Best Stain Resistant Carpet [Marketing Hype vs What to Buy]

Average Cost To Install Carpet Price Range: $845 - $1,650
See costs in your area

Best Stain Resistant Carpet [Marketing Hype vs What to Buy]

If you ever feel like your home is a battlefield of spills and stains, choosing a carpet with top of the line stain resistance will save you a great deal of stress. If you haven’t started carpet shopping yet, you will quickly find out that all carpets claim to be the world’s most stain proof carpet.

Today I’m going to help you sort through all of the fluff. Before we get started, let’s simplify things. There are many details that go into what makes a carpet durable, but for stain resistance, 90% of what matters is the carpet material. The reason all carpets say they’re amazing at stain resistance is that all of them have unique advantages—the companies market these advantages and hide the drawbacks. It’s up to you (and I’m here to help) to know which fiber’s advantages will keep the stains off of your carpet.

Wool Stain Resistance

Most carpet fibers are coated with a stain-preventing chemical; wool’s the exception. Even without any treatment, wool may be your best option for stain resistance. Here’s why:

Wool is naturally resistant to spills from Kool-Aid to ketchup and also repels oils. Many carpet fibers are good at resistant spills or resisting oils but not both. Sometimes people only need their carpet to hold up against one type of stain (liquid or oils), but for those who need protection against both, consider wool. Just know that wool’s drawback is that it isn’t cheap.

Nylon Stain Resistance

Nylon is the most popular choice for homes and a big part of this is its stain resistance. Nylon carpet with a good stain coating sets the bar for resistance against spills and other mishaps. And while it may be a slight step down from wool at repelling oils, it doesn’t attract oil like some of the other carpet materials that I’ll discuss below.

The trick with nylon is it varies carpet to carpet because its stain resistance isn’t natural like wool. The coating is what makes nylon carpets. There are many different brands with great coatings out there, but you still need to be careful which you choose. To learn more about which nylon you should choose, check out the article on branded vs unbranded nylon or my review of DreamWeaver carpet, who heavily advertise with stain resistance.

Polyester and Olefin Stain Resistance

Polyester and olefin are two different types of carpet, but they are similar enough to lump together when we’re talking about stain resistance. Both are oil-based carpet materials. Oil-based carpets do an excellent job at repelling spills, but they attract oils. So why would someone want to compromise and buy a carpet that attracts oils? Polyester and olefin are both inexpensive.

The next question is what rooms are good candidates for an olefin or polyester? Anywhere where there’s not oil, but you still want stain resistance. Oil usually either comes from the bottom of your shoes (especially if you have an asphalt driveway) or from your skin. So any room where people have their shoes off and won’t be laying around on the carpet can be a great fit for polyester and olefin—in many homes, a dining room is a great example.

Smartstrand aka triexta (the newcomer)

Smartstrand may be your best carpet fiber against stains. It’s a “new” fiber as far as carpet materials go. The amazing thing about Smarstrand is that its extreme stain resistance is built into the strand. This means you don’t have to worry about its “stain protector” wearing off or how good of quality it is in the first place.

So nylon is great for stain resistant. How does it compare as far as durability to other fibers? You can read all about the pros and cons of Smartsrand here.

Does anything else matter?

Earlier in this article, I let you in on a secret—the carpet fiber is 90% of what determines carpets stain resistance. So is there anything else you need to worry about? Not a whole lot, but here are some additional details you might want to keep in mind:

The first is that some carpet styles provide unique stain challenges. A great example is Berber carpet. Stains often don’t soak into Berber fibers but roll down to the backing of the carpet. This is great at the time of the spill, but when you have a Berber cleaned, its tight weave means it dries slowly causing some of these stains to wick up and appear at the surface when the carpet dries. It can be a professional carpet cleaner’s nightmare when the carpet looks dirtier after it was cleaned than before.

A second thing to watch for is the carpet stain warranty. Reading the article I just linked will give you the full picture on warranties, but keep this in mind: warranties are easily void and the manufacturers know this. Therefore, they may put a10-year stain warranty on a carpet, not because they think it will last that long, but because they know that the warranty will most likely be invalid before the 10 years anyway.

Captain’s parting words!

The nice thing about picking out a carpet with stain resistance is you only need to focus on one thing: the carpet material. Where it gets tricky is the type of stains your carpet is most vulnerable to, and what’s your budget? Your safest bet is a brand name nylon with a good reputation, but you’ll pay for it.

Much less expensive options are available in unbranded nylons, polyester, and olefin, and as long as you know their drawbacks, they can be excellent options.

