Can I Use A Bissell Carpet Cleaner On Area Rugs? (Guide)

We’ve got a lovely antique area rug in our living room. It was a gift from my wife’s grandmother but is badly in need of cleaning. Can we use a Bissell carpet cleaner on it without damaging a family heirloom?!

You can clean an area rug with a Bissell carpet cleaning machine. The best model to use is the Bissell Crosswave, which is designed to clean both hard floors and area rugs. You can also use a Bissell Big Green model, but always check the manufacturer’s instructions first to avoid any rug damage.

Join me as I discover in detail whether we can use the most popular Bissell carpet cleaner models on area rugs – and find out exactly how to do it…

Can I Use A Bissell Carpet Cleaner On Area Rugs?

Can a Bissell Carpet Cleaner Be Used on Area Rugs?

The great news is that yes, a Bissell carpet cleaner can be used on your area rugs. Some cleaners are more suited to this task than others (and we’ll go on to looking at the Crosswave and Big Green machines in a moment).

Before you get the cleaner out of the cupboard, pause and read the label on the area rug. Does the manufacturer give any cleaning instructions? If the label says no carpet cleaners, then it’s time to think of another method. Some rugs, for example, specify dry cleaning only.

If you have a wool area rug, Bissell actually recommends contacting the rug manufacturer to check, because it can be a tricky material to clean. 

Can You Clean an Area Rug With a Bissell Crosswave?

The Bissell Crosswave is the best machine in their collection when it comes to cleaning area rugs. It’s designed to clean both hard floors and area rugs, so you won’t have to change machines mid-room. Because it vacuums as well as cleans it’s also a handy time-saving option.

Why is this model especially good for rugs? The Crosswave has a slow flow, meaning that your rug backing can’t accidentally become saturated during the washing process. 

Can I Clean an Area Rug With a Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaning Machine?

Yes, you can clean your area rug using a Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaning Machine. However, as we mentioned above, check the instructions first, and if necessary, check online or contact the rug manufacturer.

Because the Big Green Machine uses more liquid than the Crosswave, it is a wetter clean. Make sure that your area rug has a solid backing before using a Big Green Machine, and remember that you can’t use it on solid floors.

How Do You Clean an Area Rug With a Carpet Cleaner?

Every carpet cleaning machine is slightly different – some, like the Bissell Crosswave, both vacuum and clean. However, the basic process is the same. Here’s how you clean your area rug using a carpet cleaner.

  • Check the label – can the rug be cleaned using a cleaning machine?
  • If yes, move any furniture away from the rug
  • Vacuum the rug to remove surface dust, pet hair, and debris
  • If you can, place a plastic sheet beneath the rug to protect the floor underneath
  • Do you have any tough stains on your rug? This could be coffee, red wine, pet stains, that sort of thing. You can use a pre-clean spot treatment on these first, to give them a better chance of coming out. Use this as per manufacturer’s instructions
  • Add the water and cleaning solution to the machine as instructed
  • Get to work with the cleaner!
  • It may take several passes until the water going into the machine’s container starts to look clear. Keep going until this happens
  • If you’ve used a low flow cleaning machine, the rug should be damp, not wet. However, it will still need drying. Dry it flat, on top of a plastic sheet or towels, and if it’s a nice, warm day, stick it out in the yard for a while
  • When it’s completely dry, vacuum your area rug to fluff up the pile again

If you get in the habit of regularly washing your rug, this process becomes pretty quick (it won’t take as long for the sucked-up water to run clear). Just make sure that washing won’t compromise the color or texture of the rug.

Speaking of getting the water to run clear… Take a look at this fascinating film of a rug being cleaned for the first time in 34 years!

Can I Use a Carpet Cleaner on My Shaggy Rug?

We love it that retro shaggy rugs are back in style, but they’re not the easiest to take care of! Carpet cleaners aren’t the best way to clean your shaggy rug – so how do you keep it looking lovely and fluffy? Here are some tips for caring for a shaggy rug:

  • If it’s small enough, take it outdoors regularly and give it a good shake. This gets dust and debris out of the deep pile
  • Vacuum regularly, ideally using the hose and nozzle attachment
  • Spot clean any stains regularly, using whatever solution the manufacturer recommends
  • Fluff up the pile to keep it looking soft. Use your fingers, or (top tip coming up!) try using a kids’ plastic toy rake, the kind they use for playing in the sand pit
  • Does your rug need a freshen up? Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda into the pile, then vacuum it up
  • If you want to fragrance your shaggy rug as well as clean it, use a dry carpet shampoo, which you sprinkle, leave, then vacuum
  • Is the rug in need of a deep clean? Provided the label doesn’t advise against it, you can steam clean a shaggy rug. Just make sure you dry it thoroughly afterwards to keep the pile all soft and fluffy. A fan is good for this. Plug it in near the damp rug and let it waft air over the pile for a while

Can You Use a Steam Cleaner to Clean an Area Rug? (Is This The Same as a Bissell?)

Yes, you can steam clean an area rug (again, after checking the manufacturer’s guidelines). Steam cleaning can be a good option if you want a hygienic clean without using any chemicals, as the steam itself will sanitize the rug.

A typical cleaning machine (like a Bissell) uses water plus a cleaning solution to clean the rug. The machine then sucks up the fluid from the fibers, and you repeat this until the liquid in the tank looks clear. 

A steam cleaner works by heating the water in its tank to produce steam, which is released from the nozzle in bursts. The heat from the steam cleans and cleans the rug, and then because it’s so hot, evaporates quickly.

So, the main difference is the level of saturation. A cleaner like a Bissell will wash the rug, while a steam cleaner introduces far less moisture. This can make it a gentler option in some cases.

Cleaning area rug

Can You Shampoo or Steam Clean an Area Rug on a Hardwood Floor?

Yes, you can shampoo or steam clean your area rug on a hardwood floor, provided you take some simple steps to protect the floor first.

The issue here is water: you don’t want your lovely hardwood floor getting wet. So, if you’re cleaning your area rug in situ, make sure that you place something like plastic sheeting between the floor and the area rug before you get started. 

Steam cleaning produces less water than a carpet cleaner does; however, you still don’t want a build-up of moisture under the rug, so it’s still a good plan to put a tarp (or similar) on your floor before using the steamer.

Afterwards (if it’s practical!) take your area rug outdoors to dry in the fresh air. This gives your floor time to breathe (and it’s a good chance to brush/clean the floorboards, too).

Of course, if you have a machine like the Bissell Crosswave, you can clean both your hardwood floor and your area rug with it, as its flow is so slow.


It’s good to know we can use a Bissell Crosswave to clean our family heirloom area rug, as that’s the one we own already.

In fact, I was about to get started last weekend but thought better of it until I’d checked the manufacturer’s website, so it’s good to know we’re ok to carry on now I’ve done my research.

Just remember to check the operating instructions of your Bissell model before you give it go too – and have a look at the label on your area rug as well.

These things are expensive and the last thing I want to do is damage my wife’s favorite rug. I’d be sleeping with the dog for a week! 🙂