Carpet stain removers: Carpet cleaning products versus washing-up liquid

Hand blotting a spill on carpet

For best results blot the stain and rinse afterwards

It makes good sense to have an effective carpet stain remover in your home for dealing with those annoying spills. 

However, if you don’t have a stain remover to hand when you spill something, would a home remedy be any good? We decided to put salt, white wine on red wine, soapy water and tepid water through our tough carpet stain-removal tests.

Our lab tests revealed that diluted washing-up liquid is the best home remedy - and in some instances, it's even better than chemical carpet stain removers. Read on to find out how home remedies did in our tough tests.

If you simply want to know which are the most effective carpet stain removers to have in your home to deal with annoying spills, go straight to our Best Buy carpet stain removers.

Best home remedy for red wine stains

We asked more than 1,200 Which? members in January 2014 if they had ever tried out a home remedy, and nearly half (47%) said yes. 

The most popular remedies were salt on red wine (27%) and white wine on red wine (22%), so we tested these in our lab. Both proved useless at removing red wine stains - salty granules got stuck in the carpet pile, and the white wine left a pungent smell. 

Soapy water was better at removing red wine than white wine or salt. Use no more than one squirt of washing-up liquid per two litres of water, as any more can leave dark spots on your carpet if it’s not rinsed out properly.

Better than some carpet stain removers 

Soapy water beat many of the lower-scoring removers on fresh and dried-in curry stains and was the best in our test on mud. 

To find out which home remedies and products are the best on specific stains, see our carpet cleaning tips.

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