While our top recommendations for home carpet cleaning are semi-professional tools (e.g., the Big Green), we also realize not everyone has the need or budget for $300 worth of carpet cleaning goodness. When people ask us for cheaper cleaners, we typically recommend a full-sized upright cleaner that can cope with carpets, rugs, and stairs at a minimum. We also look for cleaners that do a decent job with both human and pet stains (e.g., vomit, urine, and other unpleasant fluids).
Here are our current favorite carpet cleaners that won’t cost you more than a hundred dollar bill (or debt on the credit card): the Bissell PowerLifter 1622 and the Hoover SteamVac 5914900. Both are backed up by thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, but for us, there was a clear winner between the two: the Bissell.
Bissell PowerLifter PowerBrush Upright Deep Cleaner 1622 – Pros and Cons
The Bissell PowerLifter is our favorite carpet cleaner under $100. It’s a stable upright full-sized cleaner with a decent amount of power to remove most common food, drink, and pet stains from regular carpets. We like the 20-foot power cord, as it gives more room to work without needing to stop for the unplug/replug game. We also like the ergonomics of the handle and the ease with which it steers. We do wish it came with more than a 1 year limited warranty.
Overall, we found the Bissell to be about as easy to use as a typical vacuum cleaner; our main challenges were in removing the tank and correctly filling it, but it became straightforward after the initial attempts. One tank handles clean and dirty water via two separated internal bags; the system works well enough. It’s important to emphasize that despite resembling one, this is not a vacuum cleaner, and you’ll need to vacuum before using it if the carpet is dirty.
Regarding pets, we found the Bissell did a good job of removing cat vomit, cat hair, and dog fur (specifically Lab and Retriever coats). We were also able to extract coffee spills, toddler urine, and milk spills without too much trouble.
We were almost as happy with the Hoover SteamVac as we were with the Bissell, but we ultimately preferred the Bissell when forced to choose between the two (no one forced us, but we locked ourselves in a room until we decided on a winner). Like the Bissell, the Hoover also comes with a too-short 1-year limited warranty and a 12-amp motor. Unlike the Bissell, it comes with two separate plastic tanks for clean and dirty water, which we appreciated. At 20 pounds, it wasn’t a light machine, but it also wasn’t heavy enough to keep us from dragging it all around the house. Cleaning was consistently good across a range of surfaces and stains, including carpets, area rugs, human spills, and animal droppings.
Our biggest pet peeve with the SteamVac is its name: no steaming occurs whatsoever with it, and it isn’t honest of Hoover to describe it as such. In fact, the manual specifically notes to use hot (not boiling) tap water. From experience, here’s what happens if you use boiling water: the reservoir cap will melt and you’re going to need a new one. With that said, the SteamVac definitely works for stain removal in a variety of environments; it’s just important to note that it isn’t a steam cleaner; it’s a regular carpet cleaner.
Our second biggest pet peeve with the SteamVac is its longevity. No device lasts forever, but we’ve read a few too many reports of these machines giving up the ghost within 5 years of purchase to make us happy. Little things seem to break here and there that add up and make it more convenient to replace; keep this in mind if you’re looking for a cleaner you can pass on to your children.
Overall, between the two, when it comes to cleaning abilities, they’re about the same, and are better than any other carpet cleaners at this price point. If choosing between the two, however, you might want to go with the Bissell.
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