The best carpet cleaner is similar to a vacuum but delivers a deeper, wet clean that's great for tackling mud, stains, and stubborn debris that not all vacuums can. To make it onto our best carpet cleaner list, the machine should also be easy to use, empty and (ideally) not too heavy.
Our pick of the very best carpet cleaners will restore your carpet to its just-bought condition; we've covered all price ranges, so that you can choose a carpet cleaner that best suits you, and our clever widget displays the best deals on each product today.
To complete your carpet cleaning arsenal, find the best vacuum cleaners in our buyer's guide.
The best carpet cleaners you can buy right now
The only cleaner for your floors you'll ever need, the Rug Doctor FlexClean will adjust to almost any type of flooring.
Whether you're deep cleaning a carpet, a wooden floor, or kitchen tiles, this cleaner will cope admirably. Oh, and it can even clean furniture.
The dirty water tank on this machine will take 4.7 litres – enough to clean the whole house without needing to empty tanks. This is important for this substantial and somewhat heavy model.
This carpet cleaner has twice the suction power of other machines, making getting down into your carpet's pile easy; it's also one of the only cleaners on the market with a motorised brush.
Clean cars, furniture, and more
The excellent upholstery tool on this machine allows you to clean a lot more than just floors. Try it to clean your sofa or mattress.
- Buy the Rug Doctor FlexClean
Perfect for those looking for a carpet cleaner that packs a real punch, the Rug Doctor X3 Mighty Pro is the best solution: it has the capacity of a professional machine! Here's everything you need to know about it.
Professional carpet cleaning
Using innovative new technology to transform old, tired carpets, this model allows users to achieve a professional standard clean at a fraction of the price of getting someone to do it for you. While it's a substantial investment if you're only planning on cleaning a small area of carpet, every once in a while, for those with a lot of carpet to clean, it's a worthy investment.
While you might assume that a professional standard carpet cleaner would be somewhat sizeable, this model proves that doesn't have to be the case. Its compact design means it can be folded up, neatly, for ease of storage.
Thorough cleaning in one sweep
Unlike a lot of models, this offering from Rug Doctor cleans thoroughly in one sweep, meaning that you won’t have to waste time retreading the same ground. Plus, powerful vacuum extraction cuts down drying time for rugs that are ready to walk on straight away, while its unique triple-action vibrating brush loosens ground-in dirt for a superior clean.
- Buy the Rug Doctor X3 Mighty Pro
One of Henry and Hetty’s lesser-known cousins, the Numatic George GVE370-2 is a friendly-faced chap who performs three tasks in one, effectively. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Wet and dry options
In addition to functioning as a standard vacuum, this 3-in-1 Cylinder Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner also offers wet carpet cleaning to help you keep your flooring free of dust, as well as tackling dirt.
Whether your intention is to clean stairs, carpets or your car's interior, this model comes with plenty of attachments to help you tackle even the most difficult to reach areas.
Long cord and large bag
This model also comes with an impressively long cord, and a bag with a large capacity, making it perfect for larger homes.
- Buy the Numatic George GVE370-2
The nimble and light Bissell carpet cleaner is exactly what you need for targeting areas such as the stairs.
Powerful stain removal
This carpet cleaner is equally good at sucking up fresh spills or tackling old stains (this options works even better if you use a detergent at the same time). Just don't reach for this machine in the middle of the night – you will wake up the neighbours with the noise.
Clean and dirty water are kept in separate tanks, which enhances the cleaning ability and makes cleaning the machine easier.
Do you have a large spill you need to suck up as quickly as possible, or a tough stain that really needs zoomed in, powerful suction in a single spot? This cleaner has attachments for both scenarios.
- Buy the Bissell Spot Clean Pro
Perfect for those on a budget and if you own a pet, the Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner does a decent job of cleaning carpets, especially for its price. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Featuring an onboard wash tool to tackle stairs, upholstery and car seats with ease, the Vax Dual Power Pet Advance Carpet Cleaner offers the best of both worlds – it's an upright model with handheld capabilities, too.
