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Published Sep. 30, 2021

Whether your new puppy has an accident, your toddler spills a bowl of spaghetti, or your aunt upends a glass of red wine, the occasional carpet stain is inevitable. While there are plenty of DIY recipes for removing them, the simplest solution is keeping a high-quality stain remover in your cleaning arsenal. 

With so many carpet stain removers on the market, choosing one can be overwhelming. We’ll break down what to look for when shopping for the best carpet cleaner for your home and discuss the key features to keep in mind as you consider your purchase. Keep reading for tips on choosing the best carpet cleaner, and then explore our picks for the best options on the market. 

How We Picked the Best Carpet Cleaners

Methodology

While it’s easy to assume that all carpet stain removers offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Years of experience covering the home goods and cleaning supplies market as well as extensive product research went into this curated selection. We reviewed more than 20 products and weighed a number of practical considerations when making our recommendations. 

Stain-Removing Ability: The primary consideration when choosing a carpet cleaner is how effective it is. We relied on customer reviews and ratings to establish how well a product was able to remove various types of stains. 

Formulation: Carpet cleaners typically have one of three types of formulation: water-based, solvent-based, and enzyme-based. 

  • Water-based cleaners have a high pH level and use their acidity to break down dirt particles. Most natural and eco-friendly cleansers are water-based. 
  • Solvent-based cleaners include powerful chemicals that dissolve stains. While they’re typically very effective, they do contain harsh ingredients that could potentially damage certain fabrics. 
  • Enzyme-based cleaners actually digest the molecules that make up a stain. They’re best for organic matter like pet stains. 

Since each type of cleanser has its own benefits, we included all three styles of formulation in our recommendations.  

Ease of Use: It’s essential that a carpet cleaner is easy to use and gives results quickly. For that reason, we focused on liquid formulas in our recommendations rather than powders, which can leave a mess behind. While some formulas required lots of time to absorb the stain, we prioritized products that were fast-acting and only had to sit for a few minutes at most.

The Best Carpet Cleaner: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: FOLEX Instant Carpet Spot Remover

Instant Action

This fast-acting spot remover is free of harsh chemicals and comes in a 32-ounce spray bottle. FOLEX

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Why It Made The Cut: FOLEX’s carpet cleaner works in seconds, removing all manner of household stains from carpets, rugs, and upholstery. 

Specs: 

  • Type: Water-based
  • Application: Premixed spray
  • Quantity: 32 ounces

Pros:

  • No rinsing required
  • Safe for pets and children
  • Can be used on furniture and upholstery

Cons:

  • Slightly higher price point

FOLEX’s Instant Carpet Spot Remover performs exactly as advertised, removing stains in seconds without any waiting, blotting, or rinsing. This product is designed to tackle all of the most common household stains, including pet accidents, grease, oil, ink, red wine, coffee, blood, rust, food, and cosmetics as well as everyday dirt and grime. The fast-acting formula is water-based and is free of artificial fragrances, solvents, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or petroleum. The formula’s make-up ensures it’s safe to use around pets and children if users follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

It comes in a standard 32-ounce spray bottle and is premixed for added convenience, so there’s no need to dilute it with water. Devotees of this cleaning product can also buy multi-packs at a discount to make the purchase more economical.

Best Value: Resolve Professional Strength Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner

Affordable and Effective

Resolve’s fast-acting performance and affordable price make this spray an excellent value pick. Resolve

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Why It Made The Cut: Resolve’s Professional Strength Spot and Stain Remover for carpets works quickly, neutralizes odors and can remove a wide variety of stains. 

Specs: 

  • Type: Solvent-based 
  • Application: Premixed spray bottle
  • Quantity: 32 ounces

Pros:

  • Incredibly effective stain removal
  • Low price point
  • Neutralizes odors

Cons:

  • Should be kept away from pets and young children

Resolve’s cleaning products have a reputation for getting the job done, and their professional-strength spot and stain remover for carpets and rugs is no exception. Not only does Resolve effectively remove all manner of stains—including oil, make-up, red wine, coffee, cola, tomato sauce, and more—but it also neutralizes odors, making it a great choice for pet owners. 

To use, apply Resolve Carpet Cleaner to the affected area and wait three minutes for it to set. Then blot the remaining product with a colorfast cloth or towel. One downside is that the chemicals in this solvent-based cleanser may prove irritating to some, and it should be kept away from pets and young children. While Resolve can remove stains that have already set, it works best on fresh stains.

Best for Pet Owners: Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator

Excellent and Enzyme-Based

This 32-ounce spray bottle of enzyme-based cleaner is specifically formulated to remove pet-based stains from nearly any type of fabric. Rocco & Roxie Supply Co.

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Why It Made The Cut: Pet owners swear by Rocco & Roxie’s formula because it works well on all manner of pet messes but is safe to use around pets and children. 

Specs: 

  • Type: Enzyme-based 
  • Application: Premixed spray bottle
  • Quantity: 32 ounces

Pros:

  • Removes stains and odors
  • Effective on all fabric types
  • Approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)

Cons:

  • Has to sit for 5 to 10 minutes

Pet owners are no strangers to messes, so they need a product that specifically targets the organic matter left behind by cats and dogs. This cleaning product from Rocco & Roxie has a wide range of applications and is incredibly effective at lifting stains and removing odors. 

