Best Carpet Cleaning Machine for Dog Owners: Top Pick and Buying Guide.

The Best Carpet Cleaning Machine for Dog Owners.


No matter what breed of dog you love and care for, it’s safe to state that at some point, they will unleash havoc on indoor floors; especially carpets and area rugs.

Our furry friends make messes, but we love them anyway – even if they smash poop into your mother’s nearly white carpet.

Purchasing a carpet cleaning machine: Buyers Guide 

Hands-down, our favorite home carpet cleaning machine is Bissell Big Green 86T3. However, we realize you may want to choose another brand and style. Below is a short synopsis of what to look before buying a new carpet cleaner – especially if you are a dog owner. There are many advantages to owning your own carpet cleaning machine.


Below are some points to consider before buying a new carpet cleaner:

  • Even the most well-behaved dog(s) has/have accidents, especially if there are children in the home.
  • Portable, handheld machines don’t have motor power to lift intense stains. The brush base on these machines is also not conducive to proper water and cleaning solution extraction.
  • Standard and lightweight upright carpet cleaners are ok for small stains but do not lift heavy urine and vomit marks or stains that soak to the back of the carpet and even the floorboard.
  • Many home carpet cleaning machines leak.
  • If you need to clean a large carpeted room or expansive area rug, most conventional home carpet cleaning machines do not have large water tanks. A small container means you will be changing the water several times.
  • Owning the best home carpet cleaning machine means you can lift your dogs’ accidents on your own time and with more exceptional care compared to outsourcing.
  • When you rent a carpet cleaner, you don’t know what stains it cleaned prior. Vomit? Blood? A crime scene? Also, keep in mind, stores do not adequately clean each machine when it’s returned. A Westie Insider editor once rented a machine reeking of vomit.

How to Choose the Right Carpet Cleaning Machine

First, you need to evaluate your home and have basic knowledge of what a carpet cleaner/shampooer does. The main reason to own a carpet cleaner is to lift stains. As a dog owner, you want the best home machine that is powerful enough to lift concentrated urine, bile vomit, and even blood. Not to mention liquid diarrhea that may occur at 3 AM when you are fast asleep. Westie Insider has already anointed the best carpet cleaning machine for dog owners as Bissell’s Big Green. However, below is a general guide before our detailed, real-life review on Bisell Big Green.

best home carpet cleaner pet ownersBissell Big Green 86T3 – Our top pick for best at home carpet cleaner. Via Amazon.comshop button

Different Types of Home Carpet Cleaners:

home carpet cleaning machines

  • Portable
  • Upright
  • Lightweight Upright 
  • Upright Deep Cleaning for Home

portable carpet cleanerPortable Spot Cleaners

Key features of a portable spot cleaner:

It is ideal for cleaning small, everyday household stains such as spilled juice or a muddy paw print that hasn’t wholly drenched carpet fibers.


  • It weighs between 10 to 16 lbs.
  • It measures 16″ or below in height.
  • Its water tank holds between 30 and 60 oz of water.
  • It costs between $100 and $170.

 Are Portable Units Recommended for Dog Owners?

In short, no. A portable unit will not lift intense dog urine stains. Also, the brushes on these units do not rotate.

These are handheld carpet cleaning machines usually meant for quick spot treatment. They are excellent for light marks on carpeting, but they do not lift deep dog stains. Portable carpet cleaners are suitable for everyday home stains, not heavy pet stains.

upright carpet cleanerUpright

Most homeowners prefer a regular (or basic) upright carpet cleaner. They aren’t as heavy as more industrial units and are budget-friendly.

Key features of a regular upright carpet cleaner:

It is powerful enough for cleaning a large area rug or an entire room with wall-to-wall carpeting.




  • It weighs between 20 to 25 lbs.
  • It measures about 40 inches in height.
  • Its water tank holds about anywhere from 3/4 of a gallon to 1 gallon.
  • It costs between $99.00 and $300.
  • Some units come with a hose and detachable attachments (small brush head) for cleaning hard to reach spots and stains. The removable head is also convenient for steps.

Are Everyday, Upright Machines Recommended for Dog Owners?

In short, yes. Is this type of carpet cleaner Westie Insiders favorite? No. Standard upright carpet cleaning machines are great for everyday, normal homeowner stains on carpets: light muddy paw prints, spilled wine, dirty shoe prints, etc. However, they don’t lift heavy dog stains. We put these upright units into the category for light stains that are easy to lift and don’t soak through to the carpet backing and padding.

