I’m sure we all dream of that day when we moved into our house and had those move-in-clean carpets; they looked so inviting to walk across without any socks on and there was no second thought when it came to sprawling out on them. But, inevitably, life happens, and your clean carpets experience spilled wine, kids’ muddy shoes, and pets’ hair that leaves it looking not-so-nice anymore.
When a simple vacuum or wet wipe won’t do, you’ll want to make sure you have one of the best carpet shampoos of 2023 on hand to tackle the toughest stains, dirt, and grime that life throws your way. It may not restore them to move-in-day condition, but at least you won’t have to think twice about laying down again. Our list contains some of the top-rated shampoos on the market, reviewed by cleaning experts who care about your home’s cleanliness as much as their own.
Buying Guide to the Best Carpet Shampoos, According to Experts
There are many manufacturers and brands of carpet shampoos available today on the market. These cleaning solutions for carpets vary in terms of quality, features, and overall performance. So the question is: which shampoo is suitable for your carpet? To help you figure that out, we are here with a complete buying guide that explains some types, features, and factors you must consider before buying an ideal product for your carpets.
What Are the Different Types of Carpet Shampoos?
Spray and foam
Since the spray and foam shampoos are easy to apply and use, they are perfect for cleaning specific areas that require quick cleaning. Just spray the product, let it soak for the instructed time, and then scrub it off before cleaning it with a vacuum cleaner. As always, it’s recommended to read the instructions before using any carpet cleaner.
Powder products are the easiest options to clean spots that require urgent attention. All you need to do is to sprinkle the cleaning product on the stain and let it do its magic by keeping it on for the mentioned time before vacuuming. Unlike spray and foam, there is no scrubbing required to vanish these stubborn stains.
Liquid carpet shampoos
If you are thinking of cleaning a larger area, liquid carpet shampoos are the perfect option. But, some liquid cleaning solutions for carpets are also designed for small spaces that you can use to freshen up your whole carpet. Because they come in large quantities typically, they’re great either for a large clean or to make sure you’re always prepared.
What Features Should You Consider To Choose the Best Carpet Shampoo?
Some of the carpet shampoos available on the market help remove allergens that can make you sick, which is beneficial for people living in an area with high pollen and other allergen concentrations. Even if you’re careful, children and pets may bring these unwanted allergens into your home, so look for a product with anti-allergens in it to keep your family healthy.
A lot of carpet shampoos are made with fragrances. But, some people are sensitive to fragrances, or even too strong of scents can become overwhelming to other people in your family, pets, or visitors. Always opt for a product that is light-scented and comfortable for everyone.
Some carpet shampoos feature color-brightening components in their product. Consider the color of the carpet you are cleaning, it’s current state, and whether or not it would be beneficial to have that added boost of color-brightening. If the main problem is simply odor-based, you may find you don’t need that.
What Are the Factors To Consider When Purchasing the Best Carpet Shampoos?
Ease of use
The most crucial factor to keep in mind is ease of use. You must ensure that the product you are purchasing is user-friendly. Some carpet shampoos come ready to use, while others have to be mixed in some other solvent to get the best results, which might end up costing you more money in the long run for minimally different results. So, it’s always a good idea to read the instructions before buying the best product for you.
Carpet shampoo is usually used with a carpet cleaner. Some of the shampoos can be used directly by squirting the product over the stain or spot. But, if you are using it with a carpet cleaner, make sure the shampoo is compatible with your cleaner. Also, if you are using a shampoo that is not compatible with your machine, it can end up possibly damaging not only the machine but your carpet as well.
Versatility is another vital factor to check before a carpet shampoo. A lot of the shampoos on the market are suitable for carpet cleaning only. But, a versatile product will help you in other chores, too, like cleaning your upholstery, clothing, car interior, litter boxes, and more.
Safety is another paramount factor to consider before you buy carpet shampoo. This factor mainly relies on the ingredients used in the product. So, look for a shampoo that is made using natural ingredients, which are non-toxic and biodegradable. It will ensure that the product is safe to use around pets and children and is eco-friendly.
Most carpet shampoos range anywhere from $10 to $60. You can find a small bottle of cleaner along with a spray nozzle for spot cleaning for under $10. Shampoos that range from $15 to $30 are more often suitable for eliminating stains and removing pet odor. Shampoos that come in larger quantities tend to range above $30. These products are often most compatible with machines.
What Are Some Tips for Using Carpet Shampoo?
Always try to clean the stains immediately when they appear because they can get stubborn over time. According to Peter Dzaja, a longtime DIY car cleaner and author of the Car Detailing Planet, “If you act quickly, carpet shampoos are 99% effective. However, if the stain is extremely stubborn, you may have to use some degreasers.” Time is of the essence when effectively cleaning carpet stains.
