BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Home

Best carpet cleaning solution

Which carpet cleaning solution is best?

Whether you’re working on getting out a tough stain or your carpets just need a refresher, you’ll need a carpet cleaning solution. Depending on the soil level, type of carpet and age of the stain, different solutions will work better than others.

Of the many solutions on the market, you can’t go wrong with Carpet Miracle Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer, especially for pet owners. It’s praised for its ability to lift serious stains and odors while being nontoxic and eco-friendly.


This article was reviewed and approved by Ketia Daniel, the BestReviews Cleaning Expert.


What to know before you buy a carpet cleaning solution

Stain type

  • Water-soluble stains: These are stains made by substances that can dissolve in water. Examples are mud, dirt and coffee. When choosing a solution for a water-soluble stain, check the water content of the solution before you purchase it.
  • Oil-based stains: Like from grease or lipstick, oil-based stains can be tricky. One reason for this is that fats are attracted to other fats. Since synthetic carpet often has petroleum content, it acts like a magnet for oil-based stains. An alcohol-based cleaner is your best bet, although it’s recommended you first treat the spot with baking soda or cornstarch to soak up as much of the oil as possible.
  • Protein-based stains: These include milk and blood. It’s important to remember heat and acid make protein-based stains even darker. You must use cold water and an enzymatic cleaner to lift a protein-based stain.

Cleaning solution type

All carpet cleaners use some sort of surfactant. Because of the science behind surfactants, they have the ability to lift dye from certain fibers, so knowing your carpet’s fiber type is critical.

Oxidizers are a popular option because they are safer on dyed fibers. They work by pushing out the chromophore — the part of the molecule that creates a color — using oxygen molecules. In a way, a gentle oxidizer essentially bleaches a surface stain without removing the deeply-set dyes. These include things such as sodium percarbonate (better known as OxiClean) or weak hydrogen peroxide. As great as oxidizers are, be careful with natural fibers such as wool or silk. Oxidizers can weaken the fibers themselves, leading to breakage.

The harshest type of carpet cleaning solution is an alcohol or acid-based solution. A good example is white vinegar. Alcohol and acid-based cleaners use brute force to dissolve and corrode the stain. If you ever need to use one of these, always dilute them by mixing one part cleaner to at least two parts water.

Active ingredients

Always check the ingredients, specifically the active ingredients, on a cleaner before you buy it. That lets you know whether it will work for the stain you’re working on and how it will impact your carpet fibers.


If you’re using a carpet cleaning machine to clean your floors, check whether the solution you’re considering is compatible with your machine. Most have compatible machines labeled, but if they don’t, always follow the instructions carefully.

Carpet material

Double-check with your home builder about what type of fiber your carpet is. Different cleaners can damage your carpets, depending on the type of fiber. To be safe, always do a spot check when using a new cleaner.

What to look for in a quality carpet cleaning solution


Going with a cleaner that is in some part enzymatic will speed up the cleaning process. It’s also a great option for pet stains, protein-based stains and tough odors. Many all-in-one cleaners have an enzymatic component now.

Pet- and kid-safe

If you have pets or kids in the house, make sure you find a carpet cleaning solution that is labeled as pet-safe, kid-safe or nontoxic. 

High-concentration formulas

If you can find a solution that has a high-concentration formula, give it a second glance. These typically last longer because you need less to dilute it and they are often stronger. You can customize how much you use if you have an especially deep stain.


Look for a solution that is non-foaming. With a foaming solution, you run the risk of residue being left on your carpet. The residue will attract dirt and dust, eventually making the stain seem to reappear simply because of the residue.

High pH

A higher pH level in your cleaning solution means you have a more basic chemical formula. The higher the pH, the better the solution will bond with an acidic organic material such as coffee, grease and dirt. This makes lifting the stain easier.

How much you can expect to spend on a carpet cleaning solution

For a quality carpet cleaning solution, plan on spending $15-$50 depending on the size of the bottle and formula you choose.

Carpet cleaning solution FAQ

What is the best carpet cleaning solution?

A. The best carpet cleaning solution really depends on the type of stain or soiled carpet you’re dealing with. For example, a protein-based stain would benefit most from an enzymatic cleaner while an oxidizer is great for synthetic, dyed carpets. In general, a great all-purpose cleaner works for general cleaning.

Does vinegar harm carpet?

A. While vinegar is safe to use on stains after it’s been diluted, it can still pose a threat to natural-fiber carpets such as wool or silk. The acid in the vinegar can damage the structural integrity of the natural fibers, sometimes permanently. Always spot-check in a discreet area before using a solution on the rest of your carpet.

What’s the best carpet cleaning solution to buy?

Top carpet cleaning solution

Carpet Miracle Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer

What you need to know: This is an enzymatic cleaner that users love, especially those with pets. 

What you’ll love: This is touted as a “miracle” for pet owners who have tried everything else. You can use it in either a machine or as a spot treatment and it even has a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee. It’s also safe for kids and pets. 

What you should consider: It does have a minty fragrance that may be overwhelming for some. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top carpet cleaning solution for the money

Zep All-Purpose Carpet Shampoo

What you need to know: For a strong all-purpose cleaner on a budget, this is the solution for you. 

What you’ll love: Full of industrial-strength cleaners, this all-purpose carpet shampoo is well-loved for its effectiveness. It’s great for general carpet cleaning, as well as treating spots with a carpet cleaner. 

What you should consider: This is meant to be used in a carpet cleaning machine so you’ll need to have one. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot.

Worth checking out

Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover Carpet Shampoo

What you need to know: Another highly effective enzymatic cleaner, this is made for tackling tough, smelly pet stains. 

What you’ll love: If you have pets, you need this on your shelf. It’s enzymatic formula eats away the stains and odors from pet messes. It’s recommended that you shake the bottle before use to activate the enzymes. 

What you should consider: It has an ammonia-like smell some won’t be able to tolerate. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and Home Depot


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: