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Best carpet cleaners for pristine and tidy floors, tested by Mumsnetters

Cleaning your carpets is one of the most satisfying household tasks, especially if you share your home with messy kids and/or pets. Watching the water turn dark as your flooring is rejuvenated feels strangely pleasurable, so get to work with one of the best carpet cleaners for a professional finish at home.

By Gemma Lumley | Last updated Mar 15, 2024

Three carpet cleaners on a light purple patterned background. Two Vax carpet cleaners flank the blue, smiley-faced Henry carpet cleaner

Stubborn stains and lingering smells are challenges that require a dedicated carpet cleaner that uses jets of warm water, bacteria-killing detergent and powerful brushes to dig deep into fibres and dislodge dirt. The grime is then vigorously sucked up into the machine.

The amount of muck the rugs, mats and carpets in our homes accumulate is horrifying, but an afternoon with a great carpet cleaner will restore floors to their pristine and sweet-smelling best. Tackling a big room is slow, methodical work, so large water tanks and easy steering are as crucial in a carpet cleaner as its stain removal prowess.

From budget and lightweight products to technical models complete with an array of tools, we’ve rounded up the best carpet cleaners that Mumsnet users have tried and tested in their homes

To keep on top of household chores, we've also got handy guides to the best vacuum cleaners, the best cordless vacuum cleaners, the best robot vacuum cleaners, the best floor mops, the best steam cleaners, the best Dyson vacuum cleaners and the best Shark vacuum cleaners, all featuring reviews and recommendations from Mumsnet users.

Read next: Bag a bargain with our roundup of the best vacuum cleaner deals

Best overall carpet cleaner
What we like
  • Six-year guarantee included

  • Large water tanks

  • Effective tools included

What we don't like
  • Using non-Vax cleaner will invalidate the guarantee

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 3.5 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 1.9 litres | Tools included: 2.5m hose; 2-in-1 antimicrobial tool (multi-purpose attachment and pet attachment); spin scrub hand tool; storage bag | Cord length: 9 metres | Weight: 7.4 kg

What Mumsnet users say
ForeverSausages · Tried & Tested
"The Vax Platinum SmartWash is fab. And has a dry only option on it to suck out the water."
See Post
Our verdict

Tested by MNHQ: Read our full Vax Platinum SmartWash review

The Vax Platinum SmartWash is a fantastic cleaner that will transform the carpets in your home. It’s a big machine, so you’ll need somewhere appropriate to store it, but it still feels comfortable to use, thanks to the clever ergonomic design.

Reviewers love how little effort is needed to remove tough stains. The double brushes are super effective at lifting ingrained dirt, and the motion sensor means you don’t have to have your finger on the water trigger constantly. The SmartWash also dries efficiently so that you won’t be left with a wet and musty-smelling carpet. The controls are simple to use, and it comes with sturdy attachments and two bottles of powerful antibacterial solution. You don’t need to faff with measuring out detergent for the SmartWash; it automatically mixes the perfect solution.

In terms of ease of use and dirt-busting capabilities, Vax Platinum Smartwash stands head and shoulders above its competitors. This is why we have chosen it as our best overall carpet cleaner.

Best budget carpet cleaner

Russell Hobbs RHCC5001 Upright Carpet Cleaner, £80

What we like
  • Great price

  • Lightweight - just 6kg

  • Long power cord

What we don't like
  • The spray trigger needs force

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 1.8 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 2.45 litres | Tools included: N/A | Cord length: 8 metres | Weight: 6 kg

Our verdict

This Russell Hobbs carpet cleaner is a lightweight machine that cleans carpets and rugs quickly and effectively. Loose dirt and tough stains are tackled with ease, and the budget-friendly price is terrific.

Unlike some other cheaper machines, the drying power on the Russell Hobbs is impressive – it left soft flooring slightly damp, and the carpet fibres looked lifted.

Setting up this machine is easy to do too. Warm water and correctly measured detergent are all you need to operate the 24cm wide jet spray and robust bristle brushes. The super long cord also means you can clean for longer without finding another plug.

Best carpet cleaner for stubborn stains

Shark CarpetXpert Deep Carpet Cleaner EX150UK, £250

What we like
  • Built-in stain and spot remover

  • Fast dry time after use

  • Five year guarantee

  • Non toxic carpet shampoo included

What we don't like
  • Quite large to store

  • Not suitable for wool carpets

  • Smaller tank compared to others

  • Restricted to Shark shampoo

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 2.3 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 850ml | Weight: 8.3kg | Dimensions: W: 30.5 D: 34.8 H: 111.2 cm | Cord length: 7.6m | Floor types: Carpet | Filter: Foam | Hose length: 1.5m | Guarantee: Five years

Our verdict

Tested by Mumsnet: Read our full review of the Shark CarpetXpert Deep Carpet Cleaner EX150UK

Compact yet powerful, the Shark CarpetXpert EX150 Series carpet cleaner effortlessly zaps away dirt, grime, and bacteria. It can conquer daily mess with ease and after thorough at-home testing by Mumsnet Editor Rebecca Roberts, we think it deserves a spot in your cleaning arsenal.

