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Carpets and area rugs add warmth and style to our homes. New York-based interior designer John Gachot expresses it best: “[Carpeting] feels luxurious…and, like wood, acts as a base to layer other materials into the room.” Unfortunately, carpet can also attract dirt, grime, and stains from pet accidents and spills.
Prompt action is always best when removing stains from carpet. The sooner a stain is treated, the easier it is to remove. Whatever the culprit, lift away any solid matter first with a dull knife or spoon to prevent rubbing the mess deeper into the carpet fibers. Always blot away liquids as quickly as possible with a white cloth and then treat the stain.
When selecting a carpet stain remover, look for formulas specifically made for the type of stain you are attempting to remove. Spray bottles are convenient for treating small areas, while liquids or powders are better for overall cleaning. Choose a cleaner that has a scent that you find pleasant or opt for an unscented formula.
To help you find the best type of carpet stain remover for your needs, our team of testers tried top cleaners on a wide variety of stains—from pet messes to the ever-dreaded wine spill. They rated each option on the basis of effectiveness, scent, ease of use, and applicator design. You'll want to keep all of these factors—as well as your lifestyle, budget, and cleaning habits—in mind as you select the best carpet stain remover for your home.
Here, the best carpet stain removers available online.
Best Overall: Folex 32 oz. Instant Carpet Spot Remover
No rinsing or scrubbing—works instantly
Can be used on all kinds of materials and surfaces
No harmful chemicals or residue
May cause discoloration on some items
Not ideal for pet accidents
Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping, Bob Vila, and Reader's Digest all picked Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover.
What do buyers say? 87% of 72,500+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Made in the United States, the Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover is a water-based stain remover that tackles grease, oil, red wine, coffee, rust, food, and pet accident stains. Despite being VOC, solvent, dye, fragrance, and petroleum-free, it's a powerhouse formula that can tackle a wide variety of messes. After using it in her condo for a month, our tester found it to be an efficient, easy-to-use option that comes in at a surprisingly affordable price point.
To treat stains, simply spray on Folex, lightly rub it in, wait around 30 seconds, and blot the area with a clean, dry cloth. The product contains alcohols, surfactants, and chelants to draw the stains from the carpet fibers. As with any cleaning product, test it first in a hidden spot to make sure there is no color transfer from the carpet or rug fibers.
Best Budget: Resolve Spot + Stain Carpet Stain Remover
Works on tough dark stains
Kid and pet safe
Easy-to-use spray bottle
Budget-friendly and easy to find online and in stores
Not formulated for pet odors
Not compatible with carpet cleaning appliances
Resolve is one of the leading names in carpet stain removal and offers different formulas in spray, liquid, foam, and powder. As a budget-friendly spot and stain remover, it is a must-have for cleaning messes on carpets and rugs. Our tester gave it high marks for its ease of use and versatility, with a formula that can handle everything from tomato sauce to coffee.
The spray formula penetrates deep into the carpet fibers to break down the stain and the inclusion of oxygen-based bleach in the solution helps keep stains from reappearing. Best for stain removal versus overall cleaning, spray Resolve Triple Oxi on the stained or dirty area, let it work for at least 30 seconds and then blot with a clean cloth. Then, allow the area to dry completely and repeat the steps if necessary.
Best for Pet Stains: The Spruce Stain and Odor Remover in Fresh
Easy to use
Can be used on upholstery
Not suitable for cleaning an entire room of carpeting
Pet stains, especially cat urine, are particularly difficult to remove from carpet. And, if the odor remains, many animals will return to the same spot and mark it again. The Spruce Pet Stain & Odor Remover promises to not only remove the stains but also remove the odor to prevent repeat offenses.
After removing any solid matter and shaking the bottle well, spray the stained area liberally with the cleaner. Let the product work for 10 to 15 minutes and then scrub with a cloth or soft-bristled brush. Finish the cleaning process by wiping the freshly cleaned area with a damp cloth or sponge. This will remove any product residue that might remain and prevent it from attracting soil. Allow the area to air-dry completely.
