Just like carpet cleaning products, the best spot cleaners (also known as portable cleaners) will help you take care of the flooring in your home - they're just a little smaller and much more lightweight. Has your pet had an accident? Your grandkids split some squash on your new sofa? Or did you spill some wine on the carpet? A spot cleaner is more than capable of removing tough marks and stains that even the best cleaners would struggle with.
Best spot cleaner at a glance:
A spot cleaner will be able to tackle stubborn stains and everyday dirt to keep your carpet looking and smelling fresh. They are typically used for treating small, isolated stains rather than cleaning entire large areas, for which a carpet cleaning machine will serve you best. They are especially useful for addressing spills, pet accidents, food stains, and other minor messes that can occur in your home.
It's best to deal with stains as and when they appear, which is where spot cleaners really come in handy. We've rounded up the best spot cleaners on the market, from handheld options to those that have been specially designed to deal with pet stains. We've also answered some FAQs about spot cleaners and how to use them.
Best spot cleaners
Best for powerful cleaning
With up to two times the suction power of most portable cleaners, the Rug DoctorSpot Cleaner is
- Light and compact
- Easy to use
- Be careful of leaking
Best lightweight spot cleaner
If you're worried about lugging a lot of weight around with you as you clean, this BISSELL Pet
Best for pet mess
Spot cleaners are a fab buy when you have pets, as you can clean up any accidents in no time at
- Amazing results
- Powerful and versatile
- Compact enough to store away
- Hose could be longer
Best for tough stains
Ideal for tackling tougher stains such as wine and mud, this RYOBI Cordless Swift Clean Spot
- Parts are dishwasher safe
- Powerful brush
- Could do with attachment for car
The SpotWash from Vax is a well-made, popular and solid option, especially if you’re buying on a
- Hose storage built-in
- Easy to use
- Self cleaning feature
- Not the most powerful
Best spot cleaner FAQs
What is a spot cleaner?
Spot cleaners are very similar to vacuum cleaners but are specifically designed for spot-cleaning a range of smaller surfaces and tend to be more lightweight and easier to carry. And instead of simply sucking up dirt and debris, they 'wash' the spot with a water solution for a much deeper clean. Some are specially designed to clean fabrics, making them the perfect fit for cleaning car seats or sofas. They are handy for addressing stains promptly, preventing them from setting in and maintaining the overall cleanliness and appearance of surfaces.
What is the difference between a spot cleaner and a carpet cleaner?
The main difference between a spot cleaner and a carpet cleaner is its size. A carpet cleaning machine will more than likely be shaped like a traditional upright vacuum cleaner and will be designed for use on the floor. They tend to be more powerful and can cover an area quicker with the obvious trade-off being that they’re cumbersome to use in small places and won’t be of much use in a car’s interior. In fact, these are only useful if you remove the floor mats and can clean them in an open space. A spot cleaner on the other hand is much smaller and designed to be far more portable.
A spot cleaner is not the same as a steam cleaner either. Spot cleaners use water, cleaning solution and vacuum extraction, whereas steam cleaners only eject super-heated water. Household-grade steam cleaners are not generally so effective at cleaning fabric because they are not powerful enough to lift carpet and upholstery stains. They sanitise very well, but that’s about it. Thanks to the way spot cleaners work, they do indeed work very well for fabric and upholstery stains.
What do you use in a spot cleaner?
The specific ingredients or solutions used in a spot cleaner can vary depending on the type and brand of the product. However, spot cleaners generally consist of a combination of cleaning agents and solvents designed to break down and remove stains. These ingredients can include water, enzymes, solvents and pH adjusters. It is essential to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on product labels when using a spot cleaner. Different stains and surfaces may require specific cleaning techniques and precautions.
Hannah Mellin is a Homes & Garden Product Writer for Yours. When she's not writing, researching or testing products, she's renovating her Victorian terrace and chilling in the garden with her sausage dog Waffle, three cats and a tortoise called Bobby.