The 8 Best Handheld Carpet Cleaners

Updated October 31, 2017 by Sam Kraft

8 Best Handheld Carpet Cleaners
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. For everyday spills and stains, who wants to spend a boatload of money on professional carpet cleaning? That’s why we’ve compiled this list of handheld carpet cleaners. These smaller, cost-effective alternatives to upright or industrial cleaners are simple to use, quick, and fully capable of removing unsightly spots and blemishes effectively. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best handheld carpet cleaner on Amazon.

8. Bissell Corded Spotlifter

With an 18-foot cord, the Bissell Corded Spotlifter is able to power a strong rotating brush and is adept at scrubbing out stains that many cordless models would have trouble with. You can easily remove its brush roll cartridge, which allows for trouble-free maintenance.
  • 12-ounce tank capacity
  • bristles are stiff and resilient
  • noisy during use
Brand Bissell
Model 1716B
Weight 7.7 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Bissell SpotClean ProHeat

The Bissell SpotClean ProHeat uses its special formula to penetrate deep into your carpet, fighting stains that have already set in. The water temperature remains uniform during heated cleaning thanks to its exclusive built-in technology.
  • includes trial of stain formula
  • compact and easy to store
  • problems with minor leaking
Brand Bissell
Model 5207F
Weight 13.4 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. McCulloch MC1275

If you’re in need of a serious steam cleaner that washes carpet while serving a variety of additional functions, take a look at the McCulloch MC1275. It offers professional power and a large 48-ounce water tank that’s good for up to 45 minutes of continuous steam.
  • floor mop add-on
  • lockable steam trigger
  • plastic attachments are flimsy
Brand McCulloch
Model MC1275
Weight 15 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Bissel Spotbot Pet

The Bissel Spotbot Pet is ridiculously easy to use – simply set it down, add water, put in the detergent, and press the button. In just three minutes, the machine will have automatically scrubbed the carpet, sucked the dirty water out, and turned itself off.
  • various bundles available
  • onboard hose tool
  • 2 preset cleaning cycles
Brand Bissell
Model 33N8A
Weight 17.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Bissell Little Green

For a device as lightweight and versatile as the Bissell Little Green, the power of its suction and quality of its performance will surprise a lot of folks. It’s even equipped with a built-in water heater to maximize its results on tough stains.
  • separate clean and dirty tanks
  • made of 50 percent recycled plastic
  • spraying crevice tool included
Brand Bissell
Model 14259
Weight 13 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Hoover Spotless Portable

The Hoover Spotless Portable combines hygienic deep cleaning tools with efficient suction to loosen and eliminate dirt and grime from your carpet, leaving it protected against mold, mildew and bacteria. Plus, it’s the only model with a self-cleaning hose.
  • expert clean detergent
  • auto-shutoff prevents overfilling
  • quieter than most models
Brand Hoover
Model FH11300PC
Weight 13.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Rug Doctor’s

If you’ve had trouble cleaning up deep stains in the past, the Rug Doctor’s exclusive scrubbing technology will provide welcome relief. This model also has wheels and a retractable handle, which makes it that much easier to transport.
  • 5 different package options
  • accesses hard-to-reach spots
  • entry hole is easy to clean
Brand Rug Doctor
Model Portable Spot Cleaner (
Weight 20.5 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Bissell SpotClean Professional

With a long 22-foot power cord and a jumbo tank, the Bissell SpotClean Professional lets you focus on heavy-duty cleaning without any nagging restrictions. Its handy six-inch stair tool is great for tackling auto interiors, stairs and furniture.
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • tough stain brush
  • long-lasting durability
Brand Bissell
Model 3624
Weight 16.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Carpet Cleaners

Thousands of years ago, one of our ancestors, tired of walking across the cold cave floor every night, threw an animal pelt on the ground and noticed how good it felt on his bare feet. He didn't realize it at the time, but he'd just invented carpet.

OK, so maybe that's not exactly how it happened, but it's probably pretty close. The first floor coverings were animal hides that were laid down on the ground for warmth and comfort. They were ideal for early nomadic peoples, as they could be easily transported, making each new camping spot feel like home.

As civilization grew more advanced — and stationary — carpets evolved to match. Just about every region of the world developed its own rugs and carpets, with cultures in modern-day Afghanistan, Armenia, and Iran becoming notable for their efforts.

