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Best Carpet Cleaners

By: Kelly Burgess on April 23, 2018

A full-sized carpet cleaner can be your home's best friend

There's nothing like the feeling of a just-deep-cleaned carpet to make your home seem completely refreshed. Owning your own upright carpet cleaner makes it easy to keep even high-traffic areas as clean as can be, and can be a rug-saver when it comes to instant disasters such as pet stains and tracked mud. A carpet shampooer also makes it convenient to do a whole-house cleaning once or twice a year.

If your carpet messes are just confined to a couple of spots here and there, though, you may be better off with a portable or spot carpet cleaner, both of which we discuss elsewhere in this report. Or, if you only need a one-time carpet cleaning and don't want to pay a professional, see what we have to say about rental carpet cleaners.

Few carpet cleaners get the kind of glowing reviews that we see for the Hoover Power Scrub FH50150 (Est. $170). Experts and owners say it removes even stubborn, older stains and that it works well on most types of carpets, including light-colored ones. Reviews.com makes the Hoover Power Scrub their top pick, based upon performance, ease of use, and its wide range of useful attachments. This machine has a row of five spinning brushes that can easily handle ground in dirt or oil stains, and pet stains are no match for its power. The suction on the Power Scrub is powerful enough to remove almost all the water, so that drying times are quite fast. They're sped up even further by the built-in, forced air heat. The Hoover FH50150 also includes a well-reviewed powered hand tool, a crevice tool, a stair tool and an upholstery tool. A mesh bag to hold the accessories also comes with this package.

The most popular feature on the Hoover Power Scrub FH50150 is its wash/rinse selector. It's an optional step that you can use to get even more of the solution out of the carpet, and is as simple as turning a dial. Reviewers not only don't mind the extra step of rinsing, they love it. Many say that it makes them feel as if they really have a deep-cleaned, fully rinsed carpet with no soapy residue left behind.

The Hoover Power Scrub is reported as very easy to use, just fill and set the tanks; solution is mixed automatically. However, although it's considered light at 18.1 pounds, some users note that it's actually about 8 pounds heavier when the tanks are full. The machine turns off when it's time to refill the tanks, so you're not cleaning away only to realize that you're out of liquid. You can also use this carpet cleaner with water only if you prefer to not use a carpet cleaning solution.

Bissell joins Hoover in leading the pack when it comes to home carpet cleaning machines, and the Bissell PowerLifter 1622 (Est. $105) also gets great reviews for performance from experts and owners, but at a lower price point. It's not as fully-featured or as user-friendly as the Hoover Power Scrub, but it's also much lighter at 16.5 pounds, which will make it easier for some to use.

Reviews.com makes the Bissell PowerLifter 1622 their budget pick, noting that it cleans just as well as larger, more expensive models. Owners give it very good feedback -- 4.3 stars in more than 2,150 reviews at Amazon, with many saying they were kind of embarrassed to see how black the water was after their first cleaning. They also praise its sturdy, durable build, although we did see a couple of comments that the front panel pops off too easily.

Another Bissell that is very popular with owners is the Bissell ProHeat Premier 47A23 (Est. $250). This carpet cleaner shines with a feature that many people wouldn't do without -- heated water technology. It's highly praised by owners, with high ratings across several retail sites. In fact, the only reason that it's not our Best Reviewed pick overall is that it's a beast of a machine, weighing nearly 25 pounds (without water) and with a large footprint. Be sure you have ample storage space and the strength to push it around.

On the plus side, the Bissell's size also means that it cleans larger areas more quickly, with a 12-inch cleaning path and a tank capacity of 1.25 gallons, as opposed to the Hoover's slightly smaller one gallon capacity and 11.25-inch cleaning path. The Bissell ProHeat also features a 10-brush spinning technology that some reviewers say is more effective than Hoover's five spin brushes. However, what reviewers don't like as well is Bissell's tank-within-a-tank bladder technology, which they say is not as easy to fill, empty, and clean as Hoover's dual tank design.

But let's get to the heated water feature. Like all carpet cleaners, you fill the Bissell with hot water from the tap, but unlike many machines, the ProHeat Premier keeps it heated as you clean, rather than letting it cool down. Users say that they feel as if this constant supply of hot water offers a more sanitary level of cleaning than other systems -- although Bissell does not claim that this carpet cleaner's water reaches the temperatures that would be considered sanitizing. In fact, Bissell does not offer any information on the temperature at which the water is maintained -- they were not even able to tell us when we called customer service -- but users say "it's hot, but not scalding." Still, picky cleaners, especially those with pets, love this feature.

In addition, the Bissell ProHeat Premier 47A23 gets very good reviews for its powerful suction; owners say it doesn't leave the carpet so wet that it takes forever to dry. The ProHeat Premier includes a hose and stain tool attachment for upholstery and hard-to-reach areas like stairs.

This versatile carpet cleaner converts to a portable

It's the priciest carpet cleaner in this section of the report, but the Bissell ProHeat 2X LiftOff 15651 (Est. $300) has a unique feature that's generating some positive buzz: it converts to a portable carpet cleaner. The lift off portable cleaner looks very much like one of Bissell's popular portable carpet cleaners (which we discuss elsewhere in this report). It gives you the option of more easily cleaning stairs, upholstery and automobiles without hauling the larger cleaner around.

The Bissell ProHeat 2X LiftOff 15651 is the top pick after testing at Consumer Reports, and the only Recommended carpet cleaner there. It earns a score of Excellent for drying carpets, Very Good for cleaning and convenience, and Fair for noise. There aren't a lot of owner reviews, just over 60 at Amazon, much less than the thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) we see for other carpet cleaners, but feedback is quite good -- 4.5 stars. Most love it, they say it's a good cleaner and they love its two-in-one convenience. We did spot a few quibbles about the 15651 seeming flimsy, but not a lot of specific durability complaints.

Aside from its versatility in converting to a portable carpet cleaner, the Bissell ProHeat 2X LiftOff 15651 is fully-featured, with the same water temperature maintenance system of the ProHeat Premier, dual water tanks, a spray trigger to add formula, and a carry handle. The cleaning path is 12 inches and it weighs 24 pound when empty.

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