Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner - exceptional for pet mess

I wasn't convinced by carpet cleaners, but the Shark CarpetXpert converted me.

The Shark CarpetXpert on a wood floor
(Image credit: Future)
Homes & Gardens Verdict

The Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner is a must-have for pet owners. It’s perfect for routine maintenance on carpeting, but it can also tackle tough stains and even pet accidents. The machine is easy to use and extremely versatile, and it offers a variety of thoughtful features that set it apart from other carpet cleaners.

Reasons to buy
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    Effective for everyday cleaning and stain removal

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    Able to remove tough, dried-on stains

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    Long hose for handheld operation

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    Includes separate attachment for pet accidents

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    Removable pieces make it easy to clean

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    Accessories store neatly

Reasons to avoid
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    No built-in water heater

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If you have any type of carpeting in your home—whether it’s wall-to-wall carpeting or just strategically placed area rugs—a carpet cleaner is a worthwhile investment. Models like the Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner make it quick and easy to deep-clean rugs, and they’re also handy for treating stains, as well as cleaning dirty furniture.

The CarpetXpert is a full-size carpet cleaner that resembles an upright vacuum, and while it is a bit pricey, we were intrigued by several of its features. It uses an oxy-powered cleaning formula to remove tough stains, and it even comes with a special pet tool that’s designed for cleaning up accidents. We wanted to see if it could compete with the best carpet cleaners and vacuums for pet hair out there today, so I tested the unit in my multi-pet home over the course of two weeks. 

After testing the carpet cleaner on a variety of different materials and stains, I can’t recommend this product enough. It was easy to use and highly effective, tackling the worst pet messes and stains with ease.

Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner Specifications

A Shark CarpetXpert and its attachments

(Image credit: Shark)
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Dimensions:13.15 L x 11.97 W x 43.5 H inches
Weight: 18.05 lbs
Wattage:960 watts
Cleaning Path:10 inches
Power Cord: 20 feet
Warranty:5 years
Features 3.5-inch stain tool, crevice tool, pet tool, hose cleaning tool, 12-oz. Shark CarpetXpert formula and 16-oz. Shark StainStriker formula

Unboxing the Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner

Unboxing the Shark CarpetXpert

(Image credit: Future)

The Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner arrived in a sizable box, and it was quick and easy to unpack and put together. All of the pieces inside were wrapped in plastic, so there was quite a bit of waste. The machine was basically one large piece, so I simply had to insert the handle and attach the hose to set it up. In addition to the carpet cleaner, the package contained two additional attachments and two trial-size cleaning formulas—one for washing rugs and another for stain treatment. 

Once set up, the CarpetXpert is the same size as one of the brand’s upright vacuum cleaners, such as the Shark Stratos. There are three different tanks on the front of the machine: One for clean water and cleaning solution, one for the stain-fighting solution, and a third that collects the dirty water. There’s a lever at the bottom of the machine that allows you to switch between regular operation and using a handheld tool, and I was impressed by the length of the hose, which can be wrapped around the back of the machine for easy storage.  

Who would the Shark CarpetXpert suit?

 There’s no denying that the Shark CarpetXpert is a large machine, so it’s better-suited for those with larger homes and plenty of storage space. I can see it being particularly useful for people with wall-to-wall carpeting that requires regular maintenance, as it covers a large area quickly, but it’s also a great choice for pet owners. The carpet cleaner is able to tackle everyday dirt, as well as gross pet accidents, and it even does a great job removing old, dried-on stains from furniture and rugs.  

Test 1: Area Rug

The first task I tackled with the CarpetXpert was the area rug in my living room. It has a blue and ivory pattern, and some of the lightly colored areas were looking tan because it was so dirty. To get started, I filled the machine’s clean water tank with warm water and topped it off with the Shark CarpetXpert formula, per the instructions. Considering its price, I do think it would be nice if the machine had a built-in water heater, which would prevent the water from cooling down as you work. 

I made sure the operation lever was set to carpet cleaning, then I jumped right in. The carpet cleaner is a breeze to use. When you push it forward, it washes the rug with the diluted cleaning formula, and when you pull it backwards, the machine sucks up the liquid. However, I quickly realized I had made a big mistake—I hadn’t vacuumed the rug before I started cleaning, and the machine kept depositing big clumps of dog hair all over the rug. I gave the rug a quick vacuum before continuing, but next time I’ll be sure to carefully vacuum before jumping in with the carpet cleaner. 

Cleaning a carpet with the Shark CarpetXpert

(Image credit: Future)

Even with my mistake, I was blown away by how much dirt was hiding on the 8x10-foot rug. I only went over the rug once, as I didn’t want it to be too wet, but the dirty water tank was filled with murky brown liquid. There were a few dirty streaks when I finished cleaning, but they disappeared when I went over them again. Overall, the process used a full tank of clean water, and the rug was slightly damp to the touch after. I left the doors and windows open and turned on a fan to help speed the drying process, and the rug was dry to the touch in around an hour. The rug smelled fresh and clean, and it definitely looked a lot whiter than before. 

