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Best Portable Carpet Cleaners of 2021

Updated
Travel light with these portable carpet cleaners.

Are you considering a carpet cleaner but feeling hesitant due to their size? You’re not alone. Carpet cleaners can be large, heavy and cumbersome. However, there’s an alternative that you might prefer as much as we do.

Their portable friends, on the other hand, are a breeze to use and carry around. The best thing is that they’re easy to store since they don’t take up too much space.

Carpet cleaners can come in handy when you need to clean up a stain. They’re also easy to grab when you want to freshen up the carpeted staircase. A compact design with strong suction will give you the most bang for your buck. Here’s how to find the best portable carpet cleaner for your home.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, 1400B, Green
Best Lightweight
Bissell LittleGreen Cleaner
  • Excellent versatility
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
Product Image of the Bissell SpotBot Pet handsfree Spot and Stain Portable Deep Cleaner, Blue, 2117A
Best for Pets
Bissell SpotBot Deep Cleaner
  • Hands-free
  • Two modes
  • Easy to store
Product Image of the Bissell 3624 Spot Clean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner - Corded , Black
Best Professional Cleaner
Bissell SpotClean Cleaner
  • Two attachments
  • Long hose
  • Large tank
Product Image of the Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner, Shampooer Machine, Lightweight, FH50700, Blue
Best Carpet Cleaner and Dryer
Hoover PowerDash
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Good for high traffic areas
  • Perfect for pet use
Product Image of the Rug Doctor Wherever They Occur Cleaner, Leading Portable Machine for Extracting Spots on Carpet, Rugs, Stairs, Upholstery and Auto Interiors, Removes Tough Stains and Neutralizes Odors, Small, Red
Best Mobility
Rug Doctor Cleaning Machine
  • Separate tanks
  • Easy portability
  • Powerful features

Why Choose a Portable Carpet Cleaner?

Cleaning your carpet used to be a task reserved for professionals — or a sponge for spot treatments. However, with today’s growing industry, carpet cleaners are now widely available. But, these machines can be significantly large and heavy.

It helps, then, that the alternative portable carpet cleaners are quick to whip out in a stain emergency. Homeowners with pets might also enjoy the convenience of a light cleaner to get rid of pet stains quickly.

Don’t forget, storing a portable carpet cleaner is much easier than a full-sized version. No more do you need to store a bulky model where it’s on display. Some of the best portable carpet cleaners will fit right into a storage cupboard.

Finding the Best Portable Carpet Cleaner

Choosing a carpet cleaner is no easy task. If you’re like us, it can be a head-spin just contemplating the choices.

To combat this, consider the options and features below:

1. Tank Capacity

The tank’s capacity is the first thing to look at. However, there’s no right or wrong size; it all depends on your needs. If you want to be able to get more done in one go, a larger tank (around 30 ounces) is sufficient.

But if you only plan to do spot cleaning around the carpet and sofa, you can go for a smaller tank. Keep in mind, though, that a small tank will need to be refilled more often, forcing you to stop frequently.

2. Design

A portable carpet cleaner should be light and compact. These are meant to be used anywhere in the house, including the stairs. A compact design will allow you to carry it around comfortably.

Still, don’t automatically assume that portable means light. Some models can weigh up to 20 pounds. Also, once the tank is full of water, it’s going to be much heavier.

Larger models usually come with wheels so you can drag them instead of carrying. However, these might be difficult to use on the stairs.

3. Suction

Portable carpet cleaners are powered by a motor similar to regular vacuums. However, the power of the engine might be divided between the features.

For instance, some carpet cleaners heat the water they use. This is very effective when dealing with tough stains, but it also means that not all power goes into the suction. Instead, the power is split between heating and suction. The result? Perhaps not as much suction as you anticipated.

If you don’t want heated water, choose one with powerful suction. An excellent place to start is one with 3 to 5 amps. Powerful suction provides better results.

You should also keep in mind that more power typically means more noise. A full-sized carpet cleaner usually produces over 80 decibels — regular vacuums only produce around 70 (1).

4. Cleaning Path

The cleaning path refers to the width of the head. Portable carpet cleaners are significantly smaller than full-sized. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Instead, it makes for quick spot treatments when you don’t want to treat large areas.

As an example, a standard size is around 3 inches wide, which isn’t massive. Alternatively, there are cleaners with wider heads. So consider what suits your needs the most before deciding on a model.

5. Attachments

The best portable carpet cleaners come with several attachments to suit your task. Accessories like upholstery tools and stair brushes are very common. Some models will even come with special tools to help you clean your car effectively.

