Here's the Bissell PowerClean review, shortened version: a cheap carpet cleaner that’s easy to store, simple to use and nice 'n' affordable to boot.
Having spotted my glowing Vax Platinum Smartwash review, Bissell – a carpet cleaning manufacturer with 145 years of experience in the pile-care industry – suggested they send along their latest lightweight and compact PowerClean model. And who am I to turn down such an offer?
Although it appears most people these days have hard floors with a few scattered rugs, there are still many folk who love the feel of a soft, warm carpet under the feet. However, as anyone with half a brain knows, carpets get dirty and are nothing like as easy to clean as a hard floor, especially with accidental spills and pet accidents. Moreover all those deep fibres trap all sorts of unseen detritus like pet dander, skin cells, dust, mites, flea eggs – you name it – slowly turning your carpet a darker shade of filth without you actually realising it.
Now you could quite easily employ the services of a good carpet cleaning company once in a while or even hire a machine from the local hardware store, but if you have lots of carpet that’s tramped on by kids and especially pets, chances are it’ll be messed up on a regular basis.
That’s where a domestic cleaner comes in and right now there might not be a lighter, more compact and cheaper model on the market than the new Bissell PowerClean. So let’s get this show on the road and see how it performs against the myriad of other models in our current guide to the best carpet cleaners.
Bissell PowerClean review: price and availability
The new Bissell PowerClean is widely available in the UK, Including at Amazon where it's £149. It's also available in Australia, albeit usually in a different colour tone – green instead of red. Over there it retails for 399 Oz dollars and is again available at Amazon.
In America, the closest equivalent model I can find is the Bissell CleanView, which c costs $109 from, yes you guessed it: Amazon.
Bissell PowerClean review: design & features
Carpet cleaners are among the least attractive looking of home appliances but at least they can be tucked away out of sight when not in use. And that’s one of the first good things about this model – it’s a lot smaller than average (the cleaning head is just 24cm in width) and, at 5.6kgs, quite a lot lighter. This means it’s very easy to store away if you live in a smaller abode and light enough to haul up a flight of stairs.
Before I continue, let’s quickly explore the design which is extremely functional if a bit toy like with all those colour-coded parts and transparent plastic water containers – you can easily see where the lower price comes from because the plastic throughout is most certainly on the cheaper side of the spectrum.
Other than that, it's generally well designed, especially the water container latches which are easy to disengage for refilling and emptying. I also like the way you can clearly see the water coursing through the floor head and the satisfying results of the dirty water reservoir filling up. Most carpet cleaners have both the clean and dirty water tanks fixed to the articulating steering arm and this adds extra weight to the handle. By comparison, the Bissell PowerClean feels a wee bit lighter in the hand when using it because only the clean water container is fixed to the arm. It’s a small detail but it seems to help a bit so that’s okay.
Although this model requires some assembly out of the box, you won’t need to refer to the pictorial manual at all because everything is so self evident. The coloured latch system for the water containers makes it really easy to remove them for filling and emptying and that’s a bonus because some machines are trickier in this respect. Big plus points for the substantial carry handles on each container, too.
At 2.36 litres, the Bissell PowerClean’s clean water tank is smaller than most so you may need to pay a visit to the tap for a refill after a room or two. You will also need to add the correct dosage of supplied detergent to the clean water tank because this model doesn’t feature a separate cleaning solution tank. It’s a simple enough process, mind, because the tank has a marking denoting the amount of water required and a second marking for the solution level. Not ideal, granted, but hey, you can’t have everything.
At 1.72 litres, the dirty water tank is even smaller but this is the norm since more water is dispensed than sucked up. This is partly because some moisture remains in the carpet no matter how many times you engage the drying sequence. You simply leave it for a couple of hours to let science do its evaporative work.
The 600-watt Bissell PowerClean is equipped with a single 20cm cleaning brush comprising four spiralled rows of nylon bristles that dig deep into the pile, leaving a very clean finish in its wake. The brush can be easily removed for cleaning, along with the transparent water channel head.
Unlike some larger models – the aforementioned Vax Platinum SmartWash included – this model doesn’t come with a hose and scrub tool for spot cleaning and doing stairs and upholstery so look elsewhere if that is your want. It also comes with a shorter cable (6m) than the majority of its competitors and it doesn’t have a foot-operated power switch – instead there’s a button near the floor which requires bending down to engage.
Bissell PowerClean review: how to use it
Like the majority of carpet cleaners, the Bissell PowerClean is equipped with a finger trigger that engages the water and solution function. Simply pull the trigger and move the cleaner forward very slowly over the carpet. You’ll see a lot of activity in the transparent channel above the brush head as the solution is blasted into the carpet.
Immediately follow each forward sweep with an even slower reverse stroke – with the finger off the trigger. This will engage the drying sequence whereupon the dirty solution in the carpet is sucked up the same floor head channel and into the dirty water container. Believe me, it’s a satisfying – and quite surprising – moment as you watch the dirty water tank turn grey, brown or, in some cases, black. I would advise at least two drying strokes for maximum drying. You'll still then have to leave it for about two hours in a well ventilated room. It's quicker if the heating is on or it's a hot day, of course.
Bissell PowerClean review: performance
Unlike the similarly excellent Vax Platinum SmartWash which arrived just in time to tackle some dog vomit and the hideous results of a puppy-generated arse biscuit that had been smeared across the carpet by my robot vac, all I had to hand for this test was a generally grubby carpet and a bottle of red wine.
The Bissell performed well in both tests – the carpet looked noticeably cleaner even though it was still quite damp, while all traces of the wine simply disappeared. Please note, this was a freshly spilled sample, and most carpet cleaners would quite easily deal with it. It’s older stains that are really hard to eradicate. I haven’t found a domestic carpet cleaner yet that has removed the results of a carpet/wine incident that’s been left for several months.
Bissell PowerClean review: verdict
If you have a small home and at least one large fully-carpeted room, this compact model may just be what you’re after. Crucially, it’s one of the cheapest carpet cleaners you can buy and also one of the smallest and easiest to store – a major consideration because most carpet cleaners are bloody huge.
Alas, the Bissell PowerClean doesn’t come with a hose for spot stains, stairs, upholstery and car seats, and the brush head is really smaller than it should be, so it loses a star for those minor failings. Otherwise, this is a fine, budget-priced cleaner that will always be on hand when rug-based disaster strikes.