Test 2: Outdoor furniture

The next job I had for the CarpetXpert was cleaning up stains on my favorite outdoor lounge chair. I wasn’t too optimistic that the stains would even come out, as they’re more than 6 months old and, frankly, I wasn’t sure what they were caused by. However, it never hurts to try, right? 

For this task, I filled up the smaller tank with the included stain cleaner—the Shark StainStriker formula—and attached the regular handheld tool to the machine. I love that the brush on this tool is reversible: One side has stiff bristles for scrubbing, while the other side has silicone nubs for a more gentle scrubbing action. When I first pressed the trigger to dispense the tray, the liquid came out of the handle much lower than I expected, so I totally missed the stain. However, once I figured out where the formula sprays, it was smooth sailing. 

Upholstery before and after cleaning with the Shark CarpetXpert

(Image credit: Future)

I focused my efforts on two stained areas on the chair, and the machine did a surprisingly good job removing the marks. It took two rounds of spraying and scrubbing, but the majority of the stain was completely removed. When the upholstery dried, the chair looked as good as new, and I’m already planning to clean my other outdoor cushions with the cleaner.  

Test 3: Pet Accidents

The Shark CarpetXpert comes with a special pet tool that has a similar appearance to the normal hand attachment. However, the pet tool has a small, self-contained dirty water tank that captures everything you suck up, stopping pet waste from getting into the main body of the cleaner. I thought this was a really useful design feature, and I even got the opportunity to test it out, as one of my outdoor cats vomited on the patio rug. 

I'll spare you the images, but I found this attachment has silicone nubs for scrubbing, and while they weren’t quite as effective as the bristles, they were much easier to clean off. After just a minute or two of spraying and scrubbing, the machine has picked up the majority of the vomit and the stain it left behind. 

Once I finished with stain removal, I decided to use the floor tool to clean the rug, as it was quite dirty from being outside all summer. I put the machine on its deep cleaning mode, and I went over the circular rug several times. There were quite a few spots that had old stains or discoloration thanks to dirt, but the CarpetXpert had no problem sucking up all the gunk. I had to use a whole tank of clean water and stop to empty the dirty tank at one point, but in the end, the rug was practically spotless. I couldn’t have been more impressed with its performance.  

Cleaning the Shark CarpetXpert

Cleaning the Shark CarpetXpert

(Image credit: Future)

One of my biggest complaints about carpet cleaners is that they’re often quite difficult to clean after use. However, to my surprise, the CarpetXpert is actually fairly easy to wash out. The dirty water tank pops off easily, and you can remove the whole lid to dump it and then rinse out the interior. The cover on top of the brushroll hinges down, making it easy to wipe out, and the piece of the floorhead that sucks up water comes off completely for rinsing. I did have a hard time fishing some clumps of hair out of the cover, as the opening is very narrow, but this wouldn’t be much of an issue if I had remembered to vacuum the rug before use. 

The handheld attachments were equally easy to clean. The clear covers and brushrolls inside the tools are removable, so I was able to just pop them off for rinsing. The pet tool’s little tank also twists off, and it has a large opening so you can clean it out well. 

Once I rinsed/washed all the components, I let them air dry for around 24 hours before putting the machine back together. I love that all the tools have storage spots right on the body of the machine, and while it is fairly bulky to store, I appreciate that everything is all together and ready for next use. 

How does it rate online?

 The CarpetXpert is a fairly new product from Shark, but so far, it’s been met with positive reviews from users. On Amazon, it has a 4.6-star rating from more than 100 buyers, and the machine has a 4.7-star average rating on the brand’s website. Most users agree that the performance is impressive, and the most common complaint is that the machine is heavy and bulky at more than 18 pounds.  

How does it compare to other carpet cleaners?

The Shark CarpetXpert is a full-sized machine that’s well-suited for cleaning large areas, as well as spot treatments of tough stains. However, those with smaller homes may not want such a bulky machine, in which case a model like the popular Bissell Little Green may be a better choice. This compact carpet cleaner weighs just 9 pounds and can easily be stored on a shelf in your closet, and it’s perfect for cleaning up pet accidents and treating stains around the house. Not to mention, it’s notably more affordable, generally retailing for around $100.  

Should you buy the Shark CarpetXpert Carpet Cleaner?

If you’re looking for a full-size carpet cleaner, I can’t recommend the Shark CarpetXpert enough. It’s easily the best carpet cleaner I’ve ever tested—it’s easy to use, highly effective, and a breeze to clean when you’re done. It had no problem tackling everyday dirt, old upholstery stains, and even gross pet accidents, and it left my rugs (and furniture) looking better than ever and smelling fresh. The unit is a bit of a splurge, retailing for $250, but the expense is definitely worth it to keep your rugs cleaner, especially if you have pets.  

Camryn Rabideau
Contributing Reviews Editor

Camryn Rabideau is a writer and product reviewer specializing in home, kitchen, and pet products. In her five years as a product tester, she's tested hundreds of items first-hand, including many, many kitchen appliances for Homes & Gardens. Camryn does her product testing from her small homestead in beautiful Rhode Island.