The attachments should also be able to do the most work for you. The point with a carpet cleaner is that you won’t have to get on your knees and scrub. A good cleaner will be effective as you glide the brush over the area with minimum effort.

If you find yourself getting worn out from the cleaning process, something is amiss. You’re either doing it wrong, or your carpet cleaner isn’t effective enough.


Best Portable Carpet Cleaner Reviews of 2021

As we searched for the best portable carpet cleaners, we took advice from experts in the know. After taking into account customer feedback and the findings from our research, we have the final selection for you.

1. Bissell LittleGreen Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Best Lightweight Carpet Cleaner

The LittleGreen might look a bit retro, but don’t doubt its power. It tackles tough stains with its powerful spray and even stronger suction. Since this model is lightweight, it’s also easy to transport around your home. Additionally, it can be used to clean your car.

It’s easy to get started since the tank is removable — especially ideal when filling it up. This is the perfect time to consider adding a carpet shampoo or stain remover for even more spot-removing power.

The compact design is a breeze to store, and you won’t have to empty the whole cabinet to gain access.

Why We Love It

Excellent Versatility

Having one device to clean multiple areas around the house will save time, space and money. The versatility this model brings is what many love.

It can easily be used on stairs, carpets, upholstery and in the car. Because it’s corded, you do have to keep it within range of a power outlet. This isn’t an issue, though — you can always use an extension cable.

Easy to Use

The 48-ounce tank is completely removable, so you won’t have to try to fit the whole device under the faucet. Once you’re done cleaning, the full tank can be removed again and emptied in the sink.

As a bonus, the handle features large switches to help you change between suction and spray.

Lightweight

This Bissell product weighs only a little over 11 pounds with a full tank. This makes it significantly lighter than other options. Thanks to the compact design, it’s easy to carry around and can fit into most cabinets without trouble.

Self-Cleaning

It’s essential to keep your carpet cleaner clog-free. However, this is often a dreaded task left to the next person using the device. Bissell has made it a little bit easier by fitting a self-cleaning hose to the machine.

How does this work? The HydroRinse attachment fits on the end of the hose. This forces the water back through, clearing it of clogs.

Keep In Mind

Loud

Carpet cleaners are known to be quite loud. However, several customers were unpleasantly surprised at how loud this little device truly is. We put this down to how powerful it is!

Additional Specs

Weight 9.65 pounds
Tank Capacity 48 ounces
Surface Cleaning Carpet, upholstery, rugs, auto interiors
Cord Length 15 feet
Warranty 1 year, limited

2. Bissell SpotBot Portable Deep Cleaner

Best for Pets

We know how hard it can be to scrub up pet stains and dirt. Getting on the old hands and knees can be too much. Thankfully, Bissell has a highly-rated solution for this — the SpotBot.

This portable carpet cleaner works quickly at eliminating tough stains and pet mess. Two powerful hands-free modes achieve this. To further enhance the clean, you can also add your desired cleaning solution. Bissell even includes a Pet Oxy Boost Formula for you to test out.

The small size means you can place it on the steps as you clean the stairs. Or, it can sit on the car carpet when cleaning the interior.

Why We Love It

Hands-Free

The SpotBot features unique spiral brushes, which quickly work on stains. Simply place the device on top of the stain, and it will do all the work. The cleaner uses cycles of spraying, brushing and suction to remove deep stains quickly.

There’s an included flexible hose to reach smaller areas. It also comes with a 3-inch tool that you can use to either spray or suck.

Two Modes

The two modes are very handy and can be changed depending on the type of stain you’re dealing with. One is a quick clean, which is excellent for newer stains that haven’t had time to settle completely. The other is a deep clean, which is for older, deep-rooted stains.

These modes allow for a much better clean compared to other portable carpet cleaners.

Easy to Store

At 14 pounds with a full tank, this portable carpet cleaner is easy to carry around the house. It also has a very compact design; perfect for storage in small areas.

Excellent for Pet Mess

Pet owners love this smart device. Many mention how easy they found it to work, and the results were better than they expected. The spiral brushes effectively dissolve deep pet stains and remove odors.

Keep In Mind

Uses More Water

The dual brushes use a significant amount of water. Additionally, the tank will only hold a little over 30 ounces. Several customers mentioned that they had to stop to refill very often.

Additional Specs

Weight 12.5 pounds
Tank Capacity 30.6 ounces
Surface Cleaning Carpet, upholstery, rugs, auto, stairs
Cord Length 16 feet
Warranty 2-year limited

3. Bissell SpotClean Professional Carpet Cleaner

Best Professional Cleaner

If you’re looking to find an easy way to get a deep clean in your home, this cleaner could be for you. It has a large tank capacity and comes with several attachments of various sizes to help.

