December 27, 2020

Best Carpet Spot Cleaners for Old and New: Buyer’s Guide for 2021 and Leading Products

The carpets in our homes are designed to keep our feet warm, allow us to showcase our style, and can make a home feel more comfortable and modern. But the average carpet will take plenty of abuse in the form of dirty footprints, pet messes, dust, spills, and more. Because of this, you need to keep the best carpet spot remover on hand, in order to clean up a mess before it has time to set in and ruin the appearance and texture of your carpet. Since there are literally hundreds of cleaners currently on the market, finding a product that actually delivers all of the claims that a manufacturer says it does can seem almost impossible. In fact, many homeowners will waste one hundred dollars annually, purchasing cleaners that don’t work.

I’ve tried several of the leading cleaners with a high user rating and I’ve narrowed it down to the six best sport removers on the market. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide, which discusses what you need to look for in a carpet cleaner that will lift stains and have your carpet looking new in no time. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that features the six products that made it onto my list and important information that will help you determine whether or not it will work for the type of carpet you have in your home.

Carpet Spot Cleaners Comparison Chart

Top Pick

Rocco & Roxie Eliminator
• 32 oz.
• For New and Old Stains
• Organic Stains
Shop On Amazon!
Spot Shot Stain Remover• 32 oz.
• For New and Old Stains
• Water/Oil-Based Stains
Shop On Amazon!
Folex Carpet Spot Remover• 32 oz.
• For New Stains
• Water-Based Stains
Shop On Amazon!
Shaw R2X Stain Remover• 32 oz.
• For New Stains
• Water/Oil-Based Stains
Shop On Amazon!
Chem-Dry Stain Remover• 18 oz.
• For New Stains
• Water-Based Stains
Shop On Amazon!

Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator

Top Pick

Our Rating: (5/5)

This is an enzyme cleaner that’s designed to remove organic stains. So, if you have a dog or cat, one that you’re potty training or an animal that’s prone to accidents in the home, then this product is a must-have. The cleaner contains natural enzymatic bacteria that are activated once it comes into contact with stains and odors. These enzymes will feed on organic matter and ammonia crystals until the stain is eliminated completely. This product is ammonia-free, color-safe, and chlorine-free. Because it’s an all-natural product, it’s safe for use around children and pets.


  • All-natural
  • Completely eliminates stains
  • Safe for use around children and pets
  • Chlorine-free and color-safe


  • Some users may find the scent too strong


If you need to frequently treat organic stains around the home, then this powerful all-natural enzymatic cleaner is exactly what you need. Since it’s free of harsh chemicals it won’t bleach or damage your carpet, and it’s designed to reach deep down, even into the thickest carpet, to eliminate new and older stains.

Spot Shot Professional Instant Carpet Stain Cleaner

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This versatile cleaner can be used on both water-soluble and oil-based stains, no scrubbing necessary. It’s also designed to treat both new and old stains, although repeated treatment will be needed for older stains. It’s also safe for all types of carpets and fabrics, although spraying the cleaner on a test area is still recommended, prior to treating a large area.


  • Low price
  • Treats old and fresh stains
  • Works on oil and water-based stains
  • Deodorizes


  • May darken certain types of carpets


This product is so powerful, it’s designed to instantly eliminate even the toughest stains, no scrubbing or blotting necessary. The spray’s odor-eliminating power instantly leaves your carpet smelling fresh and looking new again.

Folex Carpet Spot Cleaner

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This product is designed to work on any type of color fast carpet, clothing, upholstery, rugs, and more. Just spray liberally over the new stain, no vacuuming or rinsing necessary. Use a towel or soft sponge to agitate the treatment area, then allow the carpet to dry completely. The results are immediate. This product is nontoxic and safe to use around children and pets.


  • Works on all types of carpets and fabrics
  • Mild scent
  • No vacuuming needed
  • Nontoxic


  • Does not work on old stains


This product is perfect for new, tough stains. The mild scent will leave your carpet and home smelling fresh, without overpowering the environment. Unfortunately, it’s not recommended for older stains, but if used on fresh spots on your carpet, you’ll notice impressive results as the carpet dries.

Shaw R2X Carpet Stain & Soil Remover Spray

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The R2X stain and soil remover is best-suited for new stains and works well on all types of carpets and rugs, but will not work well on older stains. The spray is designed to both clean the carpet and protect the treated area from future stains. It can be used on both oil-based and water-based stains, but it’s not recommended for organic stains since it will simply mask the smell. No rinsing or vacuuming needed, instead, simply spray the affected area and use a towel or paper towels to blot the area. Repeat treatment may be needed for tougher stains.


  • Mild scent
  • Cleans and protects carpet
  • Works on both oil-based and water-based stains.
  • No vacuuming or rinsing needed


  • Not designed to treat older stains


This powerful spray does an excellent job of reaching deep down into the carpet to treat fresh stains. Not only does it remove stains, but it also protects the treated area from stains in the future. The spray will not leave residue behind, which can attract soil and debris. This spray is a great buy if you’re looking for a product with a fresh scent that’s able to handle both oil-based and water-based stains.

