The 9 Best Carpet Stain Removers of 2022, According to Our Testing

Our favorite is the OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover for its ability to get out a variety of stains with minimal effort.

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The 9 Best Carpet Stain Removers of 2022, According to Our Testing

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Even though spills are bound to happen, getting a stain on your carpet and rug can still be an anxiety-inducing experience. Luckily for us, there are plenty of handy cleaning products that can help get rid of those stressful messes. The best carpet stain removers are able to remove both fresh and set-in stains so well that it looks like they were never there in the first place. 

To figure out which carpet stain removers are the best on the market, we tested 26 different carpet stain removers in our Lab, evaluating them on effectiveness, value, scent, ease of use, and more. We also sought the advice of three experts: Katie Berry, the owner of Housewife How-Tos; Becky Rapinchuk, owner of Clean Mama; and Lisa Wagner, the owner of Blatchford’s Rug Cleaning & Repair. Our top pick is the OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover for its ability to effectively treat all of the stains we threw at it. 

Read on to learn more about our top picks and how to choose the best carpet stain remover for your household.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Carpet Stain Remover: OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover

5
OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover Spray

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a stain remover that is effective on a variety of stains, as well as odors.

Who it isn’t for: People who have carpeting or a rug made of wool, leather, or silk.

What’s so great about this stain remover is that you don’t have to do very much work at all for it to get stains out. Our tester told us that out of all the carpet stain removers they tested, this one not only worked the best but also required the least amount of effort for removal. All you have to do is clean up any residue left by the stain, spray, wait, blot, and the stain is gone. We differed from the instructions a little by adding light scrubbing, but overall, we found the brand’s instructions to be accurate and subsequently effective.

Our tester said that this stain remover did the best job at removing all the stains we threw at it, including red wine, barbecue sauce, wolf urine, and mud. Out of all of those stains, we found that it worked best on a dried red wine stain, which further affirms its power (red wine is one of the hardest stains to get out). The time it took to get a stain out varied by surface and stain type—for fresh stains, it took 18 minutes to remove, while set-in stains took 21 minutes. Our tester said their least favorite thing about this stain remover was the wait time, but the incredible results proved that good things do come to those who wait.

Price at time of publish: $5

Product Details:

  • Size: 24 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet and area rugs only
OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Eco-Friendly Carpet Stain Remover: Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover

4.7
biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover

The Home Depot

Who it’s for: People looking for a carpet stain remover that’s made without harsh chemicals. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a stain remover only designed for carpets. 

If you’re someone who goes out of their way to shop for eco-friendly products, you’ll like this green cleaning product from Biokleen. The Bac-Out Stain + Odor remover is made without harsh cleaning chemicals such as phosphates, chlorine, and ammonia. Instead, the product contains enzymes and biodegradable ingredients, leaving it with no odor. Plus, Biokleen doesn’t do any testing on animals and its bottles are recyclable.

In terms of its stain-fighting power, results varied. We were able to get our fresh and set-in wine and urine stains out after one application, but it took two for the cleaner to make a difference on our mud and barbecue stains. In the end, we could not get those two things out. Still, one of our testers said that it was the best carpet stain remover they worked with during testing ,and appreciated that it was able to reduce the stains, especially considering its “below-average price point.” Plus, the all-purpose nature of this stain remover means that you can also use it to clean a range of items, including your clothing and garbage cans.

Price at time of publish: $11

Product Details:

  • Size: 32 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpets, furniture, fabrics, and more
Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Enzyme Carpet Stain Remover: Kids 'N' Pets Instant All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover

4.6
 KIDS 'N' PETS - Instant All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a versatile carpet stain remover that is also compatible with other surfaces, such as floors and clothing.

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to wait upwards of two hours for some stains to be removed.

Enzymes are proteins that are known for their ability to break down the makeup of stains, making them easier to remove. Enzymes are also natural, meaning that their presence in your cleaning products will make your carpet stain removal less reliant on chemicals. So if you’re looking for a carpet stain remover that leans more green, consider the Kids ‘n Pets All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover.

