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Published Nov. 24, 2020

If you haven’t cleaned your carpet or upholstery in a while, it’s time for a good cleaning. Both carpet and upholstered items like car seats, chairs, and couches can see a ton of wear and tear. Over time, that can leave them dirty and dingy. But trying to clean these items isn’t easy — you can’t merely vacuum them clean or wipe them down. Whether you’re working with carpet or upholstered furniture in the home, car upholstery, or even the carpeted floors of your vehicle, carpet and upholstery cleaner is the right tool for the job. 

With the right cleaning solutions, accessories and tools, and the right amount of power, carpet and upholstery cleaners can clean exceptionally well. Check out our picks for the best carpet and upholstery cleaners below.

The Best Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

The Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner is one of the best carpet and upholstery cleaners you’ll find. It’s designed to make the tough task of cleaning easier, and it’s lightweight enough to use throughout your home, out in your garage, and even in your vehicle with the included accessories. This carpet and upholstery cleaner uses a spin scrub brush system to deep clean even the toughest dirt with power brushes that move 360 degrees. A dual V-shaped nozzle helps evenly clean and suck up dirt from surfaces. Heated drying helps speed up the cleaning process, too, drying in just 45 minutes. 

At under 19 pounds and equipped with two separate tanks as well as an 8-foot hose, this powerful cleaner can go anywhere it’s needed. You’ll also get a stair tool, an upholstery tool, and a bottle of cleaning solution with your cleaner.

Key Features
  • Brushes remove deeply embedded dirt, odors, and stains
  • Two tanks offer 25 percent more cleaning capacity
  • Dries after cleaning in just 45 minutes
  • 2-in-1 pet tool attachment can remove pet hair and pet stains
Specification
  • Brand Hoover
  • Model FH50251
  • Weight 18.5 pounds
PROS

Heated drying speeds up process

Spin scrub brush provides deep cleaning

CONS

May leak out the back

Slightly bulky and relatively heavy

If you need to clean your carpet or upholstery on a budget, you’ll want to give the Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner a try. This very affordable cleaning product isn’t a cleaning machine — it’s a hardworking cleaning solution packaged in a unique scrubbing tool. It can be used to clean and eliminate odors on carpets as well as fabric and upholstery. It utilizes triple action cleaning to tackle very stubborn stains, lift and remove dirt, and neutralize strong smells. 

The cleaner can remove even tricky pet stains, mud, and more. Even old, set-in stains and dirt can be eliminated in just a few minutes. All you need is the cleaning solution and the brush attached to its container, and you can scrub away dirt and stains to leave your carpet and upholstery cleaner for longer.

Key Features
  • Stain lifter technology gets rid of deep dirt and stains
  • Fabric safe brush is attached for easy cleaning
  • Can be used on carpet, upholstery, and area rugs
  • Eliminates odors while cleaning
Specification
  • Brand Woolite
  • Model 8352Y
  • Weight 1.03 pounds
PROS

Easy to use for spot cleaning with the attached scrub brush

Special cleaning formula can tackle set-in stains

Leaves behind a fresh, clean scent

CONS

Requires a lot of elbow grease for large areas in need of cleaning

Cleaning solution can be difficult to dispense

Suppose you’re dealing with filthy carpets, a lot of carpet and upholstery, or want a top-tier option—in that case, it’s hard to beat the Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3 Carpet Cleaner. It’s a professional-level carpet cleaner that can deliver commercial-grade results. And while it’s undoubtedly costly, it’s incredibly effective. With one pass of this carpet and upholstery cleaner, you’ll spray, scrub, and extract embedded dirt. It can remove even the most stubborn grime and odors, leaving behind fabric and carpet that’s visibly clean. It uses powerful suction and a triple-action vibrating brush that scrubs carpet and fabric fibers to release dirt. 

This carpet cleaner is so good at its job that it cleans more effectively than most competing steam machines. While this premium product is designed to roll easily over carpets and rugs, it also works with a handheld upholstery scrubber so you can tackle furniture, too.

Key Features
  • Extracts embedded dirt and grime
  • Triple-action vibrating brush scrubs each carpet fiber
  • Pro-grade suction power removes more dirt
  • Releases odors while cleaning deep dirt
Specification
  • Brand Rug Doctor
  • Model 90010
  • Weight 47.9 pounds
PROS

High-performance cleaner delivers professional-level results

Can clean carpet as well as other soft surfaces and fabrics

Sprays, scrubs, and extracts

CONS

Cleaning fluid reservoir is a bit small

Tanks can be a bit challenging to empty and refill

Heavy and not very portable

If you want a carpet and upholstery cleaner that’ll tackle dirt without using harsh chemicals, consider the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner. This cleaning machine uses no chemicals — instead, it deeply cleans and sanitizes using hot, pressured steam alone. That steam can eliminate stubborn grease, grime, stains, and more. This carpet and upholstery cleaner also comes with a 48-ounce water tank that heats up in just eight minutes to provide 45 minutes of cleaning power. 