Not only does this product work well on rugs and carpets as well as hardwood floors, tile, and concrete, but it’s also safe to use on most fabric surfaces—in fact, it can even be used on clothing. 

One downside is that the formulation—like all enzyme-based cleaners—requires five to ten minutes to work. After it sits, simply blot the excess liquid with a cloth and allow the fabric to dry naturally. 

It comes in a 32-ounce premixed spray bottle, although there’s also a 1-gallon jug available that’s more economical.

Best Eco-Friendly: Biokleen Bac-Out Stain Remover

Natural Wonder

This all-natural stain remover is eco-friendly and works on a wide variety of fabrics. Biokleen

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Why It Made The Cut: The Biokleen Bac-Out Stain Remover is made with all-natural ingredients, wasn’t tested on animals, and has a completely biodegradable formula. 

Specs: 

  • Type: Enzyme-based 
  • Application: Spray bottle
  • Quantity: 32 ounces

Pros:

  • No rinsing required
  • Not tested on animals
  • Biodegradable ingredients

Cons:

  • Must sit for 5 minutes

Biokleen’s Bac-Out Stain Remover works on carpets, furniture, and even clothing to effectively remove stains without any harsh chemicals. The enzyme-based formula works well on all organic material, from food and wine stains to pet messes and more. It’s made with natural ingredients and is unscented, so it won’t act as an irritant to those with allergies. It’s free of ammonia, chlorine, artificial fragrances, phosphates, and brighteners. In addition to being safe for all the members of your family, the formula is also entirely biodegradable and was not tested on animals. 

It comes in a 32-ounce spray bottle and is also available in a two-pack.

Best for Wine Stains: Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover

Works Wonders on Wine

Remove even the toughest wine stains with this powerful solvent-based carpet cleaner. Wine Away

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Why It Made The Cut: Wine Away removes both fresh and deep-set wine stains with ease. 

Specs: 

  • Type: Solvent-based
  • Application: Premixed spray bottle
  • Quantity: 12 ounces

Pros:

  • Compatible with several types of soft surface
  • Works in as little as 1 minute
  • Free of bleach

Cons:

  • Small bottle

Unwinding with a glass of wine at the end of a long day can be relaxing—until you spill it all over your couch or rug. Whether you’re dealing with a Cabernet or a Pinot Noir, red wine stains can feel nearly impossible to remove. That’s where Wine Away comes in. This specially formulated cleaner expertly lifts wine stains along with ink, blood, sauces, and more. 

It can be used on carpets, clothing, and upholstery, and works just as well on any soft surface. Wine Away works best if it’s allowed to sit for between 1 and 5 minutes before you blot up the residue with a damp cloth. One downside is that the bottle is considerably smaller than many other carpet cleaners at just 12 ounces.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Carpet Cleaner

Keep the following in mind as you shop for the best carpet cleaner for your home:

Stain Type

Before you choose a carpet cleaner, it’s important to consider what type of stains you’re most likely to incur. While there are many cleaners on the market that are intended for general use, there are also products that are specifically formulated to deal with the odors of pet messes as well as cleaners that are designed exclusively to tackle red wine stains.  

Also consider the surfaces you intend to clean. While some products should be used only on rugs and carpet, others are designed to be used on furniture and upholstery as well. Others still can even be effective on hard surfaces like tile or wood floors.

Natural vs. Chemical

One of the primary decisions you’ll have to make when shopping for a carpet cleaner is whether you want a natural or chemical formulation. Natural formulas are safe to use in households with pets and young children, but they may not be quite as effective as their chemical counterparts. 

Consider too if you want the product to be scented or unscented. Those who are sensitive to artificial fragrances would be best choosing an unscented cleaner, while scented products work well for covering up the odors associated with pet stains.

Premixed vs. Concentrate

Carpet cleaners generally come in a liquid form and are available in either a premixed or concentrated formula. Concentrated cleansers must be diluted with water before use. They tend to be more economical, but do require more work on the user’s part. The vast majority of carpet cleaners come in a premixed bottle that can be used right away without any measuring or mixing. They’re the most convenient, although they may be pricier in the long run.

FAQs

Q: Which stains can’t be removed from a carpet?

Some stains are trickier to remove than others. Red wine, chocolate, and grease are all known for being extremely difficult to remove, but it can be done with the right cleaning products. There are, however, some substances that will permanently damage your rug, such as bleach. 

Q: Do I need a carpet cleaning device?

While carpet stain removers are great for spot cleaning, they’re not designed to be used on an entire rug or carpet. Portable carpet cleaners like the Bissell 3624 Spot Clean Professional use water and a specially formulated cleaning solution to refresh your entire rug without hiring a professional.

Q: How do you get stains out of a high-pile rug?

If you have a thick shag-style rug or carpet, removing stains can feel impossible. Luckily, all you need to make them look brand new is your favorite cleaning spray and an old toothbrush. Saturate the affected area with the product and then work it into the carpet’s fibers using the toothbrush. Repeat the process with clean water to remove the product.

Final Thoughts on the Best Carpet Cleaner

After reviewing our guide, you should feel well-informed when shopping for carpet cleaning products for your home. These recommendations for the best carpet stain removers cover a variety of types and styles to best suit your needs. The FOLEX Instant Carpet Spot Remover is our top pick because of its gentle, water-based formula, high performance, and easy spray application. Our recommended choice for those on a budget is the 32-ounce  bottle of Resolve Professional Strength Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner.

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