Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner Review

Rug Doctor is synonymous with full-sized carpet cleaners, but did you know that they also manufacturer portable cleaners?

The Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner is an excellent option for cleaning areas that a big cleaner can’t reach.

It will complement a full-size carpet cleaner thanks to its compact size, hose, and nozzle.

One thing I like about this product is the vibrating brush that it has on the nozzle. If you look under the nozzle, there are three rows of stiff bristles and side brushes.

The vibrating brush will provide additional agitation and should do well deep cleaning carpeted stairs or fabric upholstery.

Unlike other portable carpet cleaners, this is massive having one of the larger water tanks, longer hose, and larger nozzle. The obvious downside to this would be the size and heft.

This machine is heavy and may not fit on the stairs, which makes it a bit tricky to use on a tall flight.

Is this Rug Doctor worth the┬áprice tag? Let’s find out in this review.

A quick look at the features

  • Capable of removing stains thanks to the sturdy handheld oscillating motorized brush that’s usable on stairs, carpet, area rugs, upholstery, and car interior
  • Uses pure agitation and suction to remove stains so it will not damage fabric upholstery
  • Retractable handle and carpet-friendly wheels help to move this around easy
  • Separate dirt and clean water tanks ensure that there is no cross-contamination
  • Rug Doctor offers their propriety carpet cleaning solutions


  • Great agitation will work well on most fabric upholstery and carpet stairs
  • Large water tank means you’ll be able to cover a lot more real estate
  • The large nozzle has a wider cleaning path than the average portable cleaner
  • Above-average suction will pick up spills


  • Not as compact as other carpet cleaners so there will be a little difficultly cleaning stairs
  • The short hose will not cover a full flight of stairs
  • Bulky cleaning head may not work very well inside a vehicle

What to expect from the Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner?

Before I continue in this review, let’s watch this video to see what you’ll get inside the box and how it performs.

To see the cleaning test, you can jump to the 14:36 mark to see how it does on a coffee stain.

In terms of features, this machine comes with typical carpet cleaning features.

Dual tank system

It comes with a dual tank system that separates clean water and dirty water. Loading the water on the clean tank is simple. Just remove it from the body by pulling it up then open a locking cap underneath to remove the hose and seal.

But here’s the tricky part. Since the top of the water tank has a concave shape, you will have to hold it, or the water will spill.

There’s no guesswork since you’ll just be filling up water until the first fill line and cleaning solution until the second fill line.

The dirty water tank is easy to empty and clean since the filter and cover are removable.

It is an essential feature because it allows you to clean the tank and prevent it from getting smelly.

Oscillating brush

One unique feature found in this portable cleaner is the oscillating brush that improves agitation. I don’t think other brands have this feature, which makes the Rug Doctor unique.

Look underneath the cleaning nozzle, and you’ll see three rows of stiff brushes plus two edge brushes. It gives this machine great agitation and cleaning power to clean even the toughest stains.

2X suction

Another feature that makes this an effective cleaner is suction. Rug Doctor says this variant has twice more suction than the leading brand. When they say leading brand, I’m guessing they’re talking about the Bissell portable carpet cleaner.

As you’ve seen in the video above, suction is good enough to remove most of the coffee spills on carpet.

There’s no need to use paper towels to blot out excess liquid. Just use the machine itself to be more efficient.

Retractable handle

Moving this carpet cleaner is easier, thanks to the retractable handle and wheel. It also has a carrying handle that allows you to carry this up and down multi-level homes.

The retractable handle though, is a bit shaky, so you’ll have to be careful when using it with the tanks full.


Rug Doctor backs this up with a 2-year warranty. If you think that’s too short, then you can purchase the extended warranty on Amazon.

Cleaning performance

One of the strong points of the Rug Doctor is the cleaning performance.

Just look at this before and after screenshot of the coffee stain you saw in the video above.

The screenshot, by the way, is courtesy of ibaisaic, please subscribe to him if you have not as he gives excellent vacuum reviews.

Take note that the cleaning solution wasn’t used in any of the three photos above. It was just the initial process of removing the coffee spill only using suction. You can still see the outline of the spill, but the results are pretty good as is.

The next step would be applying a cleaning solution and removing the rest of the coffee stain.

And here is the result after several passes.

Pretty good, isn’t it. You can barely see the coffee stain in the photo. It is the value of a spot carpet cleaner during these instances. It is a handy tool to have if you have children as spills are inevitable.

Don’t waste paper towels anymore.

You don’t need sheets to remove spills on carpets.

With this tool, you can use it to remove liquid on carpets easily. Remember that this is just the first step, and you’ll need to apply the cleaning solution. But this proves that how the good the agitation is from the three rows of bristles.

Rug Doctor says that this will work best on fabric upholstery and carpet. Make sure to use the Rug Doctor cleaning solution to get the best results and not to void the warranty.

What do consumers say?

This carpet cleaner is one of the more popular options in Amazon, with over 1,000 reviews. Not as popular as the Bissell, but consumers who use this are happy with the performance.

Thanks to the oscillating brushes, agitation is a strong point of this machine. Some say that it’s better than a competing Bissell portable cleaner that’s cheaper.

Consumers say that they have used this to clean different sorts of stains from coffee to pet stains, and it had outstanding performance.

If there is a potential issue with this machine, that would be the fit and finish the water tanks mainly.

There were several complaints of the clean water tank dripping and leaving a small puddle of water. Not a big deal if you put a towel underneath, but it is a concern if you’re a neat freak.

Another issue would be the plastic cover of the dirty water tank that seems to pop off easily.

If you’re using this inside your vehicle, the nozzle size will somewhat be an issue because it will not fit in tight places.

Other plus points of the Rug Doctor are the larger than usual water tanks, retractable handle, and wheels that make it easy to move around.

Where can I buy this?

You can buy the Rug Doctor portable spot cleaner from Amazon, and it’ll come with 2-day free shipping if you join Prime.

Amazon also sells extended warranties of up to 3-years of you want that extra peace of mind that something might break.

Take note that if you purchase anything through the link above, I’ll earn a commission, but at no additional cost to you, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

The verdict

The Rug Doctor portable spot cleaner is an excellent option for folks looking for a good quality spot cleaner for carpet and upholstery. Of all the portable cleaners, this perhaps has the best agitation because of the oscillating brushes and good suction.

It’s not the cheapest option, but it will clean stains bottom line. However, there are some issues that you need to be aware of like the leaking problem and large nozzle that may not fit in the tightest spots.

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About the author: Garrick Dee Garrick is the founder of the Cordless Vacuum Guide has been testing cordless vacuums for the past 10 years, and writes about them on this website. When he’s not writing reviews, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son, traveling and tasting different cuisines.