Best Eco-Friendly: Kids ‘n’ Pets Instant All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover
Safe for use around kids and pets
Never tested on animals
Available in multiple sizes
Can be used on upholstery, laundry, and carpet
May cause color change in non-colorfast fibers
Winner of the Women’s Choice and Parent Tested Parent Approved Awards for best stain and odor remover, Kids ‘N’ Pets not only removes carpet stains and odors, but it is also non-toxic, biodegradable, and cruelty-free. Made in the USA by Scott’s Liquid Gold, it even comes with a guarantee to eliminate both stains and the smelliest odors like pet urine, vomit, and skunk!
Safe to use as a spray-on stain remover or in a carpet cleaning machine, the product can be purchased in a 27.05 fluid ounce spray bottle or a larger gallon size for refills or use in a carpet cleaning machine. Formulated from natural enzymes, solvents, and surfactants, the cleaner requires no rinsing. Simply shake the bottle well, spray on the cleaner to remove stains, let sit for 10 minutes, and blot away. For old stains or odors, completely saturate the area with the formula to penetrate the fibers and allow the carpet to air dry.
Best for Old Stains: Carbona Oxy Powered Carpet Cleaner
Built-in scrubber sponge
Easy to use
Works well in tight spaces
Cannot be used in a steam carpet cleaner
From the same company that offers Stain Devils for laundry, Carbona Oxy Powered Carpet Cleaner knows how to tackle stains. Offered with a built-in scrubbing head that combines a sponge and soft bristles, the application cannot be more simple. There’s no need for a scrubbing brush.
While the product is a liquid, the sponge activates the active foam technology so the solution penetrates the fibers deeply. Allow the solution to sit for three minutes and then blot away the stain and excess cleaning solution. As with most cleaning products, it is best to test the product in a hidden area before using it to clean upholstery or imported rugs. It should not be used on silk, velvet, or non-colorfast fabrics.
Best for Wine Stains: Emergency Stain Rescue Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover
Easy to use
Safe for carpet and washable fabrics
Not suitable for cleaning a large carpet
Cannot be used in a carpet cleaning machine
The Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover bottle may look small but the contents are mighty when it comes to removing red stains from carpet. The formula is super concentrated so a little bit goes a long way. For both fresh and old stains, just spray the area, rub it in with a sponge, wait a few minutes, blot the area with a clean, damp cloth, and allow the carpet to air-dry. No more red!
While formulated for red wine, the stain remover works great on tomato sauce, fruit punch, and lipstick stains. It can be safely used on washable fabrics like tablecloths and blouses and is offered in easy-to-take-along wipes.
Best for Grease Stains: Krud Kutter KK32 Original Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser
Effectively cleans a variety of surfaces
One bottle lasts a long time
Hardly any scent
Requires a bit of scrubbing
Pricier than other similar cleaners
Whether the grease comes from the garage or kitchen, Krud Kutter, the same degreaser you use to clean the kitchen stovetop, works its magic to clean away grease stains on carpet.
Part of the Rust-oleum family of products, the Krud Kutter name can be found on products from hand sanitizers to rust removers to household cleaning products. The degreaser is most effective on oily stains and is safe to use on fabrics, carpets, and hard surfaces. For old grease stains, the water-based formula should be sprayed directly onto the stain, allowed to sit for a few minutes, and then blotted away with a damp cloth.
To safely clean fresh carpet stains, dilute the cleaner (one ounce of Krud Kutter in 10 ounces of water) and pour it into a spray bottle. Label the bottle and keep it on hand to spritz fresh stains and blot away the mess. It works well on any type of food stains on carpet.
Best for Sanitizing: Woolite Advanced Stain & Odor Remover + Sanitize
Kills 99.9% of bacteria on carpet surface
Easy to use
Removes stains and odor
Can not be used on polypropylenes/olefin or wool fibers
Manufactured by Bissell, Woolite Advanced Stain and Odor Remover tackles spills, stains, odors, and allergens and leaves soft surfaces like carpet and upholstery 99.9% free of bacteria. While it does not get rid of every type of bacteria, it does kill 99.9% of Enterobacter aerogenes (ATCC 13408) and Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 6538) (Staph) on carpets.
