The 8 Best Spot Cleaners

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This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Messy kids? No problem. A pet that keeps having "accidents"? Fugeddaboutit. What about a clumsy adult who drinks red wine? Ain't nothing but a thing. All these and more household calamities are quickly scrubbed away with one of these spot cleaners, which feature compact designs and special technology to treat even the toughest of stains. We've added a couple of handy low-tech solutions, as well. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Bissell Spotclean Pro

2. Hoover PowerDash Go

3. Bissell Little Green ProHeat

Editor's Notes

February 10, 2021:

During this update we replaced a few items with newer iterations that are either more effective or offer features that make them more convenient. For example, we removed the Hoover Spotless Deluxe in favor of the Hoover PowerDash Go, which is significantly smaller and lighter, making it easier to store and carry around a home. We also eliminated the Bissell Little Green in favor of the Bissell Little Green ProHeat, which has a built-in water heater, and we all know hot water is better at dissolving all kinds of muck. And finally, we replaced the Rug Doctor Portable with the Rug Doctor Pet Portable, as the latter is simply a bit better at removing stubborn stains and picking up pet hair. The Bissel Pet Stain Eraser 20037 is making its debut and surpasses all others in convenience, as it is not only exceptionally compact and lightweight, but it is also battery powered.

May 02, 2019:

When you think of spot cleaners, it's likely that you think of Bissell, and for good reason, as they offer some of the top choices. For most homes, we still believe that either the Bissell Spotclean Pro or the Bissell Little Green are fine options. They both have just enough features to tackle pet messes and various spills, but not so many that they feel cumbersome to carry or use. You can also use them in an automobile or on furniture, which makes each an overall strong value. As to competitors, the Hoover Blue Spotless Deluxe is one to consider, but we decided to remove the Hoover FH11300PC, which is a similar but non-deluxe model. There's little price difference between the two, so the latter simply may not be worth it, comparatively speaking. Finally, we added two non-machine options that can stand alone or work in conjunction with more robust, powered models. These are the Cleanovation Renovator and Folex Spot Remover. They'll save you some cash, but don't expect the same deep cleaning results you'd get from an actual spot cleaning machine.

4. Folex Spot Remover

5. Rug Doctor Pet Portable

6. Bissel Pet Stain Eraser 20037

7. Bissell Spotbot Pet

8. Cleanovation Renovator

How A Spot Cleaner Works And Why You Need One

Professional cleaners typically charge per room, when often their customers do not need every inch of their carpet cleaned, and only need a few spots removed.

Professional carpet cleaning services may perpetuate the myth that people cannot remove stains on their own, but that's simply not true. Professional cleaners typically charge per room, when often their customers do not need every inch of their carpet cleaned, and only need a few spots removed. This means most people end up paying for unnecessary labor. A spot cleaner can remove stains from one concentrated area. Most models have two tanks; one for your water, a stain removing solution and oxygen booster, and one for dirty water.

These tools simultaneously spray stain remover into the carpet, vigorously scrub with a fast-acting brush, and suction up the staining agent at the same time to eliminate stubborn stains like those from coffee and wine better than a simple spray and hand-scrub method. While you could manually scrub stain remover into your carpet, you couldn't possibly move the bristles back and forth as quickly as a motor-powered spot remover does. That quick scrubbing action is important for activating the stain remover, and the suctioning pulls the dirty particles out of the carpet. The suctioning action also rapidly dries your carpet.

Many spot cleaners can work on upholstery, as well as carpet, so they can help you keep most of your home stain-free. And, since you can put any type of stain remover you want in its tank, including pet stain remover, a spot cleaner can tackle nearly any kind of spill.

Additional Features To Look For

If you regularly need to remove several large stains, look for a spot cleaner with a large cleaning solution reservoir. This will allow you to continuously clean various areas without having to stop to refill your tanks. Many models roll around on wheels, just like a vacuum cleaner, making them easy to transport from room to room. If you are purchasing your spot cleaner primarily for upholstery, look for a lightweight model with an ergonomic grip, so your arm won't tire while you move it over your furniture.

Depending on your stain, you may need hot or warm water to effectively remove it.

There is a good chance that your stains are creating an odor, too, and you don't even realize it because studies have found that people can't accurately smell their homes. Make sure your spot cleaner also has odor-removing technology so you can pull out the nasty smells along with the stains that created them. Households with pets should look for a brush with a high number of revolutions per minute. This helps to remove all of the nasty bacteria that animals drag inside.

Depending on your stain, you may need hot or warm water to effectively remove it. Some spot cleaners have technology that keeps the water temperature consistent. If you want to move your spot cleaner around your home, without having to plug it in in each room, look for a cordless variety. Some battery-operated cleaners can run for fifteen minutes at full power. A wide nozzle will also let you pick up more dirt and debris in one movement.

How To Prevent Spills And Stains Before They Happen

There are some things one can do to prevent spills and stains, or at least minimize the harm they cause. Put protectors over your most valued furniture like sofas and reclining chairs. Should someone spill here, it's much easier to remove protectors and put them in the washing machine than it is to clean the furniture. Having a no-shoes rule can prevent people from accidentally dragging in stain-causing culprits, like mud and animal feces. If you have pets, keep wipes for their paws by the front door, and clean their feet off the moment they come in from walks.

Most spills happen while people are mixing and pouring drinks, so it will help if they do this over non-carpeted areas.

Parties provide plenty of opportunity for spills. If you are serving hors d'oeuvres, give your guests rigid plates instead of flimsy napkins. This will reduce the chances of them dropping their food. Set up the bar outdoors, or at least away from the carpet. Most spills happen while people are mixing and pouring drinks, so it will help if they do this over non-carpeted areas. You can also choose not to serve the riskiest drinks like red wine which, in spite of several theories that state you can remove it with items in your pantry, is very difficult to remove from a carpet.

You should also carefully select the furniture you put in carpeted rooms. Put a small side table next to each couch, so people have a place to set their drink down when they aren't sipping it. This reduces the chances that guests spill their drinks during a conversation because they were forced to hold them. Make sure coffee and cocktail tables are at a comfortable height for the seating around them, so people will actually use them.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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