To help you erase any evidence of your pet's organic messes—muddy paws, pee, poop, and puke—from carpets and rugs, we purchased 31 popular and bestselling stain and odor removers for testing in our New York Lab.
During testing we stained beige carpet squares with mud, wolf urine, and a simulated vomit mix that included a vinegar component for easy smell identification. Each cleaner was tested on all three stains, with our testers following the cleaner's instructions then taking notes about how effectively stains were removed and odors eliminated. Each test was conducted twice too, once with fresh stains and once with stains that were allowed to set-in overnight.
Our overall favorite is OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover which is easy to apply and primarily uses Safer Choice ingredients—sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate—to lift stains and remove odors.
OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover
Removed odors and stains in ten minutes
Inoffensive fresh scent
Most effective in tests
Set-in stains took two applications
In our lab testing OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover was our top-performing carpet cleaner in every evaluative category, from its effectiveness to its odor elimination. This stain treatment makes it easy to address messes quickly, and its effectiveness is hard to overstate.
During testing, OxiClean was the most effective cleaner against fresh stains and accompanying odors from mud, urine, and simulated pet vomit. It was still effective against set-in stains, but took two treatments before eliminating a stain fully. It has a light, fresh scent that smells clean, and the nozzle on the bottle is easy to adjust, allowing you to efficiently mist a target area.
OxiClean combines sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, surfactants, and polymer to remove oils and lift stains. Both sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate are on the EPA's list of safe chemical ingredients for use in the home. The formula is colorfast, but we recommended testing in a small, discreet part of your rug or carpet to see how the dye reacts.
The instructions are very easy to follow: simply spray, blot, and vacuum, and most stains and odors will be eliminated within ten minutes. Once you are done using the cleaner in your home, the areas you treated are safe for pets and kids, though you should never expose either to a spot that is actively undergoing treatment.
Price at time of publish: $18 (2-pack of 24-ounce bottles)
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Enzymatic Cleaner: No | Sizes: 24 ounces | EPA Safer Choice Standard: Yes
Kids 'N' Pets All-Purpose Stain + Odor Remover
Uses enzymes to break down stains made from biodegradable matter
Light fresh scent
Best cleaner for removing urine odors
The product foamed a lot, which made it a little messier to wipe up
Enzymatic cleaners like Kids 'N' Pets All-Purpose Stain + Odor Remover use the same class of chemicals as your body does for breaking down organic components in food. Since bodily fluids like feces and urine also contain organic proteins, they can be effectively countered by enzymatic cleaners, which break down complex organic molecules into their constituent parts. This makes them especially useful for tackling pet urine, since enzymatic cleaners can break apart uric acid and ensure that smell is gone for good.
For vomit and urine, full saturation from the spray cleaner paired with hands-on agitation was able to eliminate the odor and their associated smells. The spray has a light and fresh scent that dissipates. But while enzymatic cleaners are best at breaking down organic messes, we were surprised to find that Kids 'N' Pets All-Purpose was also great at tackling mud stains—though it did require two treatments to fully remove,
Kids 'N' Pets is never tested on animals and doesn't contain any harsh chemicals. In addition to rugs and carpets, it can be used to clean most water-safe surfaces such as clothing, bedding, and mattresses. The look of the label has been slightly updated since we tested it (it's now blue and yellow without any red), but the product formulation is the same.
Price at time of publish: $14
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Enzymatic Cleaner: Yes | Sizes: 27, 128 ounces | EPA Safer Choice Standard: No
Woolite Advanced Pet Stain & Odor Remover + Sanitize
Two spray settings
Kills germs and deodorizes
Thicker consistency made it harder to spray accurately
Woolite Advanced Pet Stain & Odor Remover + Sanitize came very close to receiving a perfect score, coming in second to our pick for Best Overall, OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover. It removes stains, kills 99.9% of bacteria, and deodorizes smells. It has a thicker consistency which made it more difficult to spread over treatment areas, but it's an effective cleaner across all categories and safe for use in a home with pets and kids.
The bottle has two spray settings to help you target the mess with enzymes to dissolve proteins in the organic matter left behind by your adorable pet. It has an artificial fragrance that provides a fresh scent that we did not find overwhelming.
Price at time of publish: $5
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Enzymatic Cleaner: No | Size: 22 ounces | EPA Safer Choice Standard: Yes
Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator Spray
Light citrus scent
Paraben-Free, Sulfate-Free, Phthalate-Free
Safe to use on most household surfaces
Fully removes detectable odors overnight
Available as ready-to-use spray and concentrated formula
Required more than one application for set-in stains
Instructions call for more scrubbing than with other cleaners
The Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator Spray is safe to use on a variety of surfaces where you may encounter a stain and odor left behind by your furry friend including carpet, hardwood floors, tile, upholstery, car interiors, and more. It is made with real oranges, including the peel, and leaves behind a sweet citrus scent that we found appealing.