With 18 impressive accessories, you can put this cleaner to use on floors, vehicle interiors, and so much more. It includes tools like nylon brushes, scrub pads, and more. This cleaner is backed by a two-year hassle-free warranty, so you can trust in this steam cleaner and its reliability.

Key Features
  • Holds 48 ounces of water for 45 minutes of cleaning
  • Reaches pressure up to 43 PSI
  • Cleans 99 percent of germs and bacteria
  • Steam hose reaches over 9 feet
Specification
  • Brand McCulloch
  • Model MC1275
  • Weight 12 pounds
PROS

Naturally deep cleans and sanitizes without harsh chemicals

Lockable steam trigger makes continuous cleaning easy

Includes a wealth of cleaning accessories

CONS

Plastic accessories can break easily

May not hold heat for long periods of time

Pressure can vary

If you have pets at home, you know just how stubborn their messes can be, but the Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner is built precisely for this. This is a powerful pet cleaning tool, and it delivers twice the cleaning power of competing carpet cleaners. It’s able to clean high-traffic areas, small spaces, and individual spots and stains. It uses a powerspin pet brush roll that cleans with antimicrobial protection. HeatForce helps the carpet and upholstery dry faster. 

Even though it’s small and lightweight, this cleaning machine can tackle even the most frustrating pet messes or stains no matter where they’ve happened. A removable nozzle and dual tank system make it easy and efficient to work in any area.

Key Features
  • Two times more cleaning power than similar lightweight models
  • Uses HeatForce Power to dry quickly after cleaning
  • Powerful brushes can tackle pet messes and stains
  • Easy to fill and empty dual tank system
Specification
  • Brand Hoover
  • Model FH50700
  • Weight 12.5 pounds
PROS

Ideal for cleaning high traffic areas or tough pet messes

Lightweight and easy to move from place to place

PowerSpin Pet Brush Roll can pick up dirt as well as pet hair

CONS

Very loud when in use

Water tank can be a bit difficult to clean thoroughly

Best for smaller items and areas

The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Max Clean Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner is one exceptionally tough carpet and upholstery cleaner. This machine can do it all, including cleaning basic dirt and grime and removing stubborn stains. It’ll even tackle pet messes like urine and vomit. It’s engineered to be Bissell’s most powerful cleaner, and it’s so heavy-duty that it can even remove skunk odor. It features two cleaning modes, MAX Clean and Express Clean, which use dual dirt lifting brushes to scrub embedded dirt and stains from carpet and fabric. 

A CleanShot function offers more concentrated cleaning too. It even comes with a stain and odor removing system, which allows you to use specialized cleaning products like Pet Pro Oxy Urine Eliminator and stain fighters. It comes with a two-in-one upholstery tool, a 3-inch tough stain tool, and can remove pet hair, too.

Key Features
  • 12 rows of rotating Dual DirtLifter PowerBrushes handle scrubbing
  • Max Clean Mode can scrub out stains, embedded dirt, and more
  • Express Clean Mode cleans and drys in just 30 minutes
  • Includes bonus stain tool and pet upholstery tool
Specification
  • Brand Bissell
  • Model 1986
  • Weight 17.5 pounds
PROS

Designed for tough pet messes, including mud

Features a 2-in-1 pet tool that removes fur, stains, and more on upholstery

Can clean deeply or quickly depending on the mode you choose

CONS

Suction power can be weak

Roller brush continues spinning even when using hand tools

If you need a more specialized carpet and upholstery cleaner to tackle your car’s interior, you’ll want to consider the AutoRight SteamMachine Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner. It’s a powerful steam cleaning system with 11 accessories that allow you to clean everything from the carpet to your vehicle upholstery and everything in between. This cleaner uses pressurized high-temperature steam to loosen and dissolve dirt. It can eliminate even grease and grime, and it’ll get rid of stains while disinfecting your car’s interior. 

With a built-in carrying handle, you can easily move the carpet and upholstery cleaner around your garage. You can even bring it inside your home to clean carpets and upholstery there too. It comes with brushes, nozzles, and different attachments to make cleaning easier. You’ll have no problem getting up to 45 minutes of continuous cleaning power from this machine.

Key Features
  • Cleans with pressurized 290 degree high-temperature steam
  • Loosens and dissolves dirt
  • Works on leather upholstery, carpets, dashboards, and even windows
  • Includes 11 accessories like brushes and nozzles
Specification
  • Brand AutoRight
  • Model C900054.M
  • Weight 9.75 pounds
PROS

Delivers up to 45 minutes of continuous steam and cleaning

Portable and lightweight for easy moving around your vehicle

Cleans dirt, grease, grime, and more without chemicals

CONS

Nozzle heads get extremely hot to the touch

Should only be used with distilled water

Need to work quickly to prevent steam from turning into water

The Rug Doctor FlexClean All-in-One Floor Cleaner is a very versatile machine. It’ll not only equip you to clean carpet and upholstery but also to clean sealed hardwood floors. Whether you have area rugs in need of a deep clean or need to clean your home’s floors, this Rug Doctor can do it all. It’s truly an all-in-one cleaning machine that’s as easy to use as a vacuum cleaner. It’ll extract dirt as well as old and new stains, tackling everything from pet messes to spills, oil spots, and unpleasant odors. 

It offers three different optimized spray rates so you can customize your cleaning. Use this machine on carpet and upholstery and laminate, furniture, fabric, wood, and more to see sparkling clean results. It can offer superior deep cleaning with rotating brushes and powerful suction suitable for just about any kind of material.

Key Features
  • Works on both carpet and hardwood floors
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver, with a convenient handle
  • Extracts both old and new stains
  • Three optimized spray rates to suit different material and different levels of cleaning
Specification
  • Brand Rug Doctor
  • Model 93196
  • Weight 21 pounds
PROS

Cleans floors and eliminates unpleasant odors

Works on carpet, upholstery, laminate, furniture, wood, and more

Strong enough to tackle tough messes and stubborn stains

CONS

Difficult to carry upstairs

Can be tricky to maneuver

Struggles with pet hair

The Costway Multipurpose Steam Cleaner is efficient and it’s also very effective. Whether you’re trying to deep clean your carpet or bring dirty upholstery back to life again, this steam cleaner can handle the job with up to 226-degree hot pressure steam. It not only deep cleans but also sanitizes, all without harsh chemicals or cleaning products. It’ll work with 4.0 bar pressure to get rid of grease, grime, stains, and even mold. This carpet and upholstery steam cleaner takes just eight to nine minutes to heat up, and it can offer 40 continuous minutes of cleaning power. 

It’s so effective, this cleaner can kill 99 percent of bacteria, viruses, and more from carpet, furniture, car interiors, and so much more. Even better, it comes with 18 different accessories so you can easily tackle dirt on any carpet or upholstered piece.

Key Features
  • Uses steam heated to 226 degrees Fahrenheit
  • A rolling caster, wheels, and a handle make maneuvering easy
  • Comes with 18 cleaning accessories
  • The 79-inch soft pipe offers a long reach
Specification
  • Brand Costway
  • Model 24043-CYPE
  • Weight 16.42 pounds
PROS

Cleans and sterilizes, eliminating germs and bacteria

Versatile and cleans on a wide variety of surfaces and materials

Delivers up to 45 minutes of continuous steam and cleaning power

CONS

High water temperature can make items like accessories hot and difficult to hold

Brushes are not the most durable

Best Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners Buying Guide & FAQ

It isn’t easy to get carpet or upholstery clean: whether you’re overdue for a deep cleaning or need to remove stuck-in stains and leftover messes, you can’t just pull out your vacuum cleaner — you need something stronger. That’s why you need a carpet and upholstery cleaner, which can clean deeper and scrub away dirt and grime that might be hiding deep in these materials.

Every carpet and upholstery cleaner works differently and offers unique benefits. That’s why it’s important to consider and compare your options. There’s a wealth of options, from special machines for pet owners to portable cleaners that can be used anywhere. If you’re trying to decide between different models of carpet and upholstery cleaners, our buying guide can help you find the best option available. 

The Advantages of Owning a Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Having a carpet and upholstery cleaner offers a ton of benefits: for one, you don’t have to live with dirty carpeting, area rugs, or upholstered furniture. With a cleaning device of your own, you can eliminate stains, perform regular cleanings on a schedule, and get rid of built-up dirt and grime. You can give your home the deep clean it needs — a carpet cleaner will reach deeper than your vacuum, sucking up dirt that’s trapped within fibers. And a carpet and upholstery cleaner is especially beneficial for high-traffic areas. These machines can remove even the most ground-in, long-lasting dirt with powerful scrub brushes, pressurized water and cleaning solution, and strong, effective suction.

Additionally, if you deal with frequent spills, messes, and pet problems, a carpet and upholstery cleaner is very helpful. You can use the cleaner to tackle tough stains and messes, like tracked-in mud, pet messes or accidents on furniture, and spots caused by food or liquid spills. Many even include special accessories designed for these extra-tough carpet and upholstery woes. 

  • Deeply cleans carpet and upholstery fibers, offering beyond a surface-level clean.
  • Can remove set-in stains as well as embedded dirt, grime, and more.
  • Strong enough for the toughest messes, including pet stains, wine and coffee spills, and mud.
  • Pressurized spray and strong suction remove dirt without any elbow grease.
  • Can spot clean small areas and furniture or tackle larger rugs or areas of carpeted flooring.
  • Easily dries carpet and fabric after use.
  • Can extend the lifespan of your carpet, rugs, and upholstered items.
Man Using Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

The Most Common Types of Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

Every carpet and upholstery cleaner is different. While each model promises to do the same job, each cleans differently and produces different results. The type of cleaner you choose will determine the cleaning method. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the most common types of carpet and upholstery cleaners. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right option for your needs.

Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaners use steam — or hot water — to get your carpet and upholstery clean. These cleaning machines are designed to heat a mixture of water and cleaning solution, then turn it into high-pressured steam. That steam is shot right into your carpet or upholstery fibers, dissolving dirt and grime. The machine then extracts the dirt and the water. These types of cleaners are sometimes also called hot water extraction cleaners.

A steam cleaner can loosen dirt and debris, and its rotating brushes can scrub deeply to get every angle. Your carpets will be damp once cleaning is finished, but they’ll dry on their own in just a few hours.

Encapsulation Cleaners

Encapsulation cleaners are a type of carpet and upholstery cleaner that traps dirt particles. They use foam as they clean, applying a layer of soapy foam to your carpet or upholstery that creates crystals around any dirt that’s present. The foam then dries, and you can use either a vacuum or a brush to get rid of whatever remains—it’s a quick and easy cleaning method.

Encapsulation carpet and upholstery cleaners don’t require a lot of water like steam cleaners, and they dry much quicker. However, these types of cleaners may not be able to reach as deeply into your carpet or fabric to capture very embedded dirt.

Bonneting Cleaners

Bonneting cleaners are another option, and they’re especially helpful for any carpet or upholstery that’s seen a lot of wear and tear. These cleaning machines are ideal for high-traffic areas like hallways and entryways or even a much-loved couch or chair. They can clean very deeply and are strong enough to tackle the dirtiest fibers.

A bonneting cleaner is a heavy-duty cleaning machine that uses a thick pad with a chemical cleaning solution. The pad rubs your carpet or upholstery, loosening dirt and grime. The only potential drawback of a bonneting cleaner is that it’s only suitable for cleaning the topmost carpet and fabric surfaces.

What to Consider When Buying Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

The best carpet and upholstery cleaners are designed for heavy-duty dirt. They should be able to tackle the toughest messes, including common woes such as coffee and wine spills, urine, and more.

It’s also important to consider portability when choosing the best carpet and upholstery cleaners. A lightweight cleaner allows you to carry it throughout your home and easily tackle hard-to-reach areas, like stairs or tight corners. Some portable cleaners can even be taken out into the garage so you can clean your car’s interior, from the carpeting to the upholstered seats. 

The Most Important Features of Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

To clean your carpet and upholstery effectively, you’ll want to choose a cleaner that offers specific features. The features make a world of difference — they can help a machine clean more effectively, more efficiently, and easily. When you’re shopping for the best carpet and upholstery cleaner, you’ll want to make sure to consider the following critical features.

Brushes

The brushes on a carpet and upholstery cleaner determine its cleaning power and effectiveness. You’ll want to consider how many brushes a machine is equipped with and how the brushes move. Some brushes are fixed, some spin in different directions to offer a more aggressive scrubbing motion, and others are long rotating brushes similar to those on a vacuum cleaner. 

If you want a deep clean, you’ll want to look for spinning brushes that can loosen dirt effectively as you use the machine. Only need spot cleaning for upholstery and small areas of carpeting? A cleaner with just one or two brushes will likely do the trick.

Water Tank Capacity

If you’re opting for a steam cleaner (the most common type of home carpet and upholstery cleaner), the water tank and its capacity are essential. These cleaning machines typically come with one water tank for clean water and a second tank that fills with dirty water during the cleaning process. Some may also include a tank designed just for the cleaning solution.

