Best carpet stain removers - Which? (2023)

Carpet stain removers can be a lifesaver.We've all been there, that moment when time slows as the glass of red wine tumbles, and splashes onto your light carpet.

See how well-known carpet cleaner brands such as Dyson, Vax, Vanish and Dr. Beckmann compared when we tested them in January 2021. We also tested how the carpet stain removers you can buy fared against home remedies for getting rid of carpets stains, including hydrogen peroxide, bicarbonate of soda and Fairy Liquid.

Pricing and availability last checked: 7 October 2022.

Wanting a machine instead of a spray? Check out our guide on the best carpet cleaners.

The best carpet stain removers from our test

To put these stain removers to the test we dirtied carpet tiles with red wine and curry. We cleaned one lot of stains within the first five minutes and the other lot we allowed to dry on for 10 hours before tackling.

Best Buy: Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner

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Cheapest price:£4.50 available at Wilko (out of stock), also available at Morrisons.

Our verdict:Although this is aimed at cleaning carpets and upholstery in cars, we included it in our test as it comes up high in search when you're shopping online for carpet stain removers. We're glad we did, as it came out on top.

We found its built-in brush makes it easy to dig into the carpet and get to the deepest part of the stain. The shape of the spray and the brush's positioning made this far more functional than the other carpet cleaner with a built-in brush we tested, from Dr. Beckmann.

We were concerned about the brush's sharp bristles on our carpet tile but they were fine during our test.

Both sets of dried on stains (curry and red wine) came away after the first attempt. Fresh stains took two attempts to get rid of, but none of the other products we tested could beat that.

Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner stains before and after

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Pros: Fast and effective, practical design makes it easy to use

Cons: Take care with the brush's sharp bristles on more sensitive carpets.

Size: 400ml

Preparation and usage: Shake and spray onto the carpet. Allow foam to penetrate for 30 seconds and work into the fabric with brush cap in a circular motion.

Use a damp cloth to remove excess. Wipe the area with a dry cloth and allow to dry. Vacuum treated area.

Key features: Comes with a built-in brush, it's a foam applied by an aerosol

Best Buy: OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner

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Cheapest price:£3.80available at Wilko, also available at Amazon, Robert Dyas.

Our verdict:OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner is easy to use and very effective.

The spray has two settings to allow for a wider or more controlled burst of stain remover, making application easier to both larger and smaller blotches.

Although the spray does foam up (more so on the wide setting) it's not as powerful as the Simoniz, so you will need a bit more elbow grease to work this into the carpet.

Its lavender scent worked wonders getting rid of the smells of the stains. However, when it first mixed with the curry stain, the mixture of odours was a little overpowering.

Like the Simoniz, the OzKleen carpet power cleaner removed the fresh stains within two attempts and the dried red wine within one attempt. However, it did take two cleans to completely remove the dried curry stain.

OzKleen Carpet Power Cleaner stains before and after

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Pros: Extremely effective against red wine, adjustable spray settings

Cons:Lavender scent plus curry smell was somewhat odorous combination

(Video) 🏆 Top 5 Best Carpet Stain Remover in 2020-21 🌟Expert Guide🌟

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage: Spray Carpet Power directly onto stain and gently work from outer stain to centre with a clean damp cloth or sponge. Leave for up to five minutes.

Thoroughly rinse excess product from the stain by gently pressing with a damp cloth, aided by small amounts of water.

Leave to dry. Vacuum if needed.

Key features: Spray has a safety lock, two different spray settings, lavender fragrance, it's a liquid carpet stain remover

How the rest of the carpet stain removers fared

Here's our verdict on the other carpet stain removers we tested, listed alphabetically.

Dr. Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover

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Cheapest price:£2.79 available at Tesco, also available at ASDA, Sainsbury's, Wilko.

Our verdict: Like the Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner, this has a built-in brush. To use this one though, you have to pierce a hole in the safety cap beneath the brush and then a bit of the solution dribbles out as you scrub the brush across the carpet.

We found this design made it very difficult to control the amount of cleaning solution being applied to the stain. We also found the bottle somewhat unwieldy.

Dr. Beckmann was middling when it came to successfully removing the stains. It tackled both red wine and curry stains eventually, but it needed a few more tries than our Best Buys. It did better on dried than fresh red wine stains but was the other way round for the curry stains.

Pros: Effective on dried red wine stains

Cons:Design makes it hard to control the amount of solution being used

Size: 650ml

Preparation and usage:Before first use, unscrew the brush head, pierce a small hole in the seal about 2mm in diameter (do not remove the seal to prevent over-saturating the carpet).

