Although many carpets look plush and cozy from afar, they’re hiding an entire ecosystem of dirt and bacteria. The higher the pile is, the more yucky stuff your rug is harboring, and don’t even get us started on shag carpets. And since daily cleanups don’t often involve more than a quick vacuum, those stains, spills, and crumbs can add up over time.
To keep your carpet looking brand new, consider investing in a portable carpet cleaner. DIY methods can be effective, but tiring and time-consuming. These devices are easier to handle and store than full-sized, upright carpet cleaners, but utilize the same nozzle which delivers a spray and sucks up dirty liquid. Some of the best portable carpet cleaners use steam to clean, which is a chemical-free and scent-free cleaning method that uses heat. Others use shampoo, which disinfects based on the liquid formula used.
While some of these cleaners are designated for carpet usage only, others can be used on anything upholstered, while others even have the ability to clean hard surfaces. You can find self-cleaning brushes, which use rotation technology so you don’t have to work as hard, but there are also manual options that let you have more control over the mess you’re tackling.
If you’re using it in different parts of the house or on car seats, you may want to opt for a cordless version or at least a cleaner with a longer hose. Other factors to consider are water tank size (a bigger tank means less frequent refilling) and warranty, which is sometimes voided if you don’t use the brand’s cleaning solution.
Whether you’re dealing with pet urine or a stubborn mustard stain, these are the best portable carpet cleaners to help extend the lifetime of your rug.
1. Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner
BEST OVERALL PICK
Despite its low-key design and compact size, the BISSELL Little Green packs quite a punch when it comes to lifting dirt and grime off your carpet and other upholstered items. Using powerful spray and suction, this best-selling portable carpet cleaner won’t disappoint. Whether you’re looking to tackle deep-rooted dirt or revitalize a stained sofa, this lightweight device can easily fit in a cabinet or under the sink, which also makes it much easier to fill with water, and clean when necessary.
Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner
2. Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
BEST RUNNER UP
When less powerful portable carpet cleaners aren’t cutting it, turn to the Rug Doctor, which can handle heavy-duty messes while taking up minimal space. This spot cleaner is a must for pet owners or anyone with young kids, due to its hard-working rubberized bristles. It comes on wheels, making it even more portable on carpeting. One buyer user comments: “We only have carpet on our stairs so I didn’t want a bulky full-size carpet cleaner but something small with the same power.”
Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
3. Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner
BEST SELF CLEANING PICK
If you really want to get into those crevices, look to the Hoover Spotless portable carpet cleaner. Its dual tank design allows you to keep clean and dirty water separate, while built-in self-cleaning technology flushes the hose after every use, making sure that dirt and bacterial is removed each time. Apart from this feature, buyers love that this machine never leaks, unlike cheaper versions on the market, and how quickly their rugs dry after usage.
Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner
4. Bissell SpotBot Hands-Free Portable Deep Cleaner
BEST HANDS-FREE PICK
The Bissell SpotBot, complete with a free bottle of OXY spot and stain, allows you to reach nooks and crannies with less effort than ever, thanks to its hands-free design. By simply pushing a button, this device automatically sprays, brushes, and uses suction, getting to work on carpet fibers. Finally, you can give your tired arms a break from manually scrubbing out all the grime. Some reviewers note that if you use the quick clean setting, you may need to use the hose attachment to suck up excess moisture after.
Bissell SpotBot Hands-Free Portable Deep Cleaner
5. Vacmaster Wet Dry Shampoo 3-in-1 Portable Carpet Cleaner
MOST MULTIFUNCTIONAL PICK
Carpets are an important aspect of your home that need regular cleaning, but it would also be nice to have a multi-use device that can tackle other parts of your home. Enter the three-in-one Vacmaster. This shampoo-based cleaner can both complete dry vacuuming and wet vacuuming with different filters that are included. Switch between shampoo and dry mode easily with a remote control handle on the device. It operates quietly, and while it’s not the smallest option, its cleaning reach and high-performance motor make this a must.
Vacmaster Wet Dry Shampoo 3-in-1 Portable Carpet Cleaner
6. Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush
MOST COMPACT PICK
This lightweight and compact cordless stain eraser looks like an assuming vacuum cleaner at first glance. With its ergonomic handle and rotating brush to cut through embedded gunk, this Pet Stain Eraser Power Brush comes with a ready-to-use formula that doesn’t require any mixing with water. For those who find it difficult to maneuver a standard upright carpet cleaner, this is a fantastic alternative that lets you get in deep. Its ergonomic nature also makes it easier to clean your machine when it gets dirty.
Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush
7. Ewbank Steam Dynamo Carpet Steamer
BEST BUDGET PICK
Ewbank’s carpet cleaner costs less than $100, so if you’re looking to keep your carpet sparkling on a budget, look no further than one of the best portable carpet cleaners that comes with a jet nozzle, extension tubes, and several attachments for different surfaces. The 8-foot long power cord allows for better mobility, and using steam means a deeper clean than shampoo, which focuses on the surface of carpet fibers but doesn’t dig deep into residue in the layers beneath.
Ewbank Steam Dynamo Carpet Steamer
8. DUPRAY Neat Steam Cleaner
BEST STEAM CLEANER
For years, steam has been one of the most effective ways to kill bacteria and clean surfaces without using chemicals. This cleaner will sanitize everything from your carpet to other furniture items, killing 99.9% of viruses, which is another major perk in this day and age. Unlike other models that just spray and scrub, this has the added power of heat to get rid of germs. It can provide up to nearly an hour of cleaning time per cleanup but does work better on more recent or lighter stains versus more heavily soiled areas.