If you own a very small dog or even a miniature, this may be the perfect carpet cleaning machine for you.


carpet cleanerLightweight Upright Cleaners

A lightweight carpet cleaning machine is similar to the regular upright cleaner. However, it generally weighs less and has less motor power. Because it’s lighter in weight, these units are easier to use and store.


Key features of a lightweight upright cleaner:

It is ideal for light dog stains. Lightweight, upright machines do not lift deep urine states. These are not deep-cleaning machines.



  • It weighs between 10 to 16 lbs.
  • It is smaller than a standard upright cleaner, lightweight, and easy to store.
  • Its water tank holds between ½ and ¾ gallon of water.
  • It costs between $90 and $130.

Are Light Upright Carpet Cleaners Recommended for Dog Owners?

Sure. However, they are not the best units for deep-cleaning and intense pet stains.

They are ideal for apartment and tiny home dwellers and are for quick cleaning without the weight of a heavier machine. These cleaners are suitable for homes with area rugs vs. wall-to-wall carpeting. Great for mobile homes, dorm rooms, and any room with only limited carpet.

Don’t expect a light upright carpet cleaner to lift old urine stains.

Again, we would recommend light upright units only for tiny dog owners or if you travel and live with your dog in an RV or mobile camper.


Best carpet cleaner dogsUpright Deep Cleaner With Professional Results

Upright deep cleaning carpet units give the most professional results. Powerhouses such as Bissell’s Big Green is hands-down the top home carpet cleaning machine for dog owners. (Actually, that’s wrong. Our dogs own the humans.) This professional-grade upright deep cleaner is a reliable workhorse. It has a powerful cleaning capacity that lifts both deep and old stains. With its high-grade water tanks, it’s more durable than other styles. These are carpet cleaning machines you notice for rent at grocery and home improvement stores. Many homeowners are switching to this style of carpet cleaner because it is so effective, especially dog owners.

Key features of a professional grade upright deep cleaner:

  • It weighs between 38 to 50 lbs.
  • Tanks can easily store between 1.5 to 2 gallons of water. They usually contain a two-tank system – one tank to hold clean water + cleaning solution, and another to collect dirty water.
  • Costs between $370.00 and $600.
  • The professional-grade upright deep cleaner contains a more powerful motor than other home carpet cleaners.
  • This cleaner is powerful, durable, and tough. Best extraction/suction.

Are Upright Deep Cleaners recommended for Dog Owners?

Yes! A HUGE resounding YES. Westie Insider’s editor has purchased and used many different home carpet cleaners, and hands-down claims a professional grade upright model is the best for stubborn pet stains. Both water tanks are large and rarely leak. Their brush heads are wide and rotate with precision.

These home carpet cleaners are worth their value and deliver professional results. It’s important to note; many carpet cleaning businesses use this type of machine for cleaning services. However, if you own the machine, you have better control to produce quality results.

Here are Westie Insider recommendations for a few home carpet cleaners to browse. As dog lovers, our top choice is Bissell Big Green 86T3. Further below, please read Westie Insider’s real-life review of our favorite home carpet cleaner: Bissell’s Big Green machine. 

portable rug cleaner

Bissell 3624 SpotClean
From $159.00

If you are set on a portable carpet cleaner, Westie Insider recommends Bissell 3624.

upright carpet cleaner

BISSELLProHeat 2X Revolution, 1986

WI recommends this Bissell for a normal, upright carpet cleaner. Bissell is known for their expertly engineered brushes and this model comes with one. 12 rows of rotating Dual Dirt Lifter Power Bristles, delivers professional grade cleaning to remove deep down embedded stains, dirt, and odors.

Its water tank holds 1 gallon.

upright light carpet cleaner

Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner, Lightweight

This lightweight carpet cleaner garnered thousands of positive reviews. We like that it’s not heavy (weighs 13 pounds) and easy to store. Holds .5 gallons of water. Perfect for area rugs and small rooms.

best carpet cleaning machine for home

Bissell Big Green,86T3

Hands down, this machine is our favorite. After years of using styles similar to those above, our editor purchased Big Green and hasn’t looked back.

Big Green delivers professional results without hiring a company. This is our top recommendation for the best carpet cleaning machine – especially for dog owners. However, if you feel it’s too big, check out the models mentioned above.

A Real-Life Look At Bissell’s Big Green. The Best Carpet Cleaning Machine for Dog Owners.

All dog owners know their furry loved ones leave souvenirs from outside strewn across interior floors. Whether it’s snow, mud, leaves, rain, etc., it’s virtually impossible to keep dirty paw prints and stains at bay. Even though we have a penchant for Westies, it doesn’t matter what type of dog owns you; their feet and fur are magnets for grime and dirt. We also know all too well how deep stomach bile vomit saturates carpet fibers. Like many of you, I keep a towel by the front door and to wipe my Westie’s feet after trips outside, but this only goes so far.