Screw the brush head on again, taking care not to overtighten. Remove loose dirt and blot up any spills.

Shake the bottle and gently squeeze to moisten the brush. Apply by holding the bottle so the brush is flat against the stain, then work the formula lightly into the stain. Do not soak the stain; let the foam do the work.

Leave for three minutes, then remove all residue with a damp, white cloth. Repeat if necessary. Rinse the brush cap after every use.

Key features:Comes with built-in brush, it's a liquid carpet stain remover

Dyson Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder

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Cheapest price:£9.99 available at Currys, also available at Amazon, Dyson.

This is billed as a carpet maintenance powder rather than a carpet stain remover, but we included it in our test as it's been reviewed a lot online for dealing with stains.

Our verdict:Was able to get rid of the dried wine stain within two tries but failed to remove the fresh red wine stain within the four attempts we tested. It took four applications of the product to remove the fresh curry stain, but the dried-on stain was still there after the fourth attempt.

Once the powder is poured into the area and worked into the carpet you have to leave it for 30 minutes. If you have children or pets you'll need to cordon off the area to prevent the spread of the Zorb granules. Like sand, the tiny sponges can end up all over your house if you don't do this.

Dyson Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder stains before and after

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Pros: Doesn't leave a slow drying wet patch on your carpet

Cons:30 minute wait time can be inconvenient, using it on damp stain means the powder is damp when you vacuum it up which makes a bit of a mess in your vacuum cleaner.

(Video) Remove Virtually ANY Spot From Carpet With 6 Common Household Items You Probably Already Have

Size: 750g

Preparation and usage:Work the dry powder into your carpet, wait 30 minutes, then vacuum it away.

Key features:Powder made of millions of tiny sponges

HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner

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Cheapest price:£6available at Homebase, also available at Amazon.

Our verdict:The HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner did really well against both red wine stains and the fresh curry stain. But it struggled with the dried curry stain, and took four attempts to clear.

The spray felt a bit weaker than others we tested and dribbled a bit. This meant it felt like we had to apply more sprays. But it had the widest spray of those we tested.

HG Spot & Stain Spray Cleaner stains before and after

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Pros: Spray makes it easier to tackle large stains

Cons:Needs a lot of elbow grease to work

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usageSpray the surface to be cleaned. Wipe up the dirt with a clean cloth or kitchen paper and rub dry.

On synthetic carpets and upholstery, brush in with a small soft brush, then remove the dirt and dry with a cloth or kitchen paper

Key featuresSpray safety lock included, this is a liquid solution

Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover

Cheapest price:£4.98 available at Homebase, also available at The Range.

Our verdict:The Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover proved to be an all-round good stain remover in our tests. After its first use, the oxygen boosted spray removed most of both of our stains, leaving a very faded patch. A few more cleans completely removed both stains.

We found there was not much scrubbing needed when using this product as the solution seemed to do most of the work.

Rug Doctor Oxy Power Stain Remover stains before and after

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Pros: Not much scrubbing needed

Cons:Needed a few attempts to fully remove the stains

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage:Shake bottle well and turn the nozzle to ON position.

Remove any solids or excess liquids with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel.

Generously spray evenly over the affected area and let stand for three to five minutes maximum. Do not overwet the area.

Blot away stain gently with a clean, damp, colour safe sponge or cloth.

Key features: Has a spray safety lock, is an oxygen boosted spray, it's a liquid solution

Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray

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(Video) AMAZING Way To SUPER CLEAN The NASTIEST & DIRTEST Carpet & Upholstery!

Cheapest price:£4.15available at Amazon, s also available at Morrisons,Ocado, Sainsbury's.

Our verdict:Vanish Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Sprayreally struggled with both the fresh red wine and the dried curry stains. Though, it did well on the dried red wine and the wet curry stain.

The design of the bottle made this one of the most comfortable carpet stain removers we tested to grip. The grooved design allowed space for fingers to fit snugly.

The Vanish stain remover had an impressive foaming spray that hit a large surface area. But the foam required more elbow grease to press it into the carpet and attack the stain.

Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery, Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Spray stains before and after

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Pros: Comfortable to hold and use

Cons:Needs a lot of elbow grease

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage:Remove dirt, spray (for a max of five minutes), blot

Key features:Has a spray safety lock, this is a foaming spray.

Vax Spot and Stain Solution

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Only available at Amazon: £9.98

Our verdict: The first few attempts at cleaning up the fresh red wine stain seemed to have little effect. However, by the time the fourth attempt had dried, the stain was no longer visible.But theVax spray got rid of the dried red wine stain first time.

This spray was more effective against the fresh curry stain than the dried one.

