The Best Carpet Stain Removers of 2023, Tested by HGTV Editors
These carpet shampoos, sprays and solutions got out the toughest stains and received glowing reviews from our editors.
Our Top Carpet Stain Remover Picks
Between pets and kids, mud and messy eaters, it feels next to impossible to keep the carpet clean. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes we forget to treat a mess as soon as it happens, resulting in a deep-set stain. When you're ready to tackle stubborn stains and spills head-on, using an effective cleaner makes quick and easy work of lifting up dirt, food or any other mystery mark.
Choosing the Best Carpet Stain Remover
Some cleaners are specifically designed to target pet stains, while others work better on deep-set stains. One other thing to consider is whether you need a solution that works in a carpet cleaning machine, can be applied topically as a spot treatment, like a spray, or a cleaner that does both. Most carpet and area rug cleaners are liquids that can be both poured into a machine or applied directly to the stain with a wet rag. If you're just looking for a cleaner that's easy and convenient to use on occasional spots, then a spray is the best way to go. For deeper, heavy-duty cleaning, liquid solutions will be a better choice.
Beyond the aforementioned features, you'll also want to consider non-toxic and eco-friendly claims, whether or not you need odor elimination (necessary, we'd argue, for pet owners), and your preference for either a concentrated or foaming solution. We preferred concentrated solutions during our tests simply because they were less messy and more economical. Concentrated formulas need to be diluted with water, meaning you'll get more bang for your buck, even they cost more upfront. Foaming cleaners get used up more quickly, but may give you a more satisfying clean. Most of the cleaners we tested and liked are non-toxic, eco-friendly and safe to use in a household with kids and/or pets.
Keeping in mind price, reviews and performance, we picked the following stain removers and cleaners as the best buys. Check out our recommendations below, plus see the carpet cleaning machines that our editors own and love.
Designed for use in both machines or as a spot treatment, this deep-cleaning shampoo targets odor and pet stains using bio-enzymatic technology (a combination of "good" bacteria and microbes that break down odors and other bacteria.) Despite what the brand name implies, this isn't a natural product, a downside for us, and it didn't remove old stains, but our tester liked how effective it was at deodorizing and cleaning new stains left by her senior dog. Overall, if combatting unpleasant pet smells and treating fresh stains is your main concern, Nature's Miracle is a good choice.
Our Editor Says: "It did remove the urine stain and deodorized it. I also liked that it was low foaming so I didn't have to worry about soapy residue being left behind. While it didn't have an overpowering smell, I wish it was more eco-friendly."
Although it's pricey for the size and amount, Puracy's concentrated carpet shampoo lasts forever. You really don't need much to get to work on stubborn stains – just one ounce of cleaner per 100 ounces of water. The plant-derived essential oil blend scent is very pleasant and fresh, not at all overpowering. It can be used with or without a machine. (Versatility is always a win in our book.) Our tester loved the nearly foam-less formula, fast-acting stain remover power and the fact that this is completely non-toxic. Overall, we believe this is the best choice for families since it's natural, economical and ready-to-use for either spot treatment or machine cleaning.
Our Editor Says: "This stuff instantly removed a black stain (ash from a candle, perhaps?) from my white carpet that had been there for more than a year, and got out a deep-set stain in my kitchen rug. I was super impressed and loved the scent."
Safe for use around kids and pets, this biodegradable formula contains no dyes, phosphates or heavy metals. Our tester called it "a miracle product" after using it to successfully remove a rug stain more than 17 years old that no other cleaner or commercial steamer could remove. We'd describe the scent as similar to laundry detergent and it was super simple to use – just add to your carpet cleaning machine and go. This concentrated shampoo is pricier than others, but again, because of the effectiveness and longevity of this cleaner, we felt it was absolutely worth the price.
Our Editor Says: "I'm not kidding when I say it was like this just erased the stain with minimal effort in seconds. I texted our entire family because I was so shocked and excited."
If you're looking for a more natural option to use in a steam cleaner, this is our top choice. The plant-based formula is non-toxic, biodegradable and made with renewable energy offsets in the U.S. Because it's concentrated, it lasts longer which cuts down on waste and cost. Grapefruit seed and orange extracts not only give it a pleasant, natural scent but also help clean tough stains. Our tester noted that the scent wasn't strong at all, just a nice refreshing clean smell. We tried it on rugs with typical build-up from daily traffic and a pet. Biokleen worked without having to pre-treat stains or go over it multiple times with the cleaner.
Our Editor Says: "The biodegradable and plant-based nature of the product made me feel better about using it. Also, there was no strong scent; I have a sensitive sniffer. And I feel like, since it was a concentrate, I'd be able to make a 64-ounce bottle go a long way. I even liked the drip-proof cap."
The cheapest of the bunch, this spray cleaner is our new go-to for treating sudden and deep-set stains. A trusted name in the cleaning world, it's really no surprise that OxiClean's stain remover worked so well. While we could do without the strong scent, the deep-cleaning oxygenated formula brightened dingy carpet and got out old, mysterious stains. We had the best results by following the instructions to let the solution sit for 10 minutes and apply again if needed. Although this isn't all-natural, we were really impressed with the effectiveness of this product and the convenience of quickly treating a stain without the hassle of using a machine.
Our Editor Says: "I had to apply a second time, as instructed, for the second set of 'mystery stains' in my daughter's room. Most parents likely will agree that 'mystery stains' often are discovered WAAAAY after the mess is made. You can't treat these stains promptly, as the product label suggests, for best results. But these stains, too, were removed after a second treatment and some light scrubbing with a colorfast rag."