Most carpet cleaner rentals available near you will be either Bissell or Rug Doctor carpet cleaners. You’re likely to find both of these options at retail stores (such as grocery stores) in your area, depending on which store you visit — but which carpet cleaner rental is best? We compare the model availability, ease of use, attachments, and cleaning solutions of Rug Doctor and Bissell below.
What We Recommend
Bissell and Rug Doctor carpet cleaner rentals are quite similar, and the best option for you will likely depend on your purpose in renting a carpet cleaner. Both brands offer upright and portable models for rent, but their machines have some differences that may make one better than the other for your purposes.
If you’re doing an annual cleaning of large areas, such as complete rooms, look for either the Bissell Big Green carpet cleaner or the Rug Doctor Pro Deep Cleaner. These models are very similar in size, features, and usability. The Bissell Big Green may be easier to find in your area since it is Bissell’s primary rental model, and all Bissell rental locations (including PetSmart and Lowe’s) offer it.
If you have a more specific cleaning need, such as furniture, spot cleaning, or a variety of surfaces, Rug Doctor will likely be the better option for you. In addition to its more extensive range of specialized attachments and cleaning solutions, Rug Doctor is capable of cleaning hard floors, which Bissell’s Big Green machine cannot do.
If the price is an important factor for you, note that the prices of Bissell and Rug Doctor rentals are comparable, but do vary somewhat by store. For details, see our research on the rental costs at more than 25 Bissell and Rug Doctor rental locations.
Compare the features of Rug Doctor and Bissell carpet cleaners in the table below; note that you can sort using the arrow buttons at the top of any column. Below the table, you’ll find our full comparison of Rug Doctor and Bissell.
Factors to Consider When Renting a Carpet Cleaner
Below, we explain the factors you should consider when renting a carpet cleaner — including how Rug Doctor and Bissell compare for each factor. We gathered this information by viewing each brand’s website, viewing user guides for each carpet cleaner model, and contacting customer service representatives from both companies.
When considering the available models, you should first decide whether you need an upright carpet cleaner or a portable cleaner. Upright cleaners are best for covering large spaces, like entire rooms, while a portable cleaner might be best if you just need to clean your couches and chairs.
Bissell offers one upright model for rent: the Big Green Deep Carpet Cleaning Machine. Rug Doctor has two, known as the Pro Deep Cleaner and X3 Carpet Cleaner. The Rug Doctor’s X3 is the brand’s more cost-effective model and is heavier than the Pro Deep Cleaner or Bissell’s machine.
Bissell’s Big Green and the Rug Doctor’s Pro Deep Cleaner have similar features, including two-tank water systems, forward and backward movement, and relatively lighter weights (around 35 to 40 pounds when empty).
Each company offers one portable cleaning machine — the Bissell Little Green Pro Portable Deep Cleaner and Rug Doctor Pro Portable Detailer & Spot Cleaner. The devices are similarly suited for upholstery, carpet spots and stains, stairs, area rugs, and cleaning the inside of your vehicle.
However, the attached tools are slightly different: Bissell’s portable cleaner has a suction tool with a manual scrub brush, while the Rug Doctor Pro Portable includes a motorized brush that scrubs for you. If you want to avoid manual scrubbing, choose Rug Doctor, but Bissell’s combination of brush and suction provides a thorough clean.
Both Rug Doctor and Bissell offer a variety of attachments and accessories. Compare your options in the table below, but keep in mind that the availability of accessories will vary by rental location.
If you just want to clean a carpeted room (or rooms), either Bissell or Rug Doctor will work. However, Rug Doctor offers a wider selection of accessories, including an attachment for hard surfaces (which Bissell does not recommend using its carpet cleaning machines for) and a floor dryer. If you have different types of flooring throughout your home or want your carpet to dry faster after cleaning (compared to air-drying), Rug Doctor will be a better option for you.
All carpet cleaner rentals require you to purchase a cleaning solution separately. Both manufacturers recommend using a solution from their own brands to avoid damage to the machine. Buying a solution from the same company is usually the easiest option as well because you can find solutions in the rental area, and the bottles will include accurate instructions on how to use the solution with that particular machine.
As with attachments, both Bissell and Rug Doctor carry a variety of cleaning solutions. Rug Doctor sells a few options not offered by Bissell, such as defoamer and a “bio-based” solution with cleaner ingredients (but availability will vary depending on which rental location you visit). See an overview of the available options in the table below.
Ease of Use
Both Rug Doctor and Bissell require you to use hot water — not boiled or microwaved, but hot from the tap. You’ll fill the tank with water, add your chosen cleaning solution, use the machine, and then empty and clean it before returning. It is a reasonably straightforward process, regardless of which device you rent.
However, there are some usability features to consider when renting a machine, which we’ve outlined below.
Cord length is important to consider because a longer cord can make your task less of a hassle. It’s important to know whether you’ll be able to reach every area that you want to without having to find a different electrical outlet.
The portable machines, Bissell’s Little Green and Rug Doctor’s Pro Portable, each have cord lengths of about 15 feet. For upright machines, Bissell has a slight advantage at 25 to 30 feet (depending on the exact Big Green model you get) compared to Rug Doctor’s 22 to 28 feet.
Similar to cord length, the clean water tank capacity is significant because it will determine how often you need to stop cleaning and refill the machine. Bissell and Rug Doctor offer the same tank capacities, for the most part: about 1.5 gallons for the Bissell Big Green and Rug Doctor Pro Deep Cleaner and 0.75 gallons for their respective portable machines.
For a machine with a larger tank, Rug Doctor’s X3 is your best option, with a clean water tank size of three gallons. However, note that the X3 is not available at all Rug Doctor rental locations and is heavier than the other upright machines.
Most carpets will require at least two passes with the carpet cleaner, and by being able to move forward and backward, you can get a thorough clean with less effort. Bissell’s Big Green Deep Carpet Cleaning Machine moves forward and backward, like a vacuum cleaner.
Rug Doctor’s X3 Carpet Cleaner only cleans in one direction. Rug Doctor’s Pro Deep Cleaner model allows forward and backward cleaning, but is not available at all rental locations. Because Bissell offers the Big Green Deep Carpet Cleaning Machine at all of its rental sites, it has a slight advantage in movability.
To identify common problems with usability, we gathered the issues that renters face with Bissell and Rug Doctor machines from online customer reviews.
The following issues are most common with Bissell machines:
- Suction not as strong as expected on the upholstery attachment
- Leaks (including leaks of dirty water) may appear in heavily-used machines.
- Difficult to clean
- Loud while running
Rug Doctor customers have complained about the following:
- Brushes may jam/become clogged.
- Leaves carpet wetter than other machines
- Leaks may appear in heavily-used machines.
- Doesn’t work as well for higher carpet piles
When renting a machine that is also used by other members of the public, keep in mind that you will always find varying levels of cleanliness and maintenance. Some retail locations and renters are more careful than others when using, cleaning, and maintaining the machines.
Regardless of which brand you choose, it’s best to inspect the machine carefully before using it. And, if you run into any issues during your rental period, both companies do offer assistance to customers who are dissatisfied with their rentals.
Alternative to Carpet Cleaner Rental
As an alternative to renting a carpet cleaner, you may want to consider hiring a professional cleaning service, especially if your carpet has set-in stains that require special equipment or the assistance of a professional. For options, see our list of carpet cleaning services (including eco-friendly companies).
- Rug Doctor customer support via email, [email protected][↩]
- Bissell online chat[↩][↩]