Try as you might, it is very difficult to keep a carpet looking spotless, particularly if a few years have passed since it was installed. Food gets dropped, drinks get spilt and muddy pets run riot. For this, you need a quick solution that doesn't involve replacing an otherwise perfectly good carpet. This is where carpet shampoos come in. They work to get your carpet looking as good as new and clean up any sign of a stain.
There is a wide variety of carpet shampoo - or cleaner - with each having a different method of application, and this guide will help to explain the ins and outs of carpet cleaning products. We have also found some of the best products available online on Amazon and Argos, from brands such as Vax, Bissell, and Vanish. Whether it's a very specific red wine mark, a general discolouring, or pet stains and odours, there is a carpet shampoo ready to work its magic.
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First off, it's worth clarifying what carpet shampoo actually is. Much like a normal shampoo cleans your hair, carpet shampoo cleans carpets to make them look and smell nice and clean. Its main purpose is to clean carpets and rugs, but some can also be used on upholstery and curtains.
They are also not necessarily limited to carpets inside your house and work just as well in cars and vans. The terms 'carpet cleaner', 'carpet detergent' and 'carpet shampoo' are all fairly interchangeable, with a combination sometimes being displayed on the same product. All serve the same purpose of getting your carpets looking spick-and-span.
The base of most carpet shampoos is a synthetic detergent, but some are created to be more eco-friendly, made from chemicals that are less harsh on you and the environment. Don't be concerned though if a shampoo doesn't explicitly say it is eco-friendly - the majority of carpet cleaning products, and all those that have been listed, are safe to use in the home, around both children and pets.
Applying a powder to clean is very straightforward; you simply need to sprinkle it onto the affected area and wait for the specified time before vacuuming it up. As it does require vacuuming, it is not the most fuss-free option, but it does mean you can just leave it to work its magic in the meantime instead of spending time scrubbing as you have to do with some products.
Powders are good at absorbing liquids and don't need to be left to dry, although they can be quite hard to contain and overzealous sprinkling can lead to a bit of a mess. If you're looking to quickly freshen up a bad-smelling carpet, then powder can be a quick and easy option.
Sprays and foams are easy to direct to exactly where they need to be, so they are good for localised stains that you want to deal with quickly. Like the powders, once they are sprayed on, they can be left before removing them with a vacuum cleaner, although make sure you look at product-specific instructions as this does vary.
However, unlike powders, sprays often require scrubbing which is a bit more of a hassle. They normally have quite a narrow range and come in smaller containers, meaning they are not the best option for larger spaces and deep cleans, but they are perfect for sorting stain emergencies.
If you've spilt something on upholstery, why not check out some Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents?
Liquid shampoos tend to come in bigger containers as they are made with the assumption that they will be used on a larger, if not industrial, scale. This is not always the case and some liquid shampoos are still only designed to be used on smaller areas, but if you are wanting to freshen up a whole carpet, a liquid is your best option.
Some of these liquids work best in carpet cleaning machines, but many also work without them. Liquids don't have the problem that powders face of spreading everywhere, so are less likely to leave residue behind, which will leave your carpet feeling fresh.
All carpet shampoos will be able to tackle a range of stains, but if you're looking to target a specific issue, you may want to try a specialist cleaner. Whether you're looking for something to help with those pet-related paw prints, a spilt glass of red wine, or oils, there are carpet cleaners out there for all types of specific stains.
The best carpet shampoos are able to get rid of most marks and blemishes, so buying a cleaner specific to one type of stain is not always necessary, but there are some on the market that are particularly good at removing animal smells and other nasty aromas.
If you're really struggling with stains, consider investing in a carpet cleaning machine to make mess a thing of the past!
Some carpet shampoos come with the added bonus of having a scent, so will not only get rid of bad smells and dirt but also add a nice, post-clean aroma. Whether a scented product is for you or not largely comes down to personal taste.
Some of the shampoos can have quite a strong detergent smell, particularly powerful if it is a liquid cleaner that has been used all over. However, that being said, some people will find scents overwhelming too and would prefer a more neutral cleaner. In this case, it is probably best to go for a non-scented option, but one that doesn't have a strong smell of chemicals either.
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A Powerful Liquid Cleaner That Tackles the Toughest of Stains
Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder ｜Pack of 2
An Easy-to-Use Powder Designed to Absorb
Carpet Care + Upholstery
A Versatile Hand Shampoo for Carpets and Upholstery
Carpet Stain Remover ｜Pack of 2
All-In-One Cleaner With Brush for Stubborn Stains
Ultra+ Pet Carpet Cleaning Solution
Carpet Cleaner Concentrate for Households With Pets
Carpet Cleaning Shampoo Solution
Professional Carpet Shampoo for Industrial Cleaning
Wash & Protect Pro Formula｜Pack of 2
Stain and Odour Remover for Carpet Cleaning Machines
Fresh Cotton Carpet Shampoo
An Eco-Friendly Carpet Shampoo for an Affordable Price
Carpet Power ｜Pack of 2
Lavender-Scented Cleaning Spray That’s Safe for Wool
Dabitoff Stain Remover
Enzyme-Based Formula for Fast Stain Removal
This professional-style product is great if you are looking for a really intensive clean. It is best to use with a carpet cleaning machine, and as one bottle contains enough to be used over 4 rooms, you'd probably be wanting to get hold of a carpet cleaner anyway to cover that sort of area. Rug Doctor offer a carpet machine hire service which would work brilliantly alongside this product.
