Is It Worth Buying Carpet Stain Protector?

Alexandra Frost
Written by Alexandra Frost
Updated October 25, 2021
woman spraying carpet to prevent stains
Syda Productions -

Buying carpet stain protector depends on your lifestyle and can protect your carpet for years

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If you’ve ever been in a carpet store, you know deciding on a style and color can be overwhelming. Besides picking the right style and color, you need to decide whether or not to purchase carpet stain protector, add it later, or not to use it at all. This decision varies depending on multiple lifestyle factors and how much foot traffic your carpet accommodates.

spilled red wine on light carpet
Gina Sanders -

What Is Carpet Stain Protector?

First, it’s important to understand what carpet retailers and cleaners mean when they reference stain protectors. Simply put, it’s a spray that they put on the carpet, with the help of a carpet brush, that absorbs into the carpet fibers to protect them from staining. So, the next time you spill your glass of red wine on your new, white carpet, there’s a greater chance it will indeed return to white after cleaning it, rather than fully absorbing and leaving a permanent stain.

Another sort of carpet stain protection treatment is called “mill-applied” or “factory-applied,” a treatment baked in during the carpet manufacturing process, rather than added after installation. Keep in mind that if you select this option, you’ll still need to reapply stain protection through a spray to extend the carpet’s life.

There are three popular carpet stain protectors, including Scotchgard, Teflon, and Guardsman. The brands all offer sprays that coat the fibers and block their pores, preventing future stains.

How Much Does Carpet Stain Protector Cost?

When you decide if you need a carpet stain protector, one factor is the potential cost of the product and installation. Carpet stain protection averages $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot for a contractor to install the protection. Costs may vary depending on the business and location, and whether you are just getting the protector or installing carpet simultaneously.

You can also spray your own stain protector on your carpets, which is much cheaper, at around $8 per 17-ounce can, or up to $80 per gallon. You’ll find that a gallon covers around 1,500 square feet, depending on how heavily you apply it; you’ll use a carpet brush to distribute it evenly.

Do I Really Need Carpet Stain Protector?

It depends on how hard you’re going to be on your carpets. If you install carpet in a formal living room that you only use a few times each year and have no children or pets, you might consider the decision differently from a family of five with a dog installing carpet in their main room. Wear and tear to the carpet is a significant factor in choosing a stain protector or passing on it.

Also, consider the type of carpet. You do not need a water-based protector like Scotchgard for polyester, a plastic-based fiber, as it doesn’t do anything to protect the carpet. Stain protectors are an “insurance policy” for the carpet, as long as it’s not polyester, and is a positive step you can take to protect your carpet. Stain protector will not replace the need for regular professional carpet cleanings, and you may find that you need to reinstall the carpet stain protector after each cleaning.

A final consideration is weighing the cost of a stain protector against the cost of new carpet. If you get a major stain on the carpet that doesn’t come out with at-home carpet-cleaning remedies and solutions or through professional cleaning, will you replace the carpet? The cost of these DIY solutions, a professional carpet cleaner, and ultimately new carpet is much more expensive than applying a simple gallon of stain remover from the beginning.

Some carpet experts recommend waiting until your carpet is a few years old to add additional protection, as new carpets often come infused with extra protection.

Should I Use Carpet Stain Protector if I Have a Warranty?

Be aware: you may void the warranty entirely if you apply a carpet stain protector yourself. You should read your carpet warranty’s requirements and stipulations, which may also require that you get annual (or more or less frequent) professional carpet cleanings and other items. If you aren’t sure, call the warranty company before applying any products to your carpet or hiring a professional to apply them.

How Will I Know the Carpet Company Actually Installs a Carpet Stain Protector?

It’s a common and valid concern to wonder if a company actually sprays a water-based protector on your carpet, or if they simply spray water (or another liquid). There’s no way to check to see whether carpet protection has been applied, and you should definitely not try to test it by spilling something on the carpet to find out. Instead, it’s important to choose a certified and trustworthy company with positive references and well-known in your area for a good reputation ahead of time, rather than doubt whether they did the job correctly.

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