Chem-Dry Carpet Stain Extinguisher

Our Rating: (4/5)

The Chem-Dry stain remover is designed specifically to treat water-based stains on carpets, fabrics, and upholstery. The spray utilizes carbonation power to lift tough stains to the surface, in order to eliminate both stains and odor. This product is green-certified, so it’s nontoxic and safe to use around children and pets. Since is a water-based cleaner, it can treat wine, chocolate, coffee, and other types of food stains. It’s not recommended for oil-based or organic stains.


  • Green certified
  • Can be used on carpets and all types of fabrics
  • Low price
  • Treats water-based stains


  • Cannot be used to treat older stains


This powerful, all-natural cleaner will easily handle any type of fresh water-based stain in a matter of minutes. It’s not recommended for use on older stains. Additionally, treatment may need to be repeated on tougher stains such as wine or coffee. The mild all-natural formula makes this product perfect for homes with small children and pets.

Carpet Spot Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

A dirty carpet can make your home smell and looked unkempt and dated. Additionally, if you’re on a tight budget, you can’t afford to have your home re-carpeted every two to three years, which is why carpet maintenance is so important.

Pro Tip: “Spills should be attended to as soon as you notice them. Blot up liquid spills with clean, white cotton towels or white paper towels — colored towels can make the problem worse if their dye bleeds into the rug.” -Martha Stewart

Whether you have short or shag carpet, it’s going to attract dust, dirt, and debris, like a magnet. Carpets need to be maintained constantly, in order to look new and clean. We bring a lot of soil into our homes on our shoes, or our pets have accidents and also track in mud and debris. We spill our drinks and food, we forget to vacuum, and in the end, our carpets end up paying for it. But if you have the right product that can handle any type of stain, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your carpet looking new and smelling fresh.

Benefits of Carpet Spot Cleaner

carpet cleaning

  • If you have the right cleaner for your carpet, you can eliminate odors instantly.
  • Keeping these cleaners on hand will allow you to treat a stain immediately before it has time to set in and do permanent damage.
  • Regularly spot treating your carpet can keep your carpet looking new and smelling fresh.
  • If you know what type of cleaner to use based on the type of carpet you have, then you can prevent discoloration, permanent staining, and more.
  • Organic cleaners are totally safe for use on all types of carpets and will completely eliminate the stain and the source of the smell, it won’t simply mask the smell like chemical cleaners.
  • Using a cleaner regularly on your carpet will cut down on annual carpet cleaning costs.
  • Finding the right type of cleaner will save you up to one hundred dollars annually, which would otherwise be spent on the wrong type of product for a specific stain or one that simply doesn’t work.
  • Regular treatment can significantly extend the life of your carpet. Over time, debris, allergens, dust, and dirt will accumulate and become embedded within carpet fibers. This will cause the fibers to deteriorate and split. Removing the built-up debris and dirt helps to improve a carpet’s longevity since debris and dirt are much more likely to adhere to a dirty carpet than a clean one.
  • Staying on top of stains will contribute to a clean environment, one that’s allergen-free. Allergens and dust can become trapped in the carpet fibers and can find their way into your air where they can cause allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and other types of health problems. Removing stains promptly is a great way to ensure these harmful particles don’t stick around your home.
Spot removers can prevent serious stains from setting it, such as wine, pet messes, or spilled beverages
  • Many people also don’t realize that stains can also harbor dangerous bacteria. Many organic and water-based cleaners are designed to completely eliminate bacteria, on the spot, for a safer, cleaner home. These cleaners will penetrate deep down into the fibers and will not only clean surface dirt like some types of off-brand cleaners will.
  • These sprays will not leave residue behind like some harmful commercial cleaners can.
  • Staying on top of stains or removing old stains can also help to reduce worn down looking carpet, which is often found in high-traffic areas. This can significantly help to extend the life of your carpet, especially in these areas. These areas are often more prone to dirt and debris and include areas such as entryways, hallways, and the main living room area. These areas often become dirtier faster than rarely used sections of the carpet since dirt is constantly being tracked in.

Types of Carpet Cleaners

There are a few different types of stains that you’ll come across in the home:

  • Oil-based
  • Water-based
  • Organic

Drinks and food are categorized as water-based stains, however, if it’s cleaned up promptly using a water-soluble, oxidized cleaner, these are probably the easiest types of stains to remove.

Bodily fluids excreted by humans or pets are categorized as organic stains. To remove this type of stain you must use a spot remover that’s enzyme-based. This type of cleaner will consume the protein and odor molecules, removing the stain and smell entirely.

Oil-based cleaners work by breaking apart grease molecules in order to lift them from carpet fibers. These stains are usually the toughest to remove since the majority of carpets you’ll come across these days are made out of fibers that are petroleum-based, such as olefin and polyester, both of which will hold and trap grease molecules.

With any type of stain on your carpet, you need to take several steps in order to successfully remove it. Before you get started, you need to first identify what type of stain you’re dealing with.

Remember, fresh stains are much easier to deal with than old stains that have had time to set in.

Other Features to Look For in Carpet Stain Remover


You now know you have to choose a product that will work for your type of carpet, based on the type of stain you’re dealing with. However, there are other factors you need to consider before you order the first spot remover with a high rating that you come across.

