Bissell Little Green review: Our cleaning expert tested the viral carpet cleaner

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Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

Most people probably have a good idea of how to clean carpet. After all, it’s pretty straightforward: vacuum regularly, and handle spills and accidents as they happen. But cleaning up those spills and accidents is where things can get tricky. That’s where a carpet cleaner, like Bissell’s Little Green, comes into play.

The best carpet cleaners are the go-to for deep-cleaning, removing stains and eliminating odors on carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, car seats and more. These cleaners are wet vacuums that employ a spray mechanism to force a cleaning solution into fibers, then use suction to extract the solution, removing deeply embedded soils, odor-causing bacteria and stains.

The Little Green is a particularly popular portable carpet cleaner — you’ve probably seen it on TikTok or Instagram in one of those oh-so-watchable #CleanWithMe videos. So we decided to try it out for ourselves to see if it lives up to the hype.

Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner


The Little Green is a portable carpet and upholstery cleaner that can be used for a wide variety of deep-cleaning and stain-removal jobs. Its long cord, impressive tank capacity, size and weight make it easy and effective to use.

$98 at Amazon
$98 at Walmart
$110 at Bissell

What I liked about it

Setup is a breeze

There’s a lot to like about Bissell’s Little Green machine, including the fact that setup was incredibly simple. Assembly involves popping a few pieces into place, and while it does require a Phillips-head screwdriver to attach the flexible hose storage holster to the unit, the process took me all of 30 seconds.

The well-thought-out design features

The Little Green has a flexible hose like the ones you’d see on a canister-style vacuum, and the unit has a well-designed clip to house the hose when it’s not in use. This is a fantastic design feature that makes the portable cleaner easy and tidy to store.

Similarly, there is an attached holder for the unit’s electric cord that allows you to quickly — and, again, tidily! — wrap and store the cord when not in use to prevent damage.

There’s a notable exception to our praise for its design, which we’ll get to.

The clear intake nozzle lets you see when extraction is complete

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

One of the most important things to be aware of when wet-cleaning furniture, mattresses and carpets is extracting as much liquid as possible to prevent mold and mildew from forming. The extraction mechanism of carpet and upholstery cleaners is what makes them ideal for cleaning these items; extraction pulls water and liquid cleaning agents out from padding and stuffing so that they aren’t left sopping wet after cleaning.

Given that, experts point out the importance of pulling out as much liquid as possible when using extraction machines. The Little Green has a clear intake nozzle that allows users to confirm, visually, when the machine is no longer extracting liquid. That visual cue lets you know when you’ve gotten as much water as possible out of the carpets and rugs, including their pads, as well as furniture and mattresses.

The crevice tool for detail work is a nice touch for upholstery cleaning

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

The model I received came with two attachments: a brush-and-nozzle combo for treating stains and extracting water, and a crevice tool for extraction. The crevice tool was a nice touch that allowed me to detail an upholstered chair that has a decorative corded trim where, over the years, a lot of dust and dirt built up even with regular vacuuming. The crevice tool also allowed me to detail the chair’s upholstery buttons and the tight tufting around them where a lot of grime had collected.

The cord length allows for a lot of movement

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

Much like Bissell’s portable steam cleaner, the SteamShot, the Little Green was designed with an extra-long cord. The 15-foot cord allows you a lot of range while the tool is in use without requiring you to stop, unplug the unit and plug it into a closer outlet.

While the corded Little Green machine will not give you the freedom of movement that the brand’s cordless and rechargeable carpet cleaner does, the extra-long cord more than makes up for it.

It works great on food and drink stains …

I used the Bissell Little Green to clean a synthetic velvet couch, a chair upholstered in cotton duck and a polypropylene shag-and-low-pile area rug. To test its ability to remove stains, I started by using it to clean an area that was slightly dirty thanks to a combination of body soils and fugitive dyes — I’m a floor sitter, and you can tell where on the floor I sit because it’s ever-so-slightly grimier than the rest of the rug. The machine performed beautifully at cleaning and restoring the nap on the section of the rug where I like to park myself.

Then, I made a mess. On purpose! I created stains on a section of the rug that included soy sauce, red wine vinegar, olive oil and red lipstick. The Little Green removed the soy sauce and red wine vinegar stains almost immediately — simply spraying the cleaning solution on the stains and brushing them lightly with the bristle tool was enough to eliminate them completely. The olive oil took several passes to remove, but eventually that stain came out too, without the need for a supplementary stain remover formulated specifically for oil and grease stains.

However, disaster struck when it came to the lipstick.

What I didn’t like about it

… But it flooded other stains, causing them to spread

The Little Green, and other carpet and upholstery cleaners like it, can flood certain stains, causing them to spread and making an even bigger mess in need of cleaning. This was the case with the red lipstick stain I created, and it can also happen with ink and dirt. (When water is added to dirt it becomes mud, which is why it’s best to vacuum dirt rather than clean it with liquid cleaning agents.)

This is not the fault of the Little Green, specifically; rather, it is the nature of stain removal tools and techniques. Not to worry about that lipstick though! I’m a cleaning expert, so I’ll get it out using a stain removal technique better suited for lipstick and other stains that are prone to flooding.

The hose could be longer

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

While the extra-long electrical cord was a much-appreciated feature, the flexible hose could have been a bit longer. While cleaning upholstery, I found that I had to stop to reposition the unit several times to cover the entire expanse of my couch. A longer hose would have provided more range of motion, making the cleaning process faster and eliminating the frustrating stop-and-go of having to move the unit as I worked.

No holder for attachments

The Little Green does not have a holder for storing attachments when the machine is not in use. While the design of the holster for the tube and the cord were standout design features, the oversight when it comes to attachment storage is puzzling. (I noted the same problem when I tested the Dyson Submarine.)

Floor care tool manufacturers, we implore you: Please provide a place to store the attachments that come with your machines!

The water tanks could be better labeled

While the overall design of the Little Green was well thought-out, the 48-ounce water tanks that hold clean water and collect dirty water could be better labeled. The clear plastic tanks have raised, embossed messages in the same clear plastic indicating which is for the cleaning solution and which is for dirty water, but they can be easy to miss, even for those with perfect eyesight.

Bottom line

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

The Little Green is a great cleaning tool that I would recommend without reservation to anyone who has carpet in high-traffic areas of the home, and for quickly and easily cleaning upholstered furniture and mattresses.

I was particularly impressed with how effective and useful the Little Green machine is for cleaning upholstered furniture, including couches, chairs and outdoor furniture. If you have babies, toddlers, people with incontinence issues and/or pets to clean up after, a carpet and upholstery cleaner like the Little Green is a smart buy for addressing the messes those cohorts tend to make.

The Little Green would also be a purchase worth considering if you have a spill-prone person in your household. (Or a teenager. Have you met a teenager? We love the teens, but they are messy.)

The price and compactness of the unit make the Bissell Little Green an affordable and easy-to-store cleaner and, while not every household will need one, it would qualify as a must-have cleaning tool in many homes.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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