What are the top rated carpet cleaning machines for pet owners? Specifically, what are the best models for pet stains, which many carpet shampooers don’t do a good job with? Let’s look at some of the best units for 2017 that can handle pet stains like pet urine without redistributing the mess and driving it deeper into the carpet when you try to remove it.
Best Carpet Shampooers for your Home
1. Hoover SteamVac Carpet Cleaner – Model F5914900
The unit has separate clean water and dirty water tanks, unlike some units that save money by putting dirty water in the same tank so the cleaning performance declines over time – or in the worst case scenario, unless you’re spot cleaning, that pet urine you’ve pulled out of one spot is dispersed in the water tank and the whole carpet smells faintly like the waste instead.
It comes with a hand tool for cleaning upholstery. When you buy this carpet shampooer new, you get one bottle of the shampoo.
The minor cons are its noise level and relatively cheap assembly. It doesn’t have belts that can break, but the rest of the unit is only going to last a few months of heavy use, though this isn’t an issue if you primarily use the shampooer for spot cleaning pet stains in your home.
2. Hoover Power Scrub Carpet Washer Model FH50150
It weighs around 18 pounds, making it one of the lightest carpet cleaners on the list.
It has separate clean water and dirty water tanks. It is better than some due to its easy empty dirty water tank, so it is much harder to accidentally spill the dirty water on the newly cleaned carpets.
One of the biggest pluses of this machine is the ability to select to only wash/rinse the carpets. You can use this to go over an area where you’ve cleaned with carpet shampoo to thoroughly remove it or when you want to rinse a stain without using up all of your soapy water. And the unit is easy to assemble.
It does not clean upholstery well. The brushes do an average job, but they are prone to failing after a few months. This isn’t as much of an issue if you mostly use the carpet cleaner to spot clean.
3. Bissell Pro-Heat 2X Revolution Pet Carpet Cleaner 1548
One of the pros of these Bissell model is the fact that it not only has scrub brushes, but that you can switch them to a higher level. For many pet owners, the pet stain specific tool is attractive because you use that to remove biological matter – and aren’t expected to use it on other dirty spots or upholstery where you worry about traces of the material getting into what you’re trying to clean.
The Bissell 1548 has a heater in it that won’t heat cold water but it will keep hot tap water warm so that the unit will still clean the carpet with warm water after thirty minutes.
It is as easy to use as a vacuum, but its performance as only a vacuum cleaner is middling. Due to the average suction, the carpets take a long time to dry after cleaning the floor with it, and there is no clean water (without shampoo) rinse option, so you may need to make a separate pass with the water tank lacking shampoo if there is soap residue to be removed from the carpets.
4. Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner
It has very strong suction, so it is a great choice for those who want carpets that are dry within an hour of cleaning them. And its suction is so good it gets pet urine stains out on the first pass, though poop stains and vomit may take multiple passes. This is one of the best carpet shampooers for those who don’t want to have to wait hours to walk through a room or worry about the safety of a baby crawling around where you just had to clean.
One of the minor negatives of this unit is its tendency for the sprayers to clog, though you can clear it yourself. The issue occurs when the electrical connections to the sprayer get disconnected.
One of the issues people have with Rug Doctor is poor support for repairs when the unit has problems.
5. BISSELL Deep Clean Premier Pet 17N4 Carpet Cleaner
This Bissell carpet cleaner has the Heat Wave technology that keeps the water reservoir warm, so the hot tap water you put in stays warm while you’re cleaning the floors.
This unit does a good job of cleaning along the edges of its cleaning area, not just the center, so you need fewer passes to clean a whole carpet.
The unit comes with a touch stain brush specifically for pet stains, separate from its deep reach tool. And unlike most units, it doesn’t clog up on pet hair. This is one of the few units that will handle the coughed up fur balls without clogging. And it will let you clean the area where the puppies peed in addition to shedding heavily.
You have to empty the clean water tank while you empty the dirty water tank, which can waste soap. And it can make a mess if you are not careful.
6. Bissell 1887 Proheat Essential Deep Carpet Cleaner
The Bissell Proheat model 1887 carpet cleaning machine gets its name for the heating element in the unit. It won’t heat the water up to steaming hot, but it will keep hot tap water warm for 20 to 30 minutes longer than it would if it lacked this heating element.
