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Which carpet steam cleaner is best?

If you live in a large household or share your life with a furry friend, chances are good that your carpets could use some attention. Regularly steam cleaning your carpets extends their life and keeps them looking — and smelling —  like new. This is also important to remove potentially harmful dirt and bacteria tracked in by household members and pets. 

Make this task easier by choosing the best carpet steam cleaner. If you are ready to invest in a commercial-grade machine, the Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner is an excellent choice. 

What to know before you buy a carpet steam cleaner


When you think about the weight, consider not only the weight of the carpet cleaner but also the water that it contains. Some cleaners can weigh 20 pounds or more and hold two gallons of water. At eight pounds per gallon, you are looking at cleaning carpets with 36 pounds of machine. 

Tank size

The tank size matters in terms of how frequently you need to fill the tank but also in how much the machine weighs overall. A larger tank allows you to cover more ground without stopping, but it also translates into a heavier cleaner. 

Carpet cleaner size

Even some upright carpet steam cleaners take up more space than a regular vacuum. Take this into consideration when you are looking for the best one for you. If space is an issue, retractable handles result in a smaller machine for easier storage. 

What to look for in a quality carpet steam cleaner

Powered brushes

The more rows of brushes your cleaner comes with, the better it is at lifting and scrubbing tough dirt and stains. Powered brushes move on their own, which makes them more efficient at their job. 

Long hose

A long hose means you won’t need to drag the carpet cleaner everywhere you go. This is helpful if you select a commercial machine, but it also works well or machines that do not come with attachments. It lets you clean stairs without having to precariously balance a carpet steam cleaner on a step. 


More attachments means more cleaning ability. A versatile carpet steam cleaner includes attachments for:

  • Upholstery
  • Stairs
  • Curtains

How to get the best results with your carpet steam cleaner

  • Wipe up spills when they occur.
  • Remove all furniture and anything else on the floor before you begin cleaning.
  • Vacuum thoroughly to remove as much loose dirt as possible. 
  • Pretreat tough stains.
  • Follow the directions on the carpet cleaning solution you select.
  • Test the cleaning solution on a small area first to make sure it does not stain or bleach your carpet. 
  • Start steam cleaning at the farthest point from the door.
  • Follow a straight line and overlap as you clean. 
  • Spend more time scrubbing stubborn stains and areas that get more foot traffic. 
  • Do not use too much water — don’t saturate the carpet. 
  • If your carpet steam cleaner comes with a rinse function, use it. 
  • To accelerate the drying time, leave windows and doors open if possible.
  • Set a regular schedule of cleaning to prevent carpets from getting too dirty. 

How much you can expect to spend on a carpet steam cleaner

These cleaning tools range in price based on the features they have and whether or not they are commercial machines. Expect to spend $100-$450. 

Carpet steam cleaner FAQ

Will a steam cleaner damage your carpet?

A. This depends on the type of carpet you have and the cleaner you use on it. Delicate carpets with fragile fibers may be damaged by cleaners with rotating brushes. Carpets of all types can also be damaged by harsh cleaning solutions. This is why it is important to spot test the cleaner on a hidden area of the carpet before applying it to the whole area.

How long do you need to stay off the carpet after cleaning? 

A. In a perfect world, your household and pets should stay off the carpet until it’s completely dry. This can take up to six hours. 

Realistically, though, there are times when you need to cross a freshly cleaned carpet. If this is the case, wait for at least 30 minutes, then remove your shoes and cross in a clean pair of socks. 

What’s the best carpet steam cleaner to buy?

Top carpet steam cleaner

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner

What you need to know: There’s no need to head for a commercial rental when you have this workhorse on hand.

What you’ll love: With an XL DirtLifter PowerBrush and eight rows of bristles this cleaner is great at loosening stubborn dirt in high-pile carpet. It features a long reach hose and a stain tool to clean stairs, Upholstery and other hard-to-reach places. It has two large tanks to keep your clean and dirty water separate. The handle adjusts for comfort.

What you should consider: This is a heavy, expensive machine.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top carpet steam cleaner for the money

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

What you need to know: It is lightweight and works just like a regular vacuum. 

What you’ll love: The 20-foot cord makes it easy to do multiple rooms without unplugging. It has two tanks and a hot air drying option. Easily clean stairs with the onboard attachments and hoses. 

What you should consider: Some users reported leaks. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Bissell Turboclean Powerbrush Pet Carpet Cleaner

Bissell Turboclean Powerbrush Pet Carpet Cleaner

What you need to know: It is an affordable steam cleaner designed specifically for homes with pets. 

What you’ll love: The four-row dirt lifter power brush attacks deep dirt in carpet. It weighs just 12 pounds and uses a two-tank system so you won’t be cleaning with dirty water. 

What you should consider: Some say it’s not the best for larger jobs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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