Having pets or kids (or both) can be an expensive affair.
Adding to the general expense of caring for kids and pets is cleaning up after them.
Rugs especially take a beating. And having them professionally cleaned or replacing them isn’t the most economical option.
Enter a home carpet cleaner machine.
For around the same price as a good vacuum cleaner, you can add to your cleaning arsenal by getting yourself a lightweight, effective carpet cleaner.
How to pick the best carpet cleaner?
That’s where I come in. In this article, I will detail what to look for in a carpet cleaning machine and what ones are best for your needs. Just click the name in the list below or the Price & Reviews buttons and you’ll get taken to Amazon where you can order yours.
Top 5 Best Carpet Cleaner Machines UK
- Top Choice – Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner
- Best For Stairs – Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner
- Best for Pets – BISSELL InstaClean Compact Carpet Cleaner
- Best Budget Carpet Cleaner – Ewbank 280 Cascade Manual Carpet Shampooer
- Best Industrial – Kiam Aquarius Contractor Professional Carpet Shampoo & Upholstery Cleaner
1. Top Choice – Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner
- Dual rotating brush bars for deep cleaning
- Two water tanks to separate dirty and clean water
- Easy fill and empty
- No pre-treatment
- not good for pet hair
Using the Vax carpet cleaner is like everything you hope regular vacuuming will do to your carpets actually happening. Because you get the vacuum out, run over your carpets but they never seem quite clean enough right?
Well, the vax carpet cleaner allows a truly deep clean to bring old carpets back to life. With the right cleaning solution, it’s great at getting out stubborn stains thanks to the dual brushes that batter the carpet to remove stubborn dirt and grime from even the most unloved carpets.
It’s got two separate tanks one for clean water and one for duty water to ensure a more hygienic clean and it’s lightweight so you can move it around the house easily.
Where it doesn’t hold up is with pet hair, pet hair can get stuck in the extraction guard which isn’t removable. You’ll be better off with the Bissel further down.
The other place it falls down is that there are no attachments to clean your stairs or furniture. If that is what you need then you’ll want the higher range of models which you can see on Amazon here. It’s got the hose attachment so you can clean your stairs.
Overall, you can’t beat the cleaning power for a very reasonable price.
2. Best For Stairs & Spot Cleaning – Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner
Brand: Rug Doctor
- Great cleaning power
- Motorized suction nozzle
- Decent water capacity
- Very manoeuvrable
- Can’t clean a whole room
- A bit heavy at 9 kg
Though this is a spot cleaner and not meant to be used on your entire carpet, it is great for stairs. It’s a handy tool when you don’t have a large area that needs to be cleaned.
It isn’t exactly lightweight, but it can be rested on the stairs as you clean. The nozzle does a great job at getting into the nooks and crannies of your stairs.
The nozzle doesn’t have a rotating brush, but it does have a vibration feature that helps to dislodge debris. The powerful motor gives the unit great suction to give a deep clean to your carpet.
The dirty water capacity and clean tank are both 1.9 litres so not too shabby for such a portable carpet cleaner.
The unit has wheels and a telescopic handle just like you would find on a small suitcase so it can be wheeled around easily.
Since it can’t clean a whole room, it is only a runner-up. But, the cleaning power is very good, so if you only need to do spot cleans after pets, for example, and to get dirty stairs, then you’ll love this powerful, compact carpet cleaner.
3. Best for Pets – BISSELL InstaClean Compact Carpet Cleaner
- Easy to set up
- Lightweight at 6kg
- Two in one tank
- Easy to empty tank
- Removable nozzle
- Lack of hose and accessories
- Not great for big jobs
Another popular carpet washer is the Bissell InstaClean. The slightly higher price than the Vax is what probably knocks it down in the rankings because it is just as good a cleaner as the Vax Rapide Spring Carpet Cleaner.
It does do one thing better than the Vax and that is cleaning to the edge of the carpet close to the wall.
The brush bar does a great job at digging up debris and sucking it up with the jet sprays. The nozzle is removable making clean up easier, as well. The tanks are designed especially to make emptying easier which won’t go unnoticed.
The motor is only 450 watts, not the most powerful cleaner out there. But, for most carpets in a normal flat, that is more than enough power to get the job done.
The Bissell is a name that can be trusted when it comes to at home carpet washers. They have been making them for generations, after all. There are other Bissell models that can do more than the InstaClean. Though, if your needs are simple and you don’t want to pay for accessories you may not need then this is a great option and explains why it is so popular.
4. Best Budget Carpet Cleaner – Ewbank 280 Cascade Manual Carpet Shampooer
- Free 2.5L shampoo
- No plugging and unplugging around the house
- Good on hard floors
- Not as deep a clean
- Not good for upholstery cleaning
I think you describe this more like a shampoo applicator, it works great at applying the shampoo on to the carpet and has a couple of wiper blades to rub it in but it’s not the same as the motorised heads of the Vax above.
