Hardwood and laminate floors may be in vogue, but there’s still big demand for carpets. They’re soft and inviting underfoot, add colour and style to any room, and absorb ambient sound and noisy footfalls.
Carpets – especially those in heavily trafficked areas in your house – require periodic cleaning.
There are two ways to go about it. The first – kneeling on all fours, bucket at your side and dripping sponge in hand, the sweat and tears of exhaustion mingling with soapy water (okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but you get what I mean) – is time-consuming, hard work, and ineffectual.
The second – using a high-quality carpet cleaning machine – is faster, more thorough, and vastly preferable.
Carpet cleaners excel at removing stubborn dirt, stains, bad odours, pet hair and other debris trapped deep within carpet piles and fibres.
They’re best used occasionally – not in place of a regular hoovering, but perhaps once or twice a year to keep your carpet clean and vibrant. Or whenever you need to lift a tough stain from your floor.
And there’s always going to be that time when your child, dog – or other loved one – tromps across your once pristine carpeted floor. Because dirty feet are found across all species and ages
Carpet cleaners come in a wide range of sizes and types. Choosing the best one for your home can be a challenge. But we like a challenge – To help you pick, here’s our list of the top 4 best carpet cleaner machines for your home in 2022.
1. Vax Platinum Smartwash Carpet Cleaner
Packing powerful cleaning technology into an aggressively styled, grey, purple and translucent body, the upgraded Vax Platinum Smartwash Carpet Cleaner machine looks ready to get down and dirty.
Vax claims their ECJ1 cleans better than the leading rental brand. Let’s take a closer look at the Smartwash Dual Power with motion sense Carpet Cleaner and find out.
Vax Rapid Power Advanced Features
The first thing about the Vax Smartwash that catches your eye is the colour scheme and design – but the magic happens down below and out of sight, where patented, multidirectional SpinScrub brushes and the Brushbars work in concert, oscillating and rotating to power away even deep-seated dirt from every carpet fibre.
It’s a clever design – the SpinScrub brushes alone would provide considerable cleaning action, but the inclusion of a brush bar lets the Platinum Smartwash clean all the way up to the carpet skirting board at the base of the wall.
The result? A uniformly clean carpet.
Like the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner, the Vax includes a handheld attachment – the Upholstery Wash Tool, which makes these machines the best for home use.
Its small size and triangular shape allow it to be used on car seats, stairs, upholstery, couches, and almost anywhere else above the floor.
If you’re in a hurry, activate the Vax Platinum Smartwash’s Quick Clean Mode – it leaves carpets clean and dry in as little as one hour.
A lot of thought went into the design of the Vax Dual Power Advance Carpet Cleaner.
Extra-large water capacity lets you clean longer without stopping – and Twin Tank technology keeps fresh and used water separately, ensuring that only clean water touches your carpet. (This is where the translucent material used in the Platinum Smartwash construction really shines – it’s quite satisfying to see how much grime is being sucked up and removed!)
For optimum results, Vax recommends using their Ultra Plus Carpet Cleaning Solution.
It works with any Vax cleaner, and deep cleans all carpets and upholstery. Woolsafe-approved, it’s safe even for delicate carpets, neutralizing odours and leaving behind a pleasant scent.
This Vax Carpet Cleaner features Automix Technology that perfectly mixes Vax carpet cleaning solution – but should you wish not to use detergent, the PAV1’s Wash and Rinse mode gives you that option.
Let’s hear the cons…
Offering good performance and innovative features at a cost lower than Rug Doctor’s offering, what’s not to like about the Platinum Smartwash?
The water tank may require frequent refilling, depending on the size and condition of your carpet.
This is due in part to the separation of clean and dirty water, which necessitates a smaller primary tank. Some users report premature failure and difficulty in accessing the area around the brushes in order to remove trapped debris.
Its minimal few flaws aside, the Vax Dual Power Advance Carpet Cleaner is an attractive, mid-priced alternative to costlier carpet cleaner machines, and would make the best budget choice.
2. Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner
When you think “carpet cleaner”, the name Rug Doctor may spring to mind – and with good reason.
Founded by a professional carpet cleaner over forty years ago, Rug Doctor products deliver outstanding results at home, earning high ratings and strong consumer loyalty.
The Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner – clad in the brand’s signature red colour – is a compact carpet cleaning machine designed to clean carpets in just one pass.
Let’s see if it lives up to the standards of this venerable brand.