Carpet. It’s a polarizing topic. Most are against the idea of wall-to-wall carpet because it attracts dust, mites, and grime. They are correct. However, many apartments and homes have carpets, and you can’t rip them up – especially if it’s a rental. There is also the added expense of replacing carpet with hard floors. Even those without carpet in their homes probably utilize area rugs. Area rugs are popular in bedrooms and family living/entertainment spaces. (We can all agree that wall-to-wall carpeting in a kitchen or bathroom is vile)

Real-Life Review

Unlike many online consumer reviews, I own Bissell’s Big Green and have used it consecutively for five years. Over the years, I purchased at least four different models and brands of home carpet cleaners. I had high hopes for each one, but inevitably they disappointed.

This carpet cleaning machine is powerful for both home and light commercial use. Many carpet cleaning companies have Bissell’s Big Green in their arsenal. By “powerful,” I mean that it lifts deep pet stains. Big Green is also a workhorse lifting old and stubborn stains. Most carpet cleaning machines marketed to homeowners never live up to expectations because they don’t fully lift tough stains. However, Bissell’s Big Green is different, and that’s why Westie Insider marks it as the best carpet cleaning machine for dog owners.

best home carpet cleaner pet ownersshow now

Amazon often marks Big Green on sale


  • Professional results
  • Lifts deep and old stains
  • A workhorse removing urine
  • Two expertly engineered stackable water tanks. The bottom tank holds water and cleaning solution. The top tank, with an adjustable handle, holds dirty water. 
  • The water tank holds 1.75 gallons of water
  • Rarely leaks. In 5 years, my Big Green leaked once, and that was my fault.
  • Rotating brush contains more bristles than your average home carpet cleaner
  • Powerful motor means it produces better results than its competitors
  • 25-foot power cord. (I’ve never run out of cord length, even in large rooms.)
  • 9-foot detachable hose with a small brush head to clean hard to reach areas and upholstery.


  • Heavier than other home carpet shampooers
  • Bulkier and not as sleek as other home carpet cleaners
  • Over the years, may need to replace flow indicator
  • Water tanks, when full, could be heavy to some
  • It’s not portable. Although I do take mine to relatives and friends’ homes.
  • 25-foot power cord. Sometimes in small spaces, the cord needs to be moved around the machine.
  • More expensive than traditional home carpet cleaning machines


When it comes to tools and machinery, I have a low threshold when the product doesn’t live up to its advertising and my consumer expectations. Like many, I clean my home myself, and I’m clearly not off on fun Instagram vacations. I’m home cleaning.

Since I have spent a considerable sum on carpet cleaners, I know what works. Hands-down, Bissell Big Green is by far the best home carpet cleaning machine for dog owners. Even though I try to keep my dog clean, she still transfers oils and debris into the carpet. Not mention there are times she throws up and has accidents on rugs and carpet. I know from experience, and money spent that this is one of the best home carpet cleaning machines on the market – especially if you live with animals.


Bissell Does Not Market Big Green to Dog Owners

No, this carpet cleaning machine is not explicitly marketed to dog or pet owners. You don’t see the word “pet” or “dog” in the title. Don’t let that fool you. Many vacuum and carpet cleaner brands use the word “pet” to reel in the consumer – it’s all for the feels to make you purchase their product. Typically, there is no difference in a product, such as a carpet cleaner, when it includes the word pet or dog in its marketing. Using pet-owner marketing language makes you, the consumer, think the product works better on pet stains, but it’s not true.

Bissell’s Big Green should be on every dog and pet owners’ list.


What Makes Bissell’s Big Green Great?

  • Cleans better than most rental machines — Professional results at home.
  • Extra Large Rotating DirtLifter® Powerbrush – Bissell’s Big Green uses Bissell’s patented DirtLifter power brushing technology to ensure that stains and dirt are loosened and lifted out of each carpet fiber. The many rows of bristles remove deep stains, dust, and dirt. Big Green’s rotating brush is hands-down, one of the best brushes on a carpet cleaning machine; excellent lifting old urine stains.
  • Powerful Suction  A carpet cleaner is only as good as its suction/extraction. Extraction is one of the most important steps to ensure you lift deep stains, grime, and dirt and that they do not reappear.
  •  Cleans on Forward and Backward Pass – This reduces your cleaning time, and carpet fibers dry faster. Although, Westie Insider suggests you take extra passes solely for extraction/suction. Most home carpet cleaning machines only clean in one direction. However, don’t oversaturate your carpet with too much cleaning solution.
  • 10.5″ Cleaning Path – The cleaning path 10.5″, which is typical for a home carpet cleaner. There are times I wish the base were wider, but then the machine would be even heavier and harder to store.
  • Two Large Stackable Water Tanks – Bissell engineers did a fantastic job designing these two water tanks. There is nothing cheap or ill-designed about them. The two-tank system is far more professional and less messy than one cheaper dual tank. The bottom tank holds water and cleaning solution, while the top tank contains dirty water. Also, the dirty water tank is easy to remove with its adjustable handle.
  • Water/Cleaning Solution Tank – The water tank holds 1.75 gallons of water. A larger water tank for a home carpet cleaner would be heavier and far more cumbersome. Not to mention, it may not easily fit into a kitchen sink.     
  • Detachable 9 Foot Hose and Brush – The detachable hose and smaller brush are perfect for upholstery, stairs, and hard to reach areas. I’ve personally used these tools to remove a stain in my car that even the dealership couldn’t lift.
  •  Powerful Motors – Commercial cleaning power.


In short, Big Green lifts stains, including those from dogs, better than any carpet cleaner I’ve purchased or rented. As stated above, I’ve bought my share of carpet cleaners, rented one, and also hired a company to clean my parents’ dining room carpet. As I drove over to my parent’s home to supervise the carpet cleaning company, I’d wondered if I’d made a mistake. I had, but at that time, I didn’t own Big Green. Even though their dining room is small, the gentleman cleaned their carpet in record time – in fact, it was too fast. Since he didn’t correctly extract the cleaning solution, their nearly white carpet attracted dust within days.


Dog Vomit and Bile

Let’s segue into the lovely topic of dog vomit. My Westie has a sensitive stomach, so did several of her predecessors. Vomit is sometimes foamy with mucus and often contains food. It’s (usually) easy to wipe up, and if it occurs on carpet, it doesn’t easily stain. Normal vomit easily cleans up with water and spot treatment.

As a dog owner, you know regurgitated stomach bile is vile. It’s the type of vomit that stains carpet. Depending on the bile, sometimes it’s easy to wipe up, and other times….it quickly and deeply penetrates carpet fibers. The type that quickly absorbs into the carpet is usually more liquid vs. foam. I equate this liquid-y stomach bile vomit to blood; both leave intestine, deep stains. Big Green is a powerhouse – it efficiently lifts dark stomach bile effortlessly. I’ve purchased and used small, portable carpet cleaners, and they do not lift intense stomach bile like Bissell’s Big Green.

When my Westie changes food (she’s a picky eater) or I switch brands of her daily supplement, they both usually result in dark brown, liquid stomach bile that quickly sinks into carpet fibers. Unfortunately, she never throws up on hard floors – she goes straight for a large area rug. Also, when she throws up this particular dark bile, it leaves a stain that is incredibly hard to remove, especially if I don’t use Bissell’s Big Green.

My parents’ home has several carpeted rooms. (I’ll discuss their nearly white carpets later.) One weekend last year, they took care of my Westie, and someone fed her a french fry. You guessed it: Before sunrise, she threw up very dark stomach bile on freshly vacuumed carpet. My father worked hard to dab up the liquid stain with water, club soda, and soap. Although he did a decent job, he couldn’t fully lift the stain. Two days later, when I returned from my trip, I knew it was a job for Big Green.

(Big Green is not the most portable carpet cleaner. Since I’ve transported it in my car to use in friends’ and families’ homes, I’m somewhat accustomed to the size. But keep in mind, this is not a small portable carpet cleaner.)

I brought Big Green over to their house, and it flawlessly removed the bile stain. Whether it’s a pet stain, or a spilled a glass of red wine, extraction (lifting cleaning solution) is vital when using this Bissell machine. Extraction is essential no matter what model of carpet cleaner used.

Sometimes it’s easy to predict when my dog will throw up. Sally starts rapidly licking her lips, and that usually gives me time to make sure she’s not near a rug or carpet. However, the intense liquid stomach bile vomit usually occurs late at night or early in the morning. She jumps out of bed, starts licking her lips, and then proceeds to throw up two times. Usually, this happens on my bedroom area rug.


Urine Stains

Are you a fan of Schitt’s Creek? I’m super late to the game, but currently watching it on Netflix. FUNNY, to say the least. So well-executed. If you are fans (or Schittheads as they are known), you know how Alexis gets disgusted at her brother and exclaims…. “Ewww David”? That’s my exact reaction when my dog leaves me a surprise on the floor. EWWW, Sally!

Canine urine and number two are not fun to clean up, especially on carpet. However, poop is usually easier to clean up, whereas urine deeply saturates carpet fibers. Even well-trained dogs have accidents. Puppies and older dogs are known to relieve themselves indoors. Urine leaves a deep, intense stain similar to the aforementioned liquid stomach bile. 

Keep in mind; puppies go to the bathroom inside – it’s inevitable. Their bodies haven’t fully developed to retain urine. Don’t get angry at a puppy for urinating on your favorite rug.

Big Green does an incredible job cleaning every carpet fiber soaked in urine. Here’s my routine when lifting a urine stain on the carpet:

  • Lift as much urine as possible with a dry cloth
  • Keep lifting until the area almost feels dry 
  • Next, I spray “spot treatment or pretreatment” on the urine stain and let it sink in for a few minutes
  •  Fill Big Green’s tank with hot water and the required amount of cleaning solution.
  •  Let the water and solution tank sit for several minutes. I do this to let the water cool down. Too hot of water over time may make the flow indicator break.
  • Once the water has cooled down, but still warm, I start passing Big Green slowly over the stain.
  • I also pass Big Green outside the edges of the stain as well.
  • Finally, I extract several times SLOWLY.

I potty trained my current dog in two weeks, and I’ve been lucky that she hasn’t had a lot of mistakes indoors. However, before I began training, there were several times she’d drop her cute puppy Westie bottom to the floor and urinate. 


Revenge Poop

Occasionally my terrier revenge poops.

dog poop on carpet

Revenge pooping happens when Sally, the Westie, is angry or frustrated at me and decides to let her bowels loose indoors. Let’s say she’s put in her kennel for several hours and I go out for lunch and return home with a few shopping bags. She knows I went to do something fun without her. (The nerve!) Before going out to potty, she rummages through a few shopping bags – new scents. When my dog is home alone, I always take her outside to go potty immediately upon returning. After urinating, she quickly wants to return indoors. Again, she starts sniffing the bags, and I busy myself putting things away. After a while, she slinks away to another room and revenge poops.

Thankfully, she has only revenge pooped a few times, but one occasion was particularly messy. She was at my parents’ house and decided to release the beast on my mother’s nearly white carpet. I received a frantic phone call to hurry and bring over Big Green. This time, Sally’s revenge poop was out of control. She’d flung feces up in the air, and when it landed, she rubbed one turd into the carpet; this wasn’t number two I could easily pick up with a paper towel. Not only is this carpet nearly white, but now a swath of it was tinged in brown. Lovely. I picked up what I could and filled up Big Green’s tank with water and cleaning solution.

Before passing Big Green over the poop stain, I spot treated the area. I’m a big fan of spot treating rough stains. With only a few swipes back and forth, I quickly lifted the offensive brown. I was worried about this particular stain since it was on such light carpet, and I didn’t know how much the fibers absorbed the smashed in poop. Luckily, Bissell’s Big Green soothed any anxiety. Standing back to take in the rooms, you’d never know my terrier made a stinky mess from venting her anger and frustration.


Old Pet Stains

Whether you rent or own, there are likely pet stains you haven’t discovered. Moving into a new apartment or home with carpeting, you will no doubt find stains from previous tenants. From my experience, carpet cleaning companies that landlords hire tend to work fast and without attention to detail. Let’s say an apartment complex has twelve empty units that need their carpets cleaned, and the landlord hires one company for the task. The cleaners won’t spend quality time in each unit to meticulously and carefully, lift every stain. Their goal is to do a passable job and complete the task as soon as possible.

Even if you rent, Bissell’s Big Green is a powerhouse lifting old stains. You can take it with you when you move. Although in small spaces, it may be challenging to store. Again, this is not a small, portable carpet cleaner. I recommend spot treating aged stains for at least 4-12 hours before using Big Green. If you are lucky to own Bissell’s Big Green already and you are moving into a new home and notice a few stains, clean the spots first before moving in furniture. If you don’t like your rental carpets, even after cleaning them, you can find a large area rug more to your taste.

Old urine stains are tough to lift, but not impossible using Big Green. If you move into a new unit that is carpeted and noticed a urine stain, it probably wasn’t lifted when they cleaned the carpets after the last tenant. For intense stains, I’ve used Big Green three times to make a spot disappear.

