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Bissell HydroWave review: A feature-packed carpet cleaner that’s easy to use

Our Rating :
£249.00 from
Price when reviewed : £250
inc VAT

The Bissell HydroWave packs up small for storage and provides options for deep and express cleaning


  • Easy to store
  • Two cleaning modes
  • Leaves carpets cleaner and fresher


  • Expensive
  • Similar clean to cheaper models

Carpet cleaners are useful devices to have around the home for sprucing up your carpets and giving them the thorough clean they crave. You don’t need to use them every week, though, which can make storage a bit of a problem.

The Bissell HydroWave tackles this head-on. Its retractable handle reduces its height from 1,100mm to 850mm, so it should fit into an under-stair cupboard where taller uprights might struggle to fit.

Bissell HydroWave review: What do you get for the money?

At £250, the Bissell HydroWave is £90 more expensive than the £160 Bissell PowerClean, despite appearing, on the surface at least, to be a very similar product. Both are upright carpet cleaners, with twin water tanks for holding clean and dirty water, and a motorised, rotating brush in the floor head. When it comes to the crunch, they both do the same thing: deposit a mixture of water and cleaning solution onto your carpet, work it into the pile with the brush, then suck the dirty water back out again.

However, the HydroWave comes with a raft of extra features. The roller brush in the floor head of the HydroWave has more rows of bristles than the PowerClean. The HydroWave also comes with two cleaning modes: Express Clean and Deep Clean. The Express Clean uses less water, so your carpet should be dry in about 30 minutes. And it has a third mode called CleanShot, which squirts a spray of cleaning solution out of a nozzle at the front of the cleaner, for giving stubborn-looking stains a bit of a pre-wash.

The HydroWave’s design is also superior in several ways. Both its water tanks can be easily removed with one hand, without having to fiddle around with clasps. The three buttons on the handle that select the cleaning modes are also used to switch the device on or off, so everything is convenient to operate directly from the handle. Lastly, at the press of a button, the handle can be dropped down into the main unit for more compact storage.

In the box you also get a generous 750ml of Bissell Wash & Protect Pro Stain & Odour cleaning solution, a small measuring jug to make it simpler to pour the correct amount, and a large plastic moulded base for the cleaner to sit on. The base has two functions and, while its most obvious use is simply to catch drips as the machine dries out, it can also be filled with clean water and used to rinse out the machine when it’s finished.

Once you’ve got through that, replacement cleaning fluid costs £20 for 1.5l direct from Bissell, although at the time of writing you could get three bottles for the price of two.

By using the Express Clean option, I found that the amount of water and cleaning fluid (mixed in at a 50:1 ratio) was dramatically reduced compared to cleaning an identically-sized area with the Bissell PowerClean. By my calculations, based on how much I used during testing, this cleaner should cost you less than 5p per square metre in cleaning fluid for light use, which is very reasonable.

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Bissell HydroWave review: What’s it like to use?

The refined design and build quality of the Bissell HydroWave make it simple to set up and use. Filling the clean water tank is straightforward and removing and rinsing the dirty tank after a clean is also easy.

During cleaning, the two main Clean functions work as you’d expect, although it’s worth noting that after using the Deep Clean setting, our test carpet was still damp to touch 24 hours after. After cleaning with the express Clean option, however, it was reasonably dry within 30 minutes of running the clean, and fully dry within a couple of hours.

Having all the controls up at the handle makes operation simple, and the device is reasonably manoeuvrable, even when it’s fully loaded with water.

Bissell HydroWave review: How well does it clean?

I used the Express Clean function to clean and freshen up a section of well-used rug, which receives a lot of foot traffic in my household. I also used the Deep Clean function to work on stains on a light-coloured carpet that had measured quantities of coffee, blackcurrant squash and mud spilt on it, which had been left for 24 hours to dry.

The HydroWave left the rug looking and smelling fresher than before. Because I used the Express Clean mode, it wasn’t swamped with liquid and it was dry within a couple of hours. It didn’t appear to clean noticeably better than the Bissell PowerClean in terms of the finished result, but it used significantly less water in the process, making it more efficient.

More water was laid down during the stain cleaning process. This removed the blackcurrant squash and the mud, but although it lightened the black coffee stain, a visible mark remained. This result was similar to the cheaper PowerClean, although the HydroWave left the carpet feeling wetter for a lot longer.

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Bissell HydroWave review: Should I buy it?

The Bissell HydroWave is a mid-priced carpet cleaner that doesn’t clean any better than cheaper models but beefs out the value with features and extras. Its ease of use, ability to compress into a smaller space for storage and the rinsing base is about right for an extra £80 over the price of the Bissell PowerClean but you can save the money if you’re more interested in the finished result rather than how you get there.

It’s also worth considering the Vax Platinum SmartWash, which is another £50 more expensive. It has two rotating brushes, which agitate carpet even more for a deeper clean, and it has handheld accessories you can use on things like stains and upholstery.

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