It might have a smaller water tank compared to other carpet cleaners, but it's big on effectiveness and can tackle hard-wearing carpets and plusher rugs with equal finesse. Its built-in stain and spot remover is a brilliant feature for stubborn stains and the hose-cleaning tool keeps everything in tip-top shape.

The dry function is a blessing and helps to banish excess moisture, making it bearable to tread on the carpets after cleaning, and the Shark shampoo pleasantly surprises with its not-too-overbearing fragrance. Although, it’s a shame that you’re restricted to using only Shark products with this cleaner. Overall this machine packs a punch in its cleaning prowess.

Best carpet cleaner for pets
What we like
  • Effective spot cleaning

  • Large water tanks

  • Samples of cleaning solution are included

  • Ideal for cleaning up pet stains

What we don't like
  • It's pretty loud

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 3.7 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 4.5 litres | Tools included: Upholstery cleaning tool; stair tool; hose; accessory bag | Cord length: 7 metres | Weight: 8 kg

What Mumsnet users say
Coffeemakesmehappy · Tried & Tested
“I’ve got this one. Very happy with it! Unlike my previous machine (which was also a Bissell, and lasted for years) it’s much easier to get at the rollers and clean out thoroughly (very important when you have hairy pets).”
See Post
Our verdict

The Bissell Pro Heat X 2 Revolution has three settings that will remove all kinds of marks, from easy-to-tackle garden mud to dried-in pet stains. Express Clean can be used as and when it's needed, as regularly as you like, whereas to protect your carpet’s pile, the Max Clean mode should be used sparingly as it’s very powerful.

We found the water spray button on the side of the handle helpful in applying the extra water needed for stubborn stains. The HeatWave technology was also excellent for maintaining the warmth of the water so that each sweep of the machine delivers the same level of cleaning. We also loved that the water tanks are generously sized, enough for a whole house clean, and are easy to fill.

Best spot carpet cleaner
What we like
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to store

  • Powerful suction

  • Good value

What we don't like
  • Some reviewers complained that it is loud

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 2.8 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 2.2 litres | Tools included: 8cm stain tool; 15cm stain tool | Cord length: 6.7 metres | Weight: 5.8 kg

What Mumsnet users say
IloveStrawberrylaces · Tried & Tested
“I've just bought the Bissell Spot Pro and had a go with it and am pretty impressed. It helped remove the annoying tide marks I have made by trying to clean my sofa in the past.”
See Post
Our verdict

If you have messy toddlers or pets, the Bissell Spot Pro is the ideal solution for cleaning small stains and smelly patches of poop or wee. It’s very light for such a sturdy machine, and the compact size means it’s easy to move and store.

The small size of the Spot Pro also means that it is fantastic at reaching underneath and behind furniture. In addition, this portable carpet cleaner comes with high-quality cleaning detergent and two useful brush attachments that deliver impressive cleaning performance without soaking the carpet and needing ages to dry.

For a compact machine to have two good-sized water tanks is impressive. There’s no need to keep running to the sink, and you’ll be cleaning with fresh water.

Best for carpets and furniture
What we like
  • Six-year guarantee included

  • Effective drying action

  • Long cord

  • Lots of attachments included

What we don't like
  • It's definitely on the heavy side

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 3.5 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 2.9 litres | Tools included: Upholstery cleaning tool; scrub brush; hard floor cleaning tool; pre-treatment wand; pre-treatment solution; cleaning solution | Cord length: 9 metres | Weight: 9.6 kg

What Mumsnet users say
Lamentations · Tried & Tested
“I have a Vax and it's great, easy to use and does a good job if the colour of the water's anything to go by.”
See Post
Our verdict

The Vax Platinum PowerMax Carpet Cleaner can also clean hard floors and upholstery, a great asset in modern homes. It only needs a few steady sweeps on the carpet to remove fresh stains, and it leaves it looking like new.

For hard surfaces, swap to the head attachment to the squeegee, and they will be left clean, dry and glossy. We also loved the pre-treatment wand; it’s an excellent tool for deep or stinky stains.

The PowerMax is a big machine, however the flexible 4.6 metre hose is long enough to do the stairs, sofas and car without the need for heavy lifting. Manoeuvring it around the room is surprisingly effortless too.