Several years ago, I purchased a new car. I drive a car for a very long time, so this purchase was huge for me. High on new car smell, I didn’t correctly check every surface of the interior for marks and stains. The next day, I noticed a large spot on the back seat. It was impossible to miss the way the sun hit it. The dealership sprayed the upholstery with protectant, and it might have been a stain from that. I took it back to the dealership, and they used their industrial steamer to lift the stain. After the 30-minute drive home, the area was dry, but the stain remained.

Instead of returning to the dealership a second time, I took matters into my own hands. Big Green was about to have its first adventure outdoors, and it would also let me use the detachable hand wand. The stain on the car’s seat was so intense that it took three separate times using Big Green. After each cleaning, I left the car in the driveway with the door open, so the afternoon sun hit the spot. Each time, it dried evenly, but the stain remained, albeit lighter. Finally, the third go with Big Green was a success. I have no doubt had I taken the car back to where I purchased it for a second cleaning, the stain still wouldn’t have budged.

Depending on the stain – old, deep, or intense marks – it may take more than one use of any carpet cleaner. We recommend letting a spot, or area, thoroughly dry before using a carpet cleaner a second or third time.


Rent or Own?

Big Green is the fourth carpet cleaning machine I’ve purchased. Fifth, if you count the small handheld one that didn’t even lift a dust stain. By now, I know exactly what works and what doesn’t. Fed up with one of my earlier cleaners, I hired a company to clean one of my parents’ carpeted rooms. They didn’t extract enough cleaning solution from the carpet; thus, the fibers attracted dirt several days later. I also noticed their machine was dirty, and it made me think: What do these carpet cleaning companies clean? Crime scenes? Frat houses covered in vomit? Probably.

I also rented a carpet cleaning machine at my local grocery store. It smelled awful and proved difficult to dissipate the odor from the room. No thanks to dirty machines – purchase Bissell’s Big Green. Trust.


Water and Cleaning Solution Tanks

Bissell engineers created amazing water/cleaning solution and extraction tanks. They are bulkier than competitors tanks, but they are sturdier, and most importantly, they do not leak. If you own a home carpet cleaning machine and it’s not Bissell’s Big Green, it probably leaks. Sure it’s a chore to clean urine and vomit stains; as dog owners, we are used to it. But it defeats the purpose of a clean carpet when you successfully lift stains only for the cleaning machine to leak dirty water right back on the carpet or rug.

The water tank holds 1.75 gallons.

Often, a leak from the carpet cleaning machine is worse than the original stain you set out to lift. I’ve had a terrible black sludge leak from a carpet machine — fun times on light, eggshell-colored carpet.

Big Green’s two water tanks are a godsend; especially after using competitors’ machines. What I don’t like about many home carpet cleaners is their jelly water bags. They are a recipe for disaster. Every time I had to fill one of those jelly bags with water and cleaning solution, I’d cringe. Other water tanks are sloppily engineered compared to Bissell’s Big Green.



Proper extraction may be the number one step to lifting a stubborn pet stain, or any stain for that matter, and making sure it doesn’t reappear. Extraction is when you remove or suck up carpet cleaning solution, and moisture. Bissell’s Big Green has an excellent extractor.

Poor extraction leads to two different types of stains reappearing: Wicking and residue. I discuss this below.

I take extraction seriously for several reasons. One, it lifts moisture, which results in even drying. Two, proper extraction is the backbone of lifting stains. Three, you don’t want to leave a stain or carpeted room sopping in cleaning solution. One aspect that I love about owning a carpet cleaning machine is that I can extract until my heart is content. I’m anal about removing nearly all moisture and take my time. When cleaning a room with Big Green, I extract an area of carpet several times before moving on. If a stain is particularly intense or deep, I extract in slow motion. I’ve passed the machine over one area up to six times. I prefer extracting until you nearly can’t feel any moisture. I never leave a carpet damp.

When you hire carpet cleaning companies, they don’t always take the time for careful extraction. 


Rotating Brush

Big Green’s rotating brush is a beast. The bristles are firm and clustered in groups, with each row of bristles forming a slight curve for optimal stain removal. The brush speaks for itself- like the water tanks, it’s precisely engineered. This rotating brush makes those models I’ve used previously appear wimpy.


Reappearing Carpet Stains

Reappearing stains usually happen for two reasons: Wicking and residue. Below, Westie Insider breaks down these two issues.



What is wicking? Wicking is when stains resurface because they originated below the carpet fibers. The original stain traveled deeper into the carpet, backing, and padding compared to surface stains. Wicking means it’s a DEEP stain. Dog urine, if substantial, may lead to wicking. These are stains that soak through to the backing of the carpet.

