Best carpet cleaners 2024 – tried and tested cleaners to refresh your carpet

We’ve reviewed five of the best carpet cleaners that can wash away the dirt from deep within your carpet

Three of the best carpet cleaners as tested by Ideal Home
(Image credit: Future)

The best carpet cleaners are there for when you need to breathe life back into your carpets. And even if your carpet is clinging on for dear life, after a once over with one of these cleaners, we think they'll be looking much healthier than before.

Even if you have one of the best vacuums, after a few years there’s no getting away from the fact that your carpet will likely have deeper, embedded dirt that only a wet clean will shift.

Not everyone needs one of the best carpet cleaners,  but if you’ve got children or pets, sometimes accidents happen and need immediate attention. So while renting a carpet cleaner is an option, it’s not always the most convenient, especially if you need to do frequent deeper cleans.

I’ve had hands-on experience with every carpet cleaner on this list, using them on carpet, upholstery, and stairs. There’s a budget-friendly and a premium Vax, a Henry that’s helpful for leaks and DIY, and great options from top floor cleaning brands Shark and Bissell. So if you think a carpet cleaner might be a useful addition to your cleaning cupboard, alongside something like the best steam cleaner there’s bound to be one on this list that’s perfect for your home.

Quick list - the best carpet cleaners

Best carpet cleaner overall

VAX Carpet Cleanerproduct badge

(Image credit: VAX)
The best carpet cleaner overall

Specifications

RRP: £349.99
Weight: 8.9kg
Power cord: 9m
Dirty water capacity: 1.9 litres
Clean water capacity: 3.5 litres
Accessories : 2.5m hose, 2-in-1 anti-microbial tool, SpinScrub tool, accessory bag, 2 x 250ml platinum antibacterial solution, 1 x 250ml pet stain & odour remover
Noise level (tested by us): 80dB

Reasons to buy

+
Includes a dry-only setting
+
Useful hand tools for stairs and upholstery
+
Doesn’t leave carpets too wet
+
Automatically mixes water and cleaning solution

Reasons to avoid

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Takes up a lot of storage space

We love Vax appliances, especially the brand's offerings of the best cordless vacuums, and the Vax Platinum SmartWash Pet-Design ticks a lot of boxes, making it worthy of the top spot. It’s a powerful carpet cleaner that includes a hot air dry only setting to remove as much moisture as possible from carpets. 

Capable of removing deep dirt, it automatically mixes in the cleaning solution. What’s more, there’s no trigger to dispense water onto the carpet, it automatically wets the carpet on the forward push and sucks up the dirty water as you pull it back.

The downsides are that it’s bulky so it takes up a fair chunk of storage space. And it can feel heavy to push around, but that’s not too much of an issue if you’re just doing one room at a time. 

During testing, we found that the useful hand tools work well on stairs and upholstery and the spin scrub tool is a great option for pet beds. Granted, this is an investment level carpet cleaner, but it’s a reliable and easy to use all-rounder so you’ll get your money’s worth.

Our Vax Platinum SmartWash carpet washer review has the full details.

The best carpet cleaner and steamer in one

Bissell Carpet Cleanerproduct badge

(Image credit: Bissell)

2. BISSELL Revolution HydroSteam Carpet Cleaner

The best carpet washer and steamer in one

Specifications

RRP: £429.99
Weight: 10.2kg
Power cord: 7.5m
Dirty water capacity: 1.9 litres
Clean water capacity: 3.8 litres
Accessories : 2.4m hose, tough stain tool, 3-in-1 tool, mesh accessory bag, 1 x 236ml Wash & Protect Pro, 1 x 236ml Oxygen Boost, 1 x 236ml Natural Deep Carpet cleaning solution
Noise level (tested by us): 80dB

Reasons to buy

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3 cleaning modes including steam
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Rotating brushes lift dirt from deep within the carpet
+
Good size water tanks

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Heavy to push around

As the only carpet cleaner to incorporate steam cleaning, the BISSELL Revolution Hydrosteam is quite unique. The steam only mode is designed for use as a stain pre-treatment, rather than a full clean. But steam is also dispensed as part of the main SteamWash Max Clean mode. 