You shampoo it down with this, leave it to dry and then vacuum it up with a regular vacuum cleaner afterwards.
But it does a pretty good job considering, and it has the bonus that you don’t have to plug it in and out of every room and it’s very lightweight even with the water inside it.
Not great at stain removal you’d be just as well scrubbing with a sponge by hand but as a thorough clean of your carpets you can’t go wrong.
And at a quarter of the price, you can’t go wrong there either!
Hassle-free way to clean carpets in every room. Just be careful when you’re filling it with a jug as there could be spillage!
5. Best Industrial – Kiam Aquarius Contractor Professional Carpet Shampoo & Upholstery Cleaner
- two motors for more thorough cleaning
- two detergent spray pumps for deeper cleaning
- easy to empty wastewater
- Blower for faster carpet drying
- upholstery tool
- Heavy when empty at 28.5kg
- not the biggest carpet tool
If you’ve got a cleaning business and need the best to provide deep cleaning services this is the caret cleaner to do it with.
Two motors allow you to use an economy mode and a power mode if you want to get tough stains out. And two detergent sprayers allow for a deeper application into the carpet fibres.
The only drawback is the wide tool is 10″ wide which is bigger to go across carpets but if you have a large cleaning area it’s still going to take a while. But the while it will take a while for the cleaning process to happen it’s going to be effective and you’re going to end up clean.
It’s also got a narrow upholstery hand tool that allows you to clean up car seats, chairs, sofas, stairs or any other small area you need to get into.
You couldn’t ask for better when it comes to a commercial carpet cleaner.
How to Choose the Best Carpet Cleaner
Home carpet cleaners have gotten quite good the last few years. And easier to use. They require a little more work than a vacuum, but luckily, the process is pretty simple and straightforward.
Many now are lightweight and manoeuvrable and make quick work of bringing your carpets back to life.
Here are some points to consider when looking for a carpet cleaner:
Tank size and area to clean go hand in hand. If you mainly just need to do some spot cleaning on occasion, then a small tank will get you through. If you have a large area or multiple rooms to clean, then a larger tank will mean less emptying and more time cleaning.
Of course, a larger tank means a heavier cleaner when it’s full. It also might make emptying slightly unwieldy, so you may want to take frequent breaks to empty the tank anyway.
Many models weigh no more than your average vacuum cleaner. But if you are elderly or have mobility issues then how much your carpet cleaner weighs will come into play.
Check carefully as you don’t want a heavy carpet cleaner that will be inconvenient to use.
Hose and Cord Length
Going back to the point about how big your area to clean is, the cord and hose length becomes just as important as how well the machine cleans.
If you’re short on sockets and have a large area to clean, then you have a problem. Since you’re dealing with wet surfaces, you can’t use an extension cord to give you more reach. Make sure you take some measurements before you buy your carpet cleaner.
Some models of carpet cleaner have an automix feature that mixes the water and soap to the right proportion. This can be a big time saver and also ensure that the mix is the right one to get everything clean. Not only that but having too much soap in your mix could damage the cleaner or your rug.
Crevice tools, handheld brushes and turbo brushes can all help you use your carpet cleaner for other uses besides carpets. Not all cleaners come with these accessories, even the good ones, so again, you will need to evaluate your area that gets cleaned to know if these accessories are necessary.
Hot Water Tank
Some carpet cleaners heat up the water and use steam to give your carpets a deep clean. Some, on the other hand, need you to fill the tank with hot water. Steam will kill much of the bacteria from a carpet. If you have pets this is important.
You can still get a nice deep clean from a cleaner that doesn’t heat the water, but it won’t disinfect.
How to Use a Carpet Cleaner Machine
- Move any furniture out of the room. If you are doing a quick spot clean you may not need to do this.
- Open a window. Some cleaner fluids can smell harsh or be dangerous to breathe in if your room is not well ventilated.
- Vacuum your carpet well. Unless you have a carpet cleaner that also vacuums, then you need as much debris cleaned as possible or you risk damaging your machine.
- Spray spot treatment on stains. You may not need to do this, but it is good insurance against a difficult stain.
- Fill up the tank with water and cleaner fluid. You may need to mix the solution ahead of time if your machine doesn’t mix the water and cleaner automatically.
- Start cleaning at the far corner of the room. It may seem like an insult to your intelligence to point this out, but if you don’t plan ahead you can trap yourself in a corner… Don’t ask me how I know this!
- Move slowly. Make sure you are staying parallel to the wall and going over the same spot with the suction on to make sure it is as dry as can be.
- Watch your tank level. Depending on the size of the tank, you may need to empty it before you finish the room.
- Open the windows, Part 2. If the weather permits, keep your windows open to quickly dry your carpet. The faster they dry, the less chance for any mildew to develop. Most cleaning fluids will prevent that of course, but better safe than sorry.
