The best carpet cleaning machine for stubborn stains

Give your carpets the deep clean they deserve.

Carpet cleaning machine

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

If you are looking for the best carpet cleaning machine, you have come to the right place. Whether you've been grappling with stubborn stains or want to refresh your carpets, the best carpet cleaning products are here to transform your cleaning routine. Carpets can harbour dirt, odours, and allergens, so choose the right cleaning tool, such as the best steam cleaners, to keep your living spaces fresh and clean.

A carpet cleaner, also known as a carpet extractor or carpet shampooer, is designed to eradicate deeply embedded dirt and stains in carpets. When it comes to carpet cleaners, you will want to look at the main features that make a difference in your cleaning experience. While assembling, these machines might seem daunting initially, but they are as straightforward as operating a vacuum cleaner. The carpet cleaner machines on this list excel at eliminating embedded dirt and pet hair, making them the best carpet cleaner for pets.

Best carpet cleaning machine at a glance

• Best overall: Vax Platinum Power Max Carpet Washer – View on John Lewis
Best compact spot cleaner: Shark StainStriker Stain & Spot Cleaner – View on Shark Clean
Best budget compact carpet cleaner: Tower Aquajet Plus Carpet Cleaner – View on Argos

So what about compatibility with various surfaces? While these machines are perfect for carpets, it's advisable to steer clear of wooden or laminated floors due to potential water damage. However, they're an excellent fit for tiled and vinyl floors. With specially formulated cleaning solutions and powerful brush heads, carpet cleaners delve deep into your carpet's fibres, uprooting grime and dirt that have made themselves at home. Also, when it comes to carpet cleaning options, steam cleaners are another versatile choice. Using the power of high-temperature steam, these cleaners penetrate deep into carpet fibres, dissolving dirt, grime, and even stubborn stains. Handheld steam cleaners, in particular, offer a convenient and efficient solution for tackling tough messes and refreshing carpets.

In this article, we'll delve into the best carpet cleaning machines for every type of household as well as break down the features. So, let's get into it. Here are our favourite options that can transform your carpets and living spaces, making cleaning a breeze and leaving your home refreshed and renewed.

Best carpet cleaning machine

Best overall


Proven to clean better than the leading rental, the Vax Platinum Power Max Carpet Washer removes up to 93% of bacteria and restores carpets to clean and dry in just one hour using the Quick Clean mode. It tackles embedded dirt with its XL brush bar and seven SpinScrub brushes. Benefit from powerful deep cleaning that's five times more effective than a vacuum clean. Enjoy carpets that are left thoroughly clean and smelling fresh. This carpet washer comes with a range of accessories, including a stretch hose and Pre-Treatment wand. Additionally, its covered with a 2-year guarantee and free standard delivery from John Lewis.

Our review: "If it’s a toss-up between hiring and buying a carpet cleaner, then this is a real winner. It comes with good, comprehensive instructions, which we’d recommend reading before starting to help you get to grips with how the cleaner works. There are a few tricky assembly bits, but overall it’s easy to navigate. It comes with a pre-treatment spray (and wand for easy application) and cleaning solutions, which have a lovely fragrance when sprayed. There are two settings to choose from: one for a deep clean and the other a quick dry clean, which is meant to leave the carpets dry in an hour, so our tester tried this first.

"With only a few passes over the stains, they could instantly see them removed and, judging by the dirty water tank, the carpet was a lot dirtier than previously thought! Once finished, the pile looked refreshed and smelt fresh and clean.

"The deep clean worked as well, but did take a little longer to dry. The Vax also comes with additional attachments including a hard floor squeegee tool and one for cleaning upholstery. Overall, this is a brilliant model,
with great results. Our only negative is that it’s quite bulky
and weighty and not so easy to store."


