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OxiClean Stain Remover is the winner
Messes are inevitable, especially in homes with kids and pets, but they don't have to be permanent. Whether you're working with an existing stain, a recent spill, or a lingering odor in your carpets, the right spray cleaner can take care of the problem once and for all.
We tested over two dozen formulas to find the most user-friendly, effective, nice-smelling (or fragrance-free) options. Mint Cleaning co-founder Robyn Pook recommends cleaners powered by hydrogen peroxide, telling us they're safe, eco-friendly, and generally affordable. Cleaning expert Lindsay Turford of Dazlin Cleaning Co. is a fan of enzymes: "They break down the proteins that cause the smell from these sorts of stains."
These are the best carpet spray cleaners PEOPLE Tested.
OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover
Lifts every type of stain
Leaves carpet fibers smelling fresh
Calls for a little elbow grease
After trying over two dozen formulas, OxiClean Stain Remover was a clear winner. Clocking perfect scores in all our tests, it's user-friendly, relatively fast-acting, and effective. The instructions call for blotting the spot first, then applying the spray and waiting 10 minutes while it foams up. You can see the stains starting to lift as you wait.
This hydrogen peroxide spray did impressive work removing various stains, including dried red wine and barbecue sauce. You'll have to scrub a bit to get the mark out, but the results are well worth it. It even eliminated animal urine odor.
OxiClean has a scent reminiscent of laundry detergent, though it's not overpowering. This cleaning spray works on carpets and rugs, tackling all types of stains and leaving things smelling fresh.
Price at time of publish: $20.49 for 2
Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide | Formulated For: Carpet, rugs | Amount: 24 ounces
Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover Foaming Action Spray
Enzyme-based formula breaks down old and new spots with ease
Removed red wine stain immediately
May not remove darker stains entirely
Turford stands behind enzyme-based formulas, and after trying Biokleen Bac-Out, we can see why. This cleaning spray got rid of the red wine stain on the first attempt, along with the animal urine odor. The barbecue sauce and dirt marks needed another pass, but in the end, it got the job done.
Depending on the color of your carpets, it may not completely erase darker spots. Still, we were amazed by how well it works on both old and new stains. We also love that the sturdy nozzle delivers an even coating of the fragrance-free, biodegradable solution. The affordable price is an added bonus.
Price at time of publish: $19.98 for 2
Active Ingredient: Citrus enzymes | Formulated For: Carpet, upholstery, clothing | Amount: 32 ounces
The Spruce Stain & Odor Remover
Best for Pet Stains
Removes urine smell
Lifts urine discoloration
Not ideal for dark, highly pigmented stains
If you have pets, The Spruce Stain & Odor Remover might be your best bet. This easy-to-use carpet cleaner requires minimal effort — just spray it on, let it soak, and blot it up. It quickly removes both the discoloration and smell of animal urine and promises to take care of other pet messes. And while it took multiple applications to lift a red wine stain, it did finally disappear.
Unfortunately, this enzyme-powered cleaning spray wasn't able to eliminate barbecue sauce and mud spots, even after several attempts. While we'd recommend using something else for darker stains, dog and cat owners will definitely want to have this product on hand. Our testers also liked the light, crisp scent of the naturally fragranced formula.
Price at time of publish: $12
Active Ingredient: Plant enzymes | Formulated For: Carpet, upholstery, hard floors | Amount: 17 ounces
Shout +Oxy Carpet Stain & Odor Remover Spray
Best for Tough Stains
Contains both enzymes and hydrogen peroxide for double the power
Leaves a pleasant scent behind
The nozzle can be finicky
Darker stains require a bit more scrubbing
For tough stains, go with Shout. This carpet spray cleaner gives stubborn spots a one-two punch, leaning on both enzymes and an oxygenated form of hydrogen peroxide. While it took several pumps to cover and saturate the area, the formula works in just five minutes.
Most stains were gone after one round, though the mud and barbecue sauce required additional sprays and a bit more scrubbing. Not only that, but this cleaning completely eliminated all urine smells and left a pleasant scent in its wake. And it certainly doesn't hurt that it's one of the most affordable options we tested.
Price at time of publish: $4.49
Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate, enzymes | Formulated For: Carpet, upholstery | Amount: 32 ounces
Emergency Stain Rescue Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover
Best for Red Wine
Worked astonishingly well on wine-stained carpets and upholstery
Leaves behind no trace of discoloration
Not ideal for other types of stains
With a bottle of Chateau Spill in your arsenal, you won't have to panic every time you spill wine on your carpet or furniture. The instructions say to spray dried stains with water first, but fresh spots can be cleaned immediately. We were astonished by how well it performed on dark red vino, though we suggest having another solution for other types of messes.
It wasn't very effective on dirt or barbecue sauce and didn't get rid of the urine odor — but it doesn't claim to. This spray cleaner is formulated explicitly for wine, and on that front, it delivers. The price per ounce is a little high, but we think the results are worth it.
