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Updated: 6 Jun 2022

Best carpet stain removers

The best carpet stain removers can be relied on to remove curry and red wine every time. Have a perfect looking carpet with our top-rated carpet stain removers
Joey Willoughby-Rainsford

Carpet stain removers can be a lifesaver. We've all been there, that moment when time slows as the glass of red wine tumbles, and splashes onto your light carpet.

See how well-known carpet cleaner brands such as Dyson, Vax, Vanish and Dr. Beckmann compared when we tested them in January 2021. We also tested how the carpet stain removers you can buy fared against home remedies for getting rid of carpets stains, including hydrogen peroxide, bicarbonate of soda and Fairy Liquid.

Pricing and availability last checked: 6 June 2022.


Wanting a machine instead of a spray? Check out our guide on the best carpet cleaners.


The best carpet stain removers from our test

To put these stain removers to the test we dirtied carpet tiles with red wine and curry. We cleaned one lot of stains within the first five minutes and the other lot we allowed to dry on for 10 hours before tackling.

Best Buy: Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner

Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner

Cheapest price: £4.50 available at Wilko, also available at Morrisons.

Our verdict: Although this is aimed at cleaning carpets and upholstery in cars, we included it in our test as it comes up high in search when you're shopping online for carpet stain removers. We're glad we did, as it came out on top.

We found its built-in brush makes it easy to dig into the carpet and get to the deepest part of the stain. The shape of the spray and the brush's positioning made this far more functional than the other carpet cleaner with a built-in brush we tested, from Dr. Beckmann. 

We were concerned about the brush's sharp bristles on our carpet tile but they were fine during our test. 

Both sets of dried on stains (curry and red wine) came away after the first attempt. Fresh stains took two attempts to get rid of, but none of the other products we tested could beat that.  

Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Fast and effective, practical design makes it easy to use

Cons: Take care with the brush's sharp bristles on more sensitive carpets.

Size: 400ml

Preparation and usage: Shake and spray onto the carpet. Allow foam to penetrate for 30 seconds and work into the fabric with brush cap in a circular motion. 

Use a damp cloth to remove excess. Wipe the area with a dry cloth and allow to dry. Vacuum treated area.

Key features: Comes with a built-in brush, it's a foam applied by an aerosol

Best Buy: OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner

Cheapest price: £3.80 available at Wilko, also available at Amazon, Robert Dyas.

Our verdict: OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner is easy to use and very effective. 

The spray has two settings to allow for a wider or more controlled burst of stain remover, making application easier to both larger and smaller blotches. 

Although the spray does foam up (more so on the wide setting) it's not as powerful as the Simoniz, so you will need a bit more elbow grease to work this into the carpet. 

Its lavender scent worked wonders getting rid of the smells of the stains. However, when it first mixed with the curry stain, the mixture of odours was a little overpowering.

Like the Simoniz, the OzKleen carpet power cleaner removed the fresh stains within two attempts and the dried red wine within one attempt. However, it did take two cleans to completely remove the dried curry stain. 

OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Extremely effective against red wine, adjustable spray settings

Cons: Lavender scent plus curry smell was somewhat odorous combination

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage: Spray Carpet Power directly onto stain and gently work from outer stain to centre with a clean damp cloth or sponge. Leave for up to five minutes. 

Thoroughly rinse excess product from the stain by gently pressing with a damp cloth, aided by small amounts of water. 

Leave to dry. Vacuum if needed.

Key features: Spray has a safety lock, two different spray settings, lavender fragrance, it's a liquid carpet stain remover  

How the rest of the carpet stain removers fared

Here's our verdict on the other carpet stain removers we tested, listed alphabetically.

Dr. Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover

Cheapest price: £2.75 available at ASDA, Tesco (out of stock), also available at Sainsbury's, Wilko.

