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I tried it: This portable Bissell stain remover is a lean, green cleaning machine

It’s super easy to use — and comes backed by over 46,000 perfect reviews.

As a home editor and small-space dweller, I stand by the credo that the best appliances are not only effective, but ideally compact, versatile and — perhaps most important if I'm going to get my money's worth — uncomplicated. Enter the Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, which was recommended to me by a good friend and mother (meaning she has no time for nonsense) and has become one of my favorite hacks for keeping rugs and other upholsteries in tip-top shape. Read on for what I like about the innovative device (you'll see I’m certainly not alone) and how I use it to combat dirt and stains inside my home.

Thousands upon thousands of Amazon reviewers agree: the Bissell Little Green is a cinch to assemble, use, store and clean.

$124 at Amazon

I was intrigued by the Bissell Little Green because — in addition to coming with a glowing recommendation — it's lightweight, portable (9.29"L x 19.02"W, complete with a handle for carrying) and, based on instructions and videos, straightforward to use. It also happens to be an Amazon No. 1 bestseller, backed by over 46,000 (yes, you read that correctly) five-star reviews:

"Effective and easy," wrote one verified customer. "... The machine sprays a generous but thin layer of liquid and the scrub brush is sturdy enough to really scrub the material. Then the suction gets up a large portion of the liquid and grime..."

"I've found love," professed another. "... I started on an old, old stain on my rug, and imagine my surprise when it instantly came out (I had tried every cleaning product prior to this). Then I thought I would try my couch, and it now looks brand-new. Next was my car. I've owned my car for 10 years and it has fabric seats ... [it] looks and smells amazing now."

Bissell Little Green
A shot of the little wonder at work. Choose from different attachments and solutions to customize your clean. (Photo: Writer)

As a BLG owner, I can attest that the cleaner requires minimal setup. You just click the hose clip in and attach the lower back plate (the lone screw is included, the Phillips screwdriver is not) to secure the hose (mainly for when the device isn’t in use). You then remove the clean-water tank to add the formula (in my case, the Bissell Spot and Stain with Febreze) and water solution (there are fill lines for each), click it back into place and attach the desired brush tool to the end of the hose (my device came with a 3-inch brush/nozzle for smaller jobs) and you’re ready to go.

Plug the Little Green into a nearby outlet, then squeeze the spray trigger on the hose to distribute the solution (the brand recommends hovering about an inch over your target), using the attachment to brush the formula into, and suction unwanted soil out of, any spots and stains. Then watch in awe as dirt, debris and problematic liquids lift away into the device’s refuse tank.

Bissell Little Green
Before (left) and after (right): This is what the Little Green and Bissell's stain remover are capable of. (Photo: Writer)

I’ve used my Bissell Little Green countless times to maintenance-clean my sofa, area rugs and even my car (this requires a nearby power source), but have been waiting for a good opportunity to test the device’s limits for a proper review. Fortunately (or shall I say unfortunately?), that opportunity came a few weeks ago when I switched apartments and noticed the light dirt that had surfaced on my living room area rug had become increasingly noticeable due to high foot traffic from myself and others in preparation for — and in the process of — the move.

I was desperate to save the rug in general, but was under some additional pressure to have it cleaned (on top of everything else that moving into a new space entails) in time for some guests coming to stay with me soon. As you can see in the "before" and "after" shots above, the Bissell Little Green transformed my rug in as little as 10-15 minutes. The dark spot is gone, leaving only natural variations in the handwoven fibers that were there when it was new.

I'd advise reading care instructions for any specialty rugs (consulting with the rug brand or Bissell for specific inquiries) and testing your cleaner on a smaller spot before you resume. The Bissell Little Green's compact size makes it especially great for cozy spaces, corners and cars, though you may want to look into a larger brush attachment or device for bigger surface areas and cleaning jobs.

See also: the top-rated Bissell Little Green Pet Deluxe for combatting those beastly odors and stains.

$125 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.