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Carpet stain removers

How we test carpet stain removers

By Patrick Gallagher

Article 4 of 7

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How we test carpet stain removers

Find out more about our tough test carpet stain remover tests. Our tests enable you to find the best stain removers - and avoid the worst.

Carpet stain removers can restore or wreck your carpet. Our independent tests reveal what you need to know about a carpet stain remover – and whether it’s the best one for your home – before you buy.

We’ve put carpet stain removers from big brands and supermarket own brands through our tough independent tests to reveal how well each removes seven fresh and dried-on stains. Carpet stain removers can be very pricey, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good. We can help you avoid products that don’t shift stains well and risk bleaching your carpet.

Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about carpet stain removers, such as:

  • How well will it get wet and dried stains out of my carpet?
  • Will it damage my carpet?
  • Should I buy it?

Our rigorous tests reveal how brands, such as Dyson and RugDoctor, compare with cheaper supermarket alternatives. You can use our results to find out if it’s worth buying a big brand for better stain removal, or whether you could get your carpet spotless for less.

Read on for more on how our tests work or skip straight to our best carpet stain removers.

How well will it get stains out of my carpet?

We use real stains to test carpet stain removers – based on what Which? members told us they’d spilt on their carpet in the past year. Plus we’ve added some foods and drinks that are particularly tough to shift to put carpet stain removers through their paces. In total, we assess the removal of seven stains, both wet and dried:

• Red wine
• Mud
• Tea
• Coffee
• Food stains
• Chocolate spread
• Sticky stains (such as fruit juice or jam)

It’s not always possible to mop up a spill straightaway, so we test both freshly spilled stains and stains left to dry overnight on pristine, pale-coloured carpet. Then we used each carpet stain remover to try to get our carpet looking as good as new.

The gallery below shows the difference between a Best Buy and Don’t Buy carpet stain remover on some of these stains. Find our how well each product removes specific stains in our full carpet stain remover results.

We also threw some home remedies into the mix, including soapy water made with washing-up liquid; tepid water; and white wine and salt on red wine stains. Find out if washing-up liquid is any good for carpet cleaning, plus read our other carpet cleaning tips.

Will it damage my carpet?

You would expect a carpet stain remover to leave your carpet in a better state than when you spilled something on it, but a nasty side-effect of cleaning with powerful chemicals can be bleaching. So although the stain may be removed, some carpet stain removers may fade the affected area, leaving you with a reminder of the spill. 

Our most recent tests found that the majority of cleaners we tried did not adversely effect the section of carpet they were trying to clean. Check out our full carpet stain remover results table to see just how well each cleaner did. 

Should I buy it?

The above tests contribute to each product's overall test score.

Some assessments are more important than others, and are weighted accordingly. We think a carpet stain remover’s most important job is to clean up tough stains, so a large proportion of our total test score is based on this. Our overall ratings ignore price and are based on:

  • 90% cleaning: including fresh and dried stains, and bleaching
  • 10% ease of use

Carpet stain removers with an overall score of 75% or above are named Best Buys, while those scoring 45% or below are Don’t Buys – carpet stain removers that did so poorly in our tests that we think they are best avoided.

Before you buy your next carpet cleaning product, check our best carpet stain removers.

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