Regular vacuuming can’t mop up spills or deep clean carpets to get rid of ground-in dirt — here are the top vacuum carpet washers that clean what your stick vac can’t.
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Did you know that tiny particles of dirt and other nasties might still be lurking inside your carpet even after it’s been vacuumed?
Aside from being downright disgusting – and unaesthetically pleasing – this can be especially problematic for people with allergies and asthma.
Thankfully, brands including Vax, Bissell and Hoover offer carpet washers – appliances that both vacuum and clean your carpet so you can tackle even the most stubborn of stains (we’re looking at you, red wine).
The love child between a stick vacuum and a steam mop, these clever carpet cleaners apply a water and cleaning solution mixture into the carpet fibres and use powerful brushes to loosen the dirt or stain. This makes it easier for the appliance to suck up the particles into the dirty water tank, so none of the germs and grubby marks end up in the clean water tank that’s helping to refresh your carpet.
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Need a powerful model to deep clean entire rooms, or prefer something that cleans itself? Read our guide to check out the best vacuum carpet washers for your home.
If you’re concerned about whether a carpet washer can pick up dust and dirt that’s dried into hard-to-reach areas like corners and along walls, look for features that target edges. The EdgeSweep bristles on this Bissell carpet cleaner are one example. It uses a rotating Dirt Lifter Power Brush to help lift stains and dirt that’s stuck deep inside the carpet fibres.
Although online reviews suggest that unlike many other carpet washers, this model is better suited to just carpets rather than a variety of surfaces.
• Weight: 5.9kg
• Cord length: 5.1m
• Accessories: Bissell 236ml Wash and Protect Pro and Bissell 236ml Oxy Boost.
Can’t stand cables? Bissell’s cordless carpet cleaner is one of the brand’s latest releases and contains similar attachments to other larger and pricier alternatives. The single 236ml water tank and lack of cord makes the appliance super lightweight and ideal for small stains.
Shoppers agree it makes cleaning convenient and, unlike some models, is easy to empty. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have a twin tank, so the fresh and dirty water aren’t separated.
One customer wrote, “So easy to use, takes stains right out of the carpet and the couch – then the clean up is just as easy!! Being cordless I can take it anywhere, and its small enough to store neatly in the cupboard.”
• Weight: 2kg
• Cord length: None
• Accessories: Upholstery nozzle, dry floor nozzle, crevice nozzle, fleece filter bag, spray extraction tubes, spray extraction hose with handle and a Bissell Carpet Cleaner cleaning agent.
Need an appliance that can get down and dirty? Vax’s Platinum Power Max Carpet Washer is not only the brand’s most powerful carpet washer, but it also contains larger clean and dirty water tanks than other Vax models so you won’t need to empty the cleaner as much.
Offering Deep Clean and Quick Clean modes, the Vax carpet washer uses Automix Technology for an effective deep clean plus an antimicrobial treatment to minimise any bacterial and fungi growth on the machine’s brushes. It also has Heat Blast technology for faster drying action, and a 4.5m stretch hose for extra flexibility when you’re cleaning furniture, car interiors and stairs.
This Vax carpet washer already comes packed with a 250ml bottle of Platinum Cleaning Solution and 250ml of Pre-Treatment Solution, plus a couple of other attachments and an accessory bag for convenient storage.
• Weight: 9.5kg
• Cord length: 9m
• Accessories: 250ml Vax Platinum Cleaning Solution, 250ml Vax Pre-Treatment Solution, Spin Scrub Tool, Hard Floor Adaptor, Wash Tool, Pre-Treatment Wand, 4.6 hose and accessory bag.
For those who are thinking about swapping out their vacuum cleaner for a carpet washer, this may be the one to go with. The brand says it can be used as a wet and dry vacuum, and is recommended for spot cleaning and messes that need “fibre-deep, hygienic cleaning” rather than a simple suck.
A potential downside is that it’s heavier than many other carpet washers, which is probably due to its generous 4.4 litre fresh and dirty water tanks. Although it does have on-board accessory storage for convenience and an ergonomically shaped carrying handle.
• Weight: 11.4kg
• Cord length: 5m
• Accessories: Upholstery nozzle, dry floor nozzle, crevice nozzle, fleece filter bag, spray extraction tubes, spray extraction hose with handle and a Kärcher Carpet Cleaner cleaning agent.
If you’ve got limited storage space or have a small area to clean, this pocket rocket could be worth adding to the shopping list. One happy customer said they were “horrified to see just how much dirt and grime was really stuck… Even the room that we had cleaned not that long ago, by what we thought was a reputable company, came up just as dirty as the others.”
The Vax Compact Carpet Washer is the lightest carpet washer from the brand, weighing at 5.47kg, and one of the most affordable options on the market. It’s got basic features like 800W worth of cleaning power, 1.5 litre twin tanks to separate clean and dirty water, and powerful spinning bristles to deal with tough stains and high-traffic areas.
Although some reviewers pointed out that it can take a bit of time and effort to clean out the Vax carpet washer, with one writing: “The exit hole sits above the side of the tank so the last of the water can’t run out easily, and you have dirt remaining in the tank.”
• Weight: 5.47kg
• Cord length: 6.7m
• Accessories: 250ml Vax Platinum Solution.
Hoover promises this carpet cleaner is just as easy to use as a vacuum, thanks to its ability to automatically switch from washing to drying — just push the cleaner forward to wash the carpet or rug, then pull it back to dry. Unlike some other models, this has a triggerless design to make it more comfortable to use, which is particularly helpful if your hands tend to get tired easily while cleaning.
The Hoover carpet washer also has larger clean and dirty tanks compared to other options on the market, offering 3.8 litre and 2.1 litre capacities respectively.
Other standout features include Auto Mix technology, which mixes and dispenses the ideal amount of solution for you, plus Auto Dry and Heat Force technology to help dry the surface faster. Additionally, it has a three-year warranty.
• Weight: 8.2kg
• Cord length: 9m
• Accessories: 2-in-1 Pet Tool and FlexForce PowerBrushes.
According to brand Sauber, the secret to getting rid of stubborn dirt and stains that have dried into the carpet is scrubbing it with a vibrating power brush. This carpet cleaner also has edge-sweeping brushes to reach into corners and along the walls.
“My carpets were left feeling clean, fresh and just like they were first laid. Machine is similar in size to an upright vacuum and stores away easily in a closet,” one person wrote.
“Would recommend this machine to anyone looking for a cheap but effective carpet shampooer.”
• Weight: 8kg
• Cord length: 7m
• Accessories: 2.5m hose.
This Bissell carpet cleaner is a staple for many pet owners, attracting a 4.5-star rating average from more than 350 customers. Even if you don’t have a dog or cat, it’s still a cordless carpet washer that can handle more than just small stains.
Listed on the brand’s website as one of the bestsellers, this Bissell carpet washer has a tangle-free brush roll to prevent hair from constantly getting stuck, and smart-touch controls on the handle so you can easily switch between rugs and hard floors.
• Weight: 5.22kg
• Cord length: 7.62m
• Accessories: Multi-Surface Pet Brush Roll, Pet Hair Strainer, 236ml Bissell Multi-Surface Pet Cleaning Formula and Rinse & Clean Out Tray.
Need an appliance to tackle muddy paw prints and other small everyday messes? This lightweight Vax cleaner is exclusively available from The Good Guys and is specifically designed to handle stains, rather than perform general deep cleans all over the house. Backed up by a 4.5-star average rating, the model can be used on carpets, sealed hard floors, stairs and upholstery such as couches and dog beds. The carpet cleaner can also soak up the orange juice your toddler spilt in the car.
One shopper gave the model a five-star review, commenting “Originally purchased machine to clean a couple of sofas. It did a fantastic job.”
