There’s nothing like a soft carpet and a comfortable couch to make your home feel welcoming and relaxing—that is, until you dump an entire cup of coffee into the sofa cushion, right where you wanted to sit down. Or you discover that the dog, while standing right next to your bed on your new, expensive carpet, which hasn’t even showed up yet in your credit bill, suddenly decided to forego the whole housebreaking thing. Those are the times when you wish you had decorated in an Early Flintstone motif.

The thing to really wish for is a carpet and upholstery cleaner, because such machines can make that couch and carpet look like new again. Modern carpet and upholstery cleaners are highly efficient and affordable. There are three basic types to choose from, each with distinct applications:

For Rugs and Upholstery Around the House

This model has a triggerless design, switching automatically between cleaning and extracting. Hoover

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If you have a lot of carpet in your house that needs cleaning, invest in a machine that’s designed for big jobs. These use brushes to ensure a deep clean with a cleaning solution, which is then extracted by the machine. The area is rinsed, and the moisture extracted again. The best cleaners with between brushing and suctioning automatically, so you don’t have to move levers or switches every time you switch modes. A heating element helps speed up the drying time, so the room won’t be out of commission for very long. Whole house cleaners also come with a hose and separate attachments so you can use the same machine to clean upholstery and hard-to-reach areas.

Good for Dog and Cat Owners

This choice weighs less than 13 pounds and is designed for easy storage. Hoover

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If you have a pet or young child, or live with a spill-prone adult, and need to deep-clean areas of carpet rather than entire rooms, this is the machine for you. Upright area carpet cleaners have one big advantage—they’re lightweight, easy to use, and easy to carry to any room that has a carpet stain. That’s important, because carpet and upholstery cleaners have onboard reservoirs for detergent and rinse water, which add weight. Upright area carpet cleaners are also perfect for shampooing sections of carpets in high-traffic areas, such as foyers and other entryways.

Easy to Bring With You

A removable water tank makes this easy to fill and empty. It also comes with a trial-size container of its spot remover for set-in stains. Bissell

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If you have occasional rather than frequent carpet stains, or if you simply want a machine to clean upholstery without spending more on (and devoting more storage space to) to an upright cleaner, a portable carpet cleaner is the machine for you. You carry a portable cleaner from spot to spot (literally) and can store the machine on a closet shelf when not in use. Portable cleaners are ideal for using on carpeted stairs and on vehicle seats.