When you steam or clean the carpet, the surface might be clean, but the carpet continues to absorb moisture. This deep staining will eventually be pushed back up through the carpet fibers to the surface again – and this is wicking. That’s why it’s disappointing to hire a company to clean your carpet because you can’t always predict if wicking will occur. You pay someone, and it could be a gamble: Will your stains reappear or not?

Not extracting enough moisture when using the carpet cleaning machine also causes wicking. I hate to harp on extraction, but I will. Dog stains often travel deep into the carpet. Potent urine and bile throw up seep its way through the fibers, carpet backing, padding, and even the surface of the floor below.

Recently, a friend had a wicking issue where her dog’s urine stain appeared several times after using a lesser quality carpet cleaner.



Residue stains are also sometimes referred to as soiling. We prefer residue because that’s what is left behind, but if you come across the term ‘soiling’ referring to a stain, it’s usually the same concept.

A recurring residue stain is when your carpet cleaning machine leaves soap behind after shampooing a spot. Residue stains are not as deep as wicking, but equally irritating. Because shampoo and spot treatments are sticky, they attract dirt and dust. Every time someone walks on a newly shampooed carpet, soil and dirt from their shoes will stick to the carpet fibers. Dirt, dust, and debris from your dogs also stick to residue stains. 

I don’t let my dog walk on a rug or carpet I’ve shampooed until it’s thoroughly dry, and I’m confident there is no residue left behind.

How do you prevent residue stains? Make sure you don’t use too much soap in your carpet cleaning machine’s water tank. Don’t leave soap behind after passing your carpet cleaning machine over stains. I go back to extraction again: Take time extracting this, so you are sure to remove any soap or detergent left behind.

I believe I mentioned this above: The carpet cleaning company I hired for my parents’ house did such a rushed job, that within days, their white carpet was dirty again. Sadly, it turned dirtier after hiring the company, then it was before. They did such a rushed job that residue stains covered most of their dining room.


Bissell’s Big Green, Dogs, and White Carpets

My mother is a midwesterner through and through. My mother also likes carpet, specifically off-white in hue. I think sometime in the early 90’s she decided super light carpet looked chic. I love my mom and the midwest, but I can’t stand carpeted rooms. She and my father now have several rooms outfitted in wall-to-wall carpet. (Thankfully none in the bathroom (gag) or kitchen.) She still loves her carpet. Fine by me. It’s their home.

I remember my childhood dog wasn’t allowed in certain rooms. If it were a special holiday, my mom placed runners over the carpeted area, and then she was allowed to be with the family.

As an adult, my parents occasionally dog sit my current Westie. By dog sit, I mean the terrier bosses her MomMom and PopPop around. (Sounds like a Westie, doesn’t it?) Their light carpet survived the aforementioned revenge poop. In fact, it’s survived several spilled coffees and a few glasses of red wine.

My parent’s carpet is so fussy and high-maintenance that I’ve told them never to hire a company if they find stains. Call me, and I’ll bring Big Green over. It’s a testament to Bissell that nearly white carpets that are over 15 years old still look good today despite awful dog and human stains.

This carpet drives me nuts, but at least I have a solution for keeping it clean.


Bissell Big Green Problems

Since this is a real review from someone who owns and uses Big Green, it’s important I mention a few problems I’ve encountered. I loathe reading reviews online about products that are perfect and simply the” best” – that’s how you know they are fake and the writer has never used the product.


Leaky Flow Indicator

No carpet cleaning machine is perfect. After several years of use, the flow indicator leaked, and I had to replace it. It was not a simple task, such as changing a lightbulb. I prepped by watching several youtube videos. It required a small pair of pliers and lots of sheer luck that I didn’t puncture the flexible, plastic tubes which connect to the flow indicator. A few curses punctuated the air throughout changing it. A year on, fingers crossed, I attached the new indicator correctly. The many times I’ve used the machine over the past 12 months, the new indicator has not leaked. I was happy that I was able to replace the broken indicator myself since there are no vacuum repair businesses near me.




PLEASE READ. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Bissell states on the water/cleaning solution tank to use hot water. If you fill the tank with piping hot water and then immediately start shampooing your carpet, over time, this wears down and breaks the flow indicator. Hot water is what caused my flow indicator to spring a leak eventually.

This machine should come with better instructions concerning hot water. Most users, like myself, fill the tank with hot water and immediately start cleaning. And why wouldn’t we? Bissell tells users right on the tank to fill it with hot water.