The product is sprayed directly onto the carpet until it is well dampened. To achieve the benefits of sanitizing, the carpet should remain wet for at least one hour. The area should then be blotted dry with a clean, damp cloth. While safe for most types of carpet, the product should not be used on wool fibers or polypropylenes/olefin carpets.
Best for Machines: Bissell Deep Clean Pro Carpet Shampoo
Removes stains and odors
Safe for use in all upright carpet cleaners
EPA Safer Choice designation
Includes Scotchguard to prevent re-soiling of carpet
Chemical odor can be strong
Using a carpet cleaning machine is more effective and easier when cleaning a large rug or a room of wall-to-wall carpet. Most manufacturers suggest using only a cleaning product formulated for the machine. Bissell Deep Clean Pro Carpet Shampoo works well in a variety of upright carpet cleaners.
To use the product, spot clean visible stains with a small amount of undiluted Bissell shampoo before using the carpet cleaner. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on how much water and cleaner to add to the machine. A general guideline is about 2.5 ounces per gallon of water. The shampoo does not require rinsing after the carpet is cleaned. It is best to keep foot traffic off of the freshly cleaned carpet until it is fully dry.
If you have carpets in your home, then we recommend that you keep a bottle of Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover on hand to take care of life’s big and little messes. Its impressive list of ingredients tackle the toughest stains with no need for scrubbing or rinsing. For a budget-friendly choice, opt for Resolve Triple Oxi Advanced Carpet Stain Remover that makes quick work of food and drink stain removal.
How We Tested
To select the best carpet stain removes for this article, we sent top options to our team of testers to assess on the basis of effectiveness, scent, ease of use, and applicator design. We combined their insights with our writer's and editors' own independent research to bring you this list.
What to Look for in a Carpet Stain Remover
Carpet stain removers are offered in liquid, spray, and powder. Most liquids are designed to be diluted with water for use in upright carpet cleaners. Spray formulas are easy to use and work best for spot cleaning stains or narrow high-traffic areas. Most are sprayed directly onto the carpet and the stained area is scrubbed with a brush before blotting away the dirt. Cleaners in powder form are good for odor removal and brightening large carpets, especially those on hardwood floors. They are sprinkled on dry, brushed in, and allowed to work for several hours before vacuuming away.
When selecting a carpet stain remover, consider the needs of your household—pets, red wine drinkers, greasy foods. Some products contain specialized ingredients like enzymes and degreasers that can better remove specific types of stains. If you have young children who play on the carpet, a sanitizing cleaner and one that is non-toxic are important. Take the time to read the labels to make sure the cleaner can or can not be used in a carpet cleaning machine if you have one.
If someone in your home is sensitive to scents, opt for a cleaner that is unscented or uses natural oils.
What stains are the hardest to remove from carpet?
Why do carpet stains come back?
Carpet stains reappear because they were not thoroughly removed during the first treatment. Carpet fibers are long and dense and the stain seeps down into the lower part of the fibers and wick back to the surface if they are not removed completely. Make sure that the cleaning solution penetrates and saturates the fibers down to the carpet backing while you are cleaning.
Do carpet stain removers also sanitize?
Most carpet stain removers do not kill bacteria and germs but the act of cleaning does dilute and remove some of them. A carpet cleaner that claims to sanitize the surface must reduce the level of germs that could be harmful to your health to meet public health standards. Sanitizing reduces, but does not always kill, the number and growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Mary Marlowe Leverette, a leading housekeeping and laundry expert, and product consultant, researched and wrote this roundup. She has extensive personal and professional experience testing, reviewing, developing, and writing about cleaning products. When choosing picks to include in this list, she considered the affordability and effectiveness of each option, keeping insights from both The Spruce's product reviewers and customers in mind.