8 Best Portable Carpet Cleaners 2022 [Effective & Light]

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best portable carpet cleanersA portable carpet cleaner is a great choice when you are more interested in tasks like spot cleaning or cleaning upholstery rather than cleaning large areas of carpet.

It is a great way to clean stains fast, and the machines are also very easy to handle and store away.

Today the technology for portable cleaners has become cheap and versatile, which is great if you are a pet owner, need to clean your car seats, your sofa or your stair carpet.

We put together a buying guide, reviews of some seriously good portable carpet shampooers and a section with frequently asked questions to help you choose a unit that suits you.

Short on time? Here is our list of the 5 best portable carpet cleaners:

  1. Best Buy 2022 BISSELL SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner, 2458 “Powerful, versatile, can clean pet stains and odors but also auto interiors and upholstery.”
  2. Great ValueBissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner “An easy to use, versatile cleaner that cleans carpets, stairs, car interiors and upholstery.” 
  3. Best Cordless Cleaner – Hoover ONEPWR Spotless GO Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner. “Very handy and effective cleaner from Hoover with multi-purpose tool”
  4. Great Budget Choice for Pets – Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush Cordless Portable Pet Carpet Cleaner. “Cheap, very easy to handle and cordless”
  5. Automated Cleaning – Bissell SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Portable Deep Cleaner
BISSELL SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner, 2458
Best Portable Choice for Cleaning Carpet:
  • Powerful suction
  • Cleans pet stains and tough stains
  • Versatile: cleans carpets, upholstery and auto interiors
  • Featured by Household Advice as Best Buy of 2022

What to Consider When Buying a Portable Carpet Cleaner

specs to consider when buying a portable carpet cleanerThere are several factors to think about when choosing the right product for you.

It begins with the type of carpeting you have in your home.

It’s a smart idea to first check with the manufacturer’s recommendations first.

The last thing you want to do is damage it. Consult the company’s website where you’ll find information on how to clean it.

Armed with that knowledge, you can move on to selecting a portable carpet cleaner. The other specs to consider including the following:

  • Tank Capacity
  • Weight
  • Cord Length
  • Power and Suction
  • Functionality
  • Operation
  • Price

Each one has an influence on the final one, namely, cost. However, keep convenience on the table as well because that will affect your overall satisfaction with the product. We’ll cover each one of them in detail.

Tank Capacity

The keyword here is portable. By its nature, the tank capacity is limited. You’re not going to clean an entire room with one fill. You’ll find models in a range of amounts usually around  30 to 64 ounces. 

That’s plenty to clean up small areas. But consider how you think you’ll use it to anticipate how big it should be so that it’s the most practical choice.

The other thing to remember is that you need to find a balance between this spec and the following one.

Weight

This spec becomes an issue, especially when it comes to handheld models. You’ll be surprised how heavy even something as seemingly light as 15 pounds becomes after several minutes cleaning.

Verify whether the figure is just the product or filled with water. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds so that it could add to the weight considerably.

Cord Length

The length of the cord is a major consideration that affects its usefulness and practicality. You may find it helpful to measure from each outlet in the room to determine how long you need it to be to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Many models run from  15 to 22 feet  which is ample for most rooms.

You may see cordless devices which sound good in principle but may not be practical. Think about it.

You don’t plan on spilling something on your carpet. And if the cleaner isn’t charged, well, you risk that fact that it’ll become something permanent.

Power and Suction

These are some important features to research because it’s a measure of its effectiveness. If you have shag carpeting, you’ll need a model that can deep clean to get down to the fibers.

Accumulated dirt can break them down over time, causing permanent damage.

Look at the product description for language that specifies what it can and cannot do. As a point of reference, most of these smaller units have the same energy capacity as the average microwave.

Functionality

Extra functionality often falls into the dealmaker category for the best portable carpet cleaner, especially if you have specific needs. Check the type of surfaces that the product can handle.

It’s a wise move to get one that you can use on upholstery too. That said, look for the types of tools that come with it.

Crevice tools and brushes are must-have attachments that’ll make your purchase more worthwhile. If you can use it in your car, that’s even better. Some will also include cleaning solutions which are always welcome.

Other things to consider include options such as automatic shut-off when a tank has reached its capacity and a built-in water heater. These are features that’ll make your job simpler and more efficient.

