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When cleaning your home, you’re going to want one of the best vacuums. They make fast work of cleaning hard floors, including wood, tiles and laminate, and they get dirt and debris out of carpet and furniture. But what about a carpet cleaner? For many, this can seem like an unnecessary appliance with a big price tag that doesn’t get used often. Admittedly, I was one of those people. That was until I tried three of Hoover’s most popular carpet cleaners and saw how much dirt was on my “clean” floors.
We don’t wear our shoes indoors in my home and we don’t have pets. I figured this meant just regular vacuuming was keeping my carpets reasonably clean. I was wrong and I have buckets of dirty water to prove it. I never knew seeing black water collected in the tank of a carpet cleaner could be so satisfying and so gross at the same time.
Carpet cleaners are typically thought of as oversized vacuums that are only necessary for large homes with ample carpeting. Hoover does have those types of carpet cleaners, but they also sell small, lightweight and portable cleaners that are great for people with minimal carpeting or anyone who wants to keep their cars and furniture looking new.
Even with my no-shoes, no-pets policy, my carpet has been looking rough lately. I priced out professional cleaners and looked at replacing my carpeting, with both options delivering some sticker shock. Then I looked at the price of investing in a carpet cleaner and found that it’s much less expensive than the alternatives.
But which carpet cleaner would I need for my home? What would be too small and what’s overkill? I turned to Hoover, one of the most trusted names in vacuums and carpet cleaners, and found three excellent models for large homes with ample carpet, mid-sized homes with some carpet, and small homes with little to no carpeting, but cars and furniture that need some extra attention.
Hoover Carpet Cleaners At A Glance
1. Best Overall: Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced — $149.99 at Target
2. Best for Large Homes: Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine — $319.99 at Amazon
3. Best For Small Spaces: Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner — $139.99 at Amazon
What Is A Carpet Cleaner?
A carpet cleaner looks similar to a vacuum but it includes two to three tanks that hold clean water, dirty water and, in some instances, a cleaning solution (most carpet cleaners allow users to add the cleaning solution directly to the clean water tank).
Carpet cleaners disperse water and cleaning solution onto affected areas either by pushing the unit, in essence ‘vacuuming,’ or by the user activating a trigger. Once an area has been treated with water and a cleaning solution, the carpet cleaner dries the area by suctioning the water and cleaning solution into a dirty water reservoir, along with dirt and debris that has become embedded in the carpet.
Carpet cleaners can be used with just water, but it’s recommended to use a cleaning solution to get results. Hoover sells several types of cleaning solutions, including cleaners specially designed for pets, cleaners with odor control and options with Oxy. For stubborn stains, it’s a good idea to pre-treat the area before using the carpet cleaner.
Although carpet cleaners were initially designed to be used solely on carpets, many include attachments that make it easy to clean ‘above floors,’ which includes furniture, automobiles, and stairs.
1. Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced
Best For: Frequent carpet cleaning for pet owners and those with small children.
Why We Chose It: The Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced is a mid-sized carpet cleaner that can easily clean large areas with minimal effort and do spot cleaning on stairs and furniture.
- Weight: 18.4 pounds
- Attachments: 8-foot hose, 2-in-1 pet tool with bristle and rubber nub, storage bag
- Tank Size: 0.62 gallons
- Cable Cord Length: 20 feet
- Dimensions: 45.5 inches (H) x 16 inches (W) x 17 inches (D)
- Cleaning Path Width: 7.5 inches
If you’re stuck deciding between a full-sized upright carpet cleaner and a smaller spot cleaner, the Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced is an excellent option.
The solution is released when users pull a trigger on the handle, activating the ‘wash’ cycle. The PowerDash Pet Advanced will automatically begin drying the area and removing moisture by not pulling the trigger. HeatForce Technology helps dry floors after they have been cleaned, cutting down on drying time. This is a big bonus since users don’t have to avoid areas they’ve recently cleaned for an extended period. I found it took my carpet about five hours to dry.
The PowerDash Pet Advanced has a large 0.62-gallon water tank and a separate dirty water tank, making it easy for users to complete large cleaning jobs without constantly emptying the dirty water tank. Removing both tanks was simple and the clean water tank is marked, letting users know how much cleaning solution and water should be added. I was nervous about removing the dirty water tank and accidentally spilling the contents, but Hoover’s smart and intuitive design made this part a breeze.
Seeing how much dirty water was collected after cleaning my carpets was very satisfying and made me want to incorporate regular cleanings into my schedule.
The extended 8-foot hose and 2-in-1 pet tool are great for above-floor cleaning, including furniture and stairs. The Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced has a 7.5-inch path, which means users can vacuum their floors with the full-sized unit, but I found it easier to use the pet tool, which allowed me to go to the edges of the stairs and was less cumbersome to maneuver on stairs.
The long extension cord allowed me to vacuum uninterrupted for extended periods without having to find a new outlet. I also like that Hoover includes a storage bag to keep the attachments and cleaning solution together.
Cleaning the Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced was relatively easy. The dirty water tank could be rinsed even in my small bathroom sink, and I could remove the antimicrobial brush roll with minimal effort.
The Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced is as loud as a standard vacuum and can be cumbersome to maneuver in tight spaces, but it’s excellent for covering large areas of carpeting in one session. As with all carpet cleaners, it’s important to make several passes without using the spray trigger to remove any leftover cleaner from the carpet so that users aren’t left with a ‘crunchy’ carpet.
The Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced is heavy, nearly 20 pounds, and moving the Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced with a full tank of water adds even more weight. I would recommend moving the vacuum to the area you are going to clean, then removing the tank, bringing it to the sink to fill it up and then reinserting it.
- Long extension cord
- Easy to attach nozzle
- Large water tank
- Simple to empty
- Good attachments for stairs and furniture
- Can’t store attachments on vacuum
- Heavy when water tank is filled
2. Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine
BEST FOR LARGE HOMES
Best For: Customers who frequently clean their carpets and want and do-it-all cleaner for large carpeted areas and small jobs, including stairs, furniture and cars.
Why We Chose It: The Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine incorporates some of the best aspects of the other two cleaners on our list, plus it has excellent drying capabilities and is a great choice for customers who have a lot of carpet in their home and want to clean large areas efficiently and effectively.
- Weight: 18.9 pounds
- Attachments: Pre-treat spray wand, Antimicrobial Pet Tool
- Tank Size: 1 gallon
- Cable Cord Length: 22 feet
- Dimensions: 43.5 inches (H) x 13 inches (W) x 18.9 inches (D)
- Cleaning Path Width: 12 inches
The Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine is only 0.5 pounds heavier than the Hoover PowerDash Pet Advanced, but it feels much heavier for some reason. It could be the double brushes or large wheels, but it feels like a tank. That’s not a bad thing if you have a lot of carpeting.
The SmartWash was not fun to carry up and down my staircases, but it was worth the final result. The SmartWash has an automatic cleaning system that wets the area when the vacuum is pushed forward and dries the area using Heatforce when pulling backward.
There is also a ‘Dry Only’ button, which makes it easy to make multiple passes on an area to help remove the water and cleaning products. Even with its large size, it rolls easily, and I didn’t find it cumbersome to push forwards and backward, which is one of the reasons SPY named it one of the best vacuum-style carpet cleaners.
Users have to guess when they have dried a spot before moving on to another area, but I’m not sure how this could be improved. I purposely soaked many areas of my carpet that needed some extra care, I ran the SmartWash over these spots about six times in the ‘Dry Only’ mode and the carpet was dry within seven hours. That felt extremely fast and was a huge bonus since it didn’t mean I had to avoid a room for an entire day.
Unlike the other two cleaners on our list, the Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine has three tanks, including one for dirty water, one for clean water and one for solution (the other two cleaners have a clean water tank where the solution is then added).
Even with its size, the Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine is surprisingly not overly loud. It sounded like a standard stick vacuum to me. I was also impressed that even with its large profile, it could fit under furniture.
The Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine includes the Spot Chaser Pretreat Wand, a battery-powered, cordless attachment. I didn’t feel like the wand added much value since I could pretreat just as easily by spraying the area with a cleaning solution.
The Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine also comes with an antimicrobial pet tool, which is useful for scrubbing small areas. It also has a stair tool similar to the WidePath Tool on the Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner below. The stair tool can be used on furniture and with an extra long tube, which made it possible for me to clean a full-sized staircase without moving the unit. This is a plus for anyone with stairs since one of the biggest cons of the Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine is that it is very difficult to carry up and down staircases. If you do have stairs, you can still give them a great cleaning.
Hoover sells a plastic mat separately for its larger carpet cleaners, and I would recommend one for the Hoover SmartWash Pet Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine, which did leave water on my floor.
- Great for large areas
- Dry-only feature cuts drying time
- Large water reservoir
- Includes stair tool
- Intuitive to use
- Heavy and difficult to carry up and down stairs
Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner
BEST FOR SMALL SPACES
Best For: Customers who want to take care of small messes and regularly clean their stairs.
Why We Chose It: The Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner is one of the most lightweight carpet cleaners available while still boasting excellent suction, making it a great option for people with pets, small children and anyone who makes the occasional mess.
- Weight: 9.4 pounds
- Attachments: Tight Spot Tool
- Tank Size: 23 ounces
- Cable Cord Length: 15 feet
- Dimensions: 13 inches (H) x 10.5 inches (W) x 14 inches (D)
- Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches
The Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner is perfect for those who are short on storage space or anyone who doesn’t have much carpet in their home. The spot cleaner is lightweight and ultra-portable, two things that can’t often be said for carpet cleaners. It should come as no surprise why SPY named it one of the most versatile carpet cleaners since it can tackle floors, furniture and cars with ease.
A great option for those who want to clean their furniture or cars, the Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner is still large enough to handle multiple flights of stairs without having to empty and refill the clean water and dirty water tanks. I was able to clean a full flight of stairs and still had enough solution and water to tackle a stain on one of my car seats and a chair cushion that has seen better days.
