Best spot cleaner

Cleaning Tools & Supplies

Unfortunately, spot cleaners don’t magically erase the messes, but transfer them into their on-board water tank; make sure you are dumping, cleaning and thoroughly drying the tank after every use.

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Which spot cleaner is best?

There are always going to be accidents in your life, from knocking over a glass of wine on your brand new carpet to bringing a new puppy into your home that isn’t potty-trained yet. With a spot cleaner, fixing those accidents is the easiest it can be, far easier than trying to absorb the spills with paper towels and a spray bottle of solution.

The best spot cleaner is the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush. This rechargeable battery-powered spot cleaner can be taken anywhere and is one of the easiest to use, plus power and rotating brushes and a stationary pet tool are included in the package.

What to know before you buy a spot cleaner

Types of spot cleaner

There are two main types of spot cleaners: steam cleaners and extraction machines.

Steam cleaners: “Steam cleaner” is actually a general term for multiple types of spot cleaner, including vapor cleaners, canister steam cleaners and upholstery steam cleaners. They function similarly however, usually using an internal heating element to boil water before releasing the resultant steam through a pressurized nozzle. The affected stains are then wiped away with a cloth. They tend to damage fabrics and, as such, are intended for use on hard flooring.

Extraction machines: Extraction machines tackle the stain and remove it, creating an all-in-one tool which is meant for use on fabrics instead of hard flooring. They use hot water mixed with a cleaning solution to break up the stain before sucking it away with a vacuum. Each brand of extraction machine usually has their own corresponding brand of cleaning solution with different solutions being better for different fabrics.

Water tank capacity

You might think that bigger is always better when it comes to tank size but large tanks have a few key cons. While you can tackle larger stains and won’t need to refill as frequently, all the extra liquid rapidly becomes incredibly heavy making it difficult to manipulate, especially when trying to dump the dirty solution.

What to look for in a quality spot cleaner


Accidents, and the resulting stains, can happen anywhere, at any time. For this reason, having a highly portable spot cleaner is a must. Portability can be increased by several factors including power type (battery or cord-powered) and capacity. Just remember that the most portable spot cleaners are the smallest, so try to balance portability with function.

Suction and wattage

For extraction machines only. Extraction machines require enough power to be able to suck all the water out of your fabrics as any leftover moisture can damage said fabrics. Power is measured in watts with higher wattages almost always meaning stronger levels of suction.

Power brushes

Some spot cleaners use power brushes instead of requiring you to manually scrub away at the stain. They are superior in every way to scrubbing manually, so do your best to purchase a spot cleaner that includes this feature, or an option to apply it.

How much you can expect to spend on a spot cleaner

Spot cleaners come in a huge range of sizes, features and brands which all affect the given price of each option. You can find a small, handheld cleaner for minor cleaning for less than $50, though these options are not recommended if you have children or pets. You’ll want to spend in the $50-$100 range in those cases to get the best cleaning power. If you know you’ll be having lots of large accidents regularly you can spend up to $150 for the best and biggest options.

Spot cleaner FAQ

Is a steam cleaner or an extraction machine better for use on carpet and upholstery?

A. Extraction machines are going to be best used on carpet and upholstery thanks to their gentler function and increased cleaning ability; steam cleaners’ high temperatures are very likely to ruin the fabric in carpet and upholstery. That said, extraction machines can still cause damage so test the cleaning on an era of your carpet or upholstery that no one will see.

Can a spot cleaner remove an old stain?

A. Generally no, spot cleaners won’t be able to get any old and embedded stains out of your home as they’re intended to clean up fresh accidents. That said, a good spot cleaner will still be able to clean some of your old stains, so go ahead and give it a pass.

Do new spot cleaners come with cleaning solution?

A. Typically no, at least not in the amounts you’re thinking of. They do tend to include samples of cleaner however, though the amount of which probably won’t clean more than a mess or two around your home.

What’s the best spot cleaner to buy?

Top spot cleaner

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush

What you need to know: A completely cordless spot cleaner for ultra-breezy cleaning.

What you’ll love: A rechargeable lithium-ion battery means that there are no recurring costs associated with keeping this spot cleaner running.

What you should consider: The suction power of this spot cleaner isn’t as strong as some may desire.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Top spot cleaner for the money

Bissell Little Green Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet Cleaner

Bissell Little Green Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet Cleaner

What you need to know: A great option for those with pets and/or kids who want to save a little money.

What you’ll love: The lightweight and general ease of use make this spot cleaner a top option for quick cleaning jobs.

What you should consider: There are some reports of the motor burning out after a while.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner

Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner

What you need to know: Don’t let the compact size fool you, this spot cleaner is one of the strongest options available.

What you’ll love: An easily removable head makes cleaning the device as easy as using the device to clean stains.

What you should consider:  A few reports of malfunctioning sprayers and hoses.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


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

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