It needed quite a bit of elbow grease to get it to foam up once applied and with all the stain samples it took a considerable time to fully dry afterwards.

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/carpet-cleaners/article/best-carpet-stain-removers-aTHYZ4l2rZJx

Pros:Wide spray, useful for big stains (but not so much for small stains)

Cons:Needed elbow grease and took a long tie to dry

Size: 500ml

Preparation and usage:Blot away any excess liquid. Spray the solution directly onto the stain and leave to work for a few minutes. With a dry microfibre cloth work the solution from the outside edge inwards. Leave to dry. Repeat if necessary.

Key features:Spray safety lock, floral infusion scent, liquid solution

Best carpet stain remover home remedies

Wondering how to remove stains from the carpet when you don't have a bottle of any of those we tested handy?

As well as testing carpet stain removers you can buy in a bottle or can, we also subjected popular home remedies you might find when you search online for 'best carpet stain removers' to the same strict tests.

Here's how they did:

Washing-up liquid and water

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(Video) How to Remove Coffee Stains From Carpet (Even if a Pro Couldn't)

We used Fairy Platinum Quick Wash washing-up liquid and warm tap water. One squirt of soap (about a teaspoon) in 100ml of warm water.

Our verdict:This worked every time and was the best of the home remedies we tested. Although it needed a lot of elbow grease, it outdid many of the products on test too.

The soap smell was much nicer than the fragrance of the commercial products. It also dried the quickest (but still took more than 12 hours).

If you don't have the correct spray to hand and you've got a fresh stain that needs tackling, this is definitely the home remedy to go for.

Hydrogen peroxide

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We used a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution neat, applying two tablespoons to the stain.

Our verdict:This works, but the smell is awful and lingers, so much so that you need to wash it out with soap and water.

We didn't notice any bleaching from it on our light grey carpet tiles.

White wine

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White wine shifts red wine stains, or that's what the received wisdom says anyway. We set out to see if this was true.

We used La Vieille Ferme White wine.

Our verdict:It took two helpings of white wine to remove both the dried and fresh red wine stains. The white wine didn't need much in the way of scrubbing between pouring. It was like it got rid of the stain on its own.

But the wine smell left behind then needed dealing with.

If you didn't have a cleaning product in the cupboard, then we'd say go for the white wine. However, to save yourself the job of an extra clean to remove the smell, use soap for cleaning and save the wine for drinking.

Vinegar

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We used distilled vinegar neat, applying three tablespoons to the stain.

Our verdict:Like most of the home remedies we tried, vinegar works, but also like most of the home remedies, the smell left behind then needed cleaning up.

Save yourself the hassle of this second clean just to get rid of the smell and stick to soap and water or one of our Best Buys.

Read more: Eight things you really shouldn't clean with vinegar.

Bicarbonate of soda

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We tried two different bicarb mixes for these tests. One with warm water and one with vinegar. With both mixes we sprinkled the bicarbonate of soda over the stain, fully covering it. Then poured over the liquid until it was all drenched.

Our verdict:If you everdid the volcano experiment at school you know how this goes. It's very visually impressive. That being said, don't use bicarbonate of soda to clean red wine stains. When we tried it, it appeared to react with the wine stain and we were left with a large patch of carpet with a blue tinge.

It did, however, work on the curry stains, proving slightly more effective with vinegar. The downside to using vinegar is the smell. Unless you like that sort of thing. Either way, you probably don't want your carpet smelling of vinegar so you need to clean that scent out afterwards.

How we tested carpet stain removers

For all of the carpet stain remover products and home remedies, we followed a strict set of tests.

For these tests, we took 50 x 50 cm carpet tiles and split them into five equal zones. Each zone was used for a stain. One of each type of stain for each product and home remedy being examined.

Furnish your home to perfection with ourhow to buy the best carpetguide.

Types of stain used

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  • Fresh red wine
  • Dried red wine

The red wine was chosen on the advice of a wine expert, who told us cheaper red wines were typically worse for a lingering odour but all red wines will stain more or less the same. We applied two teaspoons to each zone.

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  • Fresh curry
  • Dried curry

The curry paste was chosen because of our personal knowledge of its staining power. We applied one tablespoon to each zone.

Fresh stains were cleaned within five minutes of application, while dried stains were left for 10 hours.

With the advice from our vacuum experts, we chose to test on a deep pile Saxony grey carpet. This being the most common and popular in the UK.

We planned to also test on fresh and dried mud stains. But when we started the mud tests we found mud was so easy to clean up it wasn't worth including.

Cleaning

The most important test in our investigation. Each product and home remedy was given four chances to remove the stain.

The fewer chances needed, the higher they scored. If more than four tries were needed, they failed.