Dual rotating brush bars
Thanks to a handy dual rotating brush, this model boasts double the cleaning action, allowing users to tackle stubborn stains and deeply embedded dirt, such as muddy paw prints on a white carpet – we've all been there. Plus, its 30cm wide cleaning head means it's easier than ever to cover large areas, quickly.
Fill and empty with ease
Much like you'd empty a standard vacuum cleaner, this model comes with tanks that can be emptied at the touch of a clip. Plus, there are two separate tanks for clean and dirty water, meaning you won't have to worry about the two crossing over.
- Buy the Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner
The Bissell Proheat is a powerful carpet cleaner that is great for busy homes where spills, stains, and pet hairs are a frequent occurence.
Deep clean for carpets and upholstery
Our reviewer has praised this carpet cleaner's visible cleaning results, including on upholstery and deep pile carpets. It's also very effective at picking up pet hairs (owners of long-haired pets will be particularly thankful).
Spot cleaning for spills and stairs
It can also be used for quick spills and has a tool for furniture and the stairs – all those small spots the bigger carpet cleaners will miss.
Powerful but noisy
The only thing to bear in mind is that all this power comes at the cost of quite a bit of noise.
- Buy the Bissell Proheat 2X Revolution Pet Pro
Great for a deep clean
This carpet cleaner really makes a difference on carpets and rugs, particularly those that see regular heavy use with stains and paw prints. There is a satisfying and very visible difference between where you've used and where you haven't.
Takes a while to dry
Be patient with this carpet cleaner – it gets rugs really quite wet, and can take hours to dry, so make sure pets/children don't run around on the clean surface before it's dry. For the same reason, it's not really suitable for hard flooring.
Like other Bissell products, this isn't exactly quiet, but you do get used it the noise quite quickly.
- Buy the Bissell Hydrowave Carpet Washer
What is the best carpet cleaner you can buy?
The best carpet cleaner is the Rug Doctor FlexClean thanks to its power and versatility. Weighty and impressive, the machine features a large water tank and attachments that let you clean virtually any surface in the house. An all-in-one investment that will leave carpets, kitchen floors, and even mattresses like new.
How to buy the best carpet cleaner
Where to buy a carpet cleaner
When it comes to buying the best carpet cleaner to suit your needs, there are a few factors worth considering if you're looking to get the most for your money. We'd recommend bearing the following in mind:
If you're planning on cleaning a large, completely carpeted home, on a regular basis, or have a lot of carpets to clean – perhaps you're an Airbnb or holiday apartment owner – look for something with a large capacity that won't require constant refills. Similarly, if you're simply looking to clean a small area of carpet on an irregular basis, pick something that's portable and can be stored in a cupboard, with ease.
The same things can be said for cable length. The longest cable possible is a must in a large space, but less of a priority in small homes, or where there's only one carpet that requires cleaning, say, in the bedroom.
You'll want to make sure your carpet cleaner does exactly what you want it to do; whether that be cleaning upholstery, stair carpets, car interiors, curtains, and more. Ensure the model you choose comes with the appropriate attachments to get the job done.
Carpet cleaners vs. vacuum cleaners
Why do I need a carpet cleaner if I already own a vacuum cleaner, you may ask? Two reasons: stain removal and deodorising action. While vacuum cleaners are perfectly good for everyday cleaning, a carpet cleaner delivers a deeper clean, often with the assistance of a carpet shampoo. Think of it as an 'as well' rather than an 'instead' product.
Check out more cleaning tips...
While we recommend using a carpet cleaning machine to give your soft flooring a new lease of life, for small clean-ups and quick jobs, a carpet cleaning product may just do the trick instead. For all the best carpet cleaning products, see our guide, and for the latest carpet cleaning tips check out our how to clean a carpet feature.