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Best carpet shampoo: top products to shift dirt and stains at home

Are your carpets looking dull and dirty? Here are the best carpet shampoos to refresh, revive and remove stains, as recommended by Mumsnetters.


By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Dec 18, 2023

Best carpet shampoo

Carpets look wonderful and feel bouncy underfoot when they’re new. Add in children, pets and day-to-day spills, however and your once pristine carpets can soon appear dull and dirty.

Carpet shampoos, detergents and spot cleaners are a great way to lift and remove dirt, grime and stains from your carpets, reviving high-traffic areas and neutralising unpleasant odours. Whether you’ve invested in (or hired) a full-sized carpet cleaner or are simply applying the product to your carpet by hand, they can offer quick and effective results and refresh your carpets in next to no time.

To compile this buyer’s guide, we first tapped into the views of Mumsnet users for tried and tested recommendations. We then researched which carpet shampoos and detergents are well regarded by cleaning professionals and industry experts, before seeking the views of impartial consumer champion Which?.

Whether it’s a carpet shampoo for use with a Vax, Bissell or Rug Doctor carpet cleaner, an easy-to-use stain remover or a carpet shampoo that can tackle embedded pet hair, here are the best carpet shampoos and detergents to leave your carpets looking clean and fresh.

Read next: The best vacuum cleaners to buy, reviewed, rated and ranked

Best carpet shampoos at a glance

  • Best overall: Rug Doctor Carpet Detergent with SpotBlok | Buy now, £17

  • Best budget: Astonish Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner | Buy now, £4

  • Best for pets: Bissell Wash & Refresh Carpet Cleaner | Buy now, £16

  • Best for cars: Autoglym Interior Shampoo | Buy now, £10

  • Best antibacterial: VAX Platinum Antibacterial Solution | Buy now, £25 

1
Best overall carpet shampoo

Rug Doctor Carpet Detergent with SpotBlok, £17

What we like
  • Large bottle can clean four rooms (approximately 800sq ft/75m²)

  • Impressive cleaning results

  • SpotBlok carpet shield helps keep your carpets clean for longer

What we don't like
  • Expensive

  • For best results, you’ll need to use (or hire) a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner 

Key specs

Type: Liquid | Size: 2 litres | Application: Use with or without a carpet cleaner (with a carpet cleaner for best results)

What Mumsnet users say
BigGapMum · Tried & Tested
Rug Doctor does a range of cleaning sprays, each designed to treat a different type of stain. Choose one carefully and spray it on your carpet before washing it. Works really well we've found.
See Post
TopSecretSquirrel · Tried & Tested
Rug Doctor Spot and Stain remover. My husband has a carpet cleaning business and that’s what he’d use.
See Post
Our verdict

Mumsnet users can’t speak highly enough of Rug Doctor, with many Mumsnetters praising the brand’s carpet cleaners and detergents.

The Rug Doctor Carpet Detergent can be used with or without a cleaner, although using a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner will provide the most effective deep clean and stain removal results. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to buy one – you can easily hire Rug Doctor carpet cleaners for the weekend from as little as £30, collecting from your nearest Tesco store. 

With a large two-litre bottle offering enough liquid to clean up to four standard-sized rooms, the Rug Doctor Carpet Detergent can help remove marks and spill stains as well as revive and refresh high-traffic areas, leaving them clean and smelling fresh. Unlike some chemical cleaners, it’s completely safe to use around pets and thanks to the SpotBlok anti-stain solution, it can even actively protect your carpet after use, helping you keep it cleaner for longer. 

2
Best budget carpet shampoo

Astonish Specialist Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner, £4

What we like
  • Affordable

  • Pleasant lotus flower fragrance that neutralises odours 

  • Vegan friendly 

  • Suitable for use on carpets, curtains, sofas and upholstery 

What we don't like
  • Better suited to smaller spot cleaning than a whole carpet refresh 

Key specs

Type: Liquid spray | Size: 750ml | Application: Use on its own 

Our verdict

If you’re looking to spot clean or remove small stains and unsightly marks across your carpets, curtains or upholstery, the vegan-friendly Astonish Specialist Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner makes an effective, budget-friendly choice. 

Available in an easy-to-use, liquid spray bottle, Astonish can be used without the need for a carpet cleaner. Simply vacuum the area first, before spraying directly onto the stain and gently clean with a cloth or sponge. Pat dry with another clean cloth before running over the area again with the vacuum, repeating if necessary to tackle more stubborn stains.

With impressive cleaning results, reviewers praise Astonish carpet cleaner for its ability to remove even old stains, neutralise odours and leave a fresh lotus flower scent. 

