(WSYR-TV) — Whether it’s dirt brought in on muddy paws and shoes or coffee and red wine spills, our carpets take a beating over time. And if it has been awhile since you last cleaned a high-traffic area in your home, a quick vacuuming probably won’t cut it. As Consumer Reports explains, a good carpet cleaner can help bring new life back to an old rug.

CR’s test is tough, just like the wear and tear on your carpets at home. Testers replicate heavy foot traffic by spreading a measured amount of red clay on light-colored carpeting, then spraying it with water. The clay is embedded into the carpet with a 40-pound iron roller and left to dry overnight.

The testers make eight cleaning passes over the carpet, then eight passes to suck the solution out. So which carpet cleaners are worthy enough to work on your carpet?

The Hoover PowerDash Pet FH50700 for about a $100 is a CR Best Buy. It does a very good job of pulling moisture out of the carpet after cleaning, so there’s less drying time.

What if you have area rugs and want to do some spot-cleaning, including fabric upholstery?

CR tested two portable cleaners made by Bissel—the Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner for $110 and the Little Green ProHeat Portable Carpet Cleaner for $120, a similar machine that includes a tool for stairs. The machines were compared with two Resolve fabric-cleaning sprays.

The Resolve Stain Remover Carpet Cleaner for $7 and Resolve Upholstery & Multi-Fabric for $5 spot-cleaned stains on chairs, carpeting, and car upholstery. The machines also went up against the sprays on carpet samples with eight tough stains.

In the end, both Bissell models did a better job than the Resolve sprays. And keep in mind that in many cases a cleaned spot will stand out if you don’t clean the entire area, and these machines made it easier to do that.

So if your heart is set on having carpeting, then one of these helpers might become your new best friend. 

Also, carpet cleaner manufacturers typically suggest that you vacuum up loose debris before using a carpet cleaner. That way you’re not wetting down a carpet with excess dirt, creating a bigger mess.