“Couldn’t believe the amount of dirt that came out of them (they were only two years old) and now they look new again. Have also used it to clean sections of the carpet in my house and the carpet in my cars.”
But keep in mind that it’s not as powerful as other Vax carpet washers, so you may want to keep window shopping if you’re hoping to perform some serious deep cleaning. The tank holding the dirty water is also slightly on the petite side, which might mean you need to empty the cleaner a couple of times for bigger spills.
• Weight: 3.9kg
• Cord length: 4.5m
• Accessories: 250ml Vax Solution, Hard Floor Tool and Multi Surface Tool.
This Bissell carpet washer is listed as one of the top sellers on The Good Guys, as well as a bestseller on the brand’s online store. It’s particularly popular among pet owners, with one happy customer describing it as “honestly the best thing I’ve ever bought!”.
“Paid its money back three times over, over getting a professional in and results are just as good but I can do it anytime I want (very addictive though).”
The Bissell carpet washer has a slim design and a soft grid handle so you can comfortably carry it up the stairs and easily use it to clean rugs and furniture in multiple rooms.
• Weight: 3.86kg
• Cord length: 4.5m
• Accessories: 236ml Spot & Stain Formula, 236ml Oxy Boost. 3-inch Tough Stain Brush and 6-inch Tool.
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HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE A CARPET CLEANER?
It’s a good idea to give your carpet a deep clean between every six and eight months to extend its lifespan and keep it looking and feeling as fresh and fluffy as possible. Although small stains should be dealt with straight away to prevent it from drying into the carpet, making it more difficult to clean later. Either way, avoid over-soaking your carpet as a way to put off doing a deeper clean. It won’t make the carpet any cleaner and will take much longer to dry, plus leave streaky marks once it has dried.
CAN YOU USE ANY CARPET SHAMPOO IN A CARPET WASHER?
Technically, no — brands generally recommend only using their own approved concentrated cleaning solution for its carpet washers, otherwise it can produce too much foam and you’ll run the risk of losing your warranty if the machine decides to kick up a stink. The same goes for essential oils and bleach since they they might end up staining the carpet.
Fortunately, many carpet washers come prepacked with sample bottles of carpet shampoo and treatments. Some manufacturers such as Vax offer 250ml detergents, which is pretty handy considering its models typically need around 40ml per use so you can get a few cleans before needing to restock.
But make sure to read the instruction manual to see which solution you should be using and how much is required.
CAN A CARPET WASHER CLEAN A RUG?
Most carpet washers and carpet cleaners can definitely be used on rugs and many other surfaces, not just carpets. They’re generally designed to also handle dirt, spills and stains on upholstery, stairs, car interiors and hard floors. Many models come with multiple attachments to choose from already in the box, such as a hard floor tool and multi-surface tool.
ARE CARPET WASHERS WORTH IT?
It’s worth buying a carpet washer if you’re constantly scrubbing out stains and dirt and need to regularly deep clean your floors to reduce bacteria build-up. Carpet cleaners are also useful for people with allergies and asthma to tackle dust mites, dander and other allergy triggers.
Otherwise, you can probably get away with a multi-surface steam cleaner or hire a professional carpet cleaning service to pay a visit once a year. There’s also a growing number of two-in-one robot cleaners and stick vacuums that both sweep and mop.
Need dirt on how to clean hardwood floors and tiles instead? Check out our guides on the best cordless stick vacuums, best robot vacuums, best handheld vacuums or best bagless vacuums. We’ve also got roundups of the top car vacuum cleaners and vacuums for pet hair to target certain messes.
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Tahnee-Jae is news.com.au’s Best Of Shopping Writer. She previously worked as a home and lifestyle content producer at comparison site Canstar Blue where she reviewed the most popular products and services in Australia, and reported on everything from the latest appliances to must-try food trends. Armed with a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the Queensland University of Technology, she’s ready to put the gavel down on the best bargains to help Aussies make sense of their cents.