3
Best carpet shampoo for pets

Bissell Wash & Refresh Carpet Cleaner, £16

What we like
  • Refreshing spring Febreeze scent 

  • Concentrated formula - a little goes a long way

  • Suitable for use with carpet cleaners on carpets and upholstery

  • Effective at lifting thick and embedded pet hair

What we don't like
  • Expensive 

  • Needs to be used with a carpet cleaner 

Key specs

Type: Liquid | Size: 1.5L | Application: Use with a carpet cleaner

What Mumsnet users say
TheNoodlesIncident · Tried & Tested
We have a cat who very occasionally voms or forgets she's got a litter tray 🙄 The Bissell is fab, the shampoo smells lovely and you can't see where the assault was. Also handy for any spills.
See Post
DropZoneOne · Tried & Tested
Yes! Bought a Bissell a few years ago, after spending £100 on all the house carpets. I paid nearly £300 but part of it lifts off so it's perfect for spot removing when drinks get spilt or makeup dropped etc. I buy the fluid from Amazon and a £20 bottle lasts ages.
See Post
Our verdict

If you’ve got large areas to clean, or simply want to remove stains and lift embedded pet hair, this Bissell carpet cleaner could quickly become your new best friend. 

Suitable for use with any full-sized carpet cleaner, the Bissell Wash & Refresh Carpet Cleaner comes in a concentrated liquid form, with a 1.5-litre bottle being equivalent to three litres of unconcentrated formula (enough to clean six to eight rooms across your home).

This powerful carpet detergent penetrates deep into your carpet’s fibres, providing a tough and effective deep clean that can break down stains, dirt and odours while refreshing high-traffic areas such as hallways or areas in front of your sofa. With a long-lasting yet delicate blossom breeze scent, it’ll leave your room smelling lovely and clean without being too strong or overpowering. It doesn’t come cheap however so you may want to use this for occasional full carpet refreshes than everyday spot cleans.

4
Best carpet shampoo for cars

Autoglym Interior Shampoo, £10

What we like
  • Suitable for use across carpets, upholstery and hard surfaces 

  • Ideal for removing everyday stains

  • Easy to use spray-on liquid 

What we don't like
  • Not suitable for leather surfaces 

Key specs

Type: Liquid | Size: 500ml | Application: Use on its own 

What Mumsnet users say
Loobylu44 · Tried & Tested
Autoglym interior shampoo spray, it’s meant for cars but I use it on carpets and cushions. Seems pretty good!
See Post
Our verdict

If you’ve been travelling with your kids and pets in tow, your car seats and upholstery can quickly look dull, dirty and stained. 

This easy-to-use interior shampoo can be used across your car's entire interior - from floor mats and upholstery to your dashboard, doors and steering wheel. Simply spray and wipe across hard surfaces, or use a clean cloth or firm sponge to activate before rinsing with water on fabrics.

As well as removing everyday dirt and dust for an instant refresh, Autoglym Interior Shampoo has a subtle scent that will leave your car smelling clean and fresh with no sticky residue left behind. 

5
Best antibacterial carpet shampoo

VAX Platinum Antibacterial Solution, £25

What we like
  • Suitable for carpets and upholstery

  • Kills 99.9% of bacteria

  • Helps neutralise odours 

  • Oxy Lift helps lift dirt and stains from carpet fibres  

What we don't like
  • Expensive

  • Needs to be used with a carpet cleaner

Key specs

Type: Liquid | Size: 1.5L | Application: Use with a carpet cleaner

What Mumsnet users say
nocturnalke · Tried & Tested
We've recently purchased the Vax Platinum Carpet Cleaner. I can't recommend it enough. It really does work!! We bought the solution to go with it. You don't use that much at a time - even though it's expensive it'll last.
See Post
Our verdict

If you’re keen to remove dirt and stains while also making your carpets more hygienic, the Vax Platinum Antibacterial Carpet Cleaner solution can kill up to 99.99% of bacteria, making it a popular choice for families with pets or allergies.

Applied using a Vax carpet cleaner with the ability to cover large surface areas, this carpet shampoo includes powerful Oxy Lift, helping draw up ingrained dirt and stains from deep within the carpet fibres. The fresh citrus scent is long-lasting after use and thanks to the carpet guard stain prevention, it can help protect the carpet from future spills and stains too.

The downside? The price tag is fairly eye-watering for a 1.5L bottle and it won’t go as far as the other brands such as the Rug Doctor or Bissell carpet cleaner shampoos above.

