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I tried this $12 spot remover on dirt, ink and wine stains — it actually works

This might be the best stain cleaner I've ever used.
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Danielle Murphy

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I'll admit that my coordination skills aren't what they used to be. In fact, you could say I'm a bit clumsy — not the type that regularly lands me (or anyone else) in emergency rooms, but most definitely the type that has me dropping my phone or knocking over drink cups at least once a week. OK, fine, maybe more like once a day...

Needless to say, my butterfingers have been the cause of quite a few messes over the years. Not to mention, permanent stains that have ruined clothing and left eyesores on expensive furniture. So, I needed to find a cleaning product that could save me from myself — and make any evidence of my spills, topples and drops disappear. Cue: The Folex Instant Carpet Remover. It may not be able to keep the clumsiness out of the girl, but it's been stellar at keeping the stains out of pretty much anything.

Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover

It's safe to use

Finding a stain remover is one thing, but finding one that's safe to use is another. Before even adding the Folex cleaner to cart, I wanted to make sure I wasn't inviting potentially harmful ingredients into my home. Thankfully, this spot cleaner is free of volatile organic compounds, solvents and petroleums, according to the brand, which also says it's safe to use around children and pets.

I don't have any kiddos running around, but I do have a 16-year-old dog who likes to lick random things on the floor in his old age. So, it's a relief I won't be inadvertently putting him in danger while cleaning.

It works on more than just carpets

Based on the promises printed on the bottle alone, I expected this cleaner to be a miracle worker. It claims to be "The solution to your stains!" and to help remove a variety of spot-inducing liquids, including food, rust, wine, coffee, makeup and more. And while it has "carpet" in the name, this cleaner is also a game-changer in lifting pesky marks on other surfaces as well. The only caveat is that they must be materials that can be dampened with water, according to the brand.

I first tried the Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover on one of my worst stains to date: a two-year-old dirt smudge on the edge of my mattress. (That's what happens when you don't hire professionals to help you on moving day.) I followed Folex's directions by spraying a generous amount of cleaner directly onto the black splotch, then proceeded to "gently agitate" it with a paper towel (you can also use a clean cloth). After about four or five dabs, about 80 percent of the mystery grime came off immediately.

I truly expected this stain to give more of a fight, especially considering how long it's lived on my bedding, but the remaining 20 percent of the mark lifted with ease after a few more spritzes and taps of the towel.

Courtesy Danielle Murphy

When I tried the spot remover on my second stain — a dark ink streak on the side of my work chair — I guessed this would be a trickier situation. As if expecting some difficulty, I veered from the instructions and went in with a vigorous scrub back and forth. The mark faded a little bit, but it was still quite noticeable after a few minutes of intense wiping. However, once I returned to my light patting motion, the formula seemed to react differently and soon the ink disappeared completely.

Courtesy Danielle Murphy

Then came the most troublesome stain: red wine. I spilled some Pinot Noir onto one of my drying mats, which is something I normally keep on the counter of my all-white kitchen at all times. Since a giant red blemish doesn't exactly go with my home decor style, I was determined to get it out (and not spend money on a new mat). I repeated the same spray-and-dab process and, somehow, ridding myself of this massive wine stain was easier than the dirt and ink put together. Other than a damp circle that eventually dried down, there was no sign that a spill ever occurred.

Courtesy Danielle Murphy

It's odor-free

If you're worried about that harsh chemical scent that lingers with most cleaners, don't be! The Folex Instant Spot Remover doesn't give off any odor, which might have something to do with its water-based formula.

If you're clumsier (or messier) than I am, you can purchase a Folex bottle as big as 128 ounces — and in a pack of 4 — right on Amazon. I opted for the smallest 32-ounce container, and for just $12, I got a lot of bang for my buck. The formula tends to settle rather quickly, so I felt like I had to re-apply often to activate it even more. By the time I had cleared all three stains, I had used quite a lot of the cleaner but was still felt like I had a lot left in the bottle.

If there's one product I'll make sure to always have stocked in my cleaning cabinet, it's this spot remover. I'm genuinely impressed with how well it worked on both old and new stains, and I'm almost positive I'll have other accidents to use it on soon. (I've already loaned it to my mother to clear up a pasta stain on her rug.) I'm likely due for another clumsy mistake, but Folex has yet to drop the ball in any of my stain-related emergencies.

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