9 Best Carpet Cleaners for Pet Messes
These best carpet cleaners for pet messes will make cleaning up after Fluffy or Fido a breeze
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Pretty much everyone deals with the issue of trying to keep their carpet clean. For pet owners, that means investing in a quality vacuum for pet hair, plus a variety of pet hair removers. Not only that, accidents and messes are going to happen, which means also investing in the best carpet cleaner for pets.
And as any pet owner knows, dog and cat urine are among the most difficult to remove from carpet because ammonia causes color changes in the carpet fibers. “The longer urine stays on carpet, the more likely this permanent color change will happen,” says Guy Peters, owner and founder of Mop Stars Cleaning Service. Urine also quickly saturates down to the carpet padding, which is why smells (especially cat pee smells) can linger.
There’s also poop, which usually can be cleaned up easily, unless your pet is ill and has diarrhea. “The proteins in feces are tough to break down, and the bacteria, parasites and viruses that can cause diarrhea will also add to the strong odors and staining,” says Peters. Vomit can be even more challenging, as it’s a lot more acidic than urine or feces. “Those acids from stomach bile can cause the discoloration of lighter-colored fabrics and fibers,” he says.
Other common culprits? Muddy paws, dirt, grass and pollen, which pups drag into the house. In other words: Get shopping!
The best carpet cleaner for pets
- Best overall: Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro
- Best budget: Bissell Little Green Machine
- Best spray: Folex Carpet Spot Remover
- Best handheld: Black+Decker Spillbuster
- Best upright: Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution
- Best value upright: Hoover PowerDash Pet
- Best combo cleaner for carpet and upholstery: Rug Doctor Pet
- Best for upholstery: Hoover CleanSlate Plus
- Best for stairs: Bissell LittleGreen Pro
Best overall carpet cleaner for pets
Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro
One of our top picks as the best portable carpet cleaners of 2023 is the Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro carpet cleaner—and it’s also Peters’ top pick for the best carpet cleaner for pet stains. “I love it for my multi-pet home, because it’s easy to use and cuts my pet stain cleaning time in half,” he says.
Why? Pet stains can seep down into the carpet fibers, to the padding and untreated floor below. “By using a suction tool and a powerful enzymatic cleaner—both included in the small appliance—I know I’m removing the stain and odor, as well as preserving the flooring of my home,” Peters says.
Psst! While you’re at it, check out the new Bissell Revolution HydroSteam Pet, too.
- Powerful cleaning capabilities for its size, including suction and scrubbing action
- Weighs just 13 pounds, making it portable enough to easily haul around the house
- Comes with two tools and a bottle of Pet Pro Oxy Urine Eliminator formula
- Reasonably priced
- Not as adept at cleaning large areas as an upright carpet cleaner
- Emptying out the dirty water tank can be tricky
Best budget carpet cleaner for pets
Bissell Little Green Machine
The Bissell Little Green Machine is the absolute best small carpet cleaner for pets, according to Amazon shoppers, who have made it the top seller on the online retailer’s website. With a 4-foot hose and 48-ounce water tank capacity, you can get cleaning done faster without having to empty dirty water as often. It also boasts a self-cleaning hose, making it easy to rinse out the gunk after every use.
Our senior shopping writer reviewed the Little Green Machine and she agrees: This thing is a winner.
- Great value for the price
- Self-cleaning hose feature keeps you safe from mold and bacteria
- Cleans effectively and efficiently
- It can be quite loud
- Too small to clean up larger areas
Best spray carpet cleaner for pets
Folex Carpet Spot Remover
For less aggressive pet messes, a spray stain remover might suffice. As Peters notes, the best carpet cleaner for pet urine and best carpet cleaner for pet odors is one with enzymes. Folex Carpet Spot Remover is the top-selling spot treatment spray on Amazon with over 50k perfect 5-star reviews. The fragrance-free solution removes odors from colorfast carpet, rugs, upholstery and clothing—no rinsing or scrubbing required.
Reviewers maintain it magically cleans up all sorts of pet messes, ranging from “bright green dog vomit” to drool, pee and poop. Another major perk? It’s the cheapest product on our list.
- The top-selling spray for pet messes, with over 50k 5-star reviews on Amazon
- Budget-friendly cleaning option
- Requires no scrubbing or rinsing
- For spot treating only
Best handheld carpet cleaner for pets
The Spillbuster from Black+Decker is basically the Dustbuster of pet messes (hence the name) and happens to be the best handheld carpet cleaner for pets. It works in three steps: First, use it to suction up any larger debris. Next, spray cleaning solution on the spot you need to treat. Finally, pull it back and forth over the spot, scrubbing the mess away.
You can also use this handheld tool as a car vacuum. It’s easily the best carpet cleaner for pets if you’re low on grip strength, time and budget.
- Super portable, making it great for the car or small messes
- Most components are dishwasher safe
- Great value for the price
- Battery indicator lets you know how much charge is left
- Only intended for small messes and spot cleaning
- Cleaning reservoir is small, so you’ll have to refill more often
Best upright carpet cleaner for pets
Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution
If your entire home is carpeted, you’ll want to invest in a powerful upright cleaner like the ProHeat Revolution. With nearly 25,000 ratings and an average 4.6 stars on Amazon, it’s a favorite of pet owners accustomed to cleaning up large messes.
The 18-pound gadget resembles a traditional vacuum but offers lots of carpet cleaning features—a pretreating tool and a two-in-one Pet Upholstery Tool to remove pet hair, stains and odors from upholstery.