6
Best foam carpet shampoo

Vanish High Traffic Carpet Foam, £13

What we like
  • Claims to move 5x more dirt and 3x more pet hair than vacuuming alone

  • Easy-to-use foam

  • Neutralises odours 

What we don't like
  • Not suitable for use on velvet 

Key specs

Type: Foam | Size: 2 x 600ml | Application: Use on its own

What Mumsnet users say
ollipopjones · Tried & Tested
Vanish gold carpet foam got dog diarrhoea out of my cream carpet. I had to do it two or three times but it went in the end. And it removed any odour as well.  This is on the assumption that your carpet is otherwise clean. If not you’ll end up with a clean patch amongst the grime - in which case shampooing the whole carpet would be a better idea.
See Post
Our verdict

This easy-to-use Vanish foam is ideal for targeting high-traffic areas such as doorways, stairs and the areas in front of your sofa. Claiming to remove five times more dirt and three times more pet hair than vacuuming alone, it refreshes odours and removes stains while helping lift and replenish carpet fibres.

It’s worth noting that this Vanish foam is a highly effective cleaner, so if the rest of your carpet is dirty it can leave a noticeable ‘clean patch’ when used on smaller areas. If your entire carpet could do with a refresh, you may be better off opting for a carpet shampoo using a full-sized carpet cleaner.

7
Best carpet shampoo for stains

Dr Beckmann’s Carpet Stain Remover, £3

What we like
  • Removes new and dried-in stains 

  • Suitable for car, home and upholstery 

  • Oxy Power formula works in three minutes 

What we don't like
  • Potential to make other areas of the carpet look dirty

Key specs

Key specs: Type: Liquid | Size: 650ml | Application: Use on its own 

What Mumsnet users say
planthelpadvice · Tried & Tested
The Dr. Beckmann one is very good - and gives the areas you are worried about a good scrub.
See Post
Starcaller · Tried & Tested
Dr Beckmann’s removes all manner of sins!
See Post
Our verdict

Removing stains like mud, lipstick, wine or chocolate from your carpets can be really challenging, but Mumsnet users find Dr Beckmann’s Carpet Stain Remover impressive on pretty much everything your family can throw at it.

In an easy-to-use bottle, liquid is added to the stain using the attached brush applicator, before gently rubbing into the affected area. The Oxy-Power formula sets to work in minutes, lifting even dried-in stains while being gentle on your carpet fibres (even wool!)

Suitable for use across carpets and upholstery, the odour-neutralising properties also make this a popular choice for families with pets or young children. As with the Vanish foam above - it can sometimes make other areas look dirty, so be sure to give the entire carpet a good vacuum before use. 

8
Best smelling carpet shampoo

1001 Carpet Fresh Odour Eliminator, £3

What we like
  • Fresh lemon fragrance 

  • Neutralises odour

  • Easy-to-use spray 

  • No need to hoover after use 

What we don't like
  • Some reviewers had to repeat regularly to prevent the smells from returning 

Key specs

Type: Spray foam | Size: 300ml | Application: Use on its own 

What Mumsnet users say
Ilovechoc12 · Tried & Tested
Carpet 1001. That’s the best one my Dad uses he was in the carpet trade 40 years plus…
See Post
hadtojoin · Tried & Tested
Use a can of 1001 Carpet Fresh Odour Eliminator. It is a foam which disappears in 20 seconds. It got rid of smells straight away, you may need to spray again later but it didn't come back.
See Post
Our verdict

If you’ve got pets, have spilt milk or your child has had some potty training ‘accidents’, your carpets can be left smelling musty and unpleasant, with some odours being really hard to shift. 

Mumsnet users rave about the citrus-smelling Carpet 1001 cleaner, which can remove odours without the need to vacuum. Simply shake the can and spay (around 40cm from the carpet) and then leave it - the fine foam will penetrate deep into the carpet fibres allowing the impressive odour eliminator formula to work its magic. For more substantial odours, you may need to repeat the treatment as required.

9
Best spray carpet shampoo

HG Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, £6

What we like
  • Extra strong stain-lifting abilities 

  • Works on stubborn stains like wine, lipstick and mud

  • Good value for money 

What we don't like
  • Strong scent 

Key specs

Type: Liquid spray | Size: 500ml | Application: Use on its own 

What Mumsnet users say
jetadore · Tried & Tested
HG Fabric cleaner has worked wonders on all sorts of stains for us. Including vomit on a mattress and tea on carpet.
See Post
Starcaller · Tried & Tested
My daughter was sick on our carpet a couple of weeks ago (also with beans ) and HG extra strong stain remover got it all out.
See Post
Our verdict

For really significant stains, you may need to opt for a powerful carpet detergent to restore your carpets to their former glory.  

While the strong scent of the HG Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner means you’ll need to ventilate the room well during use, this easy-to-use spray offers extra strong stain lifting abilities, getting right to work on even stubborn stains like wine, coffee, grease and oil.

Suitable for cleaning sofas, cushions, rugs, curtains and soft furnishings, there’s no need to dilute or pre-treat before use, simply spray onto the affected area, leave for five minutes and wipe away with an absorbent cloth. 

10
Best carpet shampoo for sofas and upholstery

Dyson Dyzolve, £29

What we like
  • Easy-to-use spray

  • Suitable for rugs, carpets and upholstery

  • Four active enzymes for deeper cleaning

What we don't like
  • Pricey

Key specs

Type: Liquid | Size: | Application: Use on its own 

What Mumsnet users say
Orangenasturtium · Tried & Tested
I would get a professional in to clean it but the pet sprays that break down urine with enzymes are good. I've used Dyson Dyzolve spray and Zorb granules on upholstery before with good results.
See Post
Our verdict

It may be pricey, but a little of the Dyson Dyzolve spray goes a long way. 

Suitable to use on carpets and upholstery, this easy trigger spray features four active enzymes that penetrate deep into the carpet fibres for thorough cleaning. It’s particularly useful for reviving large rugs or floor coverings that are prone to building up dirt, dust and grime or becoming musty over time. 

Read next: The best cordless vacuum cleaners to buy, as rated by families

What are the main types of carpet shampoo?

Carpet shampoos, detergents and spot-cleaning sprays come in a variety of formats. The product you use will depend on your needs and preferred method of application.  

Liquid: While some liquid carpet cleaners come in stand-alone format (such as trigger spray bottles) many carpet shampoo liquids are suitable for use with full-sized upright carpet cleaners such as a Vax, Rug Doctor or Bissell machine. While most brands are interchangeable (and you don’t necessarily need to opt for branded detergents), many Mumsnet users praised the carpet cleaner shampoos for their cleaning results, with bottles going a long way despite their substantial cost. 

Foam - some spot cleaners and stain removers come in foam form, spraying onto the area and creating a frothy coating which then dissolves or is scrubbed in to penetrate deep into carpet fibres and lift away stains. 

Powder - Some carpet shampoos also come in powder form and work similarly, dusting over the stain or area you wish to clean before cleaning and vacuuming away. 

How do you use carpet shampoo?

Instructions for using carpet shampoo will vary depending on the brand and method of application, so you should always read the instructions carefully before use. If in doubt, perform a small patch test on an inconspicuous area of carpet to assess results before committing to use on a larger area. 

It’s recommended that you vacuum the area before applying detergent, particularly if doing smaller spot cleans and stain removal. The most effective way to clean large areas of carpet is to use (or hire) a carpet cleaning machine, provide excellent coverage and spread the detergent evenly across the entire area. 

What’s the best way to get rid of carpet stains?

Spot cleaning can be effective, but Mumsnetters reported it can make other areas in your carpet look dirty too if the carpet is not clean overall. The best way to remove carpet stains is to clean the entire area using a carpet cleaner and high-quality carpet shampoo, or you may need to opt for repeat treatments to even out the final effects.  

What’s the best carpet shampoo to buy in the UK?

According to Mumsnet users, Rug Doctor carpet detergent combined with a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner is the most effective way to clean, revive and refresh your carpets across the home. While it doesn’t come cheap, it goes a long way and produces excellent results, with SpotBlok helping protect your carpet fibres and keep them looking cleaner for longer 

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users 

There is a lot of debate within the Mumsnet forums on how to remove stains and clean carpets, with many users sharing their hints and tips on the best carpet shampoos, stain removers and cleaners for the job. 

First, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users, to get their feedback on their tried and tested carpet cleaning methods, as well as the carpet shampoos that they rate, recommend and use in their own homes.

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsetters highlighted products that they felt were overpriced, strong smelling or simply struggled to tackle those more stubborn stains.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace, including those recommended by cleaning experts and consumer champions Which?

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best carpet shampoos on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon and Lakeland to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist. 

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a mum of two and Content Writer at Mumsnet, specialising in family and lifestyle product reviews and roundups. Having written product reviews on her own blog Real Mum Reviews since 2012, Lucy loves to research and explore the pros and cons of products, scrutinising reviews and consumer feedback to help parents make confident purchases that benefit their families.

Lucy has previously reviewed a number of carpet cleaning brands on her own channels, testing shampoos and carpet cleaners for their stain removal and ability to eliminate odours. 

Originally from a HR background with a degree in Business Studies, Lucy developed a real passion for blogging and writing when her children were young, going on to write for several online publications including US parenting site Pregistry and the Evening Standard.

When she’s not manically tapping the keys of her laptop, Lucy loves nothing more than to cosy up with her Kindle and enjoy the latest thriller, or compete in Nintendo Switch rallies with her daughters aged six and 10.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.