Cleaning various stains such as wine, soil, coffee and pet mess isn’t an issue. The powerful spray and suction dig into the stain to break it up and remove it. It also works for parents who find a backseat mess after a long drive with the kids.

The long power cord gives you the freedom to move around as you clean without having to unplug. It comes with a long hose as well that can easily be stored on the body of the machine.

You get a two-year limited warranty, so if anything goes wrong, you’re covered. This is a sign of confidence in the quality of the product.

Why We Love It

Two Attachments

You get two attachments, each a different size to suit different situations. The 6-inch stair tool is an excellent size as you get to cover more in one go. The other, a 3-inch, tough stain attachment, is ideal for targeting small areas.

If you need to clean your upholstery, the 3-inch attachment is perfectly suited for this.

Long Hose

The flexible hose stretches a full 5 feet to give you the freedom to clean areas above the floor. It conveniently rolls up on the side of the machine for secure storage.

However, you should be careful and avoid wrapping it too tightly as this could damage the hose.

Large Tank

Having a large tank capacity will enable you to do more without having to stop for refills. This tank will hold ¾ of a gallon, which is 96 ounces — much more significant compared to comparable products.

If you were to buy this cleaner, remember to empty the tank after each use. It holds dirty and clean water in separate tanks, but leaving the dirty water overnight isn’t a good idea!

Powerful Suction

With a power rating of 5.7 amps, this cleaner is very powerful for its size. It uses a strong spray that dissolves stains. The strong suction then quickly gets rid of excess water and any traces of the stains.

Includes Deep-Cleaning Formula

To help you get started on your stain-beating journey, Bissell has included its powerful formula. This is 8 ounces of the Professional Deep Cleaning formula to try out.

The cleaner’s power with the included formula is a strong combination. The machine works deep inside the fibers of your carpet, and the formula dissolves tough stains. The solution is also known to prevent future stains from settling.

Keep In Mind

Fragile Hose

Several customers experienced their hose breaking. This wasn’t due to a malfunction, but rather the storage. They figured that the tight wrapping puts too much pressure on the hose, causing it to kink and crack.

Additional Specs

Weight 13.2 pounds
Tank Capacity 98 ounces
Surface Cleaning Carpet, upholstery, auto, stairs
Cord Length 22 feet
Warranty 2-year, limited

4. Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner

Best Carpet Cleaner and Dryer

A carpet cleaner that also dries your carpets quickly is a great product to have. There’s nothing more annoying than cleaning your carpets thoroughly for them to be soaking wet for hours afterward.

This PowerDash cleaner comes with HeatForce technology which dries the carpets in no time. So you can walk around barefoot and let the dogs back into the room quickly without worry.

In terms of cleaning, this has double the power than some other options on the market. So you can enjoy much cleaner — and drier — carpets than before.

Why We Love It

Lightweight and Compact

Weighing less than 13 pounds, this is a pretty lightweight carpet cleaner to carry around with you. Plus, it’s got a thin, compact design which makes it easy to store in closets or down the side of a cupboard.

Good for High Traffic Areas

Worried about the living room carpet and that messy kitchen rug? That’s no match for this carpet cleaner. With double the power and the suitability to handle high traffic areas, this is quite the machine.

Perfect for Pet Use

If you have pets, then this is a product you must consider. It’s equipped with an antimicrobial brush roller to clean up pet messes efficiently but also safely. It also protects against odors, so if your fur baby brings in nasty smells, bust them out with this cleaner.

Keep In Mind

Small Clean Water Tank

The clean water tank is only ½ a gallon which many customers found to be far too small. Therefore, you may need to refill it a few times per clean.

Hard Machine to Clean

We have a carpet cleaner that is an absolute breeze to clean. It makes all the difference. With this machine, unfortunately, cleaning is a hassle. It took some customers around an hour to clean all the parts! If you want something quick and easy to clean, we recommend looking at other options.

Additional Specs

Weight 12.5 pounds
Tank Capacity 64 ounces
Surface Cleaning Carpets and area rugs
Cord Length 20 feet
Warranty 1 year

5. Rug Doctor Portable Cleaning Machine

Best Mobile Carpet Cleaner

If you’re looking for something easy to move around, the Rug Doctor is it. It’s a compact little machine that reaches only 14 inches in height. Aside from the short height, the large wheels allow for excellent maneuverability.

You can use the Rug Doctor anywhere around the house. It’s designed for carpets and rugs, but you can clean upholstery, stairs, the car interior and even your pets’ bed. Customers have reported that the compact size makes it an ideal solution for cleaning the stairs.