Water is released manually via a trigger but suction is always on, so it’s continually pulling liquid back out of the carpet. For lighter cleans the Quick Dry mode uses less water and my carpets were dry within 3-4 hours using this mode.

The 3 in 1 stair cleaning tool rotates to give three different size brushes, including the main flat brush as well as a curved part to help with cleaning the carpet where it rolls over the step. And there’s a small angle so you can get right into the corners. In my opinion it’s the most thorough stair cleaning tool of all the models on this list. 

One of my main main gripes with it is that the floorhead brushes continue to rotate when using the hand tool. This was a pain when sitting it on hard floors while cleaning upholstered chairs. Nevertheless, the hand tool did a good job of cleaning a grubby dining chair, though like most others, upholstery is left more saturated than carpet.

Best carpet cleaner for spot cleans

Shark CarpetXpert Cleanerproduct badge

(Image credit: Shark Carpet Cleaner)

3. Shark Carpet Xpert

The best carpet washer for spot cleaning

Specifications

RRP: £299.99
Weight: 8.3kg
Power cord: 7.6m
Dirty water capacity: 0.85 litres
Clean water capacity: 2.1 litres
Accessories : 1.5m hose, pet stain trapping tool, tough stain tool, wide tough stain tool, hose cleaning tool, 1 x 335ml Deep Clean Pro solution, 1 x 473ml Oxy Clean solution
Noise level (tested by us): 79dB

Reasons to buy

+
Hose is permanently attached and ready to use
+
Not as heavy to use as some others
+
Includes a hand tool specifically for pet accidents
+
Not too bulky to store

Reasons to avoid

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Small dirty water capacity

The best feature of the Shark CarpetXpert is that unlike many of the others on this list, the hose for handheld cleaning is always attached and ready to go. Simply flipping a lever at the base, stops the roller brush and engages the handheld tools. Making this a great choice to have at hand if you regularly need to do spot cleans in addition to full carpet cleans.

Like the Vax Platinum, it releases water on the forward push and sucks it up as you pull it back, so there’s no trigger on the handle. Plus there’s a dry only mode, where it’ll only suck up water from the carpet, allowing you to go over the whole carpet to remove as much water as possible. Although it still left my carpets a little damper than some of the other, higher scoring cleaners on this list. That said, they were far from saturated and still dried by the next day.

The wide hand tool makes short work of stairs and the smaller one is a great size for an upholstered armchair. To get into nooks and crannies it can be used with no tool attached. And if you have an accident prone pet, the game changing Pet Stain Trapping tool allows you to suck up the liquid. The clever part is that it stays contained in a small tank in the tool, so you don’t have to clean smelly residues out of the whole carpet cleaner afterwards. 

The best budget carpet cleaner

VAX Rapid Power Revive carpet cleanerproduct badge

(Image credit: VAX)

4. VAX Rapid Power Revive

The best budget carpet cleaner

Specifications

RRP: £199.99
Weight: 8.4kg
Power cord: 8m
Dirty water capacity: 4.7 litres
Clean water capacity: 4.7 litres
Accessories : 2.5m hose, wash tool, crevice tool, accessory bag, 1 x 250ml platinum antibacterial solution
Noise level (tested by us): 80dB

Reasons to buy

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Quick clean and deep clean modes
+
Affordable
+
Extra large clean and dirty water tanks
+
Automatically mixes cleaning solution

Reasons to avoid

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Bulky and heavy to push around

The Vax Rapid Power Revive is a good carpet and upholstery cleaner at a great price. It washes carpets thoroughly, although it doesn’t leave them as dry as the Vax Platinum SmartWash above. But, if you want carpets to dry fast, the quick clean mode gives a lighter clean and leaves much less water in the carpets so they dry faster - perfect for a speedy spruce up.

It’s heavy to push around and the position of the water tank blocks your view of the front of the floorhead. So not only can it be hard to navigate in tight spaces, but you can’t see how much water is being sucked up through the nozzle while you’re using it.  It also can’t reach under furniture, so you’ll have to clear the room for the best clean.