  • Effective, professional results
  • Good variety of attachments and accessories
  • Cleans stubborn stains


  • Bulky

Best carpet cleaner overall

The Swan DirtMaster Pro Carpet Cleaner takes carpet cleaning to a whole other level. With large capacity tanks for clean and dirty water, it ensures you can clean for longer without the need to empty and refill. It also has a wider cleaning nozzle to help loosen and lift ground-in dirt and odours.**

This product is currently being tested by one of our Commercial Content Writers.**


  • Freshens and cleans
  • Comes with cleaning solution
  • Wide cleaning nozzle


  • Some found it does use the solution quite quick

Best compact spot cleaner


Shark StainStriker Stain & Spot Cleaner is a powerful spot cleaner for tackling stains around the home. It's Shark's best stubborn stain remover. A high-pressure spray gets deep into carpet fibres with an even distribution of water and cleaning solution that doesn't over saturate the upholstery. Then, powerful suction extracts liquid and dirt. Enjoy 20 times more stain-cleaning power as the StainStriker's dual-activated cleaning solution combines Shark's bespoke chemical formula that work together to remove stubborn stains and odour. No pre-treatment is required.

Our review: "This is easy to use – light and perfect for our tester’s flat. They used it on a stain on their floor and this cleaner completely removed it! They then tried it on a chair with a stubborn, dried-in stain, but that didn’t come out as well as hoped. This product is great for occasional spills, but you couldn’t use it to clean a vast space. On the whole, it’s simple to use and lightweight. It would be good for the car too, but would need an extension lead."


  • Effective on stubborn stains and odour
  • Lightweight, compact and portable
  • Small and powerful


  • Best suited to occasional spills rather than whole carpet cleaning

Best budget compact carpet cleaner


The Tower Aquajet Plus Carpet Cleaner is a compact and lightweight spot cleaner that's ideal for homes with pets. Bring your carpet back to live with powerful aqua jets that remove embedded dirt. Large dual water tanks separate clean and dirty water. It has powerful 400W suction and cleaning accessories, including a suction nozzle and upholstery brush to scrub stubborn stains. Additionally, the scented carpet shampoo neutralises pet odour. It's easy to move around the home with its carry handle and it weighs just 3.45kg. Also, this compact carpet cleaner comes with a 3-year guarantee.

Our review: "This compact carpet cleaner is simple to use: just plug it in and go! For a budget option it tends to work well and is lightweight and easy to manoeuvre. Our tester felt it was a little noisy when it was being used, but other
than that it did the job. Stains lifted easy and it didn’t leave the carpet too wet; within an hour it was dry. It’s easy to fill and empty, although the tank isn’t huge so this would suit a smaller
house or flat."


  • Powerful suction
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Dual water tanks
  • Perfect for pet owners


  • Noisy

Best for stain removal


Shark CarpetXpert
Price: £199.99 (was £299.99)

Revive carpets with the Shark CarpetXpert. This carpet cleaner boasts eight times more powerful suction than a regular vacuum. In addition to a high-pressure spray and high-speed brushroll, the crevice tool, tough stain hand tool and Deep Clean Pro Formula make short work of ingrained dirt and stains. It's versatile, combining overall carpet washing and spot cleaning with the handheld tool. Also, this carpet cleaner comes with a 5-year guarantee.

Our review: "Our tester had little experience of using a carpet cleaner, but found this model really easy to use and handle. The cleaner itself is almost like a two-in-one as it has the main cleaner for larger spaces and a handheld attachment for tougher stains. This handheld attachment worked particularly well in removing old make-up stains from a carpet – leaving it looking good as new. The carpet also dried quickly as it wasn’t over-saturated with water. The liquid tank could be bigger, but this isn’t a huge inconvenience."


  • Stain removal
  • Effective results
  • Two-in-one cleaning
  • Shark premium quality


  • Would benefit from a larger water tank

Best on hard floors


This wet and dry carpet cleaner from the Henry family, is a versatile cleaning machine. The George Corded Carpet Cleaner comes with a range of accessories that turn this appliance into a carpet cleaner, spot stain remover, sink unblocker, vacuum cleaner and hard floor cleaner. Infinitely versatile, this little green George is an indispensable addition to your household.

