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12 best carpet cleaners for pristine and tidy floors

Cleaning your carpets is one of the most satisfying of all household tasks, especially if you share your home with messy toddlers 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 to buy this year.

By Gemma Lumley | Last updated Mar 22, 2022

Woman using Vax carpet cleaner

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

The amount of muck the carpets of our home accumulate is horrifying, but an afternoon with a great carpet cleaner will restore them 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 pocket-friendly and lightweight to technical models complete with an array of tools, we’ve extensively researched the trusted recommendations of our forum users, expert websites and in-depth customer reviews to bring you our choice of carpet heroes. 

Here are the best carpet cleaners to invest in this year.

1. Best overall carpet cleaner: Vax Platinum Smartwash

Vax Smartwash

Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon

“The Vax Platinum SmartWash is fab. And has a dry only option on it to suck out the water.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user ForeverSausages)

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 were thrilled with how little effort was needed to remove even the toughest stains. The double brushes are super effective at lifting 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. 

Pros 

  • Six-year guarantee included
  • Large water tanks 
  • Effective tools included

Cons

  • Using non-Vax cleaner will invalidate the guarantee 

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 3.5 litres
  • Dirty 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
  • Weight: 7.4 kg

2. Best budget carpet cleaner: Russell Hobbs RHCC5001 Upright Carpet Cleaner

Russell Hobbs carpet cleaner

Price: £69.99 | Buy now from Currys

This Russell Hobbs carpet cleaner is a lightweight machine that cleans carpets and rugs quickly and effectively. Loose dirt and 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.

Pros 

  • Great price
  • Lightweight - just 6kg
  • Long power cord 

Cons

  • The spray trigger needs force 

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 1.8 litres
  • Dirty tank capacity: 2.45 litres 
  • Tools included: N/A 
  • Weight: 6 kg

3. Best carpet cleaner for pets: Bissell ProHeat 2x Revolution Pet Pro

Bissell carpet cleaner

Price: £269 | Buy now from Amazon

“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).” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Coffeemakesmehappy)

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 red wine 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. 

Pros 

  • Effective spot cleaning 
  • Large water tanks
  • Samples of cleaning solution are included 
  • Ideal for cleaning up pet stains

Cons

  • Loud 

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 3.7 litres 
  • Dirty tank capacity: 4.5 litres
  • Tools included: Upholstery cleaning tool; stair tool; hose; accessory bag
  • Weight: 8 kg

4. Best spot carpet cleaner: Bissell SpotClean Pro Carpet Cleaner

cleaner

Price: £119 | Buy now from Amazon

“I've just bought the Bissell Spot Pet 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.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user IloveStrawberrylaces)

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, it 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. 

Pros 

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store 
  • Powerful suction 
  • Good value

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain that it is loud

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 2.8 litres 
  • Dirty tank capacity: 2.2 litres
  • Tools included: 8cm stain tool; 15cm stain tool
  • Weight: 5.8 kg

5. Best home carpet cleaner: Vax Platinum Power Max

Vax Platinum PowerMax

Price: £249 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Lamentations)

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 deep 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. 

Pros 

  • Six-year guarantee included
  • Effective drying action
  • Long cord
  • Lots of attachments included

Cons

  • Heavy 

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 3.5 litres 
  • Dirty tank capacity: 2.9 litres
  • Tools included: Upholstery cleaning tool; scrub brush; hard floor cleaning tool; pre-treatment wand; pre-treatment solution; cleaning solution
  • Weight: 9.6 kg

6. Best lightweight carpet cleaner: Vax CWCPV011 Compact Carpet Cleaner

Vax carpet cleaner

Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user gumbalina01)

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. 

Pros 

  • Pocket-friendly price 
  • Lightweight 
  • Long cord length

Cons

  • No tools included 
  • Smaller tank capacity than other machines

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 1.8 litres
  • Dirty tank capacity: 1.5 litres
  • Tools included: N/A
  • Weight: 5.5 kg

7. Best hardwood floor and carpet cleaner: Numantic Henry Wet Vacuum Cleaner

Henry carpet cleaner

Price: £219.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user fortheloveofcrisps)

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. 