The hand tool is a great size for tackling carpets on stairs. It left my dining chair quite saturated even after going over several times to suck out all the water. That said, once dry, the cream upholstery was much cleaner and vastly improved. And the small crevice tool is useful for getting into awkward areas that the hand tool is too big for. 

To dispense water you have to keep the trigger pressed, then when you let go, it sucks up and dries the carpet. The handy rinse only mode means even if the cleaning solution tank is still full, it’ll just use plain water.

The best multi-purpose carpet cleaner

Henry Carpet Cleaner

(Image credit: Henry)

5. Henry Wash Cylinder Carpet Cleaner

The best multi-functional carpet cleaner

Specifications

RRP: £249.99
Weight: 12.66kg
Power cord: 10m
Dirty water capacity: 9 litres
Clean water capacity: 5 litres
Accessories : 2.5m hose, dual scrub floor tool, upholstery tool, fishtail tool
Noise level (tested by us): 78dB

Reasons to buy

+
Great for quickly sucking up leaks and large spills
+
Works on hard floor and carpet
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Large capacity
+
Carpet dried quickly

Reasons to avoid

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No spinning brush bar to agitate carpet fibres
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Awkward to empty

If you want a carpet cleaner that can also see you through plumbing leaks and water spillages, as well as freshening carpets and upholstery, good old Henry is the one for you. Plus, it’s the second most affordable carpet cleaner on this list.

Henry Wash is a no-nonsense industrial style carpet cleaner, what’s more, it’s the only model on this list that can also be used to wash hard floors. And it’ll be invaluable if you ever have a big spill or leak, you can simply use the hose to suck up all the liquid - I actually experienced the joys of this when a radiator in my home started leaking.

It’s great for giving carpets a quick refresh. But because it spays the water on and sucks it away again without agitating or brushing the carpet, it won’t deliver a deep clean. Likewise for upholstery, the handheld tool doesn’t have a brush built in, so it works best for a light spruce up.

For hard floor cleaning it sprays out water, you can then scrub the floor with one side of the tool, before flipping it over and using the squeegee part to collect the water. It’s a bit more industrial than an electric mop and floors can become quite wet if you’re not careful, but it certainly removed a lot of dirt from my slate kitchen floor.

One downside is that the dirty water tank is the whole body of Henry, so it can be awkward and cumbersome to empty out the dirty water and clean it afterwards. The plus side is that this means it has a large capacity and doesn't need emptying too often.

How we tested carpet cleaners

In accordance with how we test products that we recommend at Ideal Home, I  tried all five carpet cleaners in my own home. I tested them on carpets, carpeted stairs, and upholstery. I assessed how easy each model was to put together, as well as noting any issues with disassembling and cleaning after use.

Generally carpet cleaners will perform differently on different types and ages of carpet, as well as different types and ages of stains. But I was able to compare overall ease of use as well as how wet the carpet was after cleaning. I also took into account the price, water capacity, and the usefulness of the various tools and cleaning modes.

FAQs

How can I choose the best carpet cleaner?

There are a few important things to consider when choosing the best carpet cleaner for you. Firstly you’ll need to think about how you intend to use the carpet cleaner. If you only want to wash flat carpets, you won’t need one that comes with a range of hand tools. But, if you’d like the option to clean things like upholstery, pet beds, or if you have carpeted stairs, you’ll find a selection of hand tools essential.

Next think about capacity, if you don’t have a huge amount of carpet, you probably won’t mind if the carpet cleaner doesn’t have big tanks for clean and dirty water. But the larger the tank, the longer you can clean uninterrupted, so for bigger houses with lots of carpet, you’ll need good size clean and dirty water tanks.

Some other things to think about are whether you want the cleaner to mix in the cleaning solution for you, or if you’d prefer to measure it out yourself. Also if it’s important that your carpets dry fast, look out for a model with a warm air drying mode or alternatively, a quick dry cleaning mode that uses less water for faster drying.

For reviving the most-trodden surfaces in your home, a carpet cleaner might just be the miracle product you're looking for. We're pretty sure that they're just the thing to turn your carpets around.