Clearly, most rooms in a house would benefit from a stain-resistant carpet. And many of these carpets would make great garage carpets.

But keep in mind, stain resistance isn’t the only thing that keeps your carpet looking new. Check out the most durable carpet to learn more!

Average Cost To Install Carpet Flooring Price Range: $845 - $1,650
See costs in your area

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 thoughts on “Best Stain Resistant Carpet [Marketing Hype vs What to Buy]”

  1. Hi. I’ve been looking for carpeting that won’t expose my pets to chemical stain protectors. When you say that Smarstrand’s “stain resistance is built into the strand” does that mean that at some point the yarn was treated with stain protection? Or is it that the fabric itself is stain resistant without the addition of chemicals to resist stains at any point in its manufacture?

    1. Carpet Captain

      It’s part of the material’s properties, meaning they don’t have to treat it with chemicals. That’s not to say there won’t be any chemicals in the carpet (adhesives to the backing, dyes, etc).

  2. Hi, I’m wondering about carpet for my basement. We have a split level house…our bedrooms are all located on the basement level. We have both kids and dogs. We purchased the home 4 years ago and the carpet they claimed to have newly installed (although it was not installed well and I doubt properly) is absolutely destroyed and I am pretty certain the source of the “mildew” smell we are struggling with. Any suggestions? Love your site. Very helpful- just not sure the direction to go in for our particular situation.

    1. Carpet Captain

      If mildew is a concern, I’d have your basement tested for moisture just to make sure there aren’t any big issues. If there are, almost any floor you install will be damaged fairly quickly. If you suspect there’s a moisture issue but don’t want to deal with it, you might look at luxury vinyl or just doing a concrete basement floor with rugs. If you want to stick with carpet, go with something synthetic, and maybe a cheaper fiber like polyester. Synthetics don’t mildew easily and a cheaper carpet you can replace every 5 years or so and still be cheaper than a higher-end fiber.

  3. I came across a carpet at Lowe’s today: an embossed pattern low pile made of “wooltex” – 51% wool and 49% olefin. Obviously the olefin is there to bring cost down vs wool (it’s ~$7 sq ft) but wondering a pro’s thoughts on any benefits here vs Mohawk triexta. (I have 3 little kids and this is for their bedrooms – we need a very light cream carpet due to having less natural light – and I am someone who’s concerned about anything with coatings that probably aren’t too healthy for them to roll around on like the maniacs they are). Thanks so much for all your insight!

    1. Carpet Captain

      I don’t like the idea of half and half wool and olefin. Olefin is not durable at all and wool has some flaws (like with moisture) but can otherwise be very durable. The problem I see is you might get the “worst of both worlds” with this blend. I’d personally go with triexta, but you might also read my article on best carpet for kids and are carpets safe.

  4. Thanks for all this very useful information. I have a couple of questions:
    Can Smartstrand carpets be laid over a magnesite floor, assuming the magnesite is in good condition?
    If so what is the best padding?
    Also how resistant is it to stains from bitumen (Sadly my cream berber has stained badly and cannot be cleaned sufficiently) , and will the colour choice make any difference i.e. will stains show more on lighter colours, or are its stain-proof properties that good that colour doesn’t matter?
    Thank you.

    1. Smartstrand has great built-in stain resistance. I haven’t seen it specifically with bitumen, but I think it would be your best choice of carpet to resist these stains. I’m not familiar with magnesite flooring under carpet, but I’d say as far as padding, you’ll want something firmer since the magnesite is soft–maybe a fiber pad or possibly slab rubber. I did a quick google search and came up with this: . It looks like the corrosive nature could be a concern, as well as having the carpet professionally cleaned.

  5. What’s the better pet vomit stain resistance between StainMaster Pet Protect and Mohawk Smartstrand Forever Clean carpets? Thanks in advance for helping me decide.

    1. Carpet Captain

      I wish I could give a stronger opinion, but both are excellent for stain protection. I’m not sure one is better than the other. Forever Clean uses a fiber that is naturally stain resistant (doesn’t absorb stains) and adds a coating on that. The PetProtect uses a process during manufacturing to fill the “holes” of the fiber that are receptive to being stained. In a way, this mimicks natural stain resistance because it’s “baked into” the fiber, rather than a coating. I’d go whichever carpet is better otherwise or you like better. If I had to pick a winner, I’d go with the Forever Clean on stain resistance only (possibly the PetProtect on durability–all other things being equal).

Need Flooring Pros?

Get Free Quotes From Local Contractors