The Best Upright Carpet Cleaners

Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet 24A4  

You probably don’t need to buy an upright carpet cleaner. Aside from spot-cleaning major stains, one wash per year is plenty for most people, so it makes more sense to rent a machine or hire a pro. But if you want fresh-looking rugs all the time, get the . We tested eight models, and this was the only one that completely cleaned up our mess. Share this review on Facebook Share this review on Twitter Save this review on Pocket Share this review on Pinterest Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet 24A4 The best dirt and stain removal $220 from Amazon DeepClean Lift-Offstandalone portable spot cleaner Hoover Turbo Scrub Carpet Cleaner FH50130 Cheaper, nimbler, okay at cleaning $100 from Home Depot $125 from Walmart Hoover Turbo Scrub Carpet Cleaner FH50130 Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet 24A4 The best dirt and stain removal $220 from Amazon Hoover Turbo Scrub Carpet Cleaner FH50130 Cheaper, nimbler, okay at cleaning $100 from Home Depot $125 from Walmart Share this review with E-mail  

Our pick

This is the only carpet cleaner we tested that completely removed dirt and other tough stains. Thanks to the lift-off canister, it doubles as a convenient spot cleaner, too.

The  was able to wash a heap of potting soil out of our test carpet in just a handful of back-and-forth passes, whereas every other model left something behind (or just smeared the dirt around). That’s enough of a reason to pick the DeepClean Lift-Off, but for bonus points, it’s also an excellent spot cleaner. Using either its main scrubber or its hose tool, we were able to totally remove tough stains—including dried red wine and bacon grease—that every other cleaner struggled with. Even better, it has a lift-away canister (identical to our favorite , as far as we can tell) that makes using that hose a little more comfortable. The main downsides are that when you need to use it in upright mode, it’s heavy and bulky compared with other models, and it costs more, too. We also found that it left our rug much more damp at the end of a cleaning session.

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Budget pick

Although it left behind some dull stains that the Bissell cleaned up in our tests, this Hoover is much cheaper, smaller, and lighter. It could keep rugs looking pretty good between professional cleanings.

The  is not quite as good a cleaner as the Bissell 24A4, but it is smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable, for a lot less money. We found that the Hoover left the dirtiest parts of our test rug looking a little dull, and it struggled to clean up red wine and ink stains (even when we used its scrubbing hose tool). But if you hire a professional every year anyway, you could use this Hoover to keep the fibers looking relatively bright between those visits. It also has a heat-dry feature, so you don’t have to wait as long to walk on your carpet again after a cleaning.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

This is the only carpet cleaner we tested that completely removed dirt and other tough stains. Thanks to the lift-off canister, it doubles as a convenient spot cleaner, too.

Buying Options

Budget pick

Although it left behind some dull stains that the Bissell cleaned up in our tests, this Hoover is much cheaper, smaller, and lighter. It could keep rugs looking pretty good between professional cleanings.

Buying Options

The research

Why you should trust us Who should get this How we picked How we tested Our pick: Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet 24A4 Budget pick: Hoover Turbo Scrub Carpet Cleaner FH50130 The competition Care and maintenance Dryex Carpet and Rug CleaningDan Dan the Carpet ManTop Notch Carpet & UpholsteryJay’s Mobile Detail & Carpet Cleaningportable carpet and upholstery cleaners Reviewed.com portable carpet and upholstery cleaner this guide vacuuming The best carpet cleaners remove the most dirt and stains but are also easy to use.  48-ounce bottle of formula for about $20  Why you should trust us 

To learn what makes a good carpet cleaner, we interviewed four professional carpet and upholstery cleaners: Michael D. Ellis of  in Olympia, Washington; Dan Richard of  in Orlando, Florida; Rodney Rhoden of  in Orlando; and Jay from  in Las Vegas. We also talked to some customer service reps from Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Room & Board, and we interviewed a product manager from Bissell. We did some of those interviews in 2016, when we first published our guide to ; a few others we did in 2018 to expand our coverage to include upright models.

We spent more than 30 hours researching and comparing carpet cleaners, including 10 hours of hands-on testing with the eight best models we could find. On top of that, I’ve been covering the portable cleaners category since we first published that guide, and I’ve been writing about appliances generally for more than six years—first at  and now as a staff writer for Wirecutter.Who should get this 

An upright carpet cleaner can keep your rugs and carpets looking pretty fresh. Most people are happy to clean their rugs just once a year, in which case it probably makes more sense to rent a Rug Doctor from the supermarket or to call a professional cleaning service. But if you want to keep your rugs looking tip-top all year long, you could buy a carpet cleaner of your own.