Area rugs would eventually give way to more extensive carpeting. In the United States, the first carpet mill was founded in Philadelphia in 1791, and the industry would be revolutionized a few decades later with the invention of the power loom, which allowed manufacturers to double their output. While previously a luxury available only to the rich, this newfound ability to make lots of carpet meant that it was more accessible to the average American. Of course, that also meant that more people were faced with a new problem: how to clean their carpet.

Stain removal processes varied widely. Since the state of your carpet was seen as a status symbol, housewives jealously guarded their cleaning secrets. One method involved scrubbing with lemon juice and then attempting to soak up the stain with hot bread.

In the 1860s, a carpet sweeper that used a brush and bellows for collecting dust hit the market, followed by a crude vacuum cleaner called "The Whirlwind." This vacuum, the brainchild of Ives McGaffey, had a complicated hand crank and a whopping $25 price tag. It wasn't terribly effective, and its success was hampered by the fact that most of them were lost in the Great Chicago Fire, but the idea set the wheels of the vacuum industry in motion.

A gentleman named Hubert Booth created a vacuum called the "Puffing Billy," which was the first electrical model. It worked well, with the only drawback being that it required a team of horses to move. A more portable version was patented in 1907 by James Spangler. Spangler sold his invention to a relative, William Hoover, who did alright for himself in the vacuum industry.

After WWII, merely pulling up dust was deemed insufficient for thorough cleaning, and the process of flooding fabric with water and chemicals to deep-clean it became popular.

The methods involved in shampooing carpets have stayed relatively the same since the 1950s, although the chemicals used have advanced greatly. Today, you can get your carpets clean enough to eat off of (trust me on this), and you don't even need a team of draft horses to do it.

Choosing The Right Handheld Carpet Cleaner

Most carpet cleaners work using a method known as hot water extraction. This involves blasting your carpet with hot water and chemicals, and then vacuuming up the particles that are dislodged during impact.

However, there are some steam cleaners available. With these, you're dealing with much hotter water — which means that you increase the risk of burning yourself or your fabric. Also, although you'll find a few exceptions to the rule, steam usually isn't as good at deep-cleaning as a jet of hot water can be, so if you have a heavy-duty job, you'll likely want to stick to hot water extraction.

That brings up the first issue that you'll face when choosing a cleaner: how much water do you want to lug around? Obviously, the more water the machine holds, the heavier it will be, but the less often you'll have to refill it. This ultimately comes down to how much cleaning you expect to do. If you only want a machine for spot-cleaning, then a smaller model will work fine, but if you need to go wall-to-wall, it might be worth investing in a larger option.

Before buying, take some time to appraise the state of your carpet. If it's in pretty good shape, you can likely get by with a cheaper, less powerful unit, as it's easier to prevent damage than undo it. However, if it has more scars than an MMA fighter, you're likely going to need some powerful carpet-cleaning artillery.

Tips For Effective Carpet Cleaning

If you're ready to restore your carpet to the same glory it had when you moved in, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that your cleaning efforts are successful.

First, you should always vacuum before using the steam cleaner. A high-quality HEPA vacuum can do a great job picking up dust and allergens, removing the top layer of grime and allowing the cleaner to better penetrate.

If it's your first time using your cleaner, you should spot-test it in an inconspicuous area before you do the whole house. While most modern cleaners are suitable for all types of carpet, you don't want to find out the hard way that you're the exception to the rule.

The actual cleaning process for most models is virtually identical to vacuuming. The primary difference is you'll want to go slower with the carpet cleaner, especially over stains. Many models allow you to see the water that's being sucked up as it goes into the dirty tank, so you can watch it as it cleans. Once the water stops looking dirty, you know it's time to move on.

Carpet cleaning is a simple process that can pay big dividends, both for your health and the appearance of your home. With the right handheld cleaner, you can keep your carpet looking spotless all year-round.

Or at least until you let the kids and dogs back in the house.

Statistics and Editorial Log

Paid Placements

Wiki Granular Update & Revision Log

help support our research

Patreonlogoorange psj5g7Wiki ezvid low poly earth xdypeb

Last updated on October 31, 2017 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.