Best lightweight carpet cleaner
What we like
  • Pocket-friendly price

  • Lightweight

  • Long cord length

What we don't like
  • No tools included

  • Smaller tank capacity than other machines

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 1.8 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 1.5 litres | Tools included: N/A | Cord length: 6.7 metres | Weight: 5.5 kg

What Mumsnet users say
gumbalina01 · Tried & Tested
“I exchanged it [another cleaning machine] for an upright Vax cleaner (the pet one) costing £130 and I’m very happy with it. It does leave the carpets slightly damp but they dry quickly.”
See Post
Our verdict

The CWCPV011 Compact Carpet Cleaner is Vax’s smallest and lightest carpet cleaner and makes short work of everyday dirt and stubborn stains. The narrow head is advantageous in small rooms and reaching small spaces, and its shape means it’s easier to store than bulkier Vax machines. It’s light enough to carry up the stairs too.

The Aquaspin brushes are treated with an antibacterial coating, so bacteria and fungus are battled with every sweep. The subsequent 99% reduction in the growth of nasties is excellent for people with pets. The strong suction power drags a satisfying amount of dirt out of your carpet and lifts the pile beautifully. Then, HeatBlast technology means that your carpet will be manageably damp rather than wet after cleaning, so you can walk about your home normally in a quicker time.

Best hardwood floor and carpet cleaner

Numantic Henry Wash Vacuum Cleaner, £200

What we like
  • Long cable

  • Long hose for the stairs

  • Fun design

What we don't like
  • It is heavy

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 9 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 5 litres | Tools included: Carpet tool; hard floor tool; hand tool | Cord length: 10 metres | Weight: 15.3 kg

What Mumsnet users say
fortheloveofcrisps · Tried & Tested
“We have a Henry-type Vax. Perfect for when the cat peed on the bed, husband/kids/brother-in-law throws drinks over the sofa/floor, cat vomits etc.”
See Post
Our verdict

Henry (known colloquially as Henry Hoover) is an iconic household staple, and we adore the familiar cute design of this carpet, upholstery and hard floor cleaner. But, while his fun and compact appearance are great for getting the kids involved in housework and neat storage, Henry is also an effective cleaner of daily carpet grime and stubborn stains thanks to its impressive suction power.

Henry Wash is a great multitasking machine. The long hose is helpful for stairs, the sofa and the car. However, it is also recommended for emergency use with sink blockages, leaks, and spills. On hard floors, it cleans thoroughly, dries quickly and leaves it looking polished. Likewise, carpets and soft furnishings look and smell like they’ve been professionally washed with lifted fibres and even colour.

Best portable carpet cleaner

Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner, £159

What we like
  • Excellent spot cleaning

  • Pull out carry handle

  • Compact

  • Trusted brand

What we don't like
  • Heavy

  • Not great for hard floors

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 1.9 litres | Dirty water tank capacity: 1.12 litres | Tools included: Motorised brush head, spot cleaning tool | Cord length: 4.5 metres | Weight: 8.2 kg

What Mumsnet users say
Tiktokcringeydance · Tried & Tested
“I've used Rug Dr twice and been happy with the results both times. (It’s that balance of being disgusted and satisfying when you see the black water that comes out!!).”
See Post
Our verdict

Rug Doctor is a manufacturer associated with the big, professional carpet cleaning machines you hire after a house move or renovation. However, they also have cheaper options for sale, such as this compact yet powerful machine.

We were delighted with the results it can achieve on carpets, sofas and chairs but reviews suggest that it didn't work as well on hard, wood or laminate floors. Stains on carpets are lifted easily by the brush head, and even stubborn marks only took minimal effort before they started to disappear. The ergonomic handle made cleaning even hard-to-reach areas easy.

The water tanks are large considering the small size of this Rug Doctor, and you will be able to clean a considerable space without having to remix the detergent. The spot-cleaning tool is a cinch to use too.

Best professional carpet cleaner

Karcher KARPUZZI101 Steam Cleaner and Floor Polisher, £649

What we like
  • Extra-large water tanks

  • Professional specifications

  • Simple to use

What we don't like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

Key specs

Clean water tank capacity: 10 kg | Dirty water tank capacity: 9 kg | Tools included: Floor nozzle, upholstery nozzle | Cord length: 7.5 metres | Weight: 10.7 kg

Our verdict

Karcher developed their range of carpet cleaners for professionals – however, because the prices are so low compared to other commercial models, they are worth a look, especially if you have a large, carpeted home or lots of pets.

The pull-along design of the Puzzi makes it easy to move around the home, and the long flexible hose with a pivoting head makes reaching the top of the stairs and under the sofa much more manageable. The upholstery tool is very effective and would make a splendid spot or car upholstery cleaner. Each powerful blast of detergent and water is delivered automatically, and we were grimly impressed by the amount of dirty water that filled the large water tank.

What is a carpet cleaner?

A carpet cleaner is a machine that uses jets of water, cleaning products and powerful rotating brushes to dislodge and remove any dirt and stains in your carpet or soft furnishings. This energy will also lift the pile in fabric, leaving it looking refreshed, brighter and more luxurious.