After each clean, the zone was examined to see how visible the stain still was.

Odour

We smelt each stain zone before and after it was cleaned. Each was ranked from least odorous to most.

Bleaching

Using a cleaning product to remove a stain only to find a colourless patch in its place would not be ideal. In this test, we examined the zones after all needed cleaning attempts and again after the zone had fully dried. We compared them to an unstained carpet tile to see if there had been any bleaching.

Texture of carpet

We compared the cleaned zones to an unstained piece of carpet to see if there had been an effect on the carpet's texture.

We compared them directly after cleaning and then after the zones had dried.

Ease of use

We recorded how much elbow grease was needed to clean off the stain with each of the products and home remedies. They were then ranked from most elbow grease needed to least on a scale of one to five, with one for most elbow grease needed and five for least.

What happened when we re-tested on tomato ketchup?

Which? members told us they wanted to know how well carpet stain removers worked on tomato ketchup, so we re-tested our Best Buys and the home remedy that came out top in our tests. We can report that they did just as good a job as they had done with the curry and red wine stains we originally tested them on.

You can see the evidence below. The top set of images shows the before and after when using our Best Buys. The bottom set of images shows the before and after when using the home remedy that came top in our tests.

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How we picked these carpet stain removers

We looked at carpet stain removers which could be used without a carpet cleaner machine.

(Video) Top 5 Best Carpet Stain Removers 2022

We examined the market and what products were available from nationwide retailers such as Amazon, Homebase, Wilko and Robert Dyas (to name a few). As well as what was on the shelf in the UK's supermarkets.

We bought all the products we tested.

FAQs

How do you remove impossible stains from carpet? ›

Apply a solution of dish soap and hydrogen peroxide and let sit for one minute. Once settled, apply water and soak the stain away with a cloth or paper towel. Repeat if necessary.

Which stain remover is most effective? ›

Stain Removers
  • OxiClean MaxForce Spray. Price. Sold by. ...
  • OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray. Price. ...
  • Shout Triple-Acting Spray. Price. ...
  • Spray 'n Wash Laundry Stain Remover Spray. Price. ...
  • Spray 'n Wash Max Spray. Price. ...
  • Shout Advanced Action Gel Liquid. Price. ...
  • Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release. Price. ...
  • Persil ProClean Stain Fighter. Price.
27 Nov 2019

Does WD 40 Remove carpet stains? ›

Often, even the most powerful of vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, or home remedies aren't able to get rid of the most stubborn stains. This is when WD-40 comes in handy. Its activated formula equips you to remove carpet stains within a few minutes!

How do you remove set in stains? ›

For this you can either fill a container with enough vinegar to completely cover the stain, and place the item in to soak, or, you can mix several tablespoons of white vinegar and your favorite laundry detergent in a bucket of water and soak the stain overnight.

Will baking soda and vinegar get stains out of carpet? ›

If you're looking for a natural and inexpensive way to clean stains and odors from your carpets, then you can't go wrong with baking soda or vinegar.

Can professional carpet cleaners get all stains out? ›

Conclusion. Professional cleaning is indeed successful in removing stains from your carpet. With a little professional help from us and the use of top-notch cleaning equipment that we use, you can restore the look of your living room's carpet.

What is a stain that Cannot be removed? ›

Greasy / Oil Stains – such as hand lotion, hair mousse, lard and butter. Oxidisable Stains – key ingredient in alcoholic drinks, coffee and tea (without milk) and soft drinks. Particulate Stains – such as mud and ground in dirt. Combination Stains – these stains can be a mix of two or more of the above stain types.

Are there stains that are impossible to remove? ›

The short answer is unfortunately no, not all stains can be removed, and here are three reasons why. The longer a stain is left untreated, the less likely it is to be removed.

Will Magic Eraser remove carpet stains? ›

Use a Magic Eraser to Remove Carpet Stains

Everyone seems to have at least a couple of carpet stains that are too stubborn to remove with regular carpet cleaner. Surprisingly, the Magic Eraser works on carpet! With a damp Magic Eraser, wipe the stain, going over it multiple times. Goodbye stain!

What is the powerful stain removing ingredient? ›

Hydrogen Peroxide is a powerful DIY stain remover that can safely be used on your laundry. It works for tough grass stains and blood stains!

What is a powerful homemade stain remover? ›

#1 Baking Soda

Baking soda has many uses but works superbly at cutting through and removing tough stains, Baking Soda is a mild alkaline so it is able to cut through strong stains like grease, oil, gravy and even stains such as vomit and faeces.