This device is equipped with two tanks to separate clean and dirty water. We like that it prevents bacteria from re-entering your home. The motorized brush does all the scrubbing for you, and the powerful suction removes dirt and water.

Why We Love It

Separate Tanks

They prevent clean water from becoming dirty and full of gunk. Without this feature, the dirt could re-enter your home. An additional benefit is that the split tanks enable you to use the machine for longer before a refill is needed.

We love that the tanks are completely removable. You won’t have to pick up the whole machine to empty or refill, which could end in a huge mess.

Easy Portability

The large handle means you can carry the Rug Doctor around comfortably. If you can’t carry it, you can drag it along, similar to a small suitcase. Extend the handle, and the carpet cleaner will roll along on its two wheels. This smart feature enables more people to use it comfortably.

Powerful Features

To effectively remove deeply embedded stains, the Rug Doctor is equipped with a motorized brush. The brush works quickly and efficiently so you won’t have to use too much effort. It moves an impressive 1,200 times per minute, rubbing the deep fibers hiding in the carpet.

The powerful suction quickly removes excess water, odor and dirt. Plus, it effectively removes the full stain so you won’t have to worry about restaining.

On top of this, you can add a carpet shampoo or stain remover to make the job faster and easier. This will also add a fresh scent to your home, which can be a life-saver in pet-families.

Extended Reach

When you combine the compact design, secure handling, and 5.5-foot hose, you have yourself a winner. You can quickly bring the machine to the stairs where it comfortably fits regular steps. After a long drive with the kids, take it to the car to freshen it up — after you’ve poured yourself a drink!

Keep In Mind

Uncomfortable Angle

The angles needed to use the powerful sprayer and motorized brush are comfortable. However, when you need to use the suction, you have to hold it straight up and down. A few customers pointed this out, saying it was an uncomfortable angle to work with.

Additional Specs

Weight 19.84 pounds
Tank Capacity Not specified
Surface Cleaning Carpet, upholstery, auto, stairs
Cord Length Not specified
Warranty 2-year limited

Portable Carpet Cleaner Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Tank Capacity Surface Cleaning Cord Length Warranty
Bissell LittleGreen Cleaner Lightweight 9.65 lbs 48 oz Carpet, upholstery, rugs, auto interiors 15 feet 1 year, limited
Bissell SpotBot Deep Cleaner For Pets 12.5 lbs 30.6 oz Carpet, upholstery, rugs, auto, stairs 16 feet 2-year limited
Bissell SpotClean Cleaner Professional Cleaner 13.2 lbs 98 oz Carpet, upholstery, auto, stairs 22 feet 2-year, limited
Hoover PowerDash Carpet Cleaner and Dryer 12.5 lbs 64 oz Carpets and area rugs 20 feet 1 year
Rug Doctor Cleaning Machine Mobility 19.84 lbs Not specified Carpet, upholstery, auto, stairs Not specified 2-year limited

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Cleaning Agent Necessary?

One of the best things about carpet cleaners is that you can add cleaning solutions, such as a carpet shampoo. These are excellent at getting a good clean with a fresh smell afterward.

But they aren’t always necessary. Don’t feel compelled to use a cleaning agent for every session. However, cleaning agents might be best if you’re dealing with stains and stubborn grime.

Test First

If you decide to use a cleaner, test it in a small spot first to be sure it won’t damage your carpet.

Can You Use a Portable Carpet Cleaner on Upholstery?

You most definitely can! This is one of the best features of portable cleaners: they come with small, versatile heads. Some cleaners will also have specialized attachments for upholstery and sofas.

You can also take the portable carpet cleaner outside, to the car. The small brushes are excellent at getting rid of stains on car seats.

Does the Machine Need to Be Cleaned?

Yes, maintenance is still needed. However, many portable carpet cleaners will have a self-cleaning mode that runs while you’re cleaning. It will then pump more water through the areas where clogs are likely to occur.

The good news is, all cleaning instructions should be included with your purchase. The manufacturer should state how often it requires maintenance and how to go about it. A good habit is to rinse the hose and tank after every use.


Keeping It Spotless

These compact devices are effective at removing spots and stains from carpets, upholstery, stairs and even the car interior.

The best portable carpet cleaner is easy to carry and has a strong suction that gets rid of dirt and water. However, if you want a machine that can handle more significant areas in one go, a full-sized carpet cleaner would be a better choice.

Which product stands out for you? Have any questions for us? Get in touch with us in the comments section.

Headshot of Amy Anthony

About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!

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