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Best handheld carpet cleaner

Which handheld carpet cleaner is best?

When most people think of carpet cleaning, they imagine an aching back, hours of drying time and a hefty appliance rental bill. However, most carpet cleaning tasks don’t require much hassle and can be taken care of quickly with the right tool for the job.

Handheld carpet cleaners let you economically and effectively treat minor spills and stains around your home as needed. The Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush features scrubbing bristles and a detergent dispenser. Its powerful suction and small size make it the best choice for keeping your carpets looking like new.

What to know before you buy a handheld carpet cleaner

How much carpet you intend to clean

Handheld carpet cleaners are designed to eliminate small messes. If you have a carpet that needs extensive wall-to-wall cleaning, a handheld cleaner will not get the job done. A standard carpet cleaner is more appropriate for room-size jobs.

What kinds of messes you expect

Some handheld carpet cleaners are made with pet owners in mind. These specialize in preventing stains and vacuuming up liquids. Others feature powerful suction for cleaning up solid food spills. Consider the messes you regularly encounter and select a cleaner that will accommodate your typical cleaning jobs.

How handheld carpet cleaners work

Handheld carpet cleaners include two water tanks. One gets filled with clean water and is emptied onto your carpet as you use the appliance. The resulting soiled water is then vacuumed back up into the machine and stored in a second tank that gets emptied when you’re done.

Scrubbing brushes and detergents are also used during the process to work stains out from the fibers of your carpet and apply fragrances.

Handheld carpet cleaner benefits

Portable. Handheld carpet cleaners, unlike those that need to be pushed around your home, can be moved with ease. Whether you’re treating multiple rooms or need to clean an entirely different property, these appliances are great for life on the go. You can even use them in your car or RV.

Easy to store. Handheld carpet cleaners can be easily tucked away in a drawer, closet or cupboard.

Easy to maneuver. Because handheld carpet cleaners are small and light, they let you reach areas under tables and around furniture without having to move your decor around. 

Quick cleaning. Handheld carpet cleaners are low maintenance and easy to clean, rinse and dry after use.

What to look for in a quality handheld carpet cleaner


Choose a light carpet cleaner, even when its tank is full. Heavy cleaners are challenging to navigate around furniture and potentially dangerous if used to clean stairs.


Pulling a long cord around the house while cleaning is a hassle. Avoid tripping and dragging by selecting a handheld carpet cleaner powered by a rechargeable battery.


Some cleaners let you put their collection tank in the dishwasher for convenient cleaning. Select a model that disassembles easily so you can thoroughly rinse and dry it between uses to prevent odor or mold.

Scrub brush

Select a cleaner with a scrub brush to deep clean messes and reduce the risk of stains. A cleaner that features a motorized brush does the hard work for you.

Cleaning formulas

Many manufacturers offer formulas that deodorize your carpet and enhance the cleaning power of their appliances. If you want to freshen things up, select a handheld cleaner that lets you add formula to its clean water. Some also feature a tank specifically for a detergent that gets sprayed onto your carpet as you clean.

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

Depending on features and attachments, handheld carpet cleaners typically cost $100-$150.

Handheld carpet cleaner FAQ

Can I use a handheld carpet cleaner on upholstery?

A. In most cases, yes. However, some fragile or antique materials may be damaged by aggressive motorized brushes. Consult the manufacturer of your furniture for cleaning instructions.

Will a handheld carpet cleaner work on a hard surface?

A. No. Carpet cleaners are designed to clean fabrics and rug fibers. Wood or tile floors should be cleaned using a different appliance.

Do handheld carpet cleaners disinfect?

A. No. To disinfect your flooring, you will need a cleaner that uses hot steam.

What’s the best handheld carpet cleaner to buy?

Top handheld carpet cleaner

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush

What you need to know: This handheld carpet cleaner includes two formula samples and is specifically designed for pet messes.

What you’ll love: With its motorized PowerBrush and generous tank size, this carpet cleaner is a pet owner’s new best friend. Its cordless operation and ergonomic design make it great for cleaning carpeted stairs and soiled furniture.

What you should consider: Buyers note that you must hold this cleaner in a specific way to utilize its suction fully.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohl's

Top handheld carpet cleaner for the money

Bissel Pet Stain Eraser

What you need to know: For those who don’t need the PowerBrush feature, this alternative from Bissel lets you clean up on a budget.

What you’ll love: This cleaner has a stationary brush with bristles firm enough to scrub but gentle enough to be used on most furniture. It comes apart easily for hassle-free cleaning and includes two bottles of formula.

What you should consider: This cleaner only runs for 15 minutes on a full charge.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Black and Decker Spillbuster

What you need to know: You can throw this cleaner’s tank and nozzle in the dishwasher for easy disinfecting. 

What you’ll love: This cleaner’s wide nozzle is great for chunky food spills such as cereal or pasta. Its powered scrub brush deep cleans your carpet, and its battery indicator light lets you know when it’s charged and ready.

What you should consider: This cleaner’s formula dispenser requires you to manually pull a trigger, which some buyers find to be inconvenient.

Where to buy: Sold by AmazonChewy and Home Depot


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

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