Carpet Type

Some carpets are easier to treat than others. Thick, shag carpets are usually the worst since they’re very thick, making it difficult for a spot cleaner to penetrate deep down to reach the stain.

The type of carpet you have will also impact what type of cleaner you go with. Some types of carpets feature a level loop that’s formed from a thick yarn. Stains tend to sit on top of these loops before they soak through to the padding, making it easier to get rid of a stain by blotting up the mess. Multi-level loop carpets feature loops that vary in size, which allows them to hold onto dirt. A spill that’s able to easily slip through the fibers can be more difficult to clean.

A standard pile carpet will vary in thickness. The thicker the pile, the more likely the carpet is to trap particles. Usually, even deeper pile will respond well to carpet spot cleaning products and a steam cleaner.


The faster you treat a stain, the better your chances of removing it completely. Dried, older stains are very difficult to clean and remove. Using a sport remover that has a fast-acting formula will also be important. Some cleaners will need to sit on a stain for several hours in order to be effective. Powerful chemical cleaners will start to show you some progress immediately.

Using a spot remover regularly to treat stains can significantly extend the life of your carpet

Active Ingredients

Hydrogen peroxide will remove a stain from different types of materials, but with certain materials, it can cause discoloration. It’s also very common to find ammonia in many carpet cleaning products. The strong odor of ammonia can be harmful to both people and pets. Products that contain ammonia should only be used in well-ventilated areas.

Testing Areas

Before you use any spot remover, make sure you test a very small, inconspicuous area. This will show you how your carpet responds to the cleaner, without risking ruining a large portion of your carpet. If you fail to test out a product before you liberally spray it all over your carpet, you may end up with dark brown spots or bleached areas of carpet. There’s no fixing this issue aside from having that particular room re-carpeted.


When you’re shopping for a spot remover, you’ll have your choice between powder and liquid formulas. Liquid products tend to work better for one-off spot treatments and will leave your carpet feeling damp for two to three hours. Powder products will require more work and must usually sit on a carpet for several hours before they’re vacuumed up.


You may need to use a product that’s also designed to combat odor, depending on the type of stain you’re dealing with. You’ll definitely want to use a product that can eliminate odors if you’re dealing with pet stains. Read carpet spot remover reviews to find out if the cleaning product you’re interested in has a powerful scent. Some homeowners prefer mild scents since a strong-smelling cleaner can be very overwhelming and can linger in the home for several weeks.

How to Use a Carpet Spot Remover

Aside from choosing the right type of cleaner, it’s also important to use the right tools for the job, whether it’s paper towels, a cloth, or a regular towel. Before spraying the stain with a cleaner, you need to blot the stain and remove as much of the liquid substance as possible. Be careful to avoid using a colored napkin or towel since these may transfer dye to your carpet.

The next step is spraying the area with the cleaner. You’ll allow the cleaner to sit for as long as directed. Some may require you to allow the spot remover to sit for several minutes or hours. Always pay close attention to the directions since these will give you the best results.

The right type of spot remover will have the power to eliminate the stain without damaging your carpet. These cleaning products should be tough enough to remove stains but safe enough to use around kids and pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Remove Old Stains From Carpet?

This can be a challenge for most people and can depend on the type of stain, how old it is, and what type of cleaner you’ve used in the past and recently. Many experienced cleaning professionals recommend first treating the stain using dish soap, white vinegar, and water. Use approximately two tablespoons of dish soap, a quarter cup of water, and a quarter cup of white vinegar. Pour the mixture over the stain and allow it to soak for fifteen minutes. Next, blot the area with a dry towel or paper towels. Next, you can treat the area with a stain remover, based on what type of stain it is, whether oil-based, organic, or water-based. Allow the area to dry and repeat treatment if needed.

How Do You Restore High Traffic Carpet?

In order to revive the carpet fibers in high traffic areas, you need to use an iron. Use a white towel and dampen it in warm water. The cloth should be placed over the matted area of carpet. Allow the towel to remain for five minutes. Next, remove the towel and use the iron over the area, moving it back and forth until the fibers straighten out. This process should be done once a month to keep your carpet looking lush and new.

Why Did My Carpet Turn Brown After Cleaning it?

When a carpet is cleaned, whether by you or a professional, you may notice some brown spots appearing. These brown spots are often a result of water not being extracted efficiently during the drying process. Essentially, the browning is caused by water wicking up the fibers of the carpet as it dries and bringing soil and debris from the padding to the surface.

Final Thoughts

The best carpet spot removers will work with a wide variety of carpet types, will not cause discoloration, and will feature a fast-acting formula that works quickly and efficiently to remove deep-down stains before they’ve had time to set and do some serious damage. Of course, the right product for your home can depend on many factors including what type of stains you need to remove. This alone will determine what type of cleaner you need to buy. If you want to be prepared for any type of mess that comes your way, then I recommend purchasing each type of stain remover, so you’ll always have the right cleaner on hand, which will go a long way toward ensuring your carpet stays looking new and smelling fresh for years to come.

About the author 

Karen Pugh