6 Best Portable Carpet Cleaners of 2023, According to Cleaning Experts
Investing in the best portable carpet cleaner helps you clean up spills, stains and pet messes without having to call professional cleaners.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
RD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)
When was the last time you took a closer look at your floors? A quality carpet cleaner makes all the difference between a clean home and a spotless one. Whether you’re tackling larger carpeted areas or spot-cleaning rugs, investing in the best portable carpet cleaner makes the most sense on cleaning day. Portable carpet cleaners are a better option over full-size models in several situations, says Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at cleaning service Two Maids.
“If you live in a small apartment or condo or have limited storage space, a portable carpet cleaner can be a practical choice,” explains Cohoon. “They are typically compact and lightweight, making them easier to store and maneuver in tight spaces.” Use them to spot clean spills, pet messes or quick touch-ups. Being able to clean specific areas offers undeniable convenience, especially on stairs and upholstery.
However, she does note that while the best portable carpet cleaner offers convenience and versatility, they may not be as powerful as larger models. Still, “anyone who wants to ensure the cleanliness and longevity of their carpets can consider investing in a portable carpet cleaner,” she adds. That being said, here are our nominations for the best portable carpet cleaner.
Best portable carpet cleaners
Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner
Cohoon selects the Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner, a viral TikTok cleaning gadget, as the “all around” best portable carpet cleaner. She says it costs less than most and is very reliable. “This cleaner is great at cleaning any kind of stain and is perfect for pet clean-ups,” she adds.
Many reviewers, including our own, attest that this Bissell portable carpet cleaner is easy to use and small enough to carry from room to room. It safely cleans multiple surfaces and materials, including carpet, upholstery and linens. The machine boasts a 48-ounce water tank and a brush tool with surprisingly strong suction.
“It makes cleaning most surfaces a sort of fun spectator sport, as you watch the dirty fluid get sucked up in real-time. Gross, but gratifying,” writes our tester in her Bissell Little Green review.
- The best portable carpet cleaner, according to cleaning experts and Amazon reviewers
- Lightweight enough to carry between rooms
- Comes with multiple tools and attachments
- Works on various fabrics and materials
- Available at Bissell, Amazon and Walmart
- Intended for spot cleaning and not large carpeted areas
- Not cordless
Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Plus
Looking to save a little bit of money? Cohoon recommends the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Plus as the best portable carpet cleaner for anyone on a budget. “This cleaner is great for homes with or without pets,” she says. If you’re dealing with stains and scents, try the Angry Orange Odor Eliminator.
The vacuum, which slightly resembles an old-school Dustbuster and the standard Pet Stain Eraser, has an abundance of features. A few that stand out? The Pet Stain Eraser Plus is equipped with powerful suction to remove serious stains and a rechargeable battery, so you can move around the house easily.
- Most affordable price point
- Cordless design
- Lightweight at 3.3 pounds
- Dual water reservoirs separate clean and dirty water
- Available at Bissell, Amazon and Walmart
- Takes four hours to fully charge, offering 15 minutes of cleaning per single charge
Best for pets
Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
The Rug Doctor Pet is the best portable carpet cleaner for pets and owners who spend a lot of time cleaning up after them. The corded cleaner boasts a large tank that holds 64 ounces of cleaning solution and eliminates the need for more frequent refills. A long cord and hose add mobility around a room without having to unplug and replug multiple times.
In addition to cleaning up pet messes and spills, the carpet cleaning wizard also helps with trickier tasks like cleaning baseboards and window treatments.
- Efficiently cleans up pet messes
- Water tank holds up to 64 ounces
- Longer cord than similarly sized models
- Useful for cleaning baseboards and window treatments
- Available on Amazon and Walmart
- Corded so will need to unplug and replug it when traveling between rooms
Best for cars
Hoover ONEPWR Cordless CleanSlate
Hoover’s CleanSlate line of portable carpet cleaners offers corded and cordless models. But the best portable carpet cleaner for cars is its CleanSlate spot cleaner for deep cleaning carpets and upholstery. Each charge offers up to 25 minutes of cleaning power. The device also features a boost mode, attacking stains and messes with 25% more power, and a spotlight to identify hidden spots and stains.