What's better borax or OxiClean? ›

Both products perform similarly and cost about the same. Go with the safer option. Not only is OxiClean the safer option, but it comes in several forms, including powder, liquid spray, and laundry detergent; borax is only sold as a powder. Learn more about the many ways you can use OxiClean on Amazon or OxiClean.com.

How do I remove deep stains? ›

Sponge or soak stain in cool water. Pretreat with prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, liquid detergent booster or paste of powder laundry product and water. Launder using sodium hypochlorite bleach, if safe for fabric, or oxygen bleach.

How do you remove heavy stains? ›

Scrub in Baking Soda

Sprinkle a little baking soda over the top of your soaped-up stain and scrub the baking soda into the fabric using an old toothbrush. The combination of dish soap and baking soda should form a paste. Once you've scrubbed for a minute or so, let the mix sit for one hour.

What happens if you leave stain remover on too long? ›

Leaving stain removers like Vanish on your garments for too long can have potentially permanent consequences. One possibility is that Vanish could cause the colour of the fabric to fade visibly in the area where the stain was. Another potential outcome is that it may leave a visible ring around where the stain was.

How long do you let vinegar sit on carpet? ›

Ideally, you should mix about one half vinegar with one half water in a spray bottle, and mist the area gently. Let the solution sit for about five to ten minutes and blot it gently but firmly with paper towels. Repeat until the stain disappears.

Can you leave baking soda on carpet too long? ›

You should leave baking soda on your carpet for a minimum of three hours, but you can go up to 24 hours.

Can white vinegar damage carpet? ›

Trust us on this; the vinegar will not remove stains that are embedded in your carpet and may, in fact, harm your carpet fibers. You'll end up with the same dirt you had before, but with the added problem of color fading and changes in carpet texture.

Do carpet steamers remove stains? ›

If you use a steam cleaner on your carpets, you can expect nearly pristine results. The process should deal effectively with most stains, dirt, and debris and can remove allergens and pests.

Why do carpet stains come back after cleaning? ›

There are two primary causes of carpet re-spotting: Wicking and Residue. One originates below the carpet fibers, in the backing or pad of the carpet. The other originates in the carpet fibers themselves. Stains that resurface as a result of wicking originate below the carpet fibers.

Why does my carpet still look dirty after cleaning? ›

Carpets that still look dirty or have stains reappear after cleaning is a result of something called wicking. This is due to over wetting the carpet, the backing, and pad which causes them to return back to the surface once dry.

How do you remove a long term stain? ›

Douse the stain with white vinegar, then apply a paste made of equal parts baking soda and vinegar. If this doesn't work, immerse the item overnight in a bucket of water containing a few tablespoons of detergent and vinegar. Rinse and wash the following morning.

What are permanent stains? ›

Permanent or stubborn stains are typically caused by spillages that are not removed quickly after they occurred. The key to handle such challenging spots is to remove the stains immediately after you discover it.

Are any stains permanent? ›

However, most stains will become permanent if left untreated too long. When first coming into contact with fabric, most stains will initially remain on the surface and can be removed relatively easily. Over time, stains absorb into the fabric and permeate the fibres.

How do I remove unknown set stains? ›

Wipe the stain with a cloth dipped in a solution of washing soda or detergent and water. Rinse well and wipe dry. If any stain remains, cover with an absorbent pad moistened with rubbing alcohol. Let it remain several minutes, then wipe the area with a cloth dampened with ammonia.

Does Vanish carpet stain remover work? ›

Thankfully Vanish can help remove tough carpet stains as quickly as they appear. Read on to discover how our stain-busting carpet treatments and powerful Oxi Action formula can work wonders on even the most stubborn spots.

Does Pine Sol remove carpet stains? ›

Give Original Pine-Sol a try to help clean carpet stains and more. Rub in a splash of Original Pine-Sol® where needed. You can spot-treat grease or heavy dirt marks, or use all-around for a refresh. If you're not sure your carpet is colorfast, be sure to test an inconspicuous area first.

Does shaving foam remove carpet stains? ›

An easy, low-cost solution to get rid of carpet stains is shaving cream. Spray the stain with some foam shaving cream (not the gel kind) and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, blot it with a clean cloth. This solution works on a wide range of stain types, including grease.

What will permanently stain carpet? ›

Certain types of fibers, such as wool, cotton, silk, and some nylons are particularly susceptible to permanent staining from coffee, tea, wine, etc. Be aware of hot liquids, especially. Of course, bleach and household chemicals (see below) can cause permanent staining as well.

Does vinegar and baking soda remove old stains from carpet? ›

One of the most effective methods you can use to remove old stains from carpet is a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Old stains can ruin the appearance and inherent value of your carpet like no other.

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