Small carpet cleaners as a group are not evaluated in the professional reviews we consulted, and few models are widely recommended at opinion websites. Still, we found a few clear standouts among reviews.
Bissell makes a small spot cleaner, the Bissell SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner 33N8 (*Est. $140) . This portable carpet cleaner's selling point is its Deep Reach feature, which is supposed to inject the cleaning solution deeper into the carpet to reach stubborn stains or soil, such as animal urine. The SpotBot Pet has a 32-ounce dirty tank capacity and a 7-inch cleaning surface. Like the original Bissell SpotBot (now discontinued), this spot cleaner is designed to clean stains automatically -- you park it on top of the stain and start the cleaning cycle. For larger or hard-to-reach stains, users can employ a stain-removal tool to scrub manually with a nozzle attached to the end of a 5-foot hose. Reviewers say this is useful for reaching stains in tight spaces where the SpotBot Pet wouldn't fit as an entire unit for automatic cleaning, or for stains too large for the automatic cleaning mode to cover.
The Bissell SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner gets rave reviews from owners posting to Amazon.com, where it maintains an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars in about 200 owner reviews. The majority of owners say the SpotBot Pet works extremely well to remove both set-in and fresh stains with its two corresponding cleaning settings. There are a few isolated complaints of leaking units and breaking parts, and a few owners point out that for larger stains it may be necessary to clean the stain in sections, moving the unit between cleaning cycles to cover the entire area. The SpotBot Pet is backed by a one-year warranty.
The Bissell Little Green 14007 (*Est. $90) earns average ratings of 4 out of 5 stars or better in user reviews on Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Target.com, Walmart.com and Viewpoints.com. The main difference between the Little Green and SpotBot is that you don't park the Little Green on a stain and walk away; you'll have to scrub stains manually with the included wand and 3-inch nozzle. True to its name, the Little Green's tanks are made of PVC-free plastic, and other plastic parts contain a minimum of 50 percent recycled material. Even the cardboard container it comes in is mostly recycled, and the cleaning solutions sold with the Little Green are free of phosphates and heavy metals.
ConsumerReports.org does not include the Little Green spot cleaner in its ratings, but the editors offer an assessment of its performance in a March 2010 article that's accessible by nonsubscribers.. They report that its cleaning performance doesn't measure up to a full-size carpet cleaner, saying it "left our off-white carpet a medium gray" and "did little on our tough stains." Still, of the 650-plus reviews we found on user sites, most were enthusiastic. Users say it works well on small stains and is easy to assemble and use. The most common complaint about this carpet cleaner is that the hand tool sprays too wide an area, wetting the carpet around the brush but not right under it.
One user at Walmart.com says easing off on the spray button can relieve this problem, while another circumvented it by applying the cleaner with a separate spray bottle. Some users say the suction on this machine is weak, leaving the carpet too wet. A few also find it difficult to clean. Overall, though, this model gets good scores, averaging about 4 stars out of 5 on sites like Amazon.com and WalMart.com. Bissell also makes a version of the Little Green with an internal heater, the Little Green ProHeat 50Y6A (*Est. $100) . However, reviews of this model are not as favorable as those for the basic Little Green machine.