You’ll see a lot of specialization in this market in the way of features and optional bundles. If you have a specific use in mind, the latter is worth considering.

Operation

Make sure to check out how you’re supposed to use the product. You’ll often see it shown in an image of someone using it in the description.

Pay attention to see if operating it seems awkward or more work than you’d like. It’s these little things that often put a model in the dealbreaker category.

Also, research how easy it is to clean. Even the best products fail if it’s a pain to get it ready for its next use. Therefore, ease of use is another primary consideration.

Price

The average cost of a portable carpet cleaner can run anywhere from  under $100 to thousands of dollars for a commercial-grade model. 

As with any significant purchase, it makes sense to set a budget. However, bear in mind two things when coming up with a figure. First, quality is a worthwhile investment when it comes to the care of your home.

Second, while it’s not a lot of money, you still want to put it into something that will last. Review the features and specs carefully.

Also, find out if there is a manufacturer warranty along with its terms and conditions. It’ll save you a lot of hassle in the long run if you know up front what they are.

Carpet cleaners focused on pets often has a little higher price point since they need tools to collect hair and extra spot cleaning capabilities. See our rundown on the best pet carpet cleaners for more info.

BISSELL SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner, 2458
Best Portable Choice for Cleaning Carpet:
  • Powerful suction
  • Cleans pet stains and tough stains
  • Versatile: cleans carpets, upholstery and auto interiors
  • Featured by Household Advice as Best Buy of 2022

Our Picks for the Best Portable Carpet Cleaner 2022

There are numerous products out there which you’ll know if you’ve started your comparison shopping.

We researched the available models to find our selections for the best portable carpet cleaner to give you a head start.

Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner

The Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner has an edge with the stellar reputation of the manufacturer in its court.

The product has a lot of features that speak to its attention to detail from the consumer perspective. It has a  22-foot cord and a 96-gallon tank capacity. 

It comes with its Professional Deep Cleaning Formula to get you started right.

It includes several tools that enhance its versatility. There are a  brush stair and tough stain attachments for cleaning car interiors and upholstery.  It’s lightweight at just  13 pounds.  The  dimensions are 10 x 14 x 14 inches,  making it a compact model too.

You can get it with an optional bundle which includes dog bathing too, professional deep cleaning, or tough mess remover. Each one has additional attachments or solutions.

Pros:

  • It has powerful cleaning action.
  • Optional bundles increase its versatility.
  • It has a two-year limited warranty.

Cons:

  • The flexible hose on the unit is short.

Bissell SpotBot Pet Handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner with Deep Reach Technology 33N8

The Bissell SpotBot Pet Handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner with Deep Reach Technology 33N8 is the model you want if you need serious deep cleaning power or you have pets.

It’s a bit spendy than the previous one, but it has some extra features worth a look. It includes its  Microban Antimicrobial Product Protection  to keep rooms smelling fresh.

The unit has two preset cleaning cycles which will make your work easier. It comes with its tough stain tool along with two formulas,  Pet Stain & Odor and Pet Oxy Boost. 

You can get several bundles including cleaning pet boost, dog bathing tool, OXYgen boost, and pet stain removal. Pet owners will appreciate the extra attention to their needs.

Pros:

  • It comes with a two-year limited warranty.
  • You can buy optional bundles specific for pet owners.

Cons:

  • The cord is shorter at 15 feet.

Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush Upright Carpet Cleaner and Shampooer, 1622

The BISSELL PowerLifter PowerBrush Upright Carpet Cleaner and Shampooer, 1622 is a bit of fresh air for those who don’t want to get on their hands and knees.

It’s a  powerful unit with four rows of rotating brushes in its 12 amp motor  to get down deep. It’s narrow at only  11 inches wide  to make it easy to maneuver.

It has a generous  96-gallon tank capacity with a 20-foot cord  for better reach. It’s easy to clean which is always a plus. Like the previous models, you can buy it with an optional bundle to increase its versatility.

Pros:

  • It has a removable lint screen to help increase the product’s lifespan.
  • It’s affordably priced.

Cons:

  • It’s a bit stingy with the included formulas compared to other products in the manufacturer’s line.
  • There are the occasional quality control issues.

