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Messes are a fact of life. And oftentimes, messes have a way of happening smack in the middle of your favorite, most expensive couch. Whether you’ve got pets, kids or you’re guilty of a red wine-related mishap, cleaning upholstery is an unavoidable task. But fortunately, there are countless high-powered furniture cleaners ready to make quick work of your mess—and restore your couch to its former glory.
Still, you’d be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so many upholstery cleaners on the market, how are you supposed to know whether you need a steam cleaner, a heated vacuum unit or one of the countless other options available? Good news: We’re here to walk you through the best of the best.
Here, our top choices for an upholstery cleaner.
If you’re on the hunt for a powerful little machine that targets tough stains and is built to last, the Bissell SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner is a great choice. This portable carpet and upholstery cleaner provides a professional-level clean whenever you need it.
The SpotClean is strong enough to clean rugs and carpets, but portable enough to get to hard-to-reach areas, small crevices on your furniture and even in the car. The large capacity 3/4-gallon tank can go multiple cleans before requiring a refill, and the 22’ power cord allows you to maneuver around your house without getting tripped up. It also features a 5-foot-long hose, a 6-inch stair tool, and a 3-inch tough stain tool for any mess life throws at you. Priced reasonably, the Bissell SpotClean is also a fan favorite.
"The SpotClean’s impressive cleaning abilities are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it will get out tough stains, making your carpet look fresh again. However, if the rest of the rug is also dirty, the clean spots will stand out, and you’ll probably end up needing a full-size carpet cleaner to get the rest of the surface to the same degree of clean."—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
If you want a powerful carpet cleaner that can also tackle stains on every type of upholstery, the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe is for you. This upright washer is perfect for deep cleaning your carpets but also features a powerful scrub tool and upholstery tool that are perfect for your couches, chairs and more. It’s lightweight, weighing just over 19 pounds, and features a 20-foot power cord so you can move around your house easily. The eight-inch hose is perfect for stairs and furniture, while the forced heat air helps surfaces dry quickly and evenly. The dual tank also allows you to separate clean water from dirty and is easy to access and clean.
Moreover, owners say the Hoover Power Scrub works on even the deepest, most set-in stains, and is wonderful for homes with pets or kids (or both).
"If we had one complaint about this carpet cleaner, it would be that the “Wash/Rinse” switch is on the front of the machine—it would be a little more convenient if it was on the handle or back."—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
No matter your stain, the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner can probably tackle it. This rolling cleaner features a whopping 18 accessories that can target not only the biggest messes on your upholstery but cleans your floors and appliances just as effectively. This machine can heat normal water up to 200 degrees to cut through dirt and grime on nearly any surface, without the use of harsh chemicals. It heats up in just eight minutes, and the 48-ounce tank offers 45 minutes of continuous steam, so you can tackle stains throughout your home. It features a 15-foot power cord and rolling caster wheels for convenient mobility throughout your home.
Owners say the McCulloch heats up quickly and bursts through tough stains instantly. Many owners love this little machine for stairs, car upholstery, and even dingy curtains. If you want an upholstery cleaner that’s so much more, this device is a great choice.
"The manual claims that a full tank will give you 45 minutes of continuous steam, but we noticed that after only 15 minutes, the water seemed to cool a bit and become less effective."—Kaitlyn Wylde, Product Tester
Though the Bissell Little Green Portable Spot and Stain Cleaner is easy on the wallet, it’s powerful enough for even the toughest stains. The Little Green Cleaner features a 3-inch tough stain tool to target hard-to-clean spots on your couch or chairs, and has a 4-inch hose that makes it easy to maneuver around your home. This machine works by targeting specific spots with a mixture of warm water, cleaning solution, and powerful suction to remove blemishes from any surface. The cleaner’s dirty tank capacity is 48 ounces, so you can get multiple uses out of it before you have to wash it out.
Reviewers say this tool works well on everything from leather to microfiber to cotton, raving that it quickly and effectively restores furniture to original glory. This lightweight, easy-to-store machine is not only affordable, but it’s incredibly powerful, too.
Every pet owner knows that maintaining a spotless couch with a drooling dog in the house can be hard work. The Bissell SpotBot Pet Spot and Stain Portable Deep Cleaner was created with dog and cat parents in mind, featuring a spiral brushing action that works on even the deepest stains. The automatic spot cleaner allows you to target a spot and leave the machine while it does the hard work of removing dirt and grim. This cleaner also features a 3-inch tough stain brush and two settings–one for deep, set-in stains and one for fresh spills and messes. The device itself weighs just 14 pounds, so it’s easy to move around your home as needed.
"We tested out the automatic cleaning cycle on a section of carpet where our cat had recently thrown up. We had already cleaned up the hairball itself but still wanted to get any residue out of the carpet fibers. All we had to do was put the Spotbot unit over the spot, press the appropriate setting...and it went to work. After around six minutes, the unit beeped to tell us it was done. We picked it up and voila! No spot."—Katie Begley, Product Tester
Though many upholstery cleaners are portable, the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Advanced Cordless Cleaner is perfect for quick stains all over your home. The best feature of this little product is that you can use it cord-free for up to 15 minutes at a time, so you can attack stains all over your house without the hassle of cords and plugs. The built-in brush works to scrub deep stains, and the powerful suction lifts grim and dirt instantly. It weighs less than five pounds and features a ready-to-use cleaning formula that requires no mixing or water. This is also a great cleaner to tackle car upholstery messes without dealing with cords.
Reviewers say that while this lithium-powered machine may not be as powerful as a full-sized cleaner, it’s incredibly convenient, and perfect for targeting smaller stains around your house, think the stairs.
Most upholstery cleaners rely on heavy chemicals to deal with stains, but a steam cleaner works with just water and heat to cut through dirt. This cleaner features 15 accessories for every type of surface in your home and offers a 45-ounce tank for extra convenience. The continuous steam lock button allows you to keep the steam coming for up to 45 minutes, so you can reach every area of your home. The chemical-free cleaner has a 15-foot power cord that is easily wrapped around the machine for storage. For less than $100, this is one of the most affordable steam cleaners out there, and it’s a great addition to any home.
"The Steamfast comes with fifteen attachments which make it great for almost any surface. Unfortunately, the only surfaces that the attachments don’t work well on are carpet and upholstery, two of the hardest-to-clean areas for pet owners."—Katie Begley, Product Tester
Effectiveness Of course, the most important thing you want in an upholstery cleaner is results. Whether you have tough stains or just want one for regular upkeep of your furniture, your needs will determine how powerful a model you should choose.
Size The type of upholstery you’re planning to clean, as well as its location, will determine what size cleaner may best fit your needs. If it’s for your home’s couches and chairs, a larger model may work, but if you’re planning to use it to clean your car seats or take it on the go, you may want to find a smaller, more portable option.
Versatility While some upholstery cleaners are just made for surfaces like your couch and chairs, others can tackle your rugs and carpets, too. Some models come with a variety of attachments to tackle various jobs. There are even some steam cleaners that will produce a professional-grade clean without using any chemicals. Consider the type of upholstery you want to clean, as well as your budget, when thinking about what types of functionality are important to you.