The Best Carpet Stain Removers
Take some of the stress out of carpet cleaning—and add a little oomph to your routine—with one of our top-favorite picks. Keep reading to get the details on each, as well as our top tips for navigating the available options.
BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
- Best OverallNaturally It's Clean Carpet Stains & Odors CleanerCheck Latest Price
- Best for Grease SpotsFolex Instant Carpet Spot RemoverCheck Latest Price
- Best for Wine StainsChateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover SprayCheck Latest Price
A dark carpet stain can ruin an otherwise beautiful living space—or at the very least be an eyesore. Frustratingly, the more you rub the spot and worry, the more noticeable such stains can become—unless you have the right cleaning product. With a well-formulated carpet cleaner, old and new stains can fade away to nothing.
Here’s the tough part: deciding on a product to use. To start, read our guide to understanding the options and the considerations involved. Then continue for details on our top-favorite picks among the best carpet stain removers available today.
- BEST OVERALL: Naturally It’s Clean Carpet Stains & Odors Cleaner
- BEST FOR GREASE SPOTS: Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover
- BEST FOR WINE STAINS: Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover Spray
- BEST FOR PET MESSES: Bissell Professional Stain & Odor
- ALSO CONSIDER: Puracy Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine Detergent
Key Shopping Considerations
While many carpet cleaners claim miraculous results, the key is to find a formula gentle enough to keep pets, humans, and the environment safe—without sacrificing cleaning power or stain-busting efficacy.
Type of Stain
First, it is helpful to know the properties of those stains that can be especially tough to remove without the correct formula.
- Grease and oil stains are composed of water-insoluble lipid molecules. In other words, water alone won’t budge stains caused by fat. You need a product that contains surfactants, which are compounds that break down the barrier between water and fat, allowing cleaning agents to penetrate and remove oily stains from dense fibers.
- Dark red food stains are extremely stubborn, thanks to natural tannins in wine, fruit juices, coffee, tea and more. These darkly colored, organic molecules are often used as natural dyes but can have the unintended effect of badly staining carpets and fabrics. So you’ll want a cleanser that can lift red marks without bleaching your carpet.
- Pet messes can cause smelly, hazardous stains to form if not dealt with immediately. In addition to nasty odors, pet accidents can breed bacteria if they sit in your carpet for too long. You’ll want to lift as much soiled matter as possible before addressing the underlying stain. You should look for products that completely break down urine and feces into their basic elements and dissolve stains, along with odors.
Cut through the list of unpronounceable ingredients by understanding what, exactly, makes a carpet cleaner work. Two potent compounds and bioactive agents are found in various stain removers, each useful for different household purposes.
- Surfactants: If you have a grease or oil stain, you’ll want a formula that contains powerful surfactants. These compounds lower the surface tension of water. This has the effect of making water molecules “slipperier” and more likely to stick to grease and oil molecules, lifting them from your carpet or fabric surface. Surfactants can be synthetically created in a lab, or derived from natural substances like coconut and palm oils. Plant-based surfactants are increasing in popularity, especially in cleaning and personal care products, as they tend to be gentler and more environmentally sustainable. Look for carpet cleaners that contain plant-based surfactants and use words like “biodegradable” and “non-toxic” on the label.
- Enzymes: Many carpet cleaners use enzymes to break down stains into their component elements. Enzymes are proteins that speed up biological processes, like digestion and decay. These substances are especially helpful when tackling organic stains, including food, blood, and waste. Enzyme-based stain removers are designed to completely clean and destroy odors, rather than masking nasty smells with heavy fragrances and deodorants.
Safety and Eco-Friendliness
Many carpet cleaners contain a host of heavy chemicals and synthetic compounds including:
- chlorine or peroxide
- petroleum-based byproducts
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
- CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)
- propellants and aerosols
- optical brighteners
- artificial fragrances and deodorants
These chemicals are combined to create a potent cleaning formula that is effective but also harsh.