The biggest attractions of the Bissell Proheat are the large water tank, multiple attachments it comes with that its rivals charge you for, separate dirty water tank, ease of emptying and decent performance for such a low price. Its biggest downside is the weight of the unit when you’re trying to use it with a full tank of clean water. The tank within a tank design also means you’re having to empty a bulky double set of tanks instead of just dumping the dirty water tank and resuming work.
It has a three year limited warranty, above average for this type of product. Its suction is average, but the carpets will take a long time to dry after using this carpet cleaner. It can handle small amounts of pet hair but needs to be cleaned to prevent clogging.
At $150 dollars, it costs a little more than the Bissell Spot Clean portable spot cleaner but can clean your upholstery and large sections of the floor instead of one or two spots. This is the best carpet cleaner for home use for someone on a budget that puts a premium on ease of use.
7. BISSELL DeepClean Deluxe Pet Model 36Z9 Carpet Cleaner
One of the big pluses for this unit is the ability to spray the soap directly onto stains for removal. Like the Bissell model 17N4, it has a pet hair basket that allows you to clean carpets without the unit clogging on pet hair or having to scrub wet pet hair from the dirty water tank before can put the unit away for storage. It also shares the Heat Wave warmers that keep the water warm while you work, though you have to add hot water to it at the onset.
The biggest negative factor about this carpet cleaner is that it leaves a lot of water in the carpet, so the floors take a long time to dry after using it. You also have to add soap to the clean water supply, which causes a lot of it to get wasted if you’re only spot cleaning.
8. Hoover Max Extract 60 Pressure Pro Carpet Deep CleanerFH50220
One of the pluses of this machine is the ease of removing the clean and dirty water tanks separately. You don’t have to worry about accidentally spilling dirty water while getting a refill of clean water, or the sheer weight of the dual tanks that prevent some people with limited upper body strength from buying this machine.
The handle may leak a little soapy water when tilted back. It has scrub brushes, but for ground in or soaked in stains, you will need to make multiple passes.
9. BISSELL Power Lifter Power Brush Deep Cleaner Model 1622
It has a very limited warranty, but the price is so low that it isn’t unreasonable to replace it after a year or two of heavy use instead of trying to repair it.
This is not a good choice if your pets shed heavily unless you vacuum the floors first with a conventional vacuum cleaner. Otherwise, the unit is prone to clog.
The unit has modest scrubbing power, so compared to some of the other models on this list, solid matter and ground in stains will need many passes to remove.
10. BISSELL Deep Clean Deluxe Pet Model 24A4 Carpet Cleaner
One of its hallmarks is a large capacity water tank so you can clean longer without having to get refills. It has a portable spot remover so you can clean pet stains on the stairs without having to cart the whole unit up the steps.
This Bissell shampooer has the Heat Wave technology to keep water warm, though you have to add hot water to it to have hot water to work with. It won’t actually generate steam.
Its biggest weakness is minor dribbling of dirty water from the tank and leaving floors rather damp after operation.
The Hoover Steam Vac is an excellent choice if you want a spot cleaning machine that can clean where the puppy peed on the couch, and costs less than renting the professional unit three or four times. The Hoover Power Scrub is the better choice if you need to get all of the soap residue out of the carpets before letting children and pets run around on the carpets.
The Bissell model 1548 model is a good choice for those who want to use a different tool to clean up where the dog barfed than risk having that same matter potentially steamed into a larger section of floor.
The Rug Doctor product is a good choice for having almost immediate use of the floor is more important than having to make several passes to get everything up.
Bissell’s more expensive full sized carpet cleaners let you clean large areas with warm water so the cleaning power doesn’t degrade over time. The Model 17N4 and Model 36Z9 are just as good as handling pet hair, while the more expensive Deluxe Pet is the better choice if you want to minimize expensive pet specific soap mixture usage.
The Hoover model FH50220 is the best choice for those who have problems handling some of the nested water tanks or heavy dirty water tanks joined to the soap reservoir.
The Bissell model 1622 is an affordable basic carpet cleaner for your home. It will tackle most messes with a little work. The more expensive Bissell 24A4 handles much larger areas before needing an emptying and refill.