The compact cleaner is ideal for cleaning automobiles. It has a long extension cord and a wide 7-inch cleaning path on the WidePath Tool that works well for car seats. There is also a small crevice tool included that can get into tight spots. I found the suction on the crevice tool more difficult and the spray function was also a bit wild, so I ended up not using this attachment as much as I thought I would.
The mystery stain on the seat of my car came out quickly even though it had been there for months.
After soaking with the Spot and Stain remover and suctioning the cushion of my favorite chair, it looked considerably cleaner. I will take a few more passes on the cushion with the Oxy cleaning solution from Hoover and work on the rest of the chair.
The spray on the larger attachment comes out like a gentle rain showerhead. I often had to go over spots several times to saturate the area before using the brush to loosen the dirt.
Emptying and filling the tanks on the Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner was simple, intuitive and user-friendly. Like all Hoover cleaners, rinsing the dirty water tank was easy, a great feature since these tanks can get pretty gross; satisfying to see it fill up with dirty water, but still gross.
My favorite feature of the Hoover CleanSlate Plus Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner is how portable it is, especially when carrying it up and down flights of stairs. Even with their compact design, both tanks still had ample room for clean and dirty water.
Coming in at a close second for best features was the suction on the WidePath Tool. It was easy to see the dirty water being sucked in by the WidePath Tool. After a few passes, I could no longer see water coming in and knew I had the area as dry as possible. It’s impossible to know how many ‘dry’ passes you need to make with the first two cleaners on our list, so I appreciated this feature.
On the flip side, the negative about the WidePath Tool suction is that it requires some elbow grease from users, who must ensure the tool is angled downward to secure adequate suction. It’s simple to get the correct angle, but I did find that I was pretty tired after cleaning a flight of stairs.
- Good for cleaning cars and furniture
- Easy to use
- Not overly loud
- Inconsistent spray
- Not good for vacuuming large areas
How We Chose The Best Carpet Cleaners
When testing carpet cleaners from Hoover’s wide selection of models, we went with the Goldilocks method — a big papa bear, a medium mama bear and a small baby bear. We wanted to include models that would work for every consumer including those with large homes covered in carpeted floors and those in small homes with limited to no carpeting. Although the three cleaners we tested varied in size, we looked at similar criteria for all of them. That included:
Ease of Use: How easy was it to maneuver the unit around furniture for larger carpet cleaners? Up and down the stairs? Did the attachments work in small spaces? For the smallest cleaner on our list, were we able to finish a cleaning job without having to repeatedly empty and refill the tanks?
Cleaning Power: Part of the success of a carpet cleaner comes down to using the right cleaning solution, but the other part is how the area looks after it’s been cleaned. All three cleaners on our list left noticeable improvements on the flooring, stairs and above-floor areas that were cleaned. Seeing a filled dirty water tank is also a clear indicator that the area was thoroughly cleaned.
Intuitiveness: All three models of carpet cleaners from Hoover were simple to use and intuitive. We rarely had to refer to the instruction manual and found that removing and reinserting the tanks on all three models was simple, which is a big pro when dealing with a large bucket of dirty water (you do not want to spill it).
Attachments: The attachments included with each Hoover model made the carpet cleaners versatile and useful for floors and above-floor areas. They were simple to connect, easy to clean and added value.
Why Trust SPY When Searching For Carpet Cleaners
SPY contributors are professional product reviewers. In addition to testing carpet cleaners, we test just about every home appliance and gadget, which helps us understand which products customers should invest in when looking for top-quality items.
Our writers at SPY have extensively tested a variety of cleaning products and small appliances, including carpet cleaners, vacuums, and more. We have used the carpet cleaners mentioned in this article in our homes to fully understand their pros and cons. Finally, click here to read more about How We Test Products at SPY.com.
About The Author
Allison Bowsher is an entertainment writer and a long-time contributor to SPY.com. In her years writing for SPY, she has reviewed everything from baby monitors to folding kayaks, and she is one of our most experienced e-commerce writers. As a mom, Allison often reviews parenting products, including parenting gadgets and baby monitors. She has also reviewed several vacuums for SPY. Before joining SPY as a contributor, Allison spent four years as the editor and head writer for Much.com (aka the Canadian MTV).
Allison’s work focuses mainly on entertainment, parenting, fashion, travel, fitness, and household goods. Her writing has been featured on E! Online, MTV, Etalk, Metacritic, Bustle, and CTV. Born and raised outside of Toronto and now living in the United States, Allison earned her Masters in Communication and Culture from York University. Allison spends most days running around after her two children.
Frequently Asked Questions About Carpet Cleaners
This question may seem basic, but it's the most important starting point. All the Hoover carpet cleaners on our list have attachments that make it simple to clean smaller, above floor areas like stairs and furniture, so address the largest area you need to clean and work down from there.
The footprint on the two full-sized Hoover carpet cleaners was sizeable. These units can't be wall-mounted, so it's important to ensure you have somewhere to store them between uses. We also recommended having a plastic mat under the carpet cleaners when not in use.
If your home has a lot of stairs and you are mobile, a larger Hoover carpet cleaner is a valid option. If you have limited mobility, you may want to opt for a lighter model. No stairs? No problem. Even the largest Hoover carpet cleaner we tested was easy to maneuver around furniture.
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