A very compact carpet cleaner that you can quickly grab and use when you need it, the Bissell HydroWave is a convenient way of keeping your carpets in order. The lack of handheld tools makes it tricky to tackle some deeper spot stains or stairs, but that's the trade-off of having such a compact cleaner. In regular use on carpets, the HydroWave tackles everyday stains with ease and a few swipes over more stubborn stains can clean them out, too.
- Stores neatly
- Easy to use and clean
- Quickly picks-up regular dirt
- No handheld tools
- Review Price: £249.99
- Upright carpet cleaner
- 1120 x 380 x 250mm, 10.2kg
- Rotating PowerBrush
- 1.7-litres detergent capacity
- 0.6-litres bin capacity
- Mains powered
Many carpet cleaners are behemoths that are bulky and difficult to move around. Not so with the Bissell HydroWave, which is around the same size as a regular upright vacuum cleaner.
While this model misses out on handheld tools for spot cleaning and in-depth stain removal, it’s a more practical and easy-to-use carpet cleaner for dealing with day-to-day stains, meaning you’re more likely to use it often to keep your carpet in the best condition.
Bissell HydroWave – What you need to know
General vacuuming – Folding down small for storage, the HyrdoWave extends and operates much like a regular upright vacuum cleaner, although the fixed head forces you to move in straight lines.
Carpet test – Does brilliantly with everyday stains, but tougher stains need a few swipes to clean up and you don’t get handheld tools for spot removal.
Related: Best carpet cleaner
Design and Features – Packs down small for easy storage
The Bissell HydroWave is designed for easy storage, with its telescoping handle sliding down to make it easier to put the carpet cleaner into a cupboard. With the handle down the cleaner is just 870mm tall; with the handle out the full size is 1120 x 380 x 250mm. There’s a fairly hefty 10.2kg weight, although as this is an upright cleaner, you should only have to lift it occasionally to get it upstairs or over the odd obstacle.
Bissell has mostly done a great job making the HydroWave simple to use and store. It ships with a hard plastic stand, which prevents any damp still on the bristle roller brush from leaking out onto the floor. Plus, you can use the machine in the stand to give the brush a clean at the end.
Both the brush and the cover are removable for easy cleaning and, if you buy spares of each, you can store these in the stand, too.
The 6m long power cable is just long enough to let you cover a room at a time, and it winds around the handle when you’re done. The retaining clip at the top spins round to make it easier to release the power cable, although you can’t move this clip far enough if the water tank is inserted.
The 1.7-litre water tank has handy markings on it for adding the right amount of water and concentrated Bissell cleaning fluid. There are marks on there for hard floor and carpet cleaning, although this is really a carpet cleaner. Certainly, I’d be careful about using this product on hard floors with the thick and hard bristles.
At the front is the used water tank, which takes up to 0.6-litres. There’s a handy float in there that blocks off suction when it’s full, so you can’t overfill this. Even so, on a general clean, you’re going to have to empty this bin at least three times for every full tank of detergent. The bin comes apart easily, letting you clean it and the integrated filter out.
Controls are also exceptionally simple. There are two cleaning modes: express clean and deep clean. These adjust how much cleaning fluid is dispensed when you press and hold the trigger under the handle. Bissell says that Express mode should result in carpets drying within 30 minutes.
Regardless of the mode, Bissell recommends that you press and hold the trigger for a single forward and backwards pass, then repeat the motion without the trigger held down to prevent overwetting the area. For tough stains, you can use the spray button on top to saturate a stain with cleaning fluid, too.
With the body fixed to head, the HydroWave is not as flexible as a regular vacuum cleaner, so has to be used to forwards and backwards strokes, gently moving the entire body at an angle to cover new ground. It takes a little getting used to, and you need a methodical approach to cover ground.
This model doesn’t have a removable hose or any other attachments, so you can only clean with the main head. If you need to tackle a smaller stain or want a cleaner that you can also use on upholstery, you may want a different product.
For stairs, you can pass the cleaner horizontally across stairs, but it’s a bit of a faff to get it right, so I’d only approach this job occasionally.
Performance – Picks up everyday stains with ease but lacks hand tools
To test out the HydroWave, I ran it across a couple of test stains on my carpets. First, I started with some dried in mud, rubbed deep into the carpet fibres. For this test, I used the cleaner on Express mode and gave it two sweeps: once with fluid and once dry. This picked up the mud with no effort and left the carpet completely clean.
Mud test: Dirty carpet (left) vs Clean carpet (right) – move slider to compare
Switching to a tougher stain, I put a teaspoon of ketchup on the carpet and left it to dry. As this is a deeper, harder stain to remove, I, first of all, treated the area with a stain remover, and then used the HydroWave in Deep Clean mode. A single sweep was enough to remove most of the mess, but there was a clear outline of it left. In the end, I had to clean the area for a good few minutes, switching between using fluid and dry strokes to remove the stain. It worked, and the end result was a clean carpet. If you knew where the stain was and peered closely at the fibres, you might detect the faint remnants of the ketchup.
Ketchup test: Dirty carpet (left) vs Clean carpet (right) – move slider to compare
This is the kind of stain where having a handheld tool to agitate and get into the mess would really help pick up the last small bits of mess.
I measured the cleaner at a maximum sound of 78.6dB, which is pretty much in line with a standard plug-in upright vacuum cleaner.
Should I buy the Bissell HydroWave?
Competition at this level is fierce, but even so the Bissell HydroWave manages to find itself in a nice niche. Take the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner, which is the most powerful carpet cleaner tested on Trusted Reviews, and comes with handheld accessories for tackling tougher stains. As good as this product is, it’s more expensive than the Bissell HydroWave and weighs a staggering 17.5kg.
Given its small size and lightweight, the HydroWave is a more practical and easy-to-use carpet cleaner. In fact, it’s so easy to use that you can use this product more regularly to keep a carpet looking in its best state. For day-to-day use, the HydroWave sucks up regular dirt and mess with ease, and can tackle tougher stains if you’re prepared to work at them a bit harder. The lack of handheld tools is a bit of a shame, but it’s a worthwhile compromise if you want a lighter, more manoeuvrable carpet cleaner.
Besides, if you need a product for tackling specific stains on carpets and upholstery, you could always buy a dedicated spot cleaner, such as the Vax ONEPWR Spotless Go.