Important Features of an Effective Carpet Cleaner / Shampooer
What are the most important features in an effective carpet cleaner? What features are over-hyped or counterproductive when it comes to these machines?
An effective carpet cleaner needs strong suction to pull as much shampoo out of the carpet as possible. Carpet cleaners with powerful water jets and heavy duty brushes but weak suction will leave carpets clean but damp, at best taking hours before you can walk across them and at worst taking days to dry while nurturing mold growth.
Carpet cleaners don’t actually use steam, though some generate so much water vapor they seem to use steam. However, some units not only use hot water but heat up the water. The ideal carpet cleaners can heat up lukewarm water, but good ones can keep the hot water you add warm. This keeps the cleaning solution warm and effective as you continue to work.
Thorough Scrub Brushes
An often overlooked but critical feature of carpet shampooers is the quality of their scrub brushes. Will they remove dried juice stains, that mess the puppy made or where the cat threw up out of the carpet? And will they remove not only the goo on the surface but what seeped into the carpet itself?
Another factor to consider is how hard the brushes are on the carpet. If you put the carpet cleaner on a spot to scrub out a deep stain and it rips up the carpet in the process, it isn’t a fair trade-off.
Carpet cleaning machines tend to be heavier, bulkier and harder to move around than vacuum cleaners. Even spot cleaners are harder to use compared to handheld vacuum cleaners.
Ease of Emptying the Dirty Water Tank
The ease of emptying the dirty water tank is more important than the ability to put clean water in the unit because spilling dirty water creates a new, nasty mess while spilling clean water is solved by drying the area with fans. Too many units, too, use dirty water tanks that are nested inside of the clean water tank so that you have to manipulate both in order to empty the dirty water. The ideal machines have separate dirty water tanks that are easy to remove without touching the clean water tank.
Another aspect of this is how easy it is to get all of the dirt and debris out of the dirty water tank. If the dirty water tank has nooks and crannies that trap debris or gunk in it so you can’t get it all out, the machine will start to stink over time.
Separate Dirty and Clean Water Tanks
This feature is too often overlooked, but it is an essential feature if you want truly clean floors when doing more than spot cleaning. If you have a single water tank for clean water and dirty water, the dirt that you just pulled up gets pumped into the tank that gets progressively dirtier. The end result is that the last areas you clean may end up dirtier than they were before.
Less Important Features
The set-up of the clean water tanks in the carpet cleaners matter but not as much as the features above. If the machine meets the criteria above, one of the next features to look for are separate clean water and soap reservoirs. You want soap and clean water reservoirs separate so that you only have to add as much soap as required.
Spin scrub hand tools that let you scrub a particular area. These tools tend to be weaker than the full unit, but it is the only way to thoroughly spot clean upholstery. Crevice tools are rarely useful, since it is hard to get these nooks and crannies in furniture dry after you’ve shampooed them. Tools like hard floor attachments rarely do as good a job as an old-fashioned mop, and they become outright dangerous if someone takes the machine onto a hardwood floor.
Trigger spray dispensers on carpet shampooers are a nice to have. They are considered essential since you have the options of spraying the solution via a spray bottle on your own or making multiple passes with the shampooer. And these trigger spray dispensers separate from the standard shampoo jets and are prone to clogging, which is a reason you may not want them at all.
The ability to have a separate rinse of clean water is another luxury that is not needed as often as others claim. You may need to make more than one pass to lift up the stain or give it a pass with a standard vacuum cleaner to lift up all the moisture. If the shampooer model has a tendency to spray too much shampoo and sells its water sprayer as the solution, it is better for you to use a model that doesn’t waste that much soap and risk leaving floors too sticky from soap residue.
One reason why many carpet cleaning machines have a single large water tank where the debris builds up over time is because of the size and bulk of the tanks. Yet you need a large clean water tank if you don’t want to have to make multiple trips to refill it. Conversely, you want a large dirty water tank so you don’t have to make five trips to the sink to empty it. The challenge is balancing the capacity of the clean and dirty water tanks with the ease of emptying them. Overall, we consider the ease with which you can empty the dirty water tanks more important than the need to take two or three trips to the sink to empty them.