- Stay off the rug until it’s dry. Keep your furniture in another room and avoid walking on your rug until it is thoroughly dry.
How often do you need to clean your carpet? It depends on many factors but a good rule of thumb is to clean your rugs with a carpet cleaner twice a year to keep them fresh. If you have pets or are hard on your carpets, then you may need to do this more often. If your carpets don’t see much wear and tear, then you could do quick spot cleans often and do a deep clean once a year.
How to maintain a carpet cleaner
Your carpet cleaner is more complex a machine than your vacuum. This requires a bit more maintenance to ensure that it stays in good working order.
Taking a few minutes after you have finished cleaning your carpet to clean the carpet cleaning machine, can extend the life of the machine and make sure your carpets come out as clean as possible.
The very first thing to take care of after you have finished your carpet is to empty the water tank. There will be quite a bit of dirt in there so rinse it thoroughly and wipe out with a dry rag.
Reattach it and then suction some clean water from a bucket or large bowl to clean out the hose and the inside of the machine.
Then empty the tank well and allow it to dry.
There is a suction gate where the tank attaches to the machine. If it appears dirty, remove it. You may need to use a screwdriver depending on your model. Rinse out the gate and allow to dry with the tank before reassembling.
If you have an upright model, the front nozzle may also be dirty and need to be removed to clean it.
Some models may have a lint screen which will need to be rinsed.
Before you use your carpet cleaner, make sure to read the operating manual as improper use could void the warranty. That even possibly includes using unapproved cleaning solutions.
Other Carpet Cleaner Machine Reviews
Go Steam Cleaner
Brand: Polti Vaporetti
- Good steam pressure
- Lots of accessories
- Lightweight and manoeuvrable
- Multi-use for carpets, floors and windows
- Variable steam power
- Great price
- Smallish water tank
- Takes 5 minutes to heat
Using a steam carpet cleaner is a great alternative for those that want to avoid chemical shampoos. Though there are some good organic carpet shampoos on the market, there are still other good reasons to use a steam cleaner.
One reason is that the steam can penetrate deep into the carpet without using lots of suds and water. This means less drying time and effective bacteria reduction.
The Polti Vaporetto has a sexy name and performs as good as it sounds!
The best thing about it is that it is equipped for carpets and floors. A special waffle cloth mop head fits onto the nozzle for use on hard floors (careful on linoleum though!), and even windows.
It’s a compact, lightweight steam carpet cleaner that looks and functions like a cylinder vacuum. And it can either be pulled around or strapped over your shoulder.
It conveniently holds 8 tools inside the body for easy access. The accessories include: Floor brush, Lance, Window-washer, Curved nozzle, Spatula, Nylon Brush, Brass brush, Grout Cleaner, Cloth and socket, and Funnel.
The water tank has a .750 litre capacity and takes just a few minutes to heat up. At 3.5 bars of pressure, you get a lovely head of steam that is powerful enough to clean the rug, but not so hot that it could damage it, or worse, burn you.
The brush on the nozzle head is good at fluffing the carpet to allow the steam to penetrate deep into the fibres. Not only to then suction up the debris it dislodged, but also to kill much of the bacteria lurking in your carpet.
For the price and ease of use, the Polti Vaporetto has a firm grip on the top spot for the best steam carpet cleaner.
Vax Rapide Spring Carpet Washer
- Lightweight at 5.6 kg
- Very manoeuvrable
- 1.7-litre water tank
- Steam cleans with a heated water tank
- Easy to maintain
- Large nozzle for large areas
- Great price
- 500 watts
- No hose or accessories
- Not great for quick spot cleans without a hose
Vax makes popular vacuums, but their carpet cleaner is the best selling carpet cleaning machine in the UK.
What makes it such a popular cleaner?
Well, the price for one is very attractive. For the price of an average hoover, you can get a carpet cleaner that is as effective at bringing your carpets back to life as it is easy to use.
It only weighs 5.6kg and is almost as manoeuvrable as a standard upright vacuum. This makes it a good choice for cleaning stairs. It also has a low profile and is easy to store, taking up no more room than most upright vacuums.
Combined with a brush to beat the debris from within your rug, the powerful spray jets give a deep clean to your rug.
It works great for large rooms, not only because it is lightweight and won’t leave you fatigued, but because the cleaning nozzle is a wide 24 cm. This makes short work of a large area. The spray jets also help to work quickly since they can get most of the dirt up on one pass.
I wish the cord length was a bit longer than the 5.9 metres that it is. But, some people might find that long enough.
At 1.7 litres, the water tank is large enough for most rooms. In larger rooms, you may need to empty it once, however. And doing multiple rooms will likely require dumping after completing each room.
