Can You Use Any Carpet Cleaner in a Bissell?

clean carpet

Carpet cleaners are a lifesaver, but there’s one question that consistently pops up when I talk about them – can you use just any carpet cleaner in your machine? Regardless of the brand, this is a consistent question, so we figured we’d dedicate a page on DreamyHome to discuss whether or not you should worry about which brand of carpet cleaner you’re using. Bissel and Resolve are the two most commonly-mentioned brands, so we figured we’d start there.

Today’s Topics Include:

Now without further ado, let’s hop right into things, shall we?

Can You Use Any Carpet Cleaner in a Bissell?

carpet cleaner

Now, there are a lot of competing thoughts on this, but there’s one hard and fast “rule” to keep in mind. Theoretically, you can use any cleaner in any machine without issue. The problem, though, lies in design. Each carpet cleaner manufacturer builds their device from the ground up with their proprietary carpet cleaning formula in mind. As such, different formulas can and likely will affect the lifespan and performance of your Bissell carpet cleaner.

It’s also worth noting that using anything other than Bissell carpet cleaner in your Bissell machine will void the warranty – and yes, they will be able to tell if you send it in for repairs. This is repeated across their website, on the box, and in your user manual – so keep it in mind.

However, at the end of the day, if you’re facing a gnarly stain, it’s entirely possible and reasonable to find a replacement temporarily until you can get the proper cleaner.

What About Other Brands?

clean carpet

In general, Bissell has agreed that it is possible to use other carpet cleaners in a Bissell machine. While that sounds promising, their wording is chosen very carefully. I say this because in corporate communication terms, “possible” and “good idea” are about as opposite as Russia and Lebanon. That is to say, they’re entirely different.

Possible means that it can be done, but is likely a poor idea. For my D&D fans out there, think along the lines of when your game master says “you can certainly try…”

Remember how I said that Bissell has outright said that it’s possible to use other cleaners? Yeah – Rug Doctor is one of those cleaners. In fact, Rug Doctor’s main site actually outright says that it can be used in Bissell machines.

While that sounds like just straight good news, there’s something to keep in mind. We now know that using non-Bissell products can damage your machine – think for a second – what does Rug Doctor make?

That’s right! Carpet cleaners – ones that directly compete with Bissell for their share of the market. By encouraging Bissell customers to use their products, Rug Doctor simultaneously voids a Bissell warranty, gets the purchase of their cleaner, and potentially gets a new Rug Doctor customer.

So yes, you can listen to Rug Doctor – but do so in a calculated manner. Think before you act, and read the instructions on each product, and you’ll be fine… probably.

Caveats to Remember

carpet cleaner on

There are a few things to keep in mind before we wrap up for the day. Resolve carpet cleaner was our focus for today, and as such, you should inspect other brands to ensure this advice still stands before acting on it. Among other things to remember are:

  • Do your homework. By this, I mean read the instructions and ingredients. Not all carpet cleaners are created equally, and you don’t want to risk screwing up a piece of treasured furniture (or your car interior, mattress, or jacket) due to a lack of willingness to read for five minutes.
  • Clean your carpet cleaner. This is more targeted at the actual cleaner (machine, not fluid) itself. If you’re using the carpet cleaner to, well, clean, what do you think the inside looks like? If you don’t know, the answer is likely very gross. So go clean that bad boy out! And yes, this advice also applies to the carpet cleaner’s brushes.
  • Not all carpet cleaners can be used interchangeably. Specifically, not all carpet cleaners can be used in all cleaning machines, and not all cleaners can be stored or even used outside. So, as mentioned above, read the label and instructions and actually listen to them. You don’t want to end up with a fire in your house – yes, a fire. Remember how I said a primary ingredient of most carpet cleaners is alcohol? Well, believe it or not, alcohol is highly flammable and doesn’t do well with high heat.

What About Homemade Carpet Cleaner?

natural carpet cleaners

Believe it or not, a homemade carpet cleaner is actually super easy to make and works just as well as name-brand products, all without any of the harsh chemicals or scents.

I’ll leave a few recipes for easy carpet cleaners to make at home below, but let’s talk about how they perform in modern carpet cleaners really quickly. In short, they work just as well in a carpet cleaner, though you’ll need to be careful when measuring to get the best results.

You can use a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water as a quick “right now” solution by doing the following:

  1. Boil water and allow it to come back down to a “warm” temperature. Don’t get it too hot, or you’ll crack the housing of your Bissell.
  2. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to roughly 1 gallon of water and combine. Use cheap stuff here, like distilled white vinegar.
  3. Allow this solution to sit on the stain for 5-10 minutes and then sprinkle a hefty dose of baking soda atop it. Vacuum up the dried baking soda after ~15-20 minutes of allowing it to dry.
  4. Repeat as needed.

If you want to make an actual carpet shampoo, here’s a solid recipe. Combine:

  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 cups ammonia
  • 1 cup each:
    • Liquid laundry softener
    • Bleach-free laundry detergent

This can be stored long-term at room temperature in a dry (non-humid) environment for up to one year and generally creates enough for ~5 carpet treatments in a standard Bissell carpet cleaner.

While this will still void your warranty, it’s much less likely to damage your machine and allows you a cheaper, faster option than trying to find a specific Bissell cleaner.


Whether you have a Bissell machine and are deeply loyal to it or you’re “seeing other cleaners,” it’s vital to know what cleaners can go in which machines. Using the wrong brand of cleaner in your carpet cleaner won’t immediately make it burst into flames, but extended use can cause damage to your machine and actually voids the warranty!

There are a number of cleaners out there, and they’re all made differently, so be sure to read up on their ingredients and suggested uses before trying them out willy-nilly. And worst case, just use the homemade carpet cleaner up above – it’ll do the same job for a fraction of the price.