One of our testers said that this was the best stain remover they used during our tests. The stain remover got all of our stains out, but it did take some additional time and effort that we didn’t experience with some other carpet stain removers. For most of our stains, it took two rounds of cleaning for them to be completely gone. In total, it took 23 minutes to get out fresh stains and more than two hours to get out set-in stains. Upholstery took the least amount of time at a little more than 17 minutes. Although this lengthy wait time may be a dealbreaker for some consumers, our tester still stood by the product, saying they would recommend the cleaner because of the great results. 

Price at time of publish: $14

 Product Details:  

  • Size: 27.05 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet, furniture, mattresses, clothing, bedding, and any other water-safe surfaces
Kids 'n Pets All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Carpet Stain Remover for Pet Stains: The Spruce Stain & Odor Remover

4.8

Who it’s for: People who want a carpet cleaner specifically designed to clean up and eliminate odor from pet stains.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a carpet cleaner that can also be used effectively for food stains.

Out of all the stains we tried to remove with this cleaner, it worked the best on our wolf urine, eliminating both the stain and odor quickly and easily. To get stains out, you simply just spray, wait, and blot. This product acts the fastest with upholstery, as it was able to get fresh stains out in just eight minutes, making this an especially great option for people whose pets have accidents on their furniture. As for the carpet, fresh stains took eight minutes to remove, and set-in stains took 23 minutes.

While this cleaner did wonders for wolf urine, it didn’t perform as well with our other stains. It took several applications of the cleaner to get out our red wine stains, and didn’t work at all on barbecue and mud stains. As such, our tester says that this stain remover is truly best for pet owners and pet owners only. Another reason it’s great for pets? The product is cruelty-free and made from plant-derived ingredients, which means that you won’t be inhaling chemical smells.

Price at time of publish: $12

Product Details:

  • Size: 17 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet, upholstery, wood, tile
The Spruce Pet Stain & Odor Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Carpet Stain Remover for Odors: Nature's Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Eliminator

4.2
Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Eliminator

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a stain remover that will get rid of both stains and its odors. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a carpet stain remover that is better at getting out fresh carpet stains. 

Just because a stain remover can get a stain out doesn’t mean that it is also equipped to eliminate the odor that came from that stain. If you often find yourself tackling stains at home that also come with an odor, then you’re best off buying a product like Nature's Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Eliminator Foam. Our tester told us that it got the smell out of all of our stains, and therefore they would definitely recommend it to pet owners (you can buy a version of this product that is designed for cats or dogs).

As for its stain-fighting power, our results varied. Our tester told us that it worked so well with our wine stain that it was nearly gone when it came time for them to start scrubbing. For our mud stain, we were able to almost completely get the set-in stain out (there was a faint mark), but had more trouble with the fresh stains. This can be frustrating, especially considering that the wait time to get these stains out was more than 30 minutes for our fresh and set-in stains. This product is a foam rather than a spray, which our tester liked but did note that it can get messy since it isn’t as controlled as a spray bottle.

Price at time of publish: $12

Product Details:

  • Size: 17.5 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet
Nature's Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Eliminator Foam

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Carpet Stain Remover for Upholstery: Carbona Oxy Powered 2-in-1 Carpet Cleaner

4.7
Carbona 2-in-1 Carpet Clearner

Ace Hardware

Who it’s for: People who want a carpet stain remover that comes with a cleaning tool.

Who it isn’t for: People who are primarily concerned with removing mud or soil stains on their carpeting.

Although this cleaner is technically made for carpet stains, we were surprised to find that it worked best on upholstery. Not only did it work quickly on our upholstery, but it also required minimal scrubbing. We also found that this product worked best with fresh stains, as our tester was able to remove them completely in just six minutes. Set-in stains took more than double the time and had varying results. We were able to get out our dried wine and urine, but we weren’t as successful with the mud and barbecue stains, even though we applied several applications. Regardless of the stain type, our tester said blotting is “key” with this product.