Without any bells and whistles and no accessories, it is a no-frills option that won’t cost much. It also pays for itself after one use when you consider how much it costs to have a carpet professionally cleaned.
Rapide Ultra Upright Carpet Cleaner
- Large Tanks
- Cyclonic technology = excellent suction
- Rotating brush
- Dual V system for drier carpet
- Hose with crevice tool
- Great for stairs and furniture
- Works on wool carpets
- 1000 watt motor
- 8-metre cord
- Heavy at 10 kg
- Needs storage space
Having pets means needing the right tools to clean up and keeping your home fresh. The Vax Rapide is exactly the tool you need.
There are a number of pet owner friendly functions, not least of which is the power of the suction. It has cyclonic technology much like a vacuum cleaner to grab stubborn debris. And the rotating brush bar beats the rug and opens it up to get a deep clean.
Since nobody has all day to wait for the carpet to dry, it features a Dual V system which has two separate chambers in the nozzle. This makes the suction extremely strong and helps leave the carpet drier than most cleaners.
Just on performance alone, it can handle pet clean-up duty and makes this machine worth it.
What makes it stand out, though are the accessories. As any pet owner knows, pets don’t just make a mess of the carpet, but also furniture. Having a hose with a wash tool makes it ideal for cleaning up stains from your sofa or pet beds. It can also help on the stairs.
At a generous 4.5-litre clean water tank and a 3-litre dirty tank, the large capacity can keep you moving without having to empty or refill in even the largest, dirtiest areas.
It isn’t exactly lightweight at 10 kg, but for some cleaning jobs, you need a beast. And a beast is going to be heavy. It is still easy to manoeuvre and makes such quick work of most jobs, that the weight won’t slow you down.
It can handle tough jobs, yes, but please remember to give a thorough hoovering to your carpet beforehand. This will keep your machine working well. As will keeping it clean, which is especially important when you have pets.
Overall, very high marks all around for cleaning power, ease of use and accessories!
InstaClean Pet Carpet Washer
- Very lightweight, 6kg
- Dual rotating brushes
- Crevice tool with brush
- Long hose
- Easy to manoeuvre
- 450-watt motor
- Small tank
Once again, Bissell comes out slightly behind it’s rival Vax. It is an excellent cleaner for pets, however. Don’t feel like this is a far inferior product. It works great and has some nice features pet owners will love.
First among them are the two rotating brushes. They do a great job at beating up the rug to get the deep-down debris.
The other feature to love is the lightweight and low profile. It weighs only 6kg, 4 kg less than its counterpart. This does make for a less strenuous clean up. And it takes up less storage space.
Like the Vax, it comes with a hose with an attached crevice tool. This comes in handy to get your stairs or furniture. It can also get into the tight spots at the edge of the carpet and wall.
The motor is small at 450 watts, though it does give proper suction, anyway.
This doesn’t have cyclonic technology or a powerful motor but it is still a good tool to have to combat that dreaded cleanup day when you have pets.
Speedyclean Carpet Shampooer
- Vacuum and carpet cleaner in one
- 1300 watt motor
- Long 2.4-meter hose
- Great for stairs
- Very manoeuvrable
- Large clean and dirty tank capacity
- Leaves carpets dry
- Lots of accessories
- Slightly heavy at 8 kilos
- A bit bulky
Though it works great for cleaning your stairs, it isn’t just good at that. It is a very convenient way to clean up your house. It is a 2 in 1 system that dry vacuums and then washes your carpet.
A 1300 watt motor gives this a lot of power. Power to vacuum and then power to give your carpet a deep wash. It also gives great suction so your carpets are not left too wet for a quick dry.
It’s a bit heavy to carry while you do the stairs, but it has a long tube and cleaning wand. You can simply rest the cleaner on the lower stairs as you progress up. The long 2.4-metre hose will get you a good cleaning radius to tackle the stairs without carrying the machine.
It directly injects the cleaning solution onto the carpet before it washes. This gives a quick clean that looks as if you did a spot spray beforehand to break down the stains. One caveat is that you should check with the instructions on the cleaning solution to make sure it doesn’t damage your carpet.
The nozzle works on the carpet, stairs or even upholstery.
The capacity is very large. The clean water and solution capacity is 7 litres and waste is 8.5. That gives you a lot of area to clean before you need to empty or refill.
It comes with a lot of handy accessories like a crevice tool, a long and short brush tool, upholstery head and a hardwood floor vacuum tool.
This is a very handy cleaner to have since it is also a bagless vacuum. If you frequently need to be cleaning your carpet or have limited storage space for a carpet cleaner and a vacuum, then having both in one compact machine is definitely for you.
Wher you’ve got a single tough stain to deal with or you’re looking for an easy way to deep clean your house I hope this buying guide has helped. Because you might want to hire a professional carpet cleaning service but why bother when you can be cleaning carpets regularly in no time at all.