Inexpensive. Highly rated by pet owners for removal of cat and dog urine and odor. Pro-tip: shake the bottle before use to activate the enzymes. Usable either on its own or in a carpet cleaner.
Product requires patience. Odor increases for 24-48 hours as the enzymes work. For some, this ammonia-like smell is intolerable and does not dissipate.
Fresh linen scent. Designed to renew and revitalize carpet while cleaning. Safe to use on a majority of carpet fabrics. Can handle old, extremely stubborn stains. Pet-safe. Works on upholstery and car interiors as well.
Not hypoallergenic. Best results with a separate stain treatment.
Highly concentrated and nontoxic formula. Removes pet stains. Features a fresh essential-oil scent. Can be used in steam cleaners. Biodegradable. Great for cleaning machines. Leaping Bunny-certified.
Some noted the scent can be too strong.
It’s efficient when cleaning the whole carpet and equally good at spot cleaning. It uses a dry foam process that prevents your carpet from absorbing too much moisture, which can cause damage and mold growth.
Some could smell the neutral cleaning odor of it for a day or 2 after use.
It can be used with most upright Bissell carpet cleaners on carpets, area rugs, and upholstery. It uses biodegradable detergents and contains no dyes or phosphates. Each purchase goes in part to the Bissell Pet Foundation.
Some found the smell to be too strong or otherwise unpleasant.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
The floor of any household eventually and inevitably gets dirty. Dust, particles, and other contaminants from the outside world are tracked inside. Open windows usher in pollen and other allergens. Inside inhabitants, particularly children and pets, create their own messes, too.
Carpet can be tricky to clean. Thick carpet easily captures all kinds of stains and odors, but even short, dense carpet holds on to unwanted residue and debris. Fortunately, you can use carpet shampoo to clean stains and odors. Some shampoos even work preventatively to stave off problems in the future.
Any given carpet shampoo may tackle a variety of surfaces or focus on specific issues, such as pet soiling. Ingredients and instructions vary from product to product. For best results, choose a carpet shampoo that’s appropriate for your lifestyle and needs.
Carpet shampoo is usually used in conjunction with a carpet cleaner. However, some shampoos can be squirted directly from the bottle for spot cleaning. Make sure the carpet shampoo you buy is compatible with your carpet cleaner, and know that some shampoos are more effective than others.
The bottle should provide specific instructions on how and under what circumstances to use the shampoo. Follow the protocols exactly for best results. If you use too much or too little, it could result in a poor cleaning job, too much foam, too strong of a smell, or wasted product.
What is your goal in purchasing carpet shampoo? Some products focus on specific problems, like a particular type of stain or odor. For example, you may want a shampoo that tackles grease stains in your dining area. Other products are more generally focused. These “all-purpose” shampoos are designed for regular maintenance cleanings throughout the year.
Smaller containers of carpet shampoo may contain 16 to 25 ounces of product. Larger jugs may contain a half or full gallon. There is usually a price-per-ounce discount on larger quantities, but keep in mind you must find a place in your home to store these larger jugs of shampoo.
People with pets and children often find it worthwhile to keep a spot spray on hand to supplement regular cleanings.
If you want a sustainable and healthy product, look for carpet shampoo that explicitly advertises non-toxic ingredients without harsh chemicals. Components you may want to avoid include phosphates, sulfates, bleach, chlorine, and dye. Many of these cleaners also steer clear of animal products and animal testing.
Be wary of any false implications, though. A cleaning product might be advertised as “green” or “eco-friendly,” but these terms aren’t regulated or easily defined. Some companies use the color green to suggest their product is earth-friendly, but you can’t be sure unless the label explicitly states what is (and isn’t) included in the bottle.
Some carpet shampoos help remove allergens and dander from carpet. This is especially useful if you live in an area ripe with pollens and other allergens. Even if you’re careful, outdoor pets and children may bring pollen and other unwanted particles into your home. Look for a shampoo designed to counter such allergens.
Most carpet shampoos serve as solutions to problems, tending to stains and odors after they occur. However, formulas exist that actually help prevent future accidents from happening, particularly when it comes to pet urine.
If you share your home with a young pup or other furry friends, you’ll want to make sure that any marking isn’t done a second time. Look for a carpet shampoo that doesn’t just remove urine and odor but also works to deter messes in the future.
Despite the name, some carpet shampoo isn’t just for carpet. Multipurpose options may tackle furniture and upholstery, including the interior of your car. Some carpet cleaners can also be used to clean floors, countertops, or appliances.
While this multifunctionality is certainly convenient, be wary of carpet cleaners that claim to clean “all surfaces.” These products may be decent at one job but not as good at another. For example, an “all-purpose” cleaner may provide an okay (but not great) carpet cleaning.
For those with big and bold carpets, there is a worry that over-cleaning could degrade the beauty of the rug. Some carpet shampoos boast a color-brightening component to keep your carpet looking new.
Carpet shampoos range from aromatic to unscented. The decision of which to get may come down to personal preference. Keep in mind that either option could result in a strong smell. Scented carpet shampoo may be overpowering or off-putting to some, while “unscented” shampoo may impart a strong chemical smell that’s equally intrusive.
Carpet powder: Capture Dry Cleaner
Powder can be used to supplement carpet shampoo as needed. Check out this inexpensive product from Capture that’s effective on a variety of surfaces for spot cleaning.
Carpet cleaner: Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner
Most carpet shampoo works in tandem with a motorized cleaner. We love this heavy-duty, fast-acting machine from Bissell, a leading name in cleaning.
Carpet sweeper: Rubbermaid Dual Action Mechanical Sweeper
Before using carpet shampoo, make sure you get rid of any apparent dirt. For areas with a lot of foot traffic, this efficient and inexpensive sweeper from Rubbermaid is a worthy investment.
For under $10, you can find small bottles of carpet shampoo, including spray bottle options for spot cleaning.
Most carpet shampoos run between $15 and $30, depending on size. In this price range, you’ll find options to eliminate oil- and water-based stains as well as pet odors.
For over $30, you’ll find larger quantities of carpet shampoo. These products are usually meant to be used with machines to cover a vast area.
A. Carpets should be cleaned at least once a year, but doing so every four to six months is a good idea. If your carpet withstands a lot of traffic, you may want to shampoo it often. This holds true for light-colored carpet that reveals dirt and stains as well.
It’s best to spot clean any time there is an accident, particularly if it’s pet-related. The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove, even with the best carpet shampoo.
A. Some carpet shampoos require dilution prior to use. Follow product instructions to the nose for best results. While it may seem like companies want you to use a lot of product in order to buy more later on, cutting corners on water or product volume could have bad results.
A. When shampooing with a cleaner, most processes take four to six hours from start to finish. The range may be higher or lower depending on your particular machine, shampoo, and carpet. It’s best to plan ahead, as you may want to evacuate the house for the drying process — especially if there is a chemical odor associated with your shampoo.
It may also be worth running over the carpet a second time with cold water in the machine to remove any leftover shampoo without further activating it.
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