We appreciated that this cleaner had no smell and came with a bristle brush, which came in handy when getting out our stains. Our tester did note that after each use, enough residue was left on the brush to require cleaning. Having to do this after every cleaning may be an annoying extra step that not every shopper wants to go through, so keep that in mind. 

Price at time of publish: $11

Product Details:

  • Size: 27.5 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet and upholstery
Carbona Oxy-Powered Carpet Cleaner

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Carpet Stain Remover for Red Wine Stains: Emergency Stain Rescue Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover

4.8
Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a carpet stain remover that effectively gets rid of red wine stains completely.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a carpet stain remover that also gets rid of odor.

Red wine stains are notoriously difficult to remove, to the point where it may be smart to invest in a separate carpet stain remover specifically designed for wine stains. If you go that route, you can’t do much better than The Hate Stains Co. Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover, which turned out to be incredibly effective at removing these stubborn stain types. Our tester rated this product a perfect 5, telling us that the results were “amazing”, especially considering that “very little if any blotting or rubbing is needed.” It only took about ten minutes for our fresh and set-in wine stains to come out of our carpeting. And for upholstery, it took even less time at just six minutes.

Even though this carpet stain remover is made for red wine stains, we were pleased to discover that it also worked on our other stains. Our barbecue sauce and mud stains were easily removed via upholstery, but we had some more trouble getting them out of the carpet. And although it did remove the urine stain, the smell from that stain still lingered. To remove stains with this product, it is advised that you wet your stain area with water first, then apply the spray, and rinse to remove all residue.

Price at time of publish: $8

Product Details:

  • Size: 4 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet, upholstery, furniture, and clothing
The Hate Stains Co. Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Carpet Stain Remover for Set-In Stains: Krud Kutter Original Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser Stain Remover

4.2
Krud Kutter Original Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser

Amazon

Who it’s for: People with busy households who might not get to clean up stains (especially food stains) right away.

Who it isn’t for: People who want an unscented stain remover.

A set-in stain can feel like a hopeless situation, but with the right carpet stain remover, you can get rid of this type of stubborn stain without having to get a carpet-cleaning machine or hiring professional help. In particular, our tester told us that the Krud Kutter Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser Stain Remover worked better on the dry stains compared to the fresh stains.

The cleaning product did quite well on our red wine, barbecue sauce, and mud stains. In fact, our tester said this one worked the best on barbecue stains out of all the carpet stain removers they tested so far, which is pretty impressive considering our testers struggled to get the barbecue stains out with other products.

It only took about 11 minutes to get rid of the set-in stains and less than ten minutes to remove fresh stains as well as the stains we applied to our upholstery. One thing that our tester disliked about this product was the smell, which was definitely more powerful than other stain removers we tested. Still, this cleaner is all-purpose, so in addition to treating carpet stains it can also tackle tape and glue residue, scuff marks, and even dried latex paint on other surfaces.

Price at time of publish: $8

Product Details:

  • Size: 32 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet, washable fabrics, tile, laminate, wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and more
Krud Kutter Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser Stain Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Best Carpet Stain Remover for High-Traffic Areas: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover

4.9
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co Oxy Stain Remover

Rocco & Roxie

Who it’s for: People who want a powerful, pet-safe stain remover that can also remove odors.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a more affordable stain remover that can remove stains in one application. 

High-traffic areas of the home require a stain remover that can handle all types of potential messes. In our testing, we found the Rocco & Roxie Oxy Stain Remover to be the best one for the job. We were able to get out our wine, urine, and dirt set-in stains as well as most of our fresh stains after two applications. The only stains we could not completely get out of our rug were the fresh barbecue and mud stains. Despite this, our tester was still pleased enough with the results that they told us that they would add this to their collection of cleaning products.

Not only did this product do well in our testing, but it also passed the tests put forth by The Carpet and Rug Institute, earning their Seal of Approval. It also helps that this household item is safe for pets, and, according to our tester smells great: “I have never smelled a cleaner that smelled this good.” And even though this carpet stain remover is on the pricier side, our tester said that the value is equal to how well it works and that they would pay for this “without hesitation.”

