Are cleaning solutions not able to remove spots and discolorations on your carpet or upholtery? Trying to find a better way to clean up heavy stains and keep your house looking tidy? Portable carpet cleaners are a convenient solution.

Cleaning solutions can do a good job on surface stains, but carpet cleaners that scrub the carpet fibers right down to the base can restore the freshness and softness of deeply soiled rugs and carpets. Almost every home maker and professional cleaning service can benefit from having a portable carpet cleaner ready to go for the most persistent, deep stains.

Thankfully, the best portable carpet cleaners are not too expensive. As we mentioned in our article on cleaning technique for carpeted stairs, there are several lightweight options that deliver the same power as a heavy duty upright carpet cleaners, such as the Bissell SpotClean Pro.

The Bissell SpotClean Pro is our top choice for several reasons:

  • Long cord and large tank for water and cleaning solution
  • Powerful suction and rough scrubbing brush for deep cleaning
  • Most popular Spot cleaner for carpeted stairs and living areas
  • Over 4000 customer reviews on Amazon


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How To Use A Portable Carpet Cleaner To Tackle Intense Stains

There are several techniques for cleaning stains out of carpets that do not involve a spot cleaner or vacuum of any kind. In fact, it is possible to tackle many stains without using a carpet cleaning solution of any kind.

But when time and energy are not in great supply, having a carpet cleaner around makes life 1000x easier. Here are some basic instructions for using a portable carpet cleaner to tackle the heaviest stains. Check out our full article How To Remove Heavy Stains From A Dirty Carpet for a full discussion of stain removal techniques.

  1. Purchase a professional handheld carpet cleaner like the Bissell SpotClean Pro or the Hoover Spotless Carpet Cleaner. Make sure to find a lightweight machine that also carries enough liquid to avoid frequent refills.
  2. Optional: prepare the stain by removing any larger surface matter from the top of the discoloration. Be careful not to press on the stain while wiping or lifting material off of the top of the spot.
  3. Make sure to fill the spot cleaner completely full of warm water and cleaning liquid. Be sure to empty the dirty water tank first if the job is particularly heavy so that you don’t have to interrupt the cleaning cycle mid-way.
  4. Place the cleaner’s brushes on top of the stain or position the hose nozzle over the stain and apply a sufficient amount of cleaning solution to soak the stain.
  5. With the scrubbing brush, agitate the moistened carpet fibers to loosen the dirt and allergens from the soiled carpet fibers. If your carpet cleaner has a rotating brush head, use it. Otherwise, run the scrubbing brush vigorously over the stain in a back and forth or circular motion for about a minute or until the stain is loosened.
  6. Use the powerful suction of your machine to suck up the water and dirt that has been loosened and comb the carpet fibers with the grain of the carpet to restore their original look.

For more carpet cleaning tips, check out these techniques from wikihow.

Those instructions cover most of the spot cleaners and portable cleaners available on the market. But each machine and model will have specific features and specialized tools that allow it to address specific situations more effectively, so be sure to go through the full range of appliances here to find the machine the best portable carpet cleaner for your particular needs.


What Is The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner?

The answer to that question really depends on what you are looking for in a carpet cleaner. Cleaners come in many different styles and models, and each one has advantages and disadvantages.

The best in class tend to be made by Bissell. Bissell is the leading manufacturer of spot cleaners and stain removers for both professional uses and casual home cleaning. Because of Bissell’s popularity, their machines occupy the top two positions on this list. Take a look at this comparison chart to see learn about some of the key differences in their line-up.

Bissell Spot Cleaner Comparison Chart

1. Bissell SpotClean Pro

The Bissell SpotClean Pro looks like the helmet of a space suit and performs like it was built by NASA. In fact, this machine performs so well that it captured the attention of professional cleaning services across the US when it first came out. Over time, it grew a loyal following, and it is now one of the most popular vacuums in the world.

What sets it apart from the rest? For one thing, the suction of this machine is incredibly powerful and much better than Hoover carpet cleaners. That allows for deeper cleaning and also dries up all of the moisture from cleaning completely.

Additionally, the power cord is very long so that you don’t have to unplug and replug it into a new socket every time you move if you have many stains to clean throughout your house. Also, both the water reservoir and dirty water tank are enormous, so you won’t have to refill the tank in order to complete larger jobs.



  • 3/4 gallon soapy water tank
  • Better suction than hoover upright carpet cleaners
  • Long cord and large tank for water and cleaning solution
  • Rough scrubbing brush for deep cleaning
  • Most popular Spot cleaner for carpeted stairs and living areas
  • Over 4000 customer reviews on Amazon


The unit comes with two different scrubbing brushes: the 3 inch brush and the 6 inch stair brush. Both of these brushes snap on and off of the hose easily so you won’t have to strain to change brushes.

The hose is a bit weak and not super long, so you will have to carry the unit around from time to time. Thankfully, the unit is small enough that lifting it is easy and the powerful suction makes up for any inconvenience caused by the reach of the hose.



2. Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

The Bissell multi-purpose portable cleaner, affectionately called “Little Green” by some, is built with the environment in mind. All of the materials used to construct the Little Green are eco friendly and recyclable. Even the packaging in comes in is mostly eco-friendly.

The water tanks specifically avoid PVC plastic, and the rest of the machine is designed with minimalist approach so that you don’t have to worry about extra design features that do not really add benefits. The Little Green is as simple as it gets when it comes to spot cleaners.

Another benefit of keeping things simple is that the Little Green is also significantly cheaper than other similar spot cleaners. Keep in mind that the Little Green is not meant for professional use or using on heavy duty spot cleaning jobs. Instead, it is perfect for home owners to want to address deep stains at a moment’s notice as they come up.



  • 48 oz. soapy water tank
  • 9 pounds – very lightweight and easy to carry
  • eco-friendly design and made to be environmentally friendly
  • Rough scrubbing brush for deep cleaning
  • Popular spot cleaner for cars and carpets
  • Cheaper than other Bissell spot cleaners


The Little Green also has a surprisingly large water tank. With a tank that can hold 48 oz. or warm soapy water, the Bissell can handle the less common medium sized jobs that require deep cleaning, such as when a children’s party turns into a food fight. But the size is still small enough for cleaning up those every day spills and stains that just require a quick scrub.


3. Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner

Rug Doctor Portable Spot CleanerThe Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner is good alternative to the Bissell machines because it is just as simple to use and delivers the same amount of high powered suction that is necessary to deal with the toughest stains.

One the best things about the Rug Doctor is that it arrives fully assembled and ready to go straight out of the box. Simply unpack it, fill up the water tank, add soap, and the Rug Doctor is ready to clean carpets and upholstery right away.

The Rug Doctor also has extra large water tanks so that you do not have to refill it very often. The Rug Doctor boasts a 64 oz. tank for soapy water, and while that adds to the its weight, the extra water allows it to last twice as long between refill as other spot cleaners.

Altogether, the Rug Doctor weighs around 15 pounds, which means that you need to be able to lift at least that much weight in order to use it. But it has a nice long extension cord and hose so that you don’t have to move it around too much.



  • Extra large 64 oz. soapy water tank
  • Wheels for added ease of mobility
  • Long extension cord
  • Rough scrubbing brush for deep cleaning
  • Popular spot cleaner for cars and carpets


Of course, if the weight of the liquid is too much, the Rug Doctor has wheels and a collapsable handle that you can use to move it around as well. And in any case, the weight is about the same as a bag of groceries, so as long as you are comfortable lifting shopping bags, then the Rug Doctor shouldn’t be a problem.

A lot of that weight also comes from it’s extra large water tank and soap container. Again, the Rug Doctor boasts a 64 oz. tank, which means you can run it over several large stains and give your carpets a long, deep cleaning with every refill.


4. Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner

The Hoover Spotless Portable Spot Cleaner is built to service as much more than a simple spot cleaner for carpets. Like the other machines on this list, it can also handle tough jobs like car seats and delicate furniture.

At only 9 pounds, the Hoover Spotless weighs about 1/3 less than the Rug Doctor and holds half as much soapy water in it 32 oz. water tank. But that also mean it is lighter and easier to carry around.

While the Hoover Spotless is not built to handle the same kind of large cleaning jobs that the Bissell and Rug Doctor spot cleaners are meant for, the Hoover is perfect for those on the go moments when a smaller spill needs to be dealt with quickly and easily. that makes it the ideal spot cleaner for pet stains and food spills.



  • Medium sized 32 oz. soapy water tank
  • Less than 10 pounds
  • Perfect for quick cleaning of deep stains
  • Rough scrubbing brush agitates dirt deep in the carpet
  • Popular spot cleaner for food stains, cars and carpeted stairs


The main thing to keep in mind with the Hoover Spotless is that it is not quite as durable as the Bissell spot cleaners. The Hoover might wear out after a several heavy uses, and the red scrubbing brush has been known to fray within a few uses.

But many customers have no problems at all with the longevity of this product, so it’s a bit of a toss up. Lightweight and ease of use was the priority when designing this product, not durability.


Final Thoughts On The Best Portable Carpet Cleaners And Spot Cleaners

Those are the best portable carpet cleaners we can recommend to you right now. They each have different sizes and attachments, but all are light enough to still qualify as “portable” and durable to be worth your money whether you are professional or a home owner. For professionals, the Bissell SpotClean Pro is definitely the way to go, but the others on this list will do just fine for everything else.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a spot cleaner is the frequency with which you will use it and whether or not you can lift over 10 pounds. The Bissell SpotClean Pro, for instance, is perfect for heavy, frequent use, but it weighs around 13 pounds. The Little Green only weighs around 9 pounds, on the other hand.

Once you have have chosen your model, check out the different detergents and cleaning solutions that are available. Combined with a powerful carpet cleaner, these cleaning solutions will handle almost any stain you apply them too.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for stopping by and happy sweeping!