Updated: November 2017

Best Carpet Cleaners

If you have carpeted rooms in your house, you know that new carpeting is a big investment, and it takes a lot of work to keep it looking its best. Depending on whether you have pets, children, messy teenagers, or live in a particularly dusty or dirty climate, you may need to have your carpets steam cleaned every year of every few years, and more frequently in the case of potentially damaging stains. There are several different carpet cleaning methods - the shampoo method, where foam shampoos are worked into the carpet to trap dirt and then sucked back up, the dry cleaning method or "absorbent cleaner method", whereby very little water is used in conjuction with a dry absorbent cleaning compound (think Love My Carpet), and the hot water extraction or steam cleaning method, where super-heated water is sprayed into the carpet, forcing dirt and particles up into vacuum for removal. In this guide, we'll take a look at the best carpet cleaning remedies out there. You can browse the up-to-date list of best-selling carpet cleaners here.

Carpet Steam Cleaning - Cleaning your own carpets

While a vacuum might remove most of the loose dirt and dust from your carpet, a steam cleaner is needed to remove things like oily stains or set-it mud, wine, or pet stains. Steam cleaning works by injecting hot moisture into your carpet, loosening stains and trapped particles, which can then be wet-vacuumed out. You've problably seen steam carpet cleaners for rent at your local supermarket. These vacuum cleaners are meant for residential use by non-professionals - you just plug them in, follow the instructions, and clean your carpets. They will usually cost you $25-$50 per day for use. The Rug Doctor is the most famous brand of these cleaners, although they do not contain any heating element and can only use water as hot as your tap can provide (they even sell their Mighty Pro machine for $729 - check out the Rugdoctor.com website). Alternatively, you can hire a professional carpet cleaning service who will come in and do the work for you (see below). The last alternative is to buy your own carpet cleaning machine and do the task yourself. There are quite a few carpet cleaning systems available for consumer purchase and use, like the Hoover SteamVac Plus, Bissell Power Steamers, Bissell Big Green Clean Machine, and the Dirt Devil Easy Steamer.

Probably the most popular and most powerful models are the (RECOMMENDED) Bissell 9400 ProHeat 2X Select Upright Deep Carpet Cleaner ($199) and the (RECOMMENDED) Hoover F5914-900 SteamVac with Clean Surge (about $150). The Bissell 9400 ProHeat is a 12 amp vacuum, and it has a 12 inch cleaning path, 10 rows of brushes, and powerful suction. But it's real secret is the very HOT water it produces and uses, which can really get out old stains. We've used this model and loved the results, but don't take our word for it. It has garnered more than 200 user reviews at Amazon, mostly 4 and 5 star ratings. The Hoover takes it even a step further, with an astonishing 700+ users chiming in on how much they love the product -- if that isn't enough to convince you it's a good carpet cleaner, I don't know what will. Powered by a 12 amp motor, this cleaner has plenty of power, but again it's secret lies a little deeper in the Clean Surge feature which sends bursts of hot water and cleaning fluid into tough stain areas, followed by hot air. And it works. If you have a home with a lot of carpets, if you want to deep clean those carpets and remove old stains, then buying your own carpet cleaner is a good investment. And either of these models will leave you clean and happy.

The carpet cleaners above are designed for cleaning entire rooms. For spot removal, we recommend the Bissell 1200B SpotBot Hands-Free Compact Deep Cleaner Carpet Cleaner ($115). This machine is amazing. Next time you spill some soda, juice, or -yikes! - wine, slap the SpotBot on it and let it go to work (soak up any liquids and clean up any solids first). It has a 24 inch circular cleaning brush and uses special cleaning fluids to do the job, but the rest of the process is automated after you add the water and fluid (some users suggest using the spray bottle to apply cleaning fluid to the carpet and only using water in the machine). Six or seven minutes later and you're done. The only problem is that if you have dirty carpets, you'll end up with clean circle areas where the SpotBot has cleaned so well -- it is really meant for stain removal from carpets that are already in pretty good condition.

Local Carpet Cleaning Professionals

You can find professional carpet cleaners in most US cities - Dallas, New York carpet cleaners, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego - you name it. A good starting point of course is the trusty yellow pages. Look under "carpet cleaning" and you'll find a whole host of companies to choose from. Stanley Steemer has been cleaning carpets for over 50 years. They use their own proprietary cleaning agents and hot water extraction method which deep cleans carpets while leaving no soapy residue. The slightly damp carpets are safe to walk on almost immediately and should be totally dry within 2-24 hours. They move and replace furniture, treat stains and spots, and offer a free follow-up within 10 days if the job is not done right. The advantage of using a pro carpet cleaning service is that they are better equipped to handle stains, spots, or water damaged areas than you are. And they usually have a guarantee, meaning that instead of you having to rent a cleaner 2 or 3 times to tackle particularly stubborn stains, the pro cleaners you hire will come out and do it for free if they didn't do it correctly the first time. Make sure they are licensed and bonded, and that they guarantee their work. They should also move and replace all furniture as needed, and provide written estimates.

Carpet Cleaning Tips and Secrets

Here are some carpet cleaning tips:
  • Even area rugs need cleaning underneath occasionally - pick them up and vacuum underneath once every other month.
  • Always test for colorfastness before using any stain removers - pick a small area in a hidden corner to make sure the cleaning product won't affect the carpet color.
  • Stain resistant carpets eventually lose their "resisting power" - after cleaning, have the protector reapplied.
  • Door mats in front of doors (one outside, one inside) make a huge difference in reducing the amount of dirt tracked into a home - use them generously.
  • Act quickly on spillls even on stain-resistant surfaces - start your blotting and absorbing before stains get a chance to sink in to deeply.
  • When picking up spills, remember to blot and not rub or scrub, which can damage the carpet fibers.