Top rated upholstery cleaners if you have dogs or cats
If you have pets, you know the deal. We love them, they love us, and they enhance our lives in ways we can’t even begin to describe. But, accidents happen. This is particularly true for households with puppies and kittens as well as older pets. And, of course our little fur balls shed a bit. If you have a pet, you need an upholstery cleaner for pets that suits your needs.
This goes beyond the typical “mistakes” that you would expect from a pet such as urine stains. Pets can get into just about anything. I once had two dogs that were almost diabolically clever. Together they were incorrigible. If there was a way to get into something I didn’t want them to, they would find it. The end result was often hours of work trying to undo whatever mess they created.
Having an upholstery cleaner on hand can prevent accidents and spills from becoming permanent stains. It also spares you the time and expense of having to hire professional cleaners for your furnishings and carpets.
If you’re curious (or in a hurry)
This is an excellent all-around upholstery cleaner. Most testers rated this upholstery cleaner highest when it comes to removing tough stains with the least number of passes. Furthermore, this upholstery cleaner is able to do quick cleanups as well as tackle some larger general jobs with ease.
The large tank and long cord length combined with its relatively small size make it both maneuverable and convenient for both small and large jobs.
If you can find it for under $175, grab it. This is an excellent deal for an upholstery cleaner of this quality. (Check current price).
How upholstery cleaners clean your upholstered furnishings
The vast majority of upholstery cleaners are based on the same extraction system used for carpet steam cleaners. Most are simply hand-held versions of carpet cleaners.
An upholstery cleaner is injected into the upholstery along with warm water. The combination loosens set-in stains and dirt.
The extractor vacuums up the water and dirt into a separate tank. The dirty water is then discarded down the drain.
The system is very effective in loosening many of the tough stains that pets can dish out. There are some specific stains that are unique to pets that require special treatment. But by following the steps, even some of the most stubborn set-in stains can be removed using these upholstery cleaners.
Best all-around upholstery cleaner for pet owners
The Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner is really quite a powerhouse of a cleaner in a relatively small package. Although it is only 13.2 lbs, it seems to hit all the marks on performance and flexibility. The 22 ft power cord makes moving the machine around to cover different areas easier.
Although it is labeled as a spot cleaner, its large clean water tank (0.75 gallons) and long cord mean that larger jobs such as general upholstery cleaning and carpeted stairs can be tackled with ease. The SpotClean Pro comes with two attachments: a 3” Tough Stain Tool and a 6” Stair Tool which also make it a versatile solution for general cleaning as well as the occasional stain or spill.
Testers consistently ranked this spot-cleaner in first or second place when it came to removing tough stains with minimum effort. And it consistently gets rave reviews from consumers. Pet owners and parents with small children give it very high marks for taking care of just about anything they can throw at it.
You can read the reviews here.
In fact, some of the most enthusiastic reviews came from pet owners that had multiple pets and had a history of using similar spot cleaners in the past. This type of consumer has almost certainly put this portable carpet cleaner through the torture tests.
The main issues people seem to have is with the durability of the hose. This seems to be fairly common among portable spot cleaners in general. A few workarounds such as not storing the attachment on the hose are suggested by consumers as workarounds for this problem.
All in all, this is an excellent portable cleaner for people with pets who deal with occasional spills and accidents. But this cleaner has the added capacity to deal with larger general cleaning projects. In many ways, it might just offer the best of both worlds.
Best compact upholstery cleaner
The Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet & Upholstery Spot Cleaner is the best of the smaller upholstery cleaners. This portable upholstery and carpet cleaner is super lightweight – weighing in at less than 9 lbs. So it is very portable. It comes with a hose and multipurpose attachment and is excellent for pet stains as well as other random spills.
One really terrific feature that this Hoover has is the self-cleaning hose mechanism. This is a wonderful extra because the machine can flush the hose system clean without you having to do it manually. It’s a great time saver for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning the machine after they have cleaned up the mess.
The Hoover Spotless is significantly smaller than the other models with a much smaller clean water tank. So the Hoover might be a bit less practical for extensive upholstery cleaning or for a flight of carpeted stairs. It’s a line of distinction that might be important to some. It really is geared more towards spot cleaning than a large deep cleaning job.
This unit is particularly good for quick manual removal of spills and stains. If that’s your primary focus, the lower price point, lighter weight, and compact size might be a perfect fit.
Most purchasers give the Hoover very high marks for being lightweight, easy to use and effective at removing stains. It also gets praise from pet owners, and parents alike for tackling any kind of stain you can think of.
Many pet owners are pleased with the quick and easy setup and cleanup. Its light weight makes it easy to deploy quickly with little muss and fuss. Quite a number of buyers who have had spot cleaners before are particularly happy with the self-cleaning hose feature which makes cleaning up the machine much simpler.
All in all, this is a terrific upholstery/carpet cleaner when dealing with stains, accidents, and spills quickly and easily.
Best automatic (handsfree) upholstery cleaner
The SpotBot has three settings. There is a manual setting that allows you to use the manual hose and attachment to clean the spot in the traditional way. There are also two automatic settings, a quick clean for fresh stains and the other for more set-in stains.
The SpotBot has a 5 ft. hose and a 16 ft. cord. It comes with one attachment, the 3” Tough Stain Tool. It’s 14 lbs light and it comes with a convenient handle so it can easily go anywhere in your house.
It’s quite a remarkable spot cleaner and the automatic feature is really terrific. There were several minor concerns from testers regarding the manual mode. It was not as user-friendly in terms of the length of the hose and how it the machine maneuvered in manual mode.