Clean water sprays into the carpet from one tank and is then sucked into another tank along with the grime. It’s both disgusting and satisfying to see the water turn black! Suction is also used to remove excess water from the carpet.

Carpet cleaners often come with extra attachments such as upholstery cleaners and spot cleaners for emergency spills, pet mess and deep stains like red wine or tomato sauce.

Read next: Top cleaning hacks, according to Mumsnetters

How to choose the best carpet cleaner

Carpet cleaners can be costly, so here's a checklist of things to evaluate before you make your purchase:

  • Budget: Will you use your carpet cleaner a lot? If so, investing in a sophisticated machine that will provide years of superb cleaning is worth it. Also, consider sharing the cost and ownership with family, neighbours or friends so you can afford a state-of-the-art model without breaking the bank.

  • Water tanks: Choosing a carpet cleaner with large water tanks will prevent you from having to go back and forth to the sink all the time to refill and empty. Of course, compact machines will have smaller tanks, but anything over two litres should last long enough to clean an entire room.

  • Accessories: The best carpet cleaner will effectively perform all the tasks you ask of it. If upholstery, stairs and the car are part of your cleaning plans, make sure you pick a model that comes with the right tools for those jobs.

  • Weight: Lugging a massive weight up the stairs or along a deep pile carpet is OK for some, and it can be well worth the effort. But if you’re planning on sharing the cost of a carpet cleaner with elderly parents, a lightweight carpet cleaner is worth thinking about.

  • Storage: A big all-singing, all-dancing machine with a huge tank capacity and a toolbox worth of attachments is a fantastic idea, but only if you have somewhere to store it. If your utility room is more of a cupboard and the garage isn’t watertight, look for compact carpet cleaners instead.

  • Alternatives: If you are only going to clean your carpets once a year, hiring a carpet cleaner might be a more cost-effective idea. It can cost between £20 and £30 per day, though you can get deals on weekend hire (ideal if the house is large or you’ve just toilet-trained a puppy). Alternatively, consider employing a professional carpet cleaning company as they have in-depth knowledge of the type of stains you’re dealing with and the chemicals needed. They will cost around £65 per day per room.

Read next: The best doormats to buy for your home, as recommended by Mumsnet users

How often should you clean your carpet?

Experts suggest a yearly deep clean for the whole house and every six months for high traffic areas such as the hall. Extra cleaning will keep your home smelling fresh if you have pets or allergies. However, if you’re using your carpet cleaner regularly, use the lowest setting you can to protect the flooring from wear and colour fade. Spills or accidents that will stain should be dealt with quickly too.

Read next: The best robot mops to buy for hands-free floor cleaning

How much is a good carpet cleaner?

For a practical, high-quality carpet cleaner you can expect to pay between £100 to £350, depending on your needs. It sounds expensive for something you may not use regularly, but it will make a massive difference to the cleanliness and look of your home, especially if you have pets. However, some budget options are available to suit a smaller, low-traffic home. Conversely, affordable professional options are perfect for large houses with wall-to-wall cream carpets.

We also can’t ignore the bottle of detergent that will spot clean a year’s worth of stains or transform the look and smell of an entire room. Vanish is a great brand that produces excellent cleaners for around £5-£10.

Read next: How to clean a carpet, according to Mumsnetters

What is the best carpet cleaner?

We picked the superb Vax Platinum SmartWash as our best carpet cleaner, thanks to the professional cleaning it delivers while still managing to be easy to use. There are several thoughtfully designed tools for different tasks. We love that a big machine's stain removal benefits are packaged into a remarkably light cleaner that is easy to push and pull.

Read next: The best budget vacuum cleaners under £200

How we chose our recommendations

We focused on the capacity, functionality, ease of use and quality of the clean from each carpet cleaner that we have recommended ensuring that they provide you a fast and stress-free cleaning experience plus fresh, hygienic carpets in your home.

We assessed the advice of independent technology experts and domestic science best buy lists from the likes of Which? for trusted opinions on the best products. In addition, we scrutinised the quality recommendations made by our Mumsnetters to ensure we are bringing you a helpful summary of the best carpet cleaners to buy this year.

After all our research, we then analysed honest reviews, making sure each product was fit for purpose and worthy of its 'best' award to deliver an in-depth list of products you can trust.

Read next: Get sparkling clean floors with our pick of the best floor cleaning products

About the author

Gemma Lumley writes consumer content for Mumsnet with a focus on home and lifestyle. She has been a content writer for various websites and online magazines and specialises in travel, parenting, fitness and the outdoors.

She lives in York with her husband, a daughter and a son and two daft dogs.  Gemma loves hiking, mountains, adventure travel and cake. She is a trainee Mountain Leader and enjoys leading walks for her local walking group.

Read next: Shift dirt and grime from your family car with the best car vacuum cleaners

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.