks.

The best models provide tailor-made solutions, whether that is multiple cleaning settings or handy attachments for hard to reach places. Note that while different attachments are useful, they should not come at the cost of convenience or efficiency. 

4. Maneuverable

You may come across the best portable carpet cleaner, but it is of little use if it is not maneuverable. Any worthwhile device should combine a lightweight frame with reliable performance. While this combination is easier said than done, there are several options in our reviews below that do precisely that.

As a rule of thumb, the carpet cleaner should weigh between ten and twenty pounds. This range provides enough internal space for deep-cleaning technology while being compact enough to move around comfortably. Additionally, a well-designed portable vacuum should be simple and straightforward to store.

5. Extensive Reach

You can clean a larger space faster if you have a long power cord. There a couple of different styles to consider, depending on your preferences. The primary options include a standard external cord that wraps around a hook and an internal one that retracts from within the vacuum casing.

Wrapping It Up

The best portable carpet cleaner is the one that works for you. It should deliver the performance you need and the flexibility to tackle whatever life throws at you. For instance, models, such as the Bissell SpotClean Pro and SpotBot Pro, do excellent jobs of catering to the specific needs of pet owners.

Regardless of which make or model you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind while shopping. While you can replace attachments and change formulas, there’s nothing you can do if the unit you purchase lacks cleaning power or durability. These are the central tenants of an excellent carpet cleaner and should be the primary focus of your investment.

However, there are plenty of aspects that may tip the scales one way or another. Having a long power cord and easy maneuverability will go a long way towards tackling tasks anywhere in the house or outdoors. Additionally, a versatile range of functions will ensure a comprehensive cleaning capacity for any mess.

One additional feature worth touching on is hands-free technology. Portable carpet cleaners that automatically apply solutions and extract messes can make a world of difference when it comes to time and stress management. Odds are you do not want to spend longer than you have to get a stain or spot out of the carpet, and hands-free technology can be your best friend to circumvent that.