Price at time of publish: $30

 Product Details:

  • Size: 32 ounces
  • Compatible Surfaces: Carpet, fabric, and water-safe hard surfaces
Rocco & Roxie Oxy Stain Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover for its ability to get out all of our stains without having to apply an excess of elbow grease. Plus, despite its stain-fighting power, it didn’t have a bad chemical smell that often comes with any cleaning product.    

Our Testing Process

We tested 26 carpet stain removers in our Lab and assessed them on ease of use, effectiveness, scent, and value. Our first test involved evaluating each carpet stain remover’s effectiveness on fresh stains. We stained our rug with red wine, barbecue sauce, mud, and wolf urine. We had those stains sit for a minute and then blotted up the excess of the stain with a dry towel. After that, we read the carpet stain remover’s instructions and noted how long it took to remove each stain. If the stains remained after cleaning, we did one more application and then recorded the results.

For our set-in stain test, we applied the same substances on our carpet and had them sit overnight. We used the same process as we did in our fresh stain test to determine their effectiveness. To see how these products performed on upholstery, we applied the same stain substances to a pillow cover, waited a minute, and then proceeded to remove the stains per the manufacturer’s instructions all the while recording how long each removal took. While performing our tests, we noted if the color of our materials changed after using the cleaner, if there was a scent to the cleaner, if there were toxicity warnings on the label, and if it came with extra accessories, like a brush applicator. We used all of this information to come up with the best carpet stain removers.

Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

How to Shop for Carpet Stain Removers Like a Pro

Ingredients

Both Berry and Rapinchuk spoke highly of carpet stain removers that contain enzymes. “Enzymes break down the stain and lift it from the carpet,” says Rapinchuk. Berry also recommended products that contain oxygenated bleach, like OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover, our Best Overall pick. “The oxygen dissolves the bonds between the stain and the carpet fibers, making it easier to lift away,” she says. She told us that oxygenated bleach works with pet stains but a carpet stain remover that contains enzymes is even better: “The gold standard for pet stains is a cleaning product that combines both.” (Our Best for Pet Stains pick, The Spruce Pet Stain & Odor Remover, is an enzymatic cleaner.) In fact, enzymes are so effective at getting rid of odors from pet stains that Rapinchuk says pets will not return to that spot to do their business again and make another mess. 

When it comes to harsh chemicals to look out for, Berry breaks it to us that we sort of can’t. “You should assume every commercial carpet cleaning product may contain ingredients you must use with caution, and sparingly.” If this makes you uncomfortable, she recommends trying soap and water or other homemade carpet stain removers first.

Compatible Surfaces

One would easily assume that all carpet stain removers are compatible with all carpets, but this isn’t the case. According to Wagner, carpet stain removers that you typically get at the grocery store are designed for synthetic materials, not natural ones. This was definitely affirmed by the care instructions we read from a couple of our top picks. For example, the OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover is not compatible on leather, wool or silk, while the Carbona Two-in-One Oxy-Powered Carpet Cleaner cannot be used on silk, velvet, Haitian cotton, or fabrics that can be ruined by water. 

Plus, Berry told us that carpets containing silk, as well as wool, should not be subject to a carpet stain remover and instead be treated by professionals for messes. If you aren’t sure of the materials your carpeting is made of and don’t want to roll the dice with a carpet stain remover just yet, try an at-home cleaning solution first. Berry does advise that natural remedies may take repeated applications to work, prolonging the time it’ll take to get rid of the stain. 

Rapinchuk also does not recommend using carpet stain removers on vintage rugs or rugs that you know are hand-dyed. “Hand-dyed and vintage rugs are not color-fast or color set and the yarn is most likely dyed in a different way than we use today,” she says. “It's not that [the carpet stain removers] won't work, but that they may be too harsh on old fibers and dyes.” 