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. 

Pros 

  • Long cable 
  • Long hose for the stairs 
  • Fun design 

Cons

  • Heavy 

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 9 litres 
  • Dirty tank capacity: 5 litres
  • Tools included: Carpet tool; hard floor tool; hand tool
  • Weight: 15.3 kg

8. Best portable carpet cleaner: Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner

Rug Doctor carpet cleaner

Price: £159.99 | Buy now from Currys

“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!!)” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Tiktokcringeydance)

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.

Pros 

  • Excellent spot cleaning
  • Pull out carry handle
  • Compact
  • Trusted brand

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not great for hard floors

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 1.9 litres
  • Dirty tank capacity: 1.12 litres
  • Tools included: Motorised brush head, spot cleaning tool
  • Weight: 8.2 kg

9. Best professional carpet cleaner: Karcher KARPUZZI101 Steam Cleaner and Floor Polisher

Karcher Floor Cleaner

Price: £697.99 | Buy now from Amazon 

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. 

Pros 

  • Extra-large water tanks 
  • Professional specifications
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy 

Key specs 

  • Clean tank capacity: 10 kg
  • Dirty tank capacity: 9 kg
  • Tools included: Floor nozzle, upholstery nozzle
  • Weight: 10.7 kg

10. Best carpet cleaner detergent: Vanish Large Area Carpet Cleaner

Vanish carpet cleaner

Price: £3.89 | Buy now from Amazon

 “I have a light colour carpet and use a large area carpet cleaner by Vanish. It's fantastic. It actually works." (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user addictedtolatte)

Vanish Large Area Carpet Cleaner is for manual cleaning yet still yields excellent results. It combats even heavy dirt in high traffic parts of the home and makes the area cleaned smell lovely and floral. 

The detergent gets deep into the fabric pile and lifts trodden-in grime, loose dirt and even pet hair. Of course, following the instructions and lots of elbow grease are essential to a good result. But the satisfaction of a brighter and fresher carpet is well worth the effort.

Pros 

  • Easy to use 
  • Reasonable price 
  • Will cover a large area

Cons

  • Can leave a residue if you don’t follow the instructions

11. Best carpet cleaner shampoo: Pro-Kleen Pro+ Carpet Shampoo and Upholstery Cleaning Solution

Pro Kleen carpet shampoo

Price: £14.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Pro+ Carpet Shampoo works magnificently with all carpet cleaning machines and will revive even the most challenging carpet and upholstery issues. Smells, even lingering pet aromas, will disappear along with lurking germs, and you will be left with nothing but freshness. 

This intense shampoo must be diluted carefully as it’s ultra-powerful and may lift colour as well as dirt if the instructions aren’t followed. However, if they are, the results are outstanding, and your carpet will look as good as new. 

Pros 

  • Gets rid of lingering smells 
  • Will work with all carpet cleaning machines 
  • Pleasant fragrance 

Cons 

  • May discolour some water tanks 

12. Best spot carpet cleaner solution: Dirtbusters Pet Carpet Cleaner

Dirtbusters carpet shampoo

Price: £20.95 | Buy now from Amazon

When used with a carpet cleaning machine, Dirtbusters Pet Carpet Cleaner is brilliant at killing bacteria, melting away stains and getting rid of unpleasant pet smells. It’s also a fantastic spot cleaner when carefully diluted according to the instructions.  

We loved the smell of this shampoo as much as its fantastic cleaning performance. It leaves behind the natural aroma of geranium and chamomile rather than the artificial freshness of other makes. The motion activation nature of the fragrance was great too, as it made the lovely smell last much longer. 

Pros 

  • Lovely, reactivating smell 
  • Cost-effective - you only need a few drops
  • Tackles stubborn smells

Cons

  • Some reviewers think the packaging could be better designed for easier use

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. 

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 lighter, smaller machine 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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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 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.

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.