Consider the size of the water tanks or their capacity. It’s easier to clean large areas if you have a larger water tank, as you won’t need to stop to refill as frequently. But you will want to keep in mind that a bigger tank can also make a cleaner heavier and a bit more challenging to carry or move around.

Hoses

The hose is another important feature on any carpet and upholstery cleaner. Some carpet cleaners will include a hose that you can use with attachments and cleaning accessories or a hose that can be used on its own to clean small, hard-to-reach spaces. A hose is also a good idea if you can’t move your entire carpet cleaner into specific areas in need of cleaning — it gives you the reach you need. 

You’ll want to consider cleaners with a hose if you’re looking at full-size, upright carpet and upholstery cleaners. A hose offers convenience and flexibility. And the longer the hose extends, the better you’ll be able to spot clean, or tackle small areas as needed, without moving the entire cleaning machine.

Included Attachments

Lastly, the attachments that are included with a carpet and upholstery cleaner are a helpful feature. These cleaners can come with attachments like pet hair tools, stain scrubbing brushes, and deep cleaning accessories. And these attachments can provide you with increased versatility as well as more effective cleaning. 

On upright carpet and upholstery cleaners, attachments can give you the capability to clean furniture, stairs, and tight spots more easily. Portable cleaners can also benefit from having attachments, as they can offer more reach to clean spots and stains of all kinds. Consider what attachments you’d benefit from the most, and know that attachments can add value to a cleaner.

Woman Using Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Care and Maintenance for Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

Carpet and upholstery cleaners are pretty straightforward to operate, and they’re also relatively low maintenance. As long as your machine is running smoothly, your only concerns will need to be a bit of cleaning after each run. 

You’ll want to make sure you empty both the water tank (if there’s any water left after cleaning your carpets) and the dirty water tank. It’s also a good idea to wash out the dirty water tank to ensure dirt and grime don’t build up inside. You can also flush out the machine itself and run a cleaning cycle if that’s an option on your carpet cleaner. It’ll eliminate any dirt or debris that might’ve gotten stuck inside during the cleaning process. 

Cleaning the hose, nozzle, and accessories or attachments is also a good idea after using your carpet and upholstery cleaner. Dirt can collect in these tools, preventing you from getting as thorough of a clean during the next use. Don’t forget to follow these care and maintenance tips too.

  • Check both the nozzle and the hose for any lint that might be trapped after each use.
  • Rinse out the hose thoroughly to eliminate any cleaning solution that might cause damage.
  • Never store your carpet and upholstery cleaner with water in the tank to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Use only recommended cleaning solutions with your machine.
  • Dry out your water tanks before putting them back into the machine.

Best Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner FAQ:

Have questions about finding the best carpet and upholstery cleaner on the market? We’re here to help. Below, we’re answering some of the most commonly asked questions about shopping for a quality carpet cleaner that’ll tackle everything from your home to your car’s interior to your furniture.

Q: What is the best carpet and upholstery cleaner?

Our pick for the best carpet and upholstery cleaner is the Hoover Power Scrub Elite Carpet Cleaner. This powerful, well-rounded machine is lightweight, easy to use, and highly effective at removing dirt. 

Q: Is carpet cleaner the same as an upholstery cleaner?

Carpet cleaners and upholstery cleaners will work in the same manner on your floors, rugs, car carpets, and furniture. Both use the same cleaning methods, and both can tackle dirt and stains within fabrics and fabric fibers.

Q: How much is the best carpet and upholstery cleaner?

There are quality carpet and upholstery cleaners available at just about every price point. Whether you’re looking to spend under $10 or over $100, there’s a great option available within any budget.

Our Top Pick

The Hoover Power Scrub Elite Carpet Cleaner is one tough carpet and upholstery cleaner — and that’s why we chose it as our top pick. Though it can tackle set-in, ground-in dirt and grime, this cleaner is lightweight enough to move and carry around your home as needed. It features brushes that can move 360 degrees, and it’ll give you up to 8 feet of reach with an included hose. Accessories like a stair tool, upholstery tool, and cleaning solution make it a well-rounded choice. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best of the bunch, it’s hard to beat the Hoover Power Scrub Elite Carpet Cleaner and its tough scrubbing brushes. However, if you’re searching for a carpet and upholstery cleaner that’s more affordable and simple to use, the Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is a great alternative.

Sources:

  1. Dry Carpet Cleaning – Wikipedia

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