Our review: "The classic Henry Hoover design is both timeless and stylish, and is relatively easy to store away. It promises equal strength on hard and soft surfaces and, as our tester has both carpet and wood floor in their home, it was put to the test. George comes with a variety of attachments for different surfaces and results. Our tester started out on carpet that hadn’t been properly cleaned in a long time, so the results were impressive. When cleaning wooden floors it was also effective: all you have to do is switch the attachment. Their only gripe would be that moving the cleaner around can get tricky as it’s quite heavy and there are lots of extra tools and attachments that
you need to keep to hand."


  • Versatile
  • Cleans soft and hard floors
  • Huge range of accessories
  • Unblocks sinks


  • Heavy

Best value carpet cleaning machine

Upgrade your carpet cleaning routine with the Vax ECB1SPV1 Platinum Power Max Carpet Cleaner. Promising to remove up to 93 per cent of bacteria, fungi, and allergens, this cleaner leaves your carpets clean, fresh, and dry within an hour. Its hand-wash tool and stretch hose ensure easy access to stubborn spots like stairs and upholstery. Featuring a generous tank capacity, you won't need to stop the process to clean to empty it. Not to mention the seven SpinScrub and rotating brush bars, which effectively rid your carpets of deeply embedded dirt, so your home will feel truly cleansed and clean.

Customer review: "Compared to others I have used, this is simple to use and performs really well. No leakage and no blocking with fibres. Easy to clean afterwards."


  • Stretch hose for tackling hard-to-reach areas
  • The brush bar lifts away deep-down dirt
  • Comes with a Quick Clean Mode


  • Heavier than other cleaners
  • May take up a lot of storage

Best carpet cleaning machine for speed

This is a carpet-cleaning machine that you can use throughout your home. The versatile machine is designed to cater to your home's needs. It features a Deep Clean setting for intense cleaning of heavy soiling, while the Quick Clean option is perfect for lighter stains and quick refreshes. Despite its clunky appearance, this cleaner is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre and transport, making it suitable for stairs and various spaces. The box includes a range of attachments, such as a crevice tool for challenging corners and a bottle of cleaning fluid, all stored in a drawstring bag ready for you to use.

Customer review: "My wife that choose and bought it. She loved it. She's already used twice and the carpet is so clean and smells lovely. Even the dust is reduced. I definitely recommend it!"


  • Dries in one hour
  • SpinScrub Technology
  • Above-floor cleaning for cleaning stairs, upholstery, and car seats
  • Large tank capacity
  • Edge-to-edge cleaning


  • Can be heavy when carried up the stairs

Best carpet cleaning machine for smart features

The Vax Platinum Smartwash Carpet Cleaner takes your cleaning experience to new heights. The upholstery attachment ensures comprehensive cleaning, while intuitive controls and a comfortable handle enhance usability. Although it may be on the bulkier side, the added carry handle facilitates easy manoeuvring. Its smart features, such as the motion sense technology, automatically wash as you push forward and dry as you pull back. Its performance is worth the storage space so if you are on the hunt for a top-tier carpet-cleaning companion - this is the one for you.

Customer review: "This machine was easy to use and very efficient. Easy to clean."


  • SpinScrub hand tool
  • Anti-Bacterial when used with Vax Platinum Antibacterial Solution
  • Motion Sense Technology
  • Dry only mode
  • Six-year guarantee


  • Some reviews say stairs were harder to clean

Best carpet cleaning machine for pets

Designed for homes with pets, the BISSELL ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner delivers exceptional results. Equipped with dual rotating brush rolls, it handles dirt and grime effectively. The CleanShot Pre-treater tackles stubborn spots, while the three-meter cleaning hose offers versatility. Also, the Express Clean Mode ensures speedy drying, making it an excellent choice for quick cleanups before guests arrive. This top-rated cleaner combines efficiency and convenience, making it a pet-friendly essential for maintaining fresh and clean carpets without spending hours of your cleaning routine.