Rug Doc Key Features
There’s an old proverb that says, “Measure twice, cut once.” Great general advice, and especially applicable to carpentry and tailoring.
But where carpet cleaning is concerned, we prefer “Push once, clean once.” It seems that Rug Doctor agrees – their Deep Carpet Cleaner features high-powered, dual-cross brushes, whose crisscrossed bristles oscillate rapidly to clean, groom and polish carpet fibres from every angle in one fell swoop.
Some carpets – whether through unfortunate spills or years of neglect – harbour especially stubborn stains and ground in marks. That’s where this Rug Doctor’s Super Boost Spray feature comes into play.
A rear-mounted nozzle emits a widely angled mist of cleaning solution that soaks into fibres – perfect for use in hallways, around doors and in other high-traffic areas of your home.
There’s a slight downside to any carpet cleaning machine: moisture.
Water is an essential part of the cleaning process – it helps transport cleaning agents, dislodge dirt, and remove particles trapped in the carpet pile. It’s this cleaning action that can leave carpets wet to the touch.
Luckily, the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner utilizes powerful suction technology that quickly removes moisture, noticeably decreasing drying time. In other words, your carpet might be left damp but not wet.
Included with the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner are a number of useful accessories.
A Grooming brush, whose tightly clustered bristles are arranged in an undulating pattern, leaves carpets at their very plushest.
The Agitating brush forces out tenacious dirt, cleaning at an especially deep level – and a hand tool, whose coiled hose is neatly stored out of the way on a mount at the rear of the handle, performs admirably on stairs, in vehicles and other awkward areas.
The Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner is a Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) gold award winner for its outstanding performance in soil removal, water removal and surface retention, thoroughly cleaning carpets without damaging their pile.
This is a premium performance, heavy-duty machine that’s suited to carpet cleaning all around the home.
Does this machine have any Cons?
With an average 4.6 out of 5-star rating, a CRI gold award and an Amazon’s Choice award to its name, does the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner have any downsides worth noting?
A few, including its weight and shape, can make it a touch difficult to manoeuvre. However, the included hand tool helps mitigate that problem. Other customer complaints focus primarily on inconsistent quality control.
However, these reports are far and few among many glowing reviews, with the overwhelming majority of users praising the Deep Carpet Cleaner’s ease of use and excellent all-round performance.
3. Henry George Wet and Dry Carpet Vacuum
By George, would you take a look at this carpet cleaner? It’s big; it’s green; it’s wearing a smiley face, whose nose is a hose and whose hat is a lid.
Being frank – that’s “frank” with a lowercase ‘f’, mind you, because we’re talking about George, not Frank, here – it looks a bit ridiculous.
But don’t let the goofy exterior fool you. The Henry George GVE 370-2 is a serious, high-powered wet and dry vacuum, ready to tackle the dirtiest carpets – while wearing a smile.
Henry George Wet & Dry Features
Whatever the task, George is up to the job. Unlike purpose-built carpet cleaners, the Henry George GVE 370-2 – with its strong motor, large, 15-litre tank, and long hose – can handle tasks both large and small, from cleaning carpets, couches and cars, to vacuuming up spills and unblocking sinks.
Live in a busy, messy house?
Consider the GVE 370-2 – it fulfils numerous functions.
As a carpet cleaner, the George GVE 370-2 excels.
None would dare call its 1060-watt motor inadequate; stronger than those found in most carpet cleaner machines, it kicks into action after George evenly diffuses a mixture of water and detergent across the floor, pulling out moisture and deeply ingrained dirt.
Many homes include a mix of carpet and hard flooring (sometimes tiles, laminate, and even vinyl). Though the latter traps less dirt, it still requires regular cleaning, and the old standbys – mops, wet rags and steam cleaners – are labour-intensive and perform suboptimally.
The George GVE 370-2, on the other hand, attacks grime, grease and dirt with water, detergent and a dual-scrub brush. The powerful motor vacuums up the dirty water, leaving behind a clean, dry floor.
Just look at George. How could you say no to that happy face? On the whole, there’s a lot to smile about – with a few caveats.
At 11kg, the George GVE 370-2 is quite heavy; this is not a lightweight carpet cleaner. And when it’s full, it will require some effort to lift.
Some users found the hose connectors flimsy and awkwardly positioned, and the unit prone to tipping over, while the suction has occasionally been described as verging on too powerful.