Our verdict: Like the Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner, this has a built-in brush. To use this one though, you have to pierce a hole in the safety cap beneath the brush and then a bit of the solution dribbles out as you scrub the brush across the carpet. 

We found this design made it very difficult to control the amount of cleaning solution being applied to the stain. We also found the bottle somewhat unwieldy. 

Dr. Beckmann was middling when it came to successfully removing the stains. It tackled both red wine and curry stains eventually, but it needed a few more tries than our Best Buys. It did better on dried than fresh red wine stains but was the other way round for the curry stains.

Dr. Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Effective on dried red wine stains

Cons: Design makes it hard to control the amount of solution being used

Size: 650ml

Preparation and usage: Before first use, unscrew the brush head, pierce a small hole in the seal about 2mm in diameter (do not remove the seal to prevent over-saturating the carpet). 

Screw the brush head on again, taking care not to overtighten. Remove loose dirt and blot up any spills. 

Shake the bottle and gently squeeze to moisten the brush. Apply by holding the bottle so the brush is flat against the stain, then work the formula lightly into the stain. Do not soak the stain; let the foam do the work. 

Leave for three minutes, then remove all residue with a damp, white cloth. Repeat if necessary. Rinse the brush cap after every use.

Key features: Comes with built-in brush, it's a liquid carpet stain remover

Dyson Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder

Dyson Zorb carpet cleaning powder

Cheapest price: £9.99 available at Currys, also available at Amazon, Dyson.

This is billed as a carpet maintenance powder rather than a carpet stain remover, but we included it in our test as it's been reviewed a lot online for dealing with stains.

Our verdict: Was able to get rid of the dried wine stain within two tries but failed to remove the fresh red wine stain within the four attempts we tested. It took four applications of the product to remove the fresh curry stain, but the dried-on stain was still there after the fourth attempt. 

Once the powder is poured into the area and worked into the carpet you have to leave it for 30 minutes. If you have children or pets you'll need to cordon off the area to prevent the spread of the Zorb granules. Like sand, the tiny sponges can end up all over your house if you don't do this.

Dyson Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Doesn't leave a slow drying wet patch on your carpet

Cons: 30 minute wait time can be inconvenient,  using it on damp stain means the powder is damp when you vacuum it up which makes a bit of a mess in your vacuum cleaner. 

Size: 750g

Preparation and usage: Work the dry powder into your carpet, wait 30 minutes, then vacuum it away.

Key features: Powder made of millions of tiny sponges

HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner

HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner

Cheapest price: £6 available at Amazon, Homebase.

Our verdict: The HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner did really well against both red wine stains and the fresh curry stain. But it struggled with the dried curry stain, and took four attempts to clear. 

The spray felt a bit weaker than others we tested and dribbled a bit. This meant it felt like we had to apply more sprays. But it had the widest spray of those we tested. 

HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Spray makes it easier to tackle large stains

Cons: Needs a lot of elbow grease to work

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage Spray the surface to be cleaned. Wipe up the dirt with a clean cloth or kitchen paper and rub dry. 

On synthetic carpets and upholstery, brush in with a small soft brush, then remove the dirt and dry with a cloth or kitchen paper

Key features Spray safety lock included, this is a liquid solution

Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover

Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover

Cheapest price: £4.98 available at Homebase, also available at The Range.

Our verdict: The Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover proved to be an all-round good stain remover in our tests. After its first use, the oxygen boosted spray removed most of both of our stains, leaving a very faded patch. A few more cleans completely removed both stains. 

We found there was not much scrubbing needed when using this product as the solution seemed to do most of the work. 

Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Not much scrubbing needed

Cons: Needed a few attempts to fully remove the stains

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage: Shake bottle well and turn the nozzle to ON position. 

Remove any solids or excess liquids with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel. 

Generously spray evenly over the affected area and let stand for three to five minutes maximum. Do not overwet the area. 

Blot away stain gently with a clean, damp, colour safe sponge or cloth. 

