How we test carpet cleaner stain removers


The dirty business of finding the most-effective carpet cleaners.

Getting to the bottom of the rug pile


Carpet stain removers are a once-in-a-while sort of product – unless you have the pitter patter of any sort of tiny feet around as a constant. There are some very popular products on the market, ranging from just over $2, all the way to $23.95. So how do we find out how well they perform?

Need to get a stain out, pronto? Take a look at our carpet stain remover reviews.

Our expert testers

Our expert testers review a wide range of products – from laundry detergents to dishwasher detergents – even dishwashing liquids.

How we choose what we test

Our market researchers find out what the most popular brands are on the market. They'll survey manufacturers about their latest models, and ask them whether they'll stick around beyond publication time.

Carpet cleaners come in a variety of applications, from foam spray to liquid spray to a powder.

We also put a couple of home recipes through the testing regime and found some performed even better than retail versions. The best one was the first recipe below, but make sure you use a good dishwashing liquid in the recipe. We used the best performing one from our dishwashing liquid test.

Home recipe 1

Ingredients
2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid 
3 tablespoons white vinegar 
1/4 cup water
Directions
Work the combined mixture into the stain being careful not to over-wet the carpet and blot it dry with a clean towel.

Home recipe 2

Ingredients
1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Clean absorbent towel
Clean sponge
Directions
Spray the soiled area with the carpet cleaner being careful not to over-wet the carpet, and then gently rub and dab with the towel.

How we test

We soil cream-coloured carpet with four soils; red wine, coffee, sauces and dirt/oil. Reflectance readings are taken of the soiled carpet stains. 

We follow the directions for applying the product and the amount of time it should be left on the stain. The time differs depending on the manufacturer recommendation. Once the product is removed, the reflectance readings are taken and the percentage soil removal is calculated. We repeat the test four times for each stain, or 16 carpet tiles for each product.

Because each carpet stain remover falls into a category (spray, foam, powder), we test to a couple of different methods to accommodate manufacturer directions for use.

Method 1

5mL of product is applied to the centre of the carpet square and left for a set amount of time. A damp cloth is then used to massage the product into the carpet for 30 seconds, and the carpet tile is then left to dry. 

Method 2

5g of product is applied to the centre of the carpet square and a cloth is used to massage the product into the carpet for 30 seconds. The carpet is left for a set time, then the tile is vacuumed. 

Method 3

5g of product is applied to the centre of the carpet square. The carpet is left for a set amount of time, then the tile is vacuumed. 

Method 4

5mL of product is applied to the centre of the carpet square and brushed in for 30 seconds, and the carpet square is left for a set time. Then a damp cloth is then used to massage the product into the carpet for 30 seconds, and the carpet tile is then left to dry. 

Test criteria explained

Overall score is made up equally of each stain type.

Ready to buy?

Our latest carpet stain remover reviews reveal all.


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