- Upright design makes cleaning large areas easier
- Large size is better for big stains
- Comes with helpful accessories
- Maintenance is easy, as it’s simple to take apart and clean
- Weighs 18 pounds, so hauling it around the house may take a little effort
- More expensive than others
Best value upright carpet cleaner for pets
Hoover PowerDash Pet
The Hoover PowerDash upright cleaner offers a lot of bang for the buck and is a worthy addition to your cleaning arsenal if you have a room or two with wall-to-wall carpeting. Though compact and lightweight, the easy-to-push carpet cleaner with a half-gallon tank can cover larger spaces and make cleanup a breeze.
Amazon reviewers love it as well, giving it an average 4.5-star rating from more than 70,000 ratings.
- Good value for cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Small enough to stash in tight spaces
- Surprisingly powerful
- 70,000 ratings on Amazon and a 4.5-star average
- Only holds a half-gallon of dirty water, so expect to dump it out more frequently
- Louder than most vacuum machines
Best combo carpet and upholstery cleaner for pets
Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
With its portable design, retractable handle and 4-foot long hose, the corded Rug Doctor Pet is a convenient solution for cleaning pet-soiled carpets, rugs and water-safe upholstery. It has a larger tank than most units of similar size, which means you won’t have to stop to refill it as often, saving you lots of time. It can also help you with trickier, non-pet-related tasks, like cleaning your baseboards.
- Portable solution for cleaning carpets, rugs and upholstery
- Wheels make moving around a room easier
- 4-foot hose makes hard-to-reach messes accessible
- Extra-large tank means less wasted time refilling
- Louder than other models on the market
- Corded, so cleaning different rooms might require unplugging and plugging it in again
Best upholstery cleaner for pets
Hoover CleanSlate Plus with Pet Kit
With a dual tank system and portable design, the Hoover CleanSlate Plus is the best cleaner for pet messes where upholstery and furniture are concerned. The portable machine offers powerful suction and comes with tools specifically for cleaning up anywhere furry friends have an accident—especially sofas and other types of water-safe upholstered furniture. The machine comes with an 18-foot cord and 4.5 feet of hose length, making it useful for cleaning stairs and moving between various areas. It also comes with a hose rinse tool, making cleaning the device a breeze.
- Easy to maneuver for cleaning up upholstery pet messes
- Includes a variety of tools, specific for cleaning up after pets
- Equipped with a long cord and hose
- Not designed for large-area messes
Best for stairs
Bissell LittleGreen Pro
Cleaning up pet messes on stairs can be tricky, as traditional upright machines are too large for most steps. Bissell LittleGreen Pro is another great portable but powerful cleaning machine for hard-to-clean spaces. The 13-pound machine with a long, 20-foot cord takes up very little space and is great for resting on one step while cleaning another.
Bissell touts the LittleGreen Pro as their “most powerful spot and stain cleaner” and Amazon reviewers concur, with an overall average 4.6-star rating overall from 9,000-plus reviewers, and a perfect 5-star rating from more than 6,700. The gadget also comes with tools specific for tough, deep stains.
- A highly-rated portable spot and stain cleaner for cleaning stairs
- Equipped with two effective tools specifically for “tough” and “deep” stains
- Equipped with a long, 20-food cord
- Pricey for its category
What to consider when choosing the best carpet cleaner for pets
There are many types of pet carpet cleaners at every price. Some come with different carpet cleaning tools, including brushes, suctions, upholstery tools and nozzles. You can choose from portable handheld units that make small spaces easier to tackle as well as upright units designed to clean larger spaces. The more expensive models tend to boast more power and suction options and offer a larger tank size and additional accessories.
So, how to save your carpet? While using one of the best steam cleaners can help clean other types of messes, for pet stains you need more than hot water. In conjunction with other carpet cleaning products such as pet stain removers, a pet carpet cleaner can keep your carpet from staining.
How we found the best carpet cleaners for pets
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
How to use a carpet cleaner?
Every carpet cleaner is different. Make sure to read the user manual for exact instructions on how to use yours.
How often should carpets be cleaned if you have pets?
The frequency with which you should clean carpets depends on a variety of factors, including the types of animals you have and the type of pet messes they leave behind. In general, always clean up as soon as you discover an accident, and keep on top of grime with weekly or bicleaning sessions.
How to get dog and cat urine smells out of carpet?
In order to get dog and cat urine smells out of carpet, Peter stresses the importance of acting fast. He also notes that you should use an enzymatic cleaner with a carpet cleaner that has “strong suction to really try and pull the liquids up and out of the fibers and padding as quickly as possible.”
How to get old pet stains out of carpet?
To get old pet stains out of carpet, Peters explains that you first need to identify them using a UV pet urine detector, an ultraviolet light tool. “Cat urine will glow very brightly,” he says, which will allow you to target specific areas with a heavy-duty enzymatic cleaner. “UV lights can also show other biological stains such as vomit.” Overall, getting older pet stains out of carpet is the same way to get newer stains out, but you might have to repeat the process a few times.
How long does it take carpet to dry after cleaning?
How long it takes carpet to dry after cleaning depends on the type of carpet you have and how saturated it is. Generally, expect six to 10 hours on averages, but sometimes up to 24 hours.
Should you vacuum after carpet cleaning?
You should wait until your carpet is completely dry before vacuuming.
Can I walk on my carpet after using a carpet cleaner?
You should wait until your carpet is completely dry before walking on it.
- Guy Peters, owner and founder of Mop Stars Cleaning Service