Key features: Has a spray safety lock, is an oxygen boosted spray, it's a liquid solution

Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray 

Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray

Cheapest price: £6 available at Amazon, Morrisons, also available at Sainsbury's, Ocado.

Our verdict: Vanish Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray really struggled with both the fresh red wine and the dried curry stains. Though, it did well on the dried red wine and the wet curry stain. 

The design of the bottle made this one of the most comfortable carpet stain removers we tested to grip. The grooved design allowed space for fingers to fit snugly. 

The Vanish stain remover had an impressive foaming spray that hit a large surface area. But the foam required more elbow grease to press it into the carpet and attack the stain. 

Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Comfortable to hold and use

Cons: Needs a lot of elbow grease

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage: Remove dirt, spray (for a max  of five minutes), blot

Key features: Has a spray safety lock, this is a foaming spray.

Vax Spot and Stain Solution

Vax Spot and Stain Solution

Cheapest price: £4 available at Sainsbury's, also available at Amazon.

Our verdict: The first few attempts at cleaning up the fresh red wine stain seemed to have little effect. However, by the time the fourth attempt had dried, the stain was no longer visible. But the Vax spray got rid of the dried red wine stain first time. 

This spray was more effective against the fresh curry stain than the dried one.

It needed quite a bit of elbow grease to get it to foam up once applied and with all the stain samples it took a considerable time to fully dry afterwards.

Vax Spot and Stain Solution stains before and after

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros: Wide spray, useful for big stains (but not so much for small stains)

Cons: Needed elbow grease and took a long tie to dry

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage: Blot away any excess liquid. Spray the solution directly onto the stain and leave to work for a few minutes. With a dry microfibre cloth work the solution from the outside edge inwards. Leave to dry. Repeat if necessary.

Key features: Spray safety lock, floral infusion scent, liquid solution

Best carpet stain remover home remedies

Wondering how to remove stains from the carpet when you don't have a bottle of any of those we tested handy? 

As well as testing carpet stain removers you can buy in a bottle or can, we also subjected popular home remedies you might find when you search online for 'best carpet stain removers' to the same strict tests. 

Here's how they did:

Washing-up liquid and water

Fairy Platinum Quick Wash

We used Fairy Platinum Quick Wash washing-up liquid and warm tap water. One squirt of soap (about a teaspoon) in 100ml of warm water.

Our verdict: This worked every time and was the best of the home remedies we tested. Although it needed a lot of elbow grease, it outdid many of the products on test too. 

The soap smell was much nicer than the fragrance of the commercial products. It also dried the quickest (but still took more than 12 hours). 

If you don't have the correct spray to hand and you've got a fresh stain that needs tackling, this is definitely the home remedy to go for.


Curious to know which washing up liquid is the best? Read our full washing-up liquid test results.


Hydrogen peroxide 

Hydrogen Peroxide

We used a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution neat, applying two tablespoons to the stain. 

Our verdict: This works, but the smell is awful and lingers, so much so that you need to wash it out with soap and water. 

We didn't notice any bleaching from it on our light grey carpet tiles.

White wine

La Vieille Ferme White Wine

White wine shifts red wine stains, or that's what the received wisdom says anyway. We set out to see if this was true.

We used La Vieille Ferme White wine.

Our verdict: It took two helpings of white wine to remove both the dried and fresh red wine stains. The white wine didn't need much in the way of scrubbing between pouring. It was like it got rid of the stain on its own. 

 But the wine smell left behind then needed dealing with. 

If you didn't have a cleaning product in the cupboard, then we'd say go for the white wine. However, to save yourself the job of an extra clean to remove the smell, use soap for cleaning and save the wine for drinking.

Vinegar

Vinegar

We used distilled vinegar neat, applying three tablespoons to the stain. 

Our verdict: Like most of the home remedies we tried, vinegar works, but also like most of the home remedies, the smell left behind then needed cleaning up. 