But its outstanding performance and versatility nevertheless make the Henry George / GVE 370-2 / 825714 Wet and Dry Vacuum a strong contender for the best all-in-one carpet cleaning machine in its class.
4. Bissell 36981 Spotclean Carpet Cleaner for Stairs
When your carpet requires only spot treatment, a full-size carpet cleaner may be overkill. That’s why Bissell – which patented the Bissell Carpet Sweeper way back in 1876 – created the 36981 Spotclean Carpet Cleaner.
This compact, feature-packed unit is ideal for removing small stains from carpets, area rugs, car interiors and upholstered furniture.
Bissell Spot Clean Feature
The Bissell Spotclean Carpet Cleaner is by far the smallest of our recommended carpet cleaner machines.
The diminutive size and lightweight make it easy to lift and operate with one hand – and its slim form fits even in tight spaces such as storage closets or under the sink, and sits on stairs for easy stair carpet cleaning with the nozzle.
The power cord and hose stored neatly away at the back of the cleaner, with a moulded plastic bracket keeping the nozzle, pointed upright and out of harm’s way.
Much like the Vax ECJ1PAV1, the Spot clean Carpet Cleaner features dual tanks – one for clean water; one for dirty – and they’re removable, making filling and emptying a breeze.
Their small size means they can be filled and rinsed out in most standard-sized sinks – far more convenient than plunking down a large tank in the bath or laundry tub.
Despite its small size, the Bissell Spotclean Carpet Cleaner features innovative HeatWave technology, which diverts motor heat through a vent located below the water tank.
This energy-saving feature helps keep water at a steady temperature for more consistent cleaning performance – something you’ll appreciate when using the included 3″ Tough Stain Tool.
Its ergonomic design and rounded shape allow it to fit into tight spaces without damaging furniture, and the three-inch-wide head is large enough to treat most stains in a few passes.
The Spotclean Carpet Cleaner is by and large very well-reviewed. Most users praise the effective performance in treating small stains and unexpected spills.
It is a touch expensive for so small a device, maybe loud in operation, and has on occasion been known to leave carpets damp after cleaning.
However, we feel those few faults shouldn’t be a great deterrent – for its size, the Bissell Spotclean Carpet Cleaner is an excellent addition to any cleaning closet. You may not need it often, but when the time comes, you’ll be glad to have it.
Best Carpet Cleaner Machine for Home Use: Buyers Guide
We’ve done the hard work for you – our buying guide to the best carpet cleaner machines will help steer you in the right direction.
Still not sure which one to choose?
No problem – that’s what we’re here for.
All carpet cleaners perform the same basic function, but key differences between models will guide your final decision.
Actually, Size Does Matter
It’s not a question of if, but how often, a carpet cleaner will need refilling.
The size of the room, how dirty the carpet is, and the capacity of the carpet cleaner machine dictate the frequency.
If cleaning a large or especially dirty area, consider a cleaner with a high-volume tank to match.
A few factors determine a carpet cleaner’s performance – the number, style and action of the cleaning brushes; water temperature; the type of detergent used – and independent of everything else, the strength of the motor.
All things being equal, a strong motor will provide the best results. High power is unnecessary for light duty, but tackling a heavily soiled carpet with an underpowered cleaner is an exercise in frustration.
You need high power water jets followed by high power suction for best results.
Now Weight a Minute…
Covering a lot of ground?
You may be tempted to consider a lighter-weight carpet cleaner.
Not a problem, as long as it doesn’t underperform. Though heavier carpet cleaning machines are harder to move and take up more space, the weight penalty is a small price to pay for more power and greater water capacity.
Time to Tinker
All that dirt has to go somewhere. Finer particles will end up in the dirty water tank, but invariably, animal hair and larger pieces of debris accumulate in hoses and between brush bristles, necessitating manual removal.
Some carpet cleaners are easier to degunk than others.
Though ease of maintenance shouldn’t be your primary consideration when choosing a carpet cleaner, it is worth taking into account.
Do I really Need a Carpet Cleaner?
No – but we highly recommend one.
Today’s best domestic-grade carpet cleaner machines are sufficient for all but the largest and grimiest of carpets, and pulling one out once or twice a year is cheaper, more convenient and, over time, more economical than renting a machine or paying someone else to clean your carpet.
The only alternative – hand scrubbing – gets the job done (sometimes), but is slow and inefficient. So go on – try a new carpet cleaner.
You’ll be thrilled at the results, and never go back to ye olde bucket and rag again.