This detergent has all of the positives of the other liquid shampoos on this list without some of the drawbacks. Firstly, it doesn't have a strong detergent smell that has to be masked with another scent. It also dries quickly, which means areas of your house aren't left out of action for long. It has the added bonus of being very affordable for the large two-litre bottle you get.
This powder is not just your average carpet cleaning powder. It has been enhanced with Dyson's technology to make the powder work like lots of little sponges. This means it is especially good for liquid stains such as red wine or coffee.
Unlike some other products, it doesn't require any scrubbing or diluting - it just needs to be sprinkled onto the area you wish to clean and vacuumed up after the specified time. Also, because it's a powder, it doesn't have any strong cleaning product aromas which sometimes come from the more industrial-style shampoos.
Vanish is one of the most recognisable stain-removal brands and with good reason. They have a whole range of products that are designed to tackle carpet and upholstery stains. This specific product is great if you are looking for a shampoo that covers all your bases. It is a liquid that, when diluted, becomes a foam, making this product go even further.
Once the foam has been made you can rub it by hand into the carpet or other stained area, leave it, and then vacuum it up at the end. This product doesn't require a carpet cleaning machine but still has the capability of cleaning a large area.
With a brush already attached to the bottle, this product makes stain removal very easy. Just squeeze and rub over the affected area and let this product get to work. Its size means that it can be used anywhere: on carpets, upholstery and in your car.
Its size does mean that it's not very good for larger areas, and the bottle being attached to the brush, although useful, doesn't always make for the most natural scrubbing action. However, its cheap price and ease of use does make this stain remover a good addition to your cleaning product collection.
In a similar way to the other liquids, this product is ideally used in a machine to cover a large area. It is advised that Vax products are used with a Vax machine, so this does limit your options slightly more.
The enormous size of this bottle goes some way to illustrate the scale at which this product is intended to be used. As a product for professionals, there is a lot of it, and it also does the job well. It works best in a machine, so is not the best choice if you don't have access to one.
This solution cleans large areas of carpet, both neutralising odours and sanitising the fibres. It also works through very tough stains. Although it is more industrial, it is safe for use around children and pets.
This product requires a carpet cleaning machine to work best so is not great for little stains or areas that could be quickly touched up with a spray. However, if you are looking for a more complete clean, this liquid will do the job.
It is double-concentrated, meaning it will go twice as far, which helps to explain the slightly higher price. It also contains Scotchguard which, once applied, works to counteract future stains. That combined with the fact you get two bottles means this will last for a while.
Often eco-friendly products can cost more, but not in this case! Ecozone's carpet shampoo manages to be environmentally friendly and still keep costs down. Because the chemicals used in the formula are less harsh, it does mean that the cleaning capabilities might not be quite as powerful as other options, but that may be a trade-off you're willing to make for a more eco-friendly option.
This liquid is conveniently appropriate for both machine and hand washing. It needs to be diluted, which adds a bit more time to the cleaning process, but it does also mean that this already large bottle will go even further.
This particular cleaner works well on stains in small areas, such as spilt drinks or food, but less on bigger areas. It is odour-eliminating and has a lavender fragrance, adding a calming aroma after use. Its easy-to-use spray applicator also makes it great to use on upholstery and other materials as well as carpets - even wool is safe.
One drawback is that it does require some elbow grease - once it's sprayed on it needs to be worked into the affected area and then also washed away at the end. If you need to do some serious spot cleaning, no matter the surface, then this is a great choice.
With its enzyme-based formula, this carpet cleaner is designed to get rid of stains speedily. It foams as you apply it, meaning your bottle will go further as you can apply less each time. This spray is not limited to carpets and can also work on upholstery and curtains.
Although a quick solution to small stains, this spray is not the answer to all your carpet cleaning woes as it only really works on small areas and is not as effective on really tough marks, so is not ideal if you're looking for a deep clean.
Different stains and different styles of shampoo call for different methods of application. If you're planning on cleaning a large area of carpet, you may require a carpet-cleaning machine to effectively shampoo. These can be bought or rented, but be warned, some shampoos are only compatible with certain machines.
On a smaller scale, you can just apply the shampoos by hand, either by rubbing them in or by sprinkling it if it's a powder. The application of a shampoo will depend on what type it is, which the next section will help to explain.
It is worth mentioning that all carpet shampoos recommend that you do a patch test before applying a product to a larger area. To carry this out, simply apply the product to a very small area, leave it for a while, and if you find that - once you have cleaned it up - there is no discolouring or shrinkage, then you can proceed with cleaning safe in the knowledge that your shampoo won't lead to any unwanted results.
No. 1: Rug Doctor｜Carpet Detergent
No. 2: Dyson ｜Zorb Carpet Cleaning Powder ｜Pack of 2
No. 3: Vanish ｜Carpet Care + Upholstery
No. 4: Dr Beckmann ｜Carpet Stain Remover ｜Pack of 2
No. 5: Vax｜Ultra+ Pet Carpet Cleaning Solution
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