Hardwood may have made a huge comeback in recent years, but I'm still a fan of the well-placed rug. It's homey, fluffy, and cozy — at least, until it gets dirty. Luckily, the best stain removers for carpet can keep your rug looking like new long-term.
It's true that rugs require a bit more TLC (including vacuums that are designed for carpets), but specialized cleaning products have come a long way in terms of breaking down odors and stains. When shopping for an effective carpet cleaning solution, consider two major factors: the ingredients, and the types of stains you typically encounter.
If you have kids, pets, or allergies, opt for a natural stain remover. They're usually gentle on lungs, and they won't produce an overwhelming chemical smell. If you're not sensitive to synthetic cleansers, a more powerful option will effortlessly tackle both old and new stains — and nowadays, even the strongest products are largely non-toxic.
Next, think back over the past year or so: Which substances were the most common rug-soiling culprits? If it was bodily fluids from your pet, an enzyme-powered cleanser is probably the way to go. For general dirt and discoloration, opt for a powder or other full-carpet solution, and for wine, ink, and spills, invest in a great spot cleaner.
For all the aforementioned mishaps and more, these carpet stain removers, below, are the best the internet has to offer.
1. The Overall Best Stain Remover For Carpets
The reviews for the Spot Shot professional instant stain remover are absolutely glowing. Buyers call it a "miracle product" and "one of the best house-cleaning products" they've ever found because it removes stains right away, no matter how dark or how old.
Pros: According to reviewers, this spray has successfully worked on wine, pet urine, soda, mud, juice, blood, coffee, vomit, grease — you name it. People say the stains "evaporate almost immediately," but if you let it sit for a few minutes, it's even more effective. The non-aerosol packaging is biodegradable and recyclable, and at $11 for a 32-ounce bottle, this option is also surprisingly affordable.
Cons: Some buyers aren't thrilled with the smell.
Bottle Size: 32 ounces
2. Best Natural Stain Remover
Most stain removers are packed with some pretty nasty stuff, which isn't great news for sensitive noses and those who suffer from allergies. Puracy's natural carpet cleaner, on the other hand, uses only plant-derived ingredients. The best news? According to reviewers, "it works as well as, if not better than," chemical-laden alternatives.
Pros: This natural carpet cleaner is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and cruelty-free. It can be used to spot-clean stains or in a carpet-cleaning machine for all-over shampooing. It's also made without sulfates, bleach, dyes, or perfumes.
Cons: Especially when diluted and used in a machine, some reviewers say the foam and suds make a mess. Be prepared to rinse this option with lots of water.
Bottle Size: 24 ounces
3. Best For Pet Stains & Odors
If you have pets, Rocco & Roxie's stain remover is the absolute best spray on the market — take it from someone who got a new cat and a new recliner in the same week. This number-one best-selling pick breaks down both stains and odors on virtually all surfaces, including carpets and throw rugs. "It's a miracle. Buy it," reviewers say.
Pros: Because it uses natural enzymes to break down stains, this pick is animal- and child-friendly — but it's also one of the only options that'll completely eliminate odors so your pet cannot smell them. (This prevents repeated accidents, because if an animal smells their own scent, they'll be more likely to re-mark their territory.) It works especially well on urine, feces, vomit, and any other bodily substances your furry friend might produce.
Cons: The two most common complaints about this pick are the perfume-like smell and the price.
Bottle Size: 32 ounces
4. Best For Larger Stains Or General Discoloration
Spot treating a rug full of stains is both frustrating and a waste of your time. Capture Carpet's dry cleaner is an absorbent, deep-cleaning powder that you sprinkle all over your rug before vacuuming. It'll break down dirt and odors as well as discourage the growth of germs, allergens, and mold.
Pros: This pick is especially effective for soil stains or older rugs with all-over discoloration. It's also a great option for those who suffer from allergies because it'll break up mold, dander, and dust mites so the vacuum can thoroughly remove them.
Cons: The process requires sprinkling, brushing, waiting, and vacuuming, so it's not the best option if you're trying to remove stains in a pinch. It's also better suited for lighter stains like dirt, rather than darker ones like wine.
Tub Size: 4 pounds
5. Also Great: A Minimal-Effort Stain Remover
Not everyone has the time or patience to scrub away at every single stain. Especially if you have kids or pets, Bissell's Stomp 'N Go lifting pads are an absolute "life saver," according to reviewers. They're made with stain-destroying and odor-neutralizing compounds that work away at the stain over the course of a few hours — no elbow-grease required. Just put the pad down, step on it, and go about your day.
Pros: These pads are as minimal-effort as it gets. They're especially great for pet stains and odors, but they also work on food, mud, wine, juice, coffee, and blood. You can safely use them on almost any type of fabric, including carpet, upholstery, pet beds, and car interiors.
Cons: They're pretty small, so you'll have to use multiple if the stain is particularly large.
Pad Size: 4 by 8.25 inches
6. Also Great: A Portable, Use-Anywhere Stain Remover
My friends jokingly refer to me as "Mary Poppins" because my bag is always loaded with emergency essentials. This Chateau Spill stain remover is one of said essentials, and after saving many a bridesmaids dress, they're not laughing at me anymore. Despite the name, this pick works on all types of stains, including those that have set into carpets. (I can confirm this; there was a grease spill on the entryway rug last week.) Thanks to its portable, compact size, it stores easily and travels anywhere.
Pros: This pick is non-toxic and travel-friendly. It removes fresh or set-in stains without damaging ingredients, and it's especially effective on dark-colored liquids, like red wine, juice, makeup, and ink.
Cons: For such a small bottle, it's relatively expensive. That said, you're paying for portability and effectiveness, so reviewers say it's "worth the cost."
Bottle Size: 4 ounces
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