Best carpet stain removers
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 2020. 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.
The best carpet stain removers
Only Which? members can view the carpet stain remover test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the carpet cleaners we tested. to get instant access to our test scores and Best Buy recommendations below.
Dr. Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover
This liquid carpet stain remover comes with a built-in brush.
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-saturation of your carpet occurring).
Screw the brush head on again, taking care not to over tighten. Remove loose dirt and blot up any spills. Shake bottle and gently squeeze to moisten 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 3 minutes, then remove all residue with a damp, white cloth. Repeat if necessary. Rinse the brush cap after every use.
Dyson Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder
This carpet cleaning powder from Dyson, the household name for carpet care, is said to by made of millions of tiny sponges. To use it you work the dry powder into your carpet, wait 30 minutes, then vacuum it away.
It's billed as a carpet maintenance powder rather than a carpet stain remover, but we included it in our test as its been reviewed a lot online for dealing with stains.
HG Spot and Stain Cleaner
HG Spot and Stain Spray Cleaner is a liquid carpet stain remover which comes with a safety lock.
To use, you 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
OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner
Carpet Power from OzKleen has a pleasant lavender fragrance. It's another liquid carpet stain remover and has a safety lock plus two different strength spray settings.
To use, spray this carpet cleaner directly onto your stain. 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 with the aid of small amounts of water. Leave to dry. Vacuum if needed.
Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover
Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover claims you can say goodbye to furious and tiring scrubbing by using it. It's a liquid solution with an oxygen boosted spray (hence the Oxy in the name) and includes a safety lock.
To use it, first shake the bottle well and turn the nozzle to ON position. Then remove any solids or excess liquids with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel.
Generously spray this carpet stain remover evenly over the affected area and let stand for three to five minutes maximum. Do not overwet the area.
Then blot away the stain gently with a clean, damp, colour safe sponge or cloth.
Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner
This carpet stain remover was one of two we tested that include a built-in brush. It comes in an aluminium tin with a hard plastic brush. The two parts pull apart and are recyclable with most councils.
It's an aerosol carpet cleaner that you 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.
Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray
To use this Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray first remove any dirt, then spray (max five minutes) and blot.
It includes a spray safety lock.
Vax Spot and Stain Solution
Vax is well known for its carpet cleaning machines and the chemicals used with them but this Spot and Stain Solution is sprayed directly from the bottle onto the stain (after blotting away any excess).
Leave it to work for a few minutes, then use a dry microfibre cloth to work the solution from the outside edge inwards. Leave to dry. Repeat if necessary.
It's a liquid spray with a safety lock and a floral scent.
Best carpet stain remover home remedies
Wondering how to remove stains from 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
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 plump for.
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 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 removing.
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.
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 was 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.
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.
Types of stain used
- 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.
- 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.
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 was.
We smelt each stain zone before and after it was cleaned. Each was ranked from least odorous to most.
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.
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.
Prices correct as of 29/01/21