Here is what I now do before cleaning a carpet or rug with Bissell Big Green: I do fill the tank up with hot water. However, I then set it to the side of the sink and let the water cool down for several minutes. The tank retains some of the heat for tough stains, but the water is not hot enough to tear up the flow indicator.


One Amazon review:

“Don’t use hot water. The flow indicator is not heavy-duty, and the hot water will dissolve the glue that holds the two half’s together, and you will spring a leak at the top of the vacuum, and no water will come out where it should anymore.”


Leaking Water Tanks

Home and professional carpet cleaners all have the potential to leak. I’ve owned several brands that regurgitated dark, soiled water back onto freshly cleaned carpets. Throughout five years of owning this particular machine, Big Green did leak once. It was annoying, and I was disappointed because I LOVE this machine. I hold Big Green on a pedestal, so a small leak was a letdown. It’s the best home carpet cleaning machine on the market, but any product will have upsets.

On this particular carpet cleaning expedition, Big Green leaked after I waited too long to empty the dirty water container. That leak was my fault, but I have read a few Amazon reviews which state their Big Green leaked several times.


Detachable Brush Head

I like the convenience of the hose attachment and a smaller brush. You can clean chairs, auto interiors, steps, and hard-to-reach corners. Not surprising, the smaller brush is not as good as the main machine. The brush releases too much water for small areas, and the suction is weak.

It took me several times to figure out the best way to use this brush. 

 Now, I hold the brush up several inches over a stain when releasing water and cleaning solution — this way, the spray release doesn’t oversaturate the area. I still haven’t found a technique for the suction to extract better, and I probably won’t because this head is so much smaller than the main cleaning machine. I extract slowly and carefully many times. I feel like a maniac extracting so many passes with this small wand, but there is nothing worse than a spot drying unevenly.

The detachable hose and wand are the very reason I despise portable carpet cleaners. They don’t have the horsepower to lift most stains. Although I will give credit where it’s due – Bissell’s Big Green detachable hose and wand did lift a stain in my car. Even though it took me several times, at least it lifted. 


Bissell Big Green: The Best Carpet Cleaner for Dog Owners

Many sites review products they have never purchased, let alone used. It was essential to write such an in-depth article since I’ve owned and used Bissell’s Big Green 86T3 for over five years. It’s a review from a real-life, hands-on owner – and one with a dog. I didn’t sit behind my laptop scouring Amazon and think: Gee, let me find a product I’ve never owned, used, or touched, and try to wing a review based solely on information via a few clicks.

Hopefully, this same carpet cleaning machine lasts for years to come. I’ve had such amazing results with Big Green that I frequently take it to friends and relatives’ homes and offices. At this point, I feel as if I could be a carpet cleaning consultant. Does that even exist?

Below find my favorite pretreatment for stains and Bissell cleaning solution.

If you have any questions about Big Green 86T3, please send me a message through Westie Insider’s contact page. I’m more than happy to help!


Stain Pretreatment

Depending on the stain, I pretreat the spot and its perimeter from half an hour up to 4-6 hours. Reoccurring and deep stains, I’ve pretreated for 24 hours. Pretreatment means treating a stain before shampooing. Most are sprays, which is what I prefer.

I’ve tried many pretreatments, and at the time of writing, I love this particular one by STAINMASTER: Carpet Stain Remover Cleaner.

STAINMASTER carpet pretreat

show nowFrom $8.99 via

STAINMASTER also offers one for pets, but as a dog owner, I prefer this one. Again, as I stated earlier, don’t fall for “pet marketing” when it comes to carpet cleaners, vacuums, cleaning solutions, or pretreatment.

I brought Big Green to a relative’s house to work on a wicking stain. Meaning, it was a recurring stain that soaked deep into the carpet backing and padding. I pretreated (sprayed) the stain with Carpet Stain Remover Cleaner 24 hours before I used Big Green over it. It lifted the stain and has not reappeared.


Carpet Cleaner Solution

For the past five years, I’ve been loyal to Bissell’s brand of carpet cleaning solution: Bissell 78H63 Deep Clean Pro 4X. It lifts all types of stains without lightening carpet color. Years ago, I used a carpet cleaning solution by another brand, and it lightened the color of the carpet where I’d removed the stain. I’ve never used Bissell’s cleaning solution marketed to down owners, and I don’t plan to.


bissell cleaning solution

show now$24.99 via


I have read reviews by Bissell Big Green owners who use Zep High Traffic cleaning solution in Big Green’s water tank for super tough stains. However, I cannot attest to this since I haven’t tried it. Bissell 78H63 Deep Clean Pro 4X does an excellent job lifting my dog’s stains on carpets and rugs.