8 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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How do you keep your carpet clean if you have pets?
Pretty much everyone deals with the issue of trying to keep their carpet clean. However, for pet owners, that means investing in a quality vacuum for pet hair (plus a variety of pet hair removers), contending with cat urine and dog poop stains, and eliminating pet odors on a weekly basis. However, despite all your best efforts, accidents and messes are still going to happen, which means you’ll need the best carpet cleaner for pets.
There are many different types of pet stains, explains Guy Peters, owner and founder of MOP STARS Cleaning Service. Pet urine is 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,” he explains. That’s why cleaning up urine messes needs to happen quickly. Urine also quickly saturates down to the carpet padding, which is why smells (especially cat pee smells) can linger.
There is also poop, which is unpleasant to deal with, but 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.
What to consider when choosing the best carpet cleaner for pets
There are many types of pet carpet cleaners at every price point. Some come with different carpet cleaning tools, including brushes, suctions, upholstery tools and nozzles. There are portable handheld units 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.
Peters points out that if you’re steam-cleaning the carpet, the most important feature to consider is how easily you can clean the actual machine. “Material from pet stains may come out of your carpet with a cleaner, but they will then build up in the hoses and water tanks of your machine. That can cause a buildup of mildew and mold and provide the perfect environment for the bacteria and parasites from the stain to grow, which could put you and your pets at risk,” he says. He suggests looking for a steam cleaner that has easily accessed hoses, and cleaning them thoroughly at least every three months, depending on how much they’re used. “Soaking the hoses and nozzles in a hot water and bleach solution for 10 minutes will work to kill most germs that can exist in pet stains.”
The best carpet cleaners in every category
- Best overall: Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro
- Best on a budget: Bissell Little Green Machine
- Best value: Hoover PowerDash
- Best handheld carpet cleaner: Black+Decker Spillbuster
- Best handheld runner-up: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser
- Best upright carpet cleaner: Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution
- Best corded carpet cleaner: Rug Doctor Pet
- Best smart carpet cleaner: Tineco Carpet One
Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro
Peters’s top pick is the Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro carpet cleaner. “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.” Looking for other tips? Here’s a complete guide to cleaning your carpet.
What we like about the Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro:
- Weighs just 13 pounds, making it portable enough to easily haul around the house
- Powerful cleaning capabilities for its size, including suction and scrubbing action
- Reasonably priced
- Comes with two tools and a bottle of PET PRO OXY Urine Eliminator formula
What to consider about the Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro:
- Not as apt at cleaning large areas as an upright carpet cleaner
- Emptying out the dirty water tank can be tricky
Courtesy Bryce Gruber
Best on a budget
Bissell Little Green Machine
The Bissell Little Green Machine is the absolute best 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 Home Editor tested the Little Green Machine and she agrees: This thing is incredible.
What we like about the Bissell Little Green Machine:
- Self-cleaning hose feature keeps you safe from mold and bacteria
- Great value for the price
- Cleans effectively and efficiently
What to consider about the Bissell Little Green Machine:
- It can be quite loud
- Too small to clean up larger areas
At just over $100, the Hoover PowerDash upright cleaner offers a lot of bang for the buck. 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: It has an average 4.5-star rating with more than 64,000 reviews. Here are the other top-rated vacuum cleaners on our list.
What we like about the Hoover PowerDash:
- Great value at a low price
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Small enough to stash in tight spaces
- Surprisingly powerful
What to consider about the Hoover PowerDash:
- Only holds a half-gallon of dirty water, so expect to dump it out more frequently
- Louder than most vacuum machines
Best handheld carpet cleaner
This pet carpet cleaner from Black+Decker is basically the Dustbuster of pet messes, hence the name! The Spillbuster works in three steps: First, it suctions 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.
What we like about the Black+Decker Spillbuster:
- 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
What to consider about the Black+Decker Spillbuster:
- Only intended for small messes and spot cleaning
- Cleaning reservoir is small, so you’ll have to refill often
Courtesy Bryce Gruber
Best handheld carpet cleaner runner-up
Bissell Pet Stain Eraser
Small pets usually make small messes, but “while miniature in size, they can end up all over the house,” says Irene Mantakounis, associate marketing director of Global Upright Deep Cleaning for Bissell. She suggests investing in a compact and cordless machine that is easy to carry around. The Bissell Pet Stain Eraser is one of the most popular and best carpet cleaners for pets, per Amazon shoppers. The handheld, cordless gadget weights just 4.4 pounds, making it easy to clean up pet messes on the ground or furniture anywhere in the home. It also boasts a powerful, rotating brush to help lift up pesky pet stains. See our Home Editor’s review of the Pet Stain Eraser here.
What we like about the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser:
- Lightweight and portable
- Great for cleaning spot treatments
- Can be used with cleaning solution in the tank
What to consider about the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser:
- Takes ~4 hours to charge and provides ~20 minutes of intense carpet cleaning
- Not the best choice for larger messes
Best upright carpet cleaner
Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution
If your home is mostly carpeted, Mantakounis recommends an upright carpet cleaner. “Upright carpet cleaning machines and carpet shampooers are great for cleaning wall-to-wall carpets and larger area rugs,” she says. With almost 23,000 reviews and an average 4.6-star rating, the Revolution is 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, like a pretreating tool, a 2-in-1 Pet Upholstery Tool to remove pet hair, stains and odors from upholstery, and an EZ Clean Brush Roll Cover to make maintaining the machine easy.
What we like about the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution:
- Large size means cleaning up big stains takes less time
- Comes with helpful accessories
- Maintenance is easy, as it’s simple to take apart and clean
What to consider about the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution:
- Weighs 18 pounds, so hauling it around the house may take a little effort
- More expensive than others on the market
Best corded carpet cleaner
Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner
With a 4-foot hose, retractable handle and wheels, the corded Rug Doctor Pet is another favorite of pet owners who spend a lot of time moving around a room cleaning up pet messes. It’s got a larger tank than most units of similar size (holding 64 ounces of cleaning solution), 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.
What we like about the Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner:
- Wheels make moving around a room easier
- 4-foot hose makes hard-to-reach messes accessible
- Extra-large water tank means less wasted time refilling
What to consider about the Rug Doctor Pet Portable Spot Cleaner:
- Louder than other models on the market
- Corded, so cleaning different rooms might require unplugging and plugging it in again
Best smart carpet cleaner
Tineco Carpet One
Those who equip their homes with the smartest gadgets will appreciate the Tineco Carpet One, a new gadget from the brand that’s already famous for their top-rated vacuum mop. The easy-to-use, tech-enabled carpet cleaner guides you through the cleaning process with helpful features like a humidity sensing “dryness meter,” quick-drying technology promising surface dry time in 30 minutes or less, and heating technology to ensure water temps remains consistently high throughout cleaning. It also adjusts water flow based on the stain type, meaning you won’t have to refill the tank as often.
What we like about the Tineco Carpet One:
- Smart technology takes the guesswork out of cleaning up stains
- Uses cleaning solutions more efficiently, saving you money in the long run
- Deep cleans with just a few passes
What to consider about the Tineco Carpet One:
- One of the more expensive pet cleaners on the market
- Trickier to use, as the technology is cutting edge
- Guy Peters, owner and founder of MOP STARS Cleaning Service
- Irene Mantakounis, associate marketing director of Global Upright Deep Cleaning for Bissell
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