Save yourself the hassle of this second clean just to get rid of the smell and stick to soap and water or one of our Best Buys.


 Read more: Eight things you really shouldn't clean with vinegar.


Bicarbonate of soda

Bicarbonate of Soda

We tried two different bicarb mixes for these tests. One with warm water and one with vinegar. With both mixes we sprinkled the bicarbonate of soda over the stain, fully covering it. Then poured over the liquid until it was all drenched. 

Our verdict: If you ever did the volcano experiment at school you know how this goes. It's very visually impressive. That being said, don't use bicarbonate of soda to clean red wine stains. When we tried it, it appeared to react with the wine stain and we were left with a large patch of carpet with a blue tinge.

It did, however, work on the curry stains, proving slightly more effective with vinegar. The downside to using vinegar is the smell. Unless you like that sort of thing. Either way, you probably don't want your carpet smelling of vinegar so you need to clean that scent out afterwards. 

How we tested carpet stain removers 

For all of the carpet stain remover products and home remedies, we followed a strict set of tests. 

For these tests, we took 50 x 50 cm carpet tiles and split them into five equal zones. Each zone was used for a stain. One of each type of stain for each product and home remedy being examined. 


Furnish your home to perfection with our how to buy the best carpet guide.


Types of stain used

Red wine stains
  • Fresh red wine
  • Dried red wine

The red wine was chosen on the advice of a wine expert, who told us cheaper red wines were typically worse for a lingering odour but all red wines will stain more or less the same. We applied two teaspoons to each zone.

Curry stains
  • Fresh curry
  • Dried curry

The curry paste was chosen because of our personal knowledge of its staining power. We applied one tablespoon to each zone.

Fresh stains were cleaned within five minutes of application, while dried stains were left for 10 hours.

With the advice from our vacuum experts, we chose to test on a deep pile Saxony grey carpet. This being the most common and popular in the UK. 

We planned to also test on fresh and dried mud stains. But when we started the mud tests we found mud was so easy to clean up it wasn't worth including. 

Cleaning

The most important test in our investigation. Each product and home remedy was given four chances to remove the stain. 

The fewer chances needed, the higher they scored. If more than four tries were needed, they failed. 

After each clean, the zone was examined to see how visible the stain still was. 

Odour

We smelt each stain zone before and after it was cleaned. Each was ranked from least odorous to most. 

Bleaching

Using a cleaning product to remove a stain only to find a colourless patch in its place would not be ideal. In this test, we examined the zones after all needed cleaning attempts and again after the zone had fully dried. We compared them to an unstained carpet tile to see if there had been any bleaching. 

Texture of carpet

We compared the cleaned zones to an unstained piece of carpet to see if there had been an effect on the carpet's texture. 

We compared them directly after cleaning and then after the zones had dried. 

Ease of use

We recorded how much elbow grease was needed to clean off the stain with each of the products and home remedies. They were then ranked from most elbow grease needed to least on a scale of one to five, with one for most elbow grease needed and five for least.

What happened when we re-tested on tomato ketchup?

Which? members told us they wanted to know how well carpet stain removers worked on tomato ketchup, so we re-tested our Best Buys and the home remedy that came out top in our tests. We can report that they did just as good a job as they had done with the curry and red wine stains we originally tested them on.

You can see the evidence below. The top set of images shows the before and after when using our Best Buys. The bottom set of images shows the before and after when using the home remedy that came top in our tests. 

tomato ketchup stains
From left to right: original tomato ketchup stain, after using our Best Buys Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner and OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner (top-right), after using the top home remedy: washing-up liquid and water (bottom-right).

How we picked these carpet stain removers

We looked at carpet stain removers which could be used without a carpet cleaner machine. 

We examined the market and what products were available from nationwide retailers such as Amazon, Homebase, Wilko and Robert Dyas (to name a few). As well as what was on the shelf in the UK's supermarkets. 

We bought all the products we tested.