There will be times when manual cleaning is more practical and useful. This is particularly true when getting into the crevices of upholstery. The focus here is on the automatic cleaning ability which is very impressive. Apart from that, most people rate it as very effective and extremely convenient. It’s actually a great product for people with or without pets.
The SpotBot is for anyone who wants a smaller cleaner to tackle spills and accidents quickly and (almost) automatically.
Given some of the rave reviews on the web, the majority of consumers would have to have their SpotBot pried from their cold dead hands. In the end, it really depends on how you plan to use your SpotBot.
If you primarily spot clean after the odd pet accident or spill on upholstery or carpets, it is arguably your most user-friendly and practical solution. However, if you are going to be doing a lot of extensive upholstery cleaning, you probably want greater ease of use for the manual attachments.
How to remove common pet stains
Pet stains can be particularly troublesome and stubborn. With patience and determination, even set-in stains and odors can be tackled. Here are some tips for dealing with them using an upholstery cleaner.
Caution: Always test any product on a discreet area of your upholstery or carpeting to make sure that the fabric stays color-fast.
Removing wet urine from pets:
Blot the area to soak up as much of the fresh urine as you can.
Use your upholstery/carpet hand tools to clean the area thoroughly. You may want to make several passes to really deep clean the affected section.
Use a vinegar rinse to help prevent permanent discoloration (Bissell recommends 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Some suggest a 1:1 solution).
Apply to the area but do not soak the area. Then use your upholstery hand tools to clean and extract once again.
Get up as much liquid as you can through extraction and leave to dry.
Ventilate the area well to decrease drying time. You can use a fan to accelerate the drying process.
Removing dried urine from pets on upholstery:
This is more of a challenge because the stains are set in.
Use your upholstery cleaner to deep clean the affected area and extract excess liquid. You should repeat this process several times to loosen as much of the stain as possible.
Apply special enzyme-based pet stain/odor remover. Read about these products below.*
Saturate the area and apply a damp cloth over the area ….and walk away. Seriously. These products work wonderfully, but they need time. Leave the solution to work for 24-48 hours.
Thoroughly clean and extract the area again.
Ventilate the area so the upholstery dries quickly. You can also add a fan which will help in the drying process.
Removing pet feces:
First comes the icky part. You need to scrape up as much of the solid matter as you can with a spatula or perhaps a spoon.
Immediately apply an enzyme-based pet stain/odor remover. Read about these products below.*
Cover the area with a damp towel to keep it moist and walk away for 24 hours.
Rinse with warm water (you can use your upholstery cleaner tank for this) and extract. You may want to do this several times.
Removing pet vomit:
First, scrape up the excess with a spatula or spoon.
Use your upholstery cleaner to rinse and extract the stain with warm water. (Don’t use really hot water.) You may want to do this several times.
Once again, an enzyme-based pet stain/odor remover is your best friend. Apply over the area. Cover with a damp cloth or paper towels and walk away for 3-5 hours.
Rinse with warm water using your upholstery cleaner to spray and extract the stain.
Removing blood from sofas and upholstery:
Blood is a bit different. Use cool water only. Warm water may set-in the stain.
Remove as much of the excess blood as you can.
Rinse with cool water using your upholstery cleaner. But this time you want to blot up the excess moisture.
Using your upholstery cleaner, your detergent of choice, and cool water, clean and extract the stain.
Then apply Hydrogen Peroxide (3% – which is the standard OTC solution) to the affected area and work it in gently.
Let the peroxide do its job for about 5 – 10 minutes.
Clean the area again using your upholstery cleaner, general detergent of choice and cool water. This should clean and extract any residual stain.
*Enzyme-based pet stain cleaners:
This is a class of cleaners that utilizes non-pathogenic bacteria to break down stains and their accompanying odors. (Pathogenic bacteria cause diseases while non-pathogenic bacteria don’t)
First, these bacteria get to work by secreting enzymes which work to break down the molecules in the stain into something the bacteria can consume.
Then the bacteria literally “eat” these products and further metabolize them down to carbon dioxide and water. This is done over a period of time which is why the treatment is left on the stain for such a long period of time.
The bacteria are not harmful and are safe for children and pets.
There many enzyme-based cleaners on the market. Bissell has its own brand Bissell Stain and Odor Pretreat for Carpet and Upholstery. It is specifically designed for portable upholstery/carpet cleaners.
Final thoughts on upholstery cleaners for pet owners
Upholstery cleaners come in several different flavors. Most serve double duty in that they can clean carpets as well as upholstery. This is something they all pretty much have in common. Beyond that there are:
- Manual portable cleaners are small, compact, and very portable. The smaller units are geared primarily for spot cleaning while slightly larger models can tackle larger upholstery jobs and extras like carpeted stairs without having to constantly refill the tank.
- Automatic spot cleaners which do essentially the same thing as a manual spot cleaner. The difference is that you do not use the hose or manual tools. You set the machine down on the spot and it cleans and extracts for you.
- Upright carpet steam cleaners with hose/attachments which deep clean or spot clean just about anything. The cleaning mechanism is the same, but the range of use is much greater. The more substantial units can clean just about anything you could think to throw at it. They also come with a bigger price tag. However, for those interested in a cleaning system for carpets as well as upholstery, this may be a way to go. These cleaners were already covered in a previous post on carpet steam cleaners.
All of these are fine alternatives for people with pets. It really comes down to the individual needs of the purchaser.
Related cleaning articles:
- Best rated carpet steam cleaners for pets
- Best vacuums to remove pet fur on carpets
- Best vacuums for hardwood floors
- Best steam mops for tile floors
- Alternatives to Dyson vacuums
- Less expensive alternatives for Roombas