Scent

One of the biggest downsides to owning really any cleaning product is the chemical-y smell it can sometimes contain. When we asked our experts how this smell can be avoided, they said that they’ve found products that have artificial fragrances can increase a product’s aromatic intensity. A great way to avoid a carpet stain remover with a strong scent is by getting products that contain more natural ingredients, such as enzymes.

The Hate Stains Co. Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

More Carpet Stain Removers to Consider

Scotchgard Oxy Spot & Stain Remover: This all-purpose fabric cleaner did quite well in getting our stains out, performing the best with the red wine. However, we didn’t like that the urine smell still lingered after spraying, especially since this is designed to tackle pet odor.

Shout Pet Stain & Odor Remover: Our tester told us that this product got the urine smell out of all of the surfaces we used this carpet stain remover on. They said that they would definitely recommend this to friends and family, saying it’s a “cheap alternative” to some of the really expensive pet stain removers available on the market—but they did find the spray bottle difficult to use.

Questions You Might Ask

What’s the best method for removing stains from carpeting?

It depends on the type of stain. “For a fresh stain, remove as much of the mess as possible: blot liquid messes or scrape away more solid ones,” Berry says. She tells us one of the biggest mistakes she sees people making when cleaning up fresh liquid stains is scrubbing instead of blotting. Scrubbing a fresh liquid stain actually leads to the spreading of the mess, which will just make the stain harder to get out. After you’ve properly blotted, Berry recommends using baking soda to further absorb liquid messes. “Baking soda is a good choice since it won't react harmfully with other cleaning products,” she says. After the baking soda has soaked up the mess, she says scrape away and then use your carpet stain remover and follow its instructions exactly. 

For set-in stains, all you have to do is apply your carpet stain remover and let it sit for the recommended amount of time, according to Rapinchuk. After that, she says to rinse with cold water and continue blotting up the liquid, then repeat until the stain is lifted and gone. Rapinchuk tells us that the one of the biggest mistakes she sees people make with carpet stain removers is not rinsing the stain fully. “Any residue left on the carpet [from not rinsing fully] can attract dirt once the spot is dry,” she says. 

Berry also recommends rinsing for fresh stains as well, and tells us that for set-in stains you should be prepared to do repeated applications. “Most set-in stains will need multiple treatments,” she says. If you can, Berry says a carpet stain remover that targets a specific type of set-in stain will be more effective, as compared to an all-purpose product.

Hate Stains Miss Mouths Messy Eater Remover

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Can you use a carpet stain remover on a rug? 

Not always. This is because a carpet is not the same as a rug and as such, they can require different care. Carpet stain removers are designed for synthetic materials, not natural ones. If you know for sure your rug is made entirely of all synthetic materials, then it’s a safer bet to try a carpet stain remover on your rug. Still, to be on the safe side, read instructions on the back of your bottle or an included manual. We discovered that with some of the carpet stain removers we tested, rugs were not listed as a compatible surface to use the product on. 

What is a colorfast test?

You will likely see this as a step you need to complete with your product’s given instructions. It’s an important step to follow, as it will determine if the carpet stain remover will potentially permanently ruin the color of your rug. “Some products contain ingredients that will bleach or lighten a carpet, so you should always spot test a new product,” says Berry. 

Rapinchuk broke down to us exactly what a colorfast test is. “A colorfast test is just dampening a clean, white cloth and gently rubbing it over the [carpet’s] fibers. If you see any color on your white cloth, the rug is not colorfast/colorset and cannot be cleaned traditionally. You'll want to bring it to a professional,” she says. For the test, Berry recommends using a small amount of the stain remover in an inconspicuous area, such as behind a door or in a closet. After you’ve applied the product, wait several hours, and if the color hasn’t changed, you can use the stain remover safely on your carpet. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. We researched the best carpet stain removers and tested 26 of the most popular options in our Lab, evaluating them on scent, effectiveness, value, and ease of use. We also sought the advice of three experts: Katie Berry, the owner of Housewife How-Tos; Becky Rapinchuk, owner of Clean Mama; and Lisa Wagner, the owner of Blatchford’s Rug Cleaning & Repair.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Anyproduct appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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