As with most cleaners, fresh stains from urine, vomit, and mud were easier to get out, with set-in stains requiring a second pass. Angry Odor was particularly useful for saturating a stain overnight, with a strong scent that overpowered even wolf urine effectively.
We did find, however, that using Angry Orange took a little more elbow grease, since the instructions call for working the cleaner into a lather once its been sprayed on to a surface. Despite that, we did not find it overly foamy.
Price at time of publish: $20
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Enzymatic Cleaner: No | Sizes: 2, 24, and 128 ounces | EPA Safer Choice Standard: No
Best Enzymatic Carpet Shampoo
Nature's Miracle Carpet Shampoo
Set-in stains removed with one treatment
Effective enzymatic cleaning eliminates odors
Smelled bad during initial interaction between chemical and stain
64-ounce bottle is heavy and difficult to pour
We found Nature's Miracle Carpet Shampoo to be extremely effective in our testing trial, but the scent of the product, while it was foaming up and getting to work, smelled worse than the stain. Thankfully the unpleasant smell was temporary, while its deep cleaning effectiveness fully and permanently eliminated both fresh and set-in stains. The shampoo can be used on its own (like we did for testing) or with a steam carpet cleaner to clean carpets and upholstery. The formula is color-fast and our test carpet looked as good as new after cleaning, but we always recommend testing in a hidden spot before a full application.
Price at time of publish: $17
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Enzymatic Cleaner: Yes | Size: 65, 256 ounces | EPA Safer Choice Standard: No
Best for Fresh Stains
Woolite INSTAclean Permanent Pet Stain Remover
Fresh stains and odors were removed with one treatment
Fresh, mild scent
No scrubbing required
Set-in mud stains required more than two treatments
Eradicate fresh stains and odors in under a minute with the Woolite INSTAClean Permanent Pet Stain Remover. This cleaner comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle to quickly saturate messes from pets on rugs and carpets.
During our lab testing, new stains and odors were easy to remove with very little manual agitation needed. For set-in stains, allowing the product to sit for five minutes, as stated in the instructions, brought about the successful removal of the mess. An older, impacted stain from mud was the most challenging stain for this product but we did see noticeable improvement after two treatments.
The product has a delectable scent that we felt was more manageable than many of the other cleaners we tested, not too sweet or too powerful. Once the cleaner is dry, the surfaces cleaned are safe for kids and pets, and we did not witness any discoloration.
Price at time of publish: $17 for a pack of two, 22-ounce bottles
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Enzymatic Cleaner: No | Size: 32 ounces | EPA Safer Choice Standard: Yes
OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover is our top recommendation for removing pet stains and odors from carpets and rugs. Set-in stains may require more than one treatment, but the effectiveness of this cleaning spray is reliable and the formulation is color-safe. If you are looking for a cleaner with fewer chemicals, our pick for best scent Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, and has a natural citrus scent. It effectively removes odors and stains but might require more treatments.
E.P.A. Safer Choice
Before testing, we consulted with Jessica Ek of the American Cleaning Institute, who advised that cleaners used around pets should primarily use ingredients identified on the Safe Chemical Ingredients List created by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The agency evaluates cleaning product ingredients for human and pet health for factors including carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment.
The EPA also provides a searchable database of products that meets their Safer Choice Standard. We've noted in product descriptions when products we've tested meet this standard. Also look for the Safer Choice logo on the label of your pet cleaners.
How We Tested
We purchased 31 carpet cleaners for testing in our New York Lab. Each cleaning solution was paired with a dedicated 24 by 24-inch square of beige carpet that was divided into six quadrants. We tested three different types of stain twice each, once cleaning up a fresh version of the stain, and the second time by allowing a stain to set-in overnight.
Our organic matter consisted of:
- Diluted wolf urine to substitute for pet pee
- Food broth mixed with vinegar to mimic pet vomit
- Soil mixed with water to create mud
Before applying any cleaning solution, excess solid waste from any of the stains was removed by hand or vacuum.
We then followed the instructions for each cleaning product setting a timer to record how the product activated upon contact and the duration of the treatment.
Our methodology instructs testers to make their own observations in a variety of categories: Ease of Use, Odor Elimination, Scent, Effectiveness, and Value.
What type of carpet cleaning is best for pet stains and odor?
An enzymatic cleaner, like OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover will be more effective specifically against pet stains, because it break down the proteins found in urine, feces, and vomit.
Is carpet cleaner safe for pets?
Never allow pets to roam an area that is currently being treated with a carpet cleaner. Thoroughly read the label for the cleaner in question, look for the Safer Choice logo on the label, and check the ingredients on E.P.A. safer choice list. Generally, once the treatment is complete and the area is dry, the space should be safe for pets and humans.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets
This roundup was written by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a happy pomeranian named Gidget. When Gidget was potty training, Nature's Miracle Carpet Shampoo helped Gidget learn where not to pee by eliminating the urine scent (and saving Anna's sanity). Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, she embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.
A previous version of this article was written by Ashley Knierim, a freelance writer who resides in Columbus, Ohio with her two crazy rescue dogs.