Bissell Little Green ProHeat Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, 14259

The BISSELL Little Green ProHeat Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, 14259 is appropriately named. It has a more compact profile which is evident in its  48-ounce tank capacity.  It has a  built-in heater with a four-foot flexible hose. 

Attachments include the spraying crevice and tough stain tools.

It’s lightweight at just  under 12 pounds,  making it easy to use anywhere. The  power cord is 15 feet long. 

You can get an optional bundle, the Proheat Compact and OXYgen Boost or Proheat Compact and Pet Stain Formula.

Pros:

  • It comes with a one-year limited warranty.
  • It has excellent suction and clean power.

Cons:

  • Like the previous model, it doesn’t include a lot of product despite similar pricing.

Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, 1400B

The Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, 1400B is another riff on the compact line. This one is a little lighter at  just under 10 pounds. 

It packs the same cleaning power that you can use on a variety of surfaces. It  has a 15-foot cord with a 48-ounce tank capacity.  It does not have a built-in heater.

It’s simple to use. It comes with the manufacturer’s signature tool stain tool. The hose is a bit on the short side, so you will be on your hands and knees cleaning the carpet.

You can get the optional dog bathing tool or portable cleaning bundle for an extra charge.

Pros:

  • The product is made of recycled plastic.
  • It has a one-year limited warranty.

Cons:

  • It’s no easy to clean between uses.
  • It’s not suitable for larger areas.

Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner

The Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner shows that Bissell isn’t the only horse in this race.

Unlike other models we’ve discussed, this one not only cleans the stains but fluffs the spot so that it looks like the rest of the carpeting. It’s a small but welcome touch.

We can say the same for the retractable handle to move it around not unlike a suitcase with wheels.

The outward design succeeds as does the cleaning power behind it. The brush oscillates, but the shape of the handle makes it tough to use.

It comes with two cleaning formulas along with the option of additional bundles for pet stains and upholstery.

Pros:

  • The portability makes it easier to use.
  • The cleaning action is powerful and restores the look of it afterward.
  • The brush works with a scrubbing action.

Cons:

  • It’s a bit heavier at  just over 20 pounds. 
  • It’s noisy.

Bissell SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot Cleaner, 5207F

The Bissell SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot Cleaner, 5207F specializes in deep cleaning including tough, set stains. It’s lightweight at  only 9 pounds.  It has a  15-foot cord and a 4.5-foot hose. 

It includes both its deep stain and tough stain tools. It ships with two of its signature formulas, Oxy Boost and Spot & Stain.

It has a  built-in heater  along with its proprietary Heatwave Technology to keep the temperature consistent. You can get an optional bundle as we’ve discussed with other models including its renew your carpet’s boost.

Pros:

  • It comes with a two-year limited warranty.
  • It does an excellent job at deep cleaning.
  • The larger handle makes it more comfortable to hold.

Cons:

  • It’s a bit loud.

Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner, FH11300PC

The Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner is the least expensive of the products that we reviewed. It stands out for its  self-cleaning hose  which makes your job easier and helps to keep bacteria and odor in check inside the unit.

The attachments are made with antimicrobial materials which is an excellent accompaniment to the hose technology.

It’s lightweight at  only 9 pounds  and is easy to take room-to-room.

You can buy it with the optional CleanPlus or PetPlus formulas though they are spendy at around $20 each for a 32-ounce bottle.

Pros:

  • The tanks stay securely in place with no risk of leaking.
  • The price belies the powerful suction that this carpet cleaner has.
  • It’s an excellent value for the money.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t come with a lot of product, just sample sizes.
  • The handle is a bit challenging to use because of its design.

FAQ for Portable Carpet

Cleaners and Shampooers

If you’ve never used a portable carpet cleaner, you’re likely to have some questions.

We’ve rounded up some of the most common ones along with the information you need to make an educated purchase.

Why Should I Buy a Portable Carpet Cleaner?

reasons to buy a portable carpet cleanerThe short answer is the convenience that they offer.  The best time to tackle any stain is when it’s fresh.  Your chances are greatest that it won’t be a permanent spot.

That’s where the value of these products lie. They’re light enough to take anyplace in your home and can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Is an Upright Model Better Than a Portable One?

Both products are effective at cleaning and removing stains. The difference rests with your preference. The portable models don’t have a long reach, so you’ll have to get down at floor level.