Do a small spot test before cleaning the entire carpet to check if there’s any discoloration or shrinkage due to the cleaning solution.
Rinsing with water at the end is important to make sure the detergent is completely gone from your carpet.
The Zep All-Purpose shampoo is a concentrated, heavy-duty, and multipurpose deep cleansing formula for both carpets and upholstery. Its low-foaming formula, which contains DuPont stain-resistant additives, comes ready-to-use and formulated with industrial detergents to remove set-in stains, dirt, and odor. This super-concentrated formula is specially designed for use in steam carpet cleaning machines and is safe to use around children and pets. When used correctly, it penetrates deep into your carpet fibers, wiping away all the stains and dirt.
Works great for frequent carpet cleaning needs
Can be used as an instant spot cleaner when diluted and sprayed on the surface
Compatible with many popular carpet-cleaning machines
The Bissell shampoo is another powerhouse on our list with twice the concentration as compared to other formulas out there. It removes stubborn pet stains and odors, leaving your carpet clean and odorless. It is a versatile shampoo that you can use in any upright carpet cleaning machine, and thanks to its powerful OXY formula and freshness, it efficiently eliminates tough stains and smells right from the source.
The Scotchgard protector not only helps with the removal of present stains but also protects against future stains. It contains no toxic compounds (such as heavy metals, dyes, or phosphates), which is why it is safe to use around kids and pets. Moreover, its biodegradable ingredients make it an eco-friendly option.
Do your carpets a favor and give them a good cleaning with the OxiClean carpet cleaner. The deep cleansing formula eliminates tough stains from carpets and rugs easily, all in one quick and easy pass. It uses the power of oxygen to deeply clean the carpet fibers and lift away dirt and stains, making it look new again. For deep cleaning action, you can use it with any carpet cleaning machine.
You don’t have to mix it with other cleaning products
The Kirby shampoo is a superior carpet cleaning solution formulated with a lavender scent that leaves your carpets smelling heavenly. The heavy-duty formula cleans your carpet by removing tough stains and odors, and it even helps control pet dander allergens as well. This non-toxic shampoo is safe to use around your pets and family and is compatible with all the Kirby carpet shampoo systems and sprayers.
The Hoover Renewal formula refreshes your carpet by removing dirt, dust, and stains. Its advanced cleaning action works perfectly, leaving your home clean and smelling fresh (this one is linen scented). Moreover, it works great at tackling old set-in stains and odors to give your carpet a new life. You can use this versatile product to clean your upholstery, car interiors, high-traffic areas, and carpet, but to achieve an even more enhanced cleaning performance, you can pair it with Hoover Stain Remover and Carpet Cleaner.
Can be used on upholstery and car interiors, as well as on carpet
Can be used in Hoover, Bissell and Rug Doctor machines
This highly concentrated Biokleen carpet cleaner is great at removing tough stains and trapping odors, resulting in a clean and fragrant carpet (all while being gentle on your rugs and carpet). Moreover, the formula is non-toxic, biodegradable, and made with no harsh fumes, which is why it is safe to use in a house where there are pets and children. Also, this natural product is eco-friendly due to its safe ingredients, and you can use it for both professional and home cleaning purposes.
Safe for pets and children
Good for fragrant-sensitive people
Less strong than the harsher chemicals
People Also Asked
Q: Does shampooing damage the carpet?
A: If you follow the cleaning instructions correctly, then shampooing will not ruin your carpet. But, it is recommended never to let your carpet wet for a long time as it will lead to shrinkage. Since extremely wet carpet takes more time to dry, there are higher chances of shrinking.
Q: How often should I shampoo my carpet?
A: If your carpet is light-colored that reveals dirt and stains, and faces lots of traffic, then you must shampoo it every four to six months. You should also try to clean the spots instantly, especially if it is pet-related because the longer you take to clean these spots, the longer it will take to remove them, even with the best carpet shampoos.
Q: Is it better to shampoo or steam clean the carpet?
A: Well, shampooing and steam cleaning will help to remove the dirt and stains on your carpet. But, steam cleaning can get better results as it will deep clean your carpet fibers.
Q: How do you spot treat with carpet shampoo?
A: If you just have one stain, you can use carpet shampoo to spot treat it. Simply, spray the shampoo on the spot and wet it with water. Let it sit for a while and gently dab the spot until the stain comes out.
The Old House Journal Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you restore, repair, update, and decorate your home. The content is created by The Old House Journal Review Team. The Old House Journal editorial staff is not involved. Old House Journal is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. All questions regarding articles or product testing can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Expert Contributions By Petar Dzaja
Peter Dzaja is a car enthusiast who likes washing, cleaning, and maintaining his cars. With kids, though, his washing, cleaning, and maintaining extends to his house as well. He is the author behind the blog Car Detailing Planet.