Upright carpet cleaners are meant to freshen up the dull, dingy look that builds up in rugs over time. But these cleaners can also work well for cleaning up major stains like spilled wine or dog poop—you just might have to use the hose and scrubbing attachments for those jobs. (If you’re concerned about cleaning up only those kinds of stains, you’re probably better off getting a —they’re smaller and more convenient for those jobs, and they typically cost less than uprights.)

Before buying anything, think about whether you really need to own a carpet cleaner. Unless you’ll use it at least a few times per year, you probably don’t.

Renting one could make sense instead. While it usually costs about $250 to buy our favorite upright carpet cleaner, you can rent one (typically a Rug Doctor model) from Home Depot, Walmart, or even your local supermarket for around $40 per day. The downside is that a rental cleaner is bigger and heavier than most uprights, and getting it into a small car could be a minor challenge.

Or you could hire a professional. They can get your carpets much cleaner than any store-bought (or -rented) machine can, and in hiring one you sidestep any risk of accidentally ruining your rug. Most services charge around $80 to $130 for 200 to 400 square feet of carpet, but check out  from HomeAdvisor for a better breakdown of how much a professional cleaning might cost you.

Also, before you buy (or rent) a carpet cleaner, make sure your carpet can handle the water-based extraction-cleaning method they use. Most can. But if you have an heirloom rug or something really high-end that you’re nervous about damaging, it’s wiser to hire a professional. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’ll bite you in the butt—by over-wetting, delamination, etc,” wrote Michael D. Ellis of Dryex Carpet and Rug Cleaning in Olympia, Washington, when we asked him about the downsides to store-bought cleaners.

You can avoid the need for wet-cleaning your carpets by  them, ideally at least once a week. Dan Richard of Dan Dan the Carpet Man in Orlando, Florida, told us one of the main reasons people end up needing to hire a pro is that they don’t vacuum enough. Vacuuming is also a sure way to keep dust, allergens, and perfumed chemicals at bay.How we picked Photo: Michael Hession

Based on what we learned from our experts and owner reviews, here’s what we think is most important in an upright carpet cleaner.

 The best carpet cleaners can completely remove dirt, soil, and other stains, without smearing sediment or residue, in just a handful of back-and-forth passes. They also have a strong suction that removes excess moisture, allowing the carpet to dry pretty quickly, without soap residue.Cleaning performance:

 For an upright cleaner to be really valuable, it should have an extendable hose, plus attachable tools, that can completely remove tough stains from both carpet and upholstery (including stairs, cushions, and auto interiors). Most models with hoses come with a attachment. Ideally, they also have a  for reaching tight corners.Hose-tool performance:scrubbing brushcrevice tool

 Ideally, a cleaner should be light enough for you to grab it by the handle and haul it up or down a flight of stairs. That can be a little hard to find, though some models  with an empty tank (water adds some heft, obviously), which is manageable. The handle and wheels should also let you push the machine easily from odd angles, even over bumps and thresholds.Maneuverability:weigh less than 20 pounds

 We focused on machines with solution tanks that were easy to fill up and clean out. You’ll see —one for a full detergent load and one for a small amount, or “quick clean,” in case you don’t want to leave excess solution in the tank when storing it away. The dirty tank should have a  so you can fit your hand in to wash it manually. The tanks should have so you can rest them on the floor or counter while filling them.Ease of use and operation:two fill lines on the clean tankremovable lid flat bottoms

 This feature blows hot air on your rugs to help them dry faster after the wet-cleaning process. It’s a useful function, though as far as we can tell it’s found only in Hoover carpet cleaners. Depending on how much solution you use, the heated drying should allow you to walk across freshly cleaned carpet in an hour or two, rather than waiting up to five hours for an unheated air dry.Heated drying:

We also preferred cleaners with a . Without one of those, you have to hold the cord in your hand while cleaning just to avoid running it over. The machine should also have a , allowing for easy on/off control; if not, it should at least have a . The hose tool should quickly and easily snap onto the machine; if it’s permanently attached, the tools should easily snap on and off. Finally, we looked for cleaners that  while running at full power.clip on the handle to hold the power cordpower button on the handlepedal switch on the baseweren’t too loud

Some features aren’t as important as they may seem. You can pretty much ignore the following:

 With the exception of the crevice tool, which can be useful for cleaning tight spaces, most of the hose-tool attachments work the same—they just have different widths. Given the secondary use of the hose tool and how the attachments are mostly meant for cleaning stains on furniture, car interiors, or stairs, the width of the hose tool isn’t especially important.Number of scrubbing tools or cleaning attachments:

 You’ll find a variety of tank types and designs. Some keep the clean tank and the dirty tank completely separate; some combine them. Some are big; some are small. Some have plastic bladders that sit within the dirty tank, saving space and time when you’re cleaning. Some of these differences are helpful when it comes to cleaning and filling, but not so much that they affect the machine’s overall cleaning performance.Tank design:

 Uprights typically range in tank size from ¾ to 1¼ gallons. You may find that the smaller ones run out of solution too quickly, while the bigger ones add too much extra weight to the machine while also requiring you to waste solution after each use. We think 1 gallon represents a good compromise, but we didn’t dock points from any machine for having a different size. How much area a full tank covers depends on how filthy the carpet is and how much solution you’re using; we’ve seen estimates ranging from 200 square feet on a full tank to a mere 15 square feet. That’s quite a spread—but because you personally control how much solution the machine uses, it’s impossible to credit the machine itself with how much mileage it gets.Solution-tank capacity:

 We haven’t found a carpet cleaner with a power cord that’s less than 20 feet. That’s plenty of length for pretty much any situation, especially when you factor in the length of the hose tool.Cord/hose length:

 Most cleaners come with an 8-ounce trial-size bottle of formula—some, more than that. We’ve never tested formulas against one another, so we can’t say for sure whether one type is best, but they don’t appear to have any huge differences. If you use your machine only two or three times a year, that trial-size bottle might last you the entire year, but chances are, you’ll have to resupply in short order. You can pick up a . That should last a couple of years, depending on how liberal you are with the solution trigger.Cleaning formula:

Most carpet cleaners cost between $200 and $250, but you can definitely run across some cheaper models out there for as low as $100. We haven’t found that price scales reliably with cleaning performance, though the cheaper models tend to have fewer hose-tool attachments or in some cases no hose tool at all. They also seem to be the exclusive territory of Hoover; Bissell, the other player in this arena, is usually a bit more expensive.

We put together a list of 26 competing models, winnowed it down to eight top contenders, and had those units shipped to an apartment in Boston for testing. The contenders were: Bissell CrossWave 1785A Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off Deluxe Pet 24A4 Bissell DeepClean Premier Pet 17N4 Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush 1622 Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro 1986 Hoover Turbo Scrub Carpet Cleaner FH50130 / Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner FH50150FH50150NC Hoover Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner FH50251 We ran each cleaner over a patch of dirt until we removed as much soil as we could.  How we tested Photo: Michael Hession

We bought two cream-colored, 5.25-by-7-foot area rugs and coated each in an even layer of potting soil. Then we doused the fabric in tap water and used a broom to rub the soil into the carpet fibers, creating an evenly stained surface. We let it dry before testing, visually dividing each of the two carpets into seven “columns” for testing—four for the carpet cleaners and three for the attached hose tools (two of the models we tested didn’t have hose tools). One by one, we turned the cleaners on and ran them over their respective carpet “columns” or sections, taking as many passes as necessary to clean the carpet as much as possible.

We then tested each machine’s hose tool on a separate section of carpet. For the top performers, we created the same set of stain types—protein, tannin, dye, and oil—as we use for testing portable carpet cleaners, using egg batter, red wine, black pen ink, and cooking oil, respectively. We didn’t have a way to assess precisely how much stain or soil a cleaner removed from each section; we just used our eyes to judge which machine performed best.

We then tested each carpet cleaner for ease of use: We tested how easily the machine could pass over bumps and thresholds, and judged how sturdy the wheels, handles, latches, and overall build quality were. We also looked at how easy each machine was to lift and carry around. We checked to see if each machine had a cord clip and power button on the handle or the base of the machine. We looked at how easy it was to clean the dirty tank, and we tested how easy it was to attach or remove the various parts, including the cleaning scrubber, hose tool, dirty tank, and clean tank. We looked for two level lines on the clean tank, and we determined how easily we could remove, open, and clean the dirty tank.

Finally, we ranked each machine by cleaning performance, hose-tool performance, price, maneuverability, and usability features (size, weight, cord clip, clean-tank level lines, cord length, power-button location and type, number of hose-tool attachments, clean/dirty tank size, cord length, warranty, amount and type of cleaning formulas included, noise). We put all this data into a spreadsheet and looked at everything side by side, selecting the top two models as our picks.

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