Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush
The Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush carpet cleaner offers relatively quiet operation.

Quiet for a carpet cleaner isn’t necessarily quiet, but the PowerBrush was still less noisy than most, reaching just 80 decibels – close to the noise level of city traffic. There were competitors that produced more than 90 decibels – about the noise level of a lawnmower.

The PowerBrush was only average for stain removal and it lacked any additional accessories to help clean things like upholstery and stairs; however, it was one of the more budget-friendly options. It’s also relatively compact and easy to move around, which can be helpful for awkward jobs. Bulkier machines get hard to drag around after a while.
Hoover Smartwash Automatic

The Hoover Smartwash Automatic is a carpet cleaner designed for ease of use. Despite being on the heavier side for a carpet cleaner, this machine was easy to control and almost glided across the carpet. Its ease of use is aided by the fact that it is self propelling, taking a lot of the strain and effort out of carpet cleaning – making it an ideal model for people who struggle with lifting heavy objects. This combined with the large tank also makes it ideal for large scale carpet cleaning.

The water and detergent loading system is simple and easy to use. The triggerless design makes using this carpet cleaner as easy and natural as vacuuming. It is equipped with sensors for an automatic soap dispensing system, that deploys more soap in areas that are heavily stained. However, we experienced mixed results with this system, and it needed to be over-rode often to ensure it was drying the carpet.

The Hoover Smartwash Automatic is also the best carpet cleaner for removing stains from carpets. The downside is that its powerful, deep cleaning action leaves carpets wetter than other models, meaning the carpet takes a lot longer to dry.

Hoover Smartwash Automatic review

How a carpet cleaner works

Carpet cleaners work by spraying a solution of detergent and warm water into the carpet to loosen dirt, and wash away stains. Most machines have two separate tanks, one for clean water to wash the carpet and a second tank to suck the dirty water from the carpet. A lot like a standard vacuum cleaner carpet cleaner has brushes. The brush design of the carpet cleaner is the most important factor in determining the effectiveness of the carpet clean. Some of these brushes are static on a brush bar, while others are motor-powered and will rotate or move side to side. Our tests demonstrated that the powered brushes provide a deeper clean than static brushes.

What kind of carpet cleaner do I need?

There is confusion over the difference between carpet cleaners and steam cleaners. Steam cleaners and carpet cleaners operate differently and clean in different ways. There are a few different styles of carpet cleaners to consider:

Best carpet cleaner testing

Shampoo Cleaners: Most of the cleaners feature in this review are shampoo based cleaners. These cleaners used heated water and soap to clean old and worn carpets, and treat them chemically to bright them up a little. They are generally a surface level clean and do little to remove the bottom layers of dirt.
Steam Cleaners: Steam cleaners operate on a different principle to carpet cleaners, and are not limited to cleaning carpets alone. They heat water into steam to create pressure and release jets of steam that penetrate deeper than a carpet cleaner, shaking loose the underlying dirt. They generally don’t use chemicals to bright up or treat carpet, just remove dirt. This means they don’t give carpets a nice new sheen. There are less models available to buy, and they have smaller tanks due to pressure creating mechanics.
Spot Cleaners: Spot cleaners are smaller, handheld versions of a full sized shampoo carpet cleaner. These small machines don’t offer the same level of deep cleaning or whole carpet cleans as a full sized model but they are great for cleaning up after puppies or kids on a daily basis. They are also fantastic for sprucing up the upholstery in a car with the right attachments.
Multi-Surface Cleaners: Multi-Surface cleaners are not as dedicated as a shampoo carpet cleaner for washing carpets. However, these multi-surface cleaners can be used more regularly, across a range of sealed hard surfaces in addition to carpets while doing the vacuuming. They are just not as good for giving a carpet a bright, new lease of life as a shampoo based carpet cleaner.
How often should you clean your carpet?

How often you clean your carpets depends on the household. For a household that has low wear on the carpets we recommend that you clean your carpets every six months or so. Shampooing your carpet wears down the fibres and so frequent washing can attract more dirt. For households with high wear on the carpets, due to children or pets, clean the carpet every three or four months. Don’t clean your carpets every day or even every week unless you really have to. Cleaning carpets so regularly may lead to carpet damage or increase the chances of mold because the carpet doesn’t get a chance to dry out completely.