Price at time of publish: $21.50
Active Ingredient: Ethoxylated alcohol | Formulated For: Carpet, upholstery, clothing | Amount: 4 ounces
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover
Best for Upholstery
Erases new and existing stains from upholstery and carpet
Sweet mint scent
Price per ounce is high
May not remove darker stains
Rocco & Roxie's Oxy Stain Remover is fast and effective. Suitable for upholstery or carpet, the multi-purpose formula tackles new messes with a single application and erases old spots with a little more effort. This cleaner spray works well on pet stains and odors, too.
Like many other cleaners we tried, it didn't work very well on dark substances like barbecue sauce. This is also one of the pricier formulas we tested. Still, we were all-around satisfied with the results and loved the sweet mint scent. (It's light and not overwhelming.)
Price at time of publish: $19.97
Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide | Formulated For: Upholstery, carpet, rugs, linens, cars | Amount: 22 ounces
Nature's Miracle Advanced Cat Stain & Odor Eliminator Foam
Best Odor Remover
Wine stains disappear before your eyes
Takes a while to lift tough stains
Scent is reminiscent of baby powder
Nature's Miracle is your best defense against odors. It quickly eliminated the urine smell and effectively removed wine and dirt marks. We watched the wine stain disappear before our eyes. We appreciate that it doesn't have a strong chemical fragrance. Though we aren't huge fans of the baby powder scent, it does help mask odors.
We found the foaming formula easy to use, though you have to let it sit for about 15 minutes — potentially longer for stubborn stains. Not surprisingly, barbecue sauce was the trickiest, but in the end, it did a decent job fading the spot. Considering the very reasonable price, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend this product to anyone looking for a carpet spray that cleans and deodorizes carpets.
Price at time of publish: $9.79
Active Ingredient: Plant enzymes | Formulated For: Carpet | Amount: 17.5 ounces
Things to Consider When Buying Carpet Cleaner Spray
When buying carpet spray cleaner, pay attention to the active ingredients. "A carpet cleaner containing enzymes is perfect for removing stains and odors from organic matter (urine, vomit, etc.)," says Turford. BioClean Bac-Out, our favorite plant-based spray cleaner, contains enzymes.
Pook recommends formulas with hydrogen peroxide, which she says is safe, effective, and environmentally friendly. Our best overall pick, OxiClean spray cleaner is made with hydrogen peroxide.
Ingredients to Avoid
According to Pook, you should avoid carpet cleaning sprays containing bleach. "Bleach will strip the color from the carpet fibers," she explains. "Also, avoid abrasive cleaners that will cause fraying and tearing." Abrasive cleaners may contain silica, pumice, or calcium carbonate.
Some formulas are better than others at removing certain types of stains. For instance, hydrogen peroxide cleaners tend to work well on darker substances, like wine and barbecue sauce. Enzyme-based sprays are effective on most other spills, as well as urine and other pet messes. And both do a good job breaking down odors. Then, of course, there are some spray cleaners made specifically for a spill, such as the Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover.
Consider whether you want a scented or fragrance-free cleaning spray. "I personally avoid anything heavily perfumed as I think this just masks the odor rather than eliminating the problem," says Turford.
However, a scented formula powered by hydrogen peroxide or enzymes should simultaneously break down the cause of the stench and deliver a fresher smell. In the end, the choice is a matter of preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you remove stains from carpet?
Instead of rubbing the spill, which can penetrate it further into the fibers, Turford says to start by dabbing the area with a clean cloth or paper towel. "This will pull out the moisture of the stain," she explains. "If it's dried in, spray the area with a gentle detergent and repeat the dabbing process until lifted."
How do you get rid of carpet odors?
Many carpet sprays we tested not only remove stains but also eliminate accompanying odors. But for general deodorizing of an entire carpeted floor, try sprinkling baking soda evenly across the surface. Let it sit for up to an hour, then vacuum up the powder.
According to Turford, you can also make a pet- and child-safe solution out of equal parts water and distilled white vinegar. "The smell isn't the best, but it will soon disappear, taking any unpleasant odors with it," she says.
What's the best way to clean a carpet?
This goes without saying, but vacuuming at least twice a week will prevent dust buildup and help keep your carpets looking and smelling their best. For deeper cleans, Turford suggests a carpet shampooer (which looks like an upright vacuum) with various attachments for pet hair, small stains, and hard-to-reach areas. Steam cleaners can also work for cleaning and deodorizing carpets.
How We Tested Carpet Spray Cleaners
We selected 27 highly rated, best-selling carpet spray cleaners to try first-hand. After reading the directions and reviewing the ingredients lists, our testers evaluated the user-friendliness of the formulas. Following the brands' recommended steps, we sprayed them onto both fresh and set-in stains, including red wine, barbecue sauce, mud, and wolf urine.
Our testers timed how long it took for the spots to lift. They noted when it took multiple applications and whether the formulas removed the stains entirely, simply lightened them, eliminated odors, or had no effect. Beyond ineffectiveness, cleaners that had adverse effects, such as discoloring the carpet fibers, were also marked down. Each formula was awarded a score for ease of use, effectiveness, scent, and overall value. Those with the highest average ratings were chosen for this roundup.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don't stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we've awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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