Customer review: "Used numerous times now and absolutely love it! I even go over my cream carpets in rooms that hardly get used and absolutely amazed at how much dirt comes out of them."


  • Easy to use upright design
  • Carpets dry fast with Express Clean


  • Heavier than others

Best carpet cleaning machine for affordability

Looking to tackle stubborn stains on a tighter budget? This funky little machine from Vax is a great appliance for deep cleaning your home. Perfect for compact spaces and various surfaces, this spot cleaner boasts edge-to-edge cleaning and efficient spill removal. With attachments to improve performance and a self-cleaning mechanism, it provides hassle-free maintenance to save you time on your tasks. An ideal choice for upholstery, rugs, and smaller areas, this multi-purpose machine ensures a clean environment. Not to mention it is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Customer review: "Just bought it today and couldn’t wait to use it. I have two dogs and I thought I’d cleaned up effectively after one had an accident last month - how wrong was I. I couldn’t believe the mess that came out. The carpet is like new and I feel better it’s really clean. Will use this in future. I especially like the self-clean function. So useful. Next stop the sofa - can’t wait!! Excellent product, well worth the money."


  • Small, compact, storage-saving
  • Comes with a washer-cleaning solution


  • Not ideal for cleaning large floor areas

Best carpet cleaning machine for smaller spaces

For targeted stain removal at home, the Rug Doctor 93306 Portable Spot Cleaner excels at what it does. Designed to tackle spills and stains, it shines in situations where precision cleaning is required. While not meant for extensive home cleaning, it's perfect for rugs, carpeted stairs, and isolated areas. Plus it can even be used on mattresses, sofas, car seats, and even caravans.

Customer review: "Really impressed with the cleaning power on this machine. Easy to use, brilliant suction, carpets dried really quickly and you can visibly see the difference. Great for spot cleaning carpets, sofa etc and will easily clean a whole carpet with a bit of patience too."

Read our full, in-depth review of the Rug Doctor's Carpet Cleaner.


  • Affordable option
  • Lightweight and convenient
  • The pull handle makes it easy to move around


  • Noisier than other cleaners
  • Hose feature may extend cleaning time

What to consider when choosing a carpet cleaning machine

Size: Consider the size of your living space and the extent of carpeted areas. Larger homes might benefit from more heavy-duty models, while those with smaller homes may prefer a more compact model.

Features: From adjustable cleaning settings, brush options, and the capacity of clean and dirty water tanks - these are some aspects to consider that can greatly influence your cleaning experience.

Compatibility: Modern carpet cleaners often come with versatile functions, including upholstery and hard floor cleaning. Ensure you're using the machine correctly on different surfaces by checking the manufacturer's recommendations.

FAQs about carpet cleaning machines

How often should I use a carpet cleaner?

The frequency of use depends on factors such as pets, family and how often you walk in your home with shoes. Generally, a thorough cleaning every 6-12 months is recommended.

Can I use a carpet cleaner on upholstery or other surfaces?

Many modern carpet cleaners offer versatile functions, including upholstery and hard floor cleaning. However, we would recommend you check the manufacturer's recommendations to ensure you're using the machine correctly on various surfaces.

Can carpet cleaners eliminate pet odours?

Yes, some carpet cleaners come equipped with features designed specifically to tackle pet odours and stains. These models usually incorporate specialised cleaning solutions and tools to ensure your carpets are not only clean but also fresh-smelling.

How do I maintain and clean my carpet cleaner?

Regular maintenance is essential for prolonging the life of your machine. After each use, empty and clean the dirty water tank, rinse the brush and nozzle attachments, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for overall maintenance.

Ellen Kinsey is a senior health and wellness product writer for Yours, specialising in natural health and beauty. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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