One advantage they have over the former is accessibility. They typically have a narrower brush that can get to hard-to-reach places. They’re also more convenient to use for upholstery.

What’s the Best Way to Use One?

 Safety is of paramount importance since you’re working with a potentially dangerous combination of electricity and water. 

We strongly urge you to plug the unit into a grounded outlet if possible.

Also, avoid any traffic in areas that you have cleaned until it’s completely dry. You can speed the process by placing a fan near the spot.

Are There Concerns About Bacteria Growth in the Tanks?

Yes. That’s why it’s essential to clean the tanks after you’ve finished. Use a mild bleach solution and rinse them thoroughly to prevent bacteria, especially if you’ve been removing pet stains.

Allow the tanks to dry completely after you’re done. These two actions will create an inhospitable environment for these contaminants to flourish.

We recommend emptying both tanks between uses. Even though it’s clean water in one of them, the warmer temperatures in a home can create the perfect storm for bacteria development. Don’t risk it. Use the excess to water your plants instead.

We’d suggest doing the same routine maintenance on the hose too. Use the same solution followed by a quick rinse and then allowing it to drain and dry out completely.

Are the Cleaning Formulas Safe to Use?

Always follow the directions on the label to the letter. There is no cause for concern as long as you do so.

We recommend venting the room where you’re working by running a fan or opening a window to play it safe. Products with potentially harmful effects will indicate this information with additional suggestions for using them correctly.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty on your unit. Most are limited with specific conditions that you must adhere to avoid voiding it. That may involve the choice of cleaning formula too.

Will a Portable Carpet Cleaning Machine Damage Anything?

These units aren’t as powerful as commercial cleaners. However, you should still take the necessary precautions before using it. Test it on an inconspicuous place before you use it for stain removal.

Make sure and test each new formula you intend to use. These products generally are safe to use. A concern may exist with older carpets or vintage runs which may not be as colorfast as modern ones.

Can I Use It on My Furniture?

portable carpet cleaner on furnitureYes and no. That’s one of the many benefits of buying one. We’d suggest the same testing for any new formulas as in the previous answer.

The one exception is delicate fabrics. Most carpet cleaners work vigorously to remove stains.

It’s of particular concern if you can’t change the speed at which it runs. Remember, their intent is for high-traffic areas that can handle this type of treatment.

Can I Use It for Routine Cleaning?

Absolutely! Bear in mind that the tank capacity is smaller than a full-size model. That means frequently refilling.

For smaller rooms, it’s a non-issue. For larger spaces, an upright one is a more suitable choice is just to save your back.

What are the Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Brands 2022?

Go for the big brands like:

  • Bissell
  • Hoover
  • Rug Doctor

It takes a lot of experience and expertise to be able to put together an efficient machine in a portable format.

That is why we recommend going with the big recognised brands if you want a great portable carpet cleaner. You may save by going for a cheaper brand, but it is not worth it.

How Does It Compare to a Professional Cleaning?

Many commercial companies use a steam cleaner for deep penetration and yes, superior cleaning. However, that comes at a price.

A portable carpet cleaner is an affordable alternative that’s easier on your pocketbook.

If you need something that can clean tough stains and clean larger areas of carpet, look into buying a regular carpet cleaner.

They come with a bigger price tag and are heavier to move around, but clean large areas and deep clean more effectively. We put together a list of the top carpet shampooers complete with a buying guide here.

How Does a Deep Cleaner Differ From a Steam Cleaner?

A portable unit uses a dual action of spraying hot water whether it’s heated within or with the addition of warmer tap water when you fill it.

Then, it vacuums it up, loosening the stain’s grip on the carpet fibers. A steam cleaner works similarly with, well, steam. That gives it the added benefit of getting rid of bacteria too.

However, the higher temperature of the water means you’ll need to take precautions concerning the capacity of your carpet to handle it without damage.

Can I Use It on Rugs Too?

Of course. Remember that these units operate with a suction action. They will work fine with an area rug. A smaller runner might pose an issue.

A quick test will let you know if it’s an option.

Do Handheld Carpet Cleaners Work Well?

If you do not have large carpet areas to clean, or are dealing with heavy-duty stains then handheld carpet shampooers will most likely be enough for you.

Many people like the small sizes of the cleaners, and they are often cordless as well which makes it easier to clean autos and upholstery as well.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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