An added bonus? After cleaning up a mess, just remove the tank of dirty water, detachable tools and hose and rinse. If you plan on cleaning your car in a garage or somewhere with a nearby outlet, opt for one of the corded models for continuous cleaning.
- Cordless model gets into the car’s nooks and crannies
- Up to 25 minutes of cleaning power
- Detachable tools and water tank are easy to rinse off
- Comes with multiple accessories for cleaning various stains
- Available on Walmart and Amazon
- Cordless is convenient for cleaning cars, but clean time per charge is limited
- Higher price point
Best for spot cleaning
Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro
While designed to clean up the toughest of pet messes, including getting dog poop out of carpet, the Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro is a spot-cleaning machine. With over 8,000 perfect five-star ratings, the cleaner is designed to clean messes on carpets, upholstery, stairs and car interiors.
This Bissell portable carpet cleaner comes with various accessories, including a multitasking scrub and suction tool and a clever stain-trapping tool to avoid spreading any messes. It also boasts one of the longest hoses of all the Bissell portable cleaners at 20 feet and a tank capacity of 96 ounces, double what the Little Green can hold. On top of that, it’s also one of the best cleaning products for people with allergies.
- The hardest working portable carpet cleaner for spots and stains
- Boasts a long hose for a longer reach
- Extra large tank for more water capacity
- Available on Amazon, Bissell, Wayfair and Walmart
- Weighs 4 pounds more than the Bissell Little Green
Like the Dustbuster and other best handheld vacuums, the Black+Decker SpillBuster offers lightweight convenience for cleaning everything from deep stains to wet messes. Weighing just five pounds, the gadget has surprisingly intense suction and scrubbing ability and features a wide mouth. The cordless machine takes just 2.5 hours to recharge for up to 30 minutes of cleaning time. Another perk? You can use any type of carpet stain remover with it.
- Lightweight model is easy to carry between rooms
- Rechargeable battery
- Wide nozzle covers more space
- Dishwasher-safe nozzle and water tank
- Offers 30 minutes of cleaning per 2.5-hour charge
- Available on Amazon and Walmart
- Only holds eight ounces of solution
What to consider when buying the best portable carpet cleaner
Per Cohoon’s advice, think about your specific needs and preferences when buying any household cleaning tool, including a portable carpet cleaner. “Prone to back aches? Skip the heavy model. Have very little carpeting? Opt for a less expensive brand. Does your home lack outlets? Go for a wireless model,” she suggests. She recommends making a quick list of what you’re looking for—including weight, capabilities, comfort, settings and tank capacity—before shopping around.
There are a few types of portable carpet cleaners. Those with a hose generally have a larger base and water tank. Handheld models are more compact and lightweight but hold less solution.
Cordless cleaners have limited cleaning time and need to be recharged but require no power outlet during use. Corded cleaners need to remain plugged into an outlet while used but offer continuous cleaning. Take a look at these other upholstery cleaners for a deeper scrub.
How we found the best portable carpet cleaner
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
How do I use a portable carpet cleaner?
Cohoon explains that operating a carpet cleaner will ultimately depend on your exact model. “Generally you will press the trigger to spray the solution and then put downward pressure on the spot and pull it towards yourself,” she instructs.
How often should carpets be cleaned?
Depending on the room’s foot traffic and the presence of pets or kids in the home, carpets should be steam cleaned annually to keep grime from building up and elongate the life of your carpet, says Cohoon. “Be careful not to steam clean too often as the excessive moisture or soap can damage carpet fibers,” she warns.
Is an upright model better than a portable carpet cleaner?
Upright machines hold more liquid than portable options and generally clean the best. However, portable models are often more convenient, especially when spot cleaning.
Should I clean the tank of a portable carpet cleaner?
Yes, you should always clean the tank of a portable cleaner, says Cohoon. After each use, rinse the tanks and tools, then let them air dry.
- Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at Two Maids
Stop hunting for the best products and deals—get our expert scoop on secret sales and discounts, gift ideas for everyone and can’t-miss products. Sign up for the Stuff We Love newsletter.