The Best Upright Carpet Cleaners for 2021

A person who uses our best carpet cleaner pick to clean a carpet. Photo: Michael Hession

Our choice

Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off 66E1

Bissell’s DeepClean range is the only carpet cleaner we’ve tested that completely removes dirt and other stubborn stains. Thanks to the lift-off container, the 66E1 can also be used as a practical stain cleaner.

The Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off is the best carpet cleaner we tested because it removes more dirt than any other machine. Both the main washer tool and attachments were able to remove the toughest dried stains we could make. It has a detachable portable unit which, as far as we can tell, is identical to the Bissell SpotClean Pro, our favorite portable carpet and upholstery cleaner. This makes it particularly manoeuvrable for cleaning stairs, furniture, car interiors or other surfaces without carpets. It lacks some handy features that we love to see in upright cleaners – like a cable clamp on the handle, a lightweight design, and level lines in the solution tank – but it was the only machine we tested that obviously had superior cleaning performance. It’s also easier to disassemble and clean.

While we originally tested the now-discontinued 24A4, we recommend the new 66E1 model in its place because it shares the same design and features as the model originally tested and should deliver the same cleaning performance.

A looping video of our picks for the best carpet cleaner to remove dirt from a white patterned carpet. You may have to wait a minute for the DeepClean Lift-Off to warm up. As soon as it is put into operation, the carpet is practically renewed. Video: Michael Hession

We were impressed with how much the DeepClean Lift-Off seemed to revive a really dirty carpet. After seven or eight passes with a generous soak of the cleaning solution, dirt and grime were completely removed from the carpet – the only machine we tested to do this. However, it took some time to get started: At first the DeepClean Lift-Off only ran over loose floors and smeared them into the carpet. But as soon as the water solution warmed up, she went to town. The product manual recommends waiting at least one minute with the machine switched on before cleaning. We think that’s a good idea.

The clean tank of the DeepClean Lift-Off is slightly smaller than that of other models. Photo: Michael Hession

The hose tool was equally impressive. It’s basically the same as our portable pimple, so its ability to completely remove dirt and soil stains wasn’t much of a surprise. It seemed to have more problems with large pieces of sediment, but that likely occurs with any hand tool. All manufacturers recommend sweeping or vacuuming the surface before using an upright or portable cleaner. We also tested the tubing tool for the four main types of stains – protein, tannin, dye, and oil – by making stains from egg batter, red wine, black pen ink, and cooking oil, and then trying the tubing tool on each. The stains were completely removed in less than 30 seconds after scrubbing and vacuuming.

A loop video of a person removing the stain cleaner from the body of the DeepClean Lift-Off carpet cleaner. With the removable stain remover, the machine can easily be carried up or down stairs. Video: Michael Hession

The DeepClean Lift-Off isn’t the lightest, most compact upright cleaner we’ve ever seen, but it’s the only one we’ve tested that has a removable stain cleaner. This function alone makes it more agile than most machines. Whenever you need to clean an interior space, stairs or a hard-to-reach area of ​​carpet, simply lift the device out of the stand and take it with you. The power cord, hose tool, clean tank, dirty tank, and power switch are all on the detachable component. Even with the portable unit attached, the DeepClean Lift-Off was sufficiently manoeuvrable in our tests – the wheels were sturdy and big enough to drive relatively easily over bumps and thresholds. We don’t think anyone would have more trouble moving it than any similar sized carpet cleaner.

A person using the DeepClean Lift-Off Hose Tool to remove dirt from a white patterned carpet. The hose tool can be used on carpets as well as on upholstery. Photo: Michael Hession

The hose tool comes with three fastening heads – a 3-inch tool, a 6-inch tool and a splitting tool for reaching corners and also crevices. We don’t think the two different sized heads offer much of a difference in performance – it’s more about how much area the head covers in one pass – but the splitting tool can be useful when cleaning car seats, stairs, etc. or corners.

We were impressed with how much the DeepClean Lift-Off seemed to revive a really dirty carpet.

As with the Bissell SpotClean Pro, our favorite portable cleaner, the DeepClean Lift-Off’s dirty tank has a removable lid that slips off easily and allows you to hand wash the inside. Surprisingly, most portable cleaners lack this simple feature, and the detachable design of the portable unit on this model allows you to clean it all at once.

Defects, but not deal breakers

The Bissell DeepClean Lift-Off lacks some functions that make the use of an upright carpet cleaner a little easier. It does not have a heated drying function, which, as far as we can tell, is missing in all Bissell cleaners. You should therefore expect it to take four to six hours to clean a large rug. In comparison, the Hoover heated dryness units usually leave a carpet safe that they can walk on in a matter of hours.

At 25 pounds, the DeepClean Lift-Off is a little heavy – it was the second heaviest machine we tested. It weighs even more with a full tank. We were able to see beyond the weight thanks to the detachable portable unit that made it much easier to carry the machine up and down stairs. There is no clip on the handle to attach the power cord. You must therefore hold the cable in your hand to avoid being run over. This model also doesn’t have a foot pedal or button on the handle to turn the device on or off. You need to reach around the side of the portable device to turn it on. After all, the solution tank has only one flat line. So if you only plan to use a small amount of detergent, you need to keep an eye on the water to formula ratio.

Cleaning the nozzle and floor washer is a little tricky: you need to remove three screws with a screwdriver to remove the brush rollers, and the machine has many moving parts that need to be washed. Cleaning this design is a little more irritating than cleaning other machines we tested that have simple fail-safe devices.

However, we can all excuse this based on the cleaning performance alone. Add in the hose tool and detachable portable unit and this Bissell model is a clear winner. After all, it’s all about the cleaning power, and the DeepClean Lift-Off was by far the best of the machines we tested. We also have evidence of our portable top pick, which is almost identical to the portable part on this model, which confirms our recommendation here.

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