Fortunately, it is now possible to find carpet cleaners that rely almost solely on plant-based cleansers, natural deodorants, and essential oils. Thanks to consumer advocacy and industry research, these safer, healthier products are beginning to replace heavy chemical solutions, and, in some cases, are proving highly effective.
There are three basic methods for applying stain remover to your carpet. The one you choose depends on the size and type of the stain, as well as your carpet’s fiber and care instructions.
- Spray-On: Many stain removers are spray-on formulas. Nothing could be easier right? Just spray, wait a few seconds to a few minutes, then wipe clean. In general, this is true, however, read product instructions carefully to make sure it is designed for your particular carpet or fiber surface. Delicate materials like wool, sisal, and cotton may require special handling or specialized products.
- Sit and Soak: Enzyme-based formulas often need much longer to work than chemical or surfactant-based formulas and may need to sit for several hours to several days to dissolve stains completely. Enzyme sprays may also require additional steps, like covering the treated area with a damp cloth to speed the chemical reaction.
- Shampoo: While sprays help target spots, concentrated liquid detergent is best for larger stained areas. These liquid formulas are also great for cleaning soiled rugs that can be thrown in your washing machine or hand washed. Again, read product instructions to determine how much water to add and what types of carpeting it is intended for.
In the case of all stain removers, you’ll want to patch test your chosen product first, if possible, before spraying over a larger, more visible area. Find an inch or two of carpet behind your furniture, or under a rug. Apply the product according to instructions and wipe clean. Make sure no carpet color is lifted and no fiber damage is observable.
Our Top Picks
The following formulas meet the standards outlined above for effectiveness in stain removal, thanks to active ingredients that are powerful without heavy chemicals.
1. BEST OVERALL: Naturally It’s Clean Carpet Stains & Odors Cleaner
Naturally It’s Clean is a non-toxic carpet cleaner that’s safe for use in homes with children and pets. Powered by plant-based enzymes, Naturally It’s Clean is pH neutral and biodegradable, without VOCs, propellants, or artificial fragrances. The light lemon scent comes from an essential oil and the odor-eliminating formula breaks down stains and smells into their basic elements, helping erase spots without discoloring the carpet or leaving behind a heavy scent. The application is simple: shake, then spray generously on the target surface. Allow it to soak for a few minutes, then wipe clean or scrub with a sponge for stubborn stains. Repeat as needed.
2. BEST FOR GREASE SPOTS: Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover
Folex is a spot remover extraordinaire. This non-toxic formula contains no irritating VOCs, CFCs, heavy scents, or petroleum byproducts, and the active ingredient—a water-based surfactant—can lift both dirt and grease. Folex is safe to use around children and pets as long as it is applied as directed. Likewise, this spray-on cleaner is safe for colorfast carpets and upholstery that can be dampened with water.
3. BEST FOR WINE STAINS: Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover Spray
Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover harnesses the power of science to help rid your carpet of wine stains. The spray contains biodegradable surfactants—no peroxide, chlorine, or phosphates—and is specially formulated to work on the on dark-colored tannins in red wine. It is easy to use—just spray and blot.
4. BEST FOR PET MESSES: Bissell Professional Stain & Odor
Bissell’s Professional Stain & Odor Remover is an enzyme-based formula free of heavy metals, phosphates, and dyes. Designed for removing tough stains—including motor oil, spaghetti sauce, and even blood—the patented, odor-busting technology is great for pet messes too. Be patient and allow the product time to work. After spraying the stained area, cover it with a moist towel and allow 12 to 72 hours for it to sink in.
5. ALSO CONSIDER: Puracy Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine Detergent
Puracy’s concentrated liquid is derived from 99.5 percent natural ingredients, including grapefruit essential oil and zinc ricinoleate, a natural mineral-based odor remover. The product, designed for use with a carpet-cleaning machine, cleans and deodorizes most carpets. The formula is free of sulfates, phosphates, animal byproducts, chlorine, bleach, dyes, petrochemicals, caustics, perfumes, and optical brighteners. Best of all, this gentle yet tough formula is safe for your kids and pets to come into contact with.