Laundry detergent isn’t the same thing as stain removers, despite the fact that they’re used together. To get rid of dirt, odors, and light to moderate stains, the best laundry detergents are available. In contrast, stain removers have a more concentrated action and are often used directly on the stain.
A light stain on a white shirt is OK for the majority of people, but what if you accidentally spill ketchup on your beloved white shirt? Dry-cleaning or replacing the clothing is often out of the question, and running it through the wash isn’t going to fix the problem either.. That’s when stain removers come in handy.
Stain removers come in a variety of formats, including sprays, bars, gels, and powder, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. The best stain remover solutions for different types of material and unclean stains may be necessary for this reason.
When it comes to stain removers, they should all be capable of removing stains left behind by detergents. Learn more about the many types of stains and the finest stain removers to keep on hand in the laundry room with our guide.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stain Remover
Stain removers can be divided into three main groups, each of which serves a specific purpose:
- Gels, bars, and spray bottles are all options for pretreatment stain removers. They’re best used for spot cleaning, not whole loads of washing.
- You may add detergent stain removers to a full load of laundry in your washing machine because they come in liquid or powder form. These are stain removers that can tackle everything.
- Pretreatment stain removers and on-the-go stain removers are very similar. They are small enough to fit in a handbag.
You will find numerous stain varieties in the market today. In order to neutralize the chemical reaction that generates the stain in the first place, there are a variety of stain removal products on the market. It’s critical to have a fundamental understanding of stain kinds before making a stain removal product selection.
- Beer, wine, coffee, cola beverages, tomato juice, and actual fruit juices all include tannins, which cause stains. Tannins are plant pigments that give red wine and tea its “bitter” flavor. They are present in many plants, including grape skin and tea leaves. Tannin stains can only be removed by oxidation.
- Plant and animal oils, as well as motor oil, are the sources of oil stains. To properly remove oil-based stains, spot treatment is required.
- Proteins are derived from animals (including humans). These include animal-based proteins found in urine, feces, blood, vomit, and sweat stains, as well as gelatin, eggs, and dairy products. Enzyme-based stain removers are effective for dealing with protein-based stains.
- Grass, ink, and felt-tip pens all leave behind dye stains. To remove most dye stains, you’ll need to use hot water and bleach, as well as a pretreatment.
Consider the color and type of material on which the stain will be held before applying any pretreatment. Colorfastness testing is recommended by most stain removers in order to determine if your clothing’s dyes will be destroyed during the stain-removing procedure.
Oxidizing treatments like bleach are ideal for removing stains from white clothing because they are meant to remove color (and will remove color from dyed fabric). Color-safe stain removers should be used on colored clothing.
Silk, velvet, wool, suede, taffeta and other delicate textiles indicated for dry-cleaning only require professional stain removal. Using a water-based stain remover on delicates might cause the fabric to shrink or change texture, as well as reveal signs of damage from the stain removal process.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover Spray, 12 Fl. oz.
To use, simply add OxiClean to a bucket of water and mix thoroughly. To remove a stain, simply apply the stain remover to the damaged area and rub it into the cloth. Allow the OxiClean Max Force to do its thing for five to 10 minutes before moving on to the next step. Then, wash your clothing on the hottest setting it can handle, and voila! This product has been dubbed “the answer to impossible stains” and “a miracle in a bottle” by reviewers, so it must be good.
Best On-the-Go: Tide Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover, 3 Count
Tide-To-Go Instant Stain Remover Pen is a must-have for those times when you’re not near a washing machine. When you’re on the road and need to get rid of a stain quickly, these handy pens are a lifesaver.
It is possible to use Tide-To-Go pens on a variety of fabrics, including wool, polyester, and cotton, thanks to its bleach-free formula. To use, just press the pen tip onto the stain to dispense the liquid, and then gently rub the affected area with the resulting solution. Coffee, tea, wine, spaghetti sauce, and grape juice are just some of the beverages that the recipe is touted to be used on.
This pen has been called “liquid unicorn magic for the clumsy” by reviewers, who describe it as such. As far as we’re concerned, they’re worth the money.
Best for Food Stains: Zout Triple Enzyme Formula Laundry Stain Remover Foam
The Zout Triple Enzyme Formula is the best stain remover for difficult food stains on your garments. Even the toughest food stains, such as barbeque sauce, chocolate syrup, tomato sauce, and baby food, are effectively removed by the triple enzyme foam formula. You may also use it to remove grass, blood, and soil stains with ease.
Even stains that have been there for days can be removed with this treatment, according to reviewers.
Zout Laundry Stain Remover Spray
When Zout was first introduced in the 1960s, it was primarily used to clean medical and nursing clothes. Protein and perspiration, starch and barbeque sauce and oil-based stains may all be tackled with the help of a sophisticated triple-enzyme solution in this stain remover.
Set-in stains can also be removed using Zout. Allow the detergent to soak in for at least five minutes before washing to get the best results from pre-treatment stain removal.
Best for Clothing: OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder
Keeping OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover on hand in your laundry room will help you get rid of even the toughest messes. Stains are broken down and decolored by the unique powder mix, which is activated by water.
Simply add a scoop of the powder and some water to the mixture and mix thoroughly until the powder is completely dispersed. Soak soiled things for one to six hours, depending on how bad they are stained, in the solution. To get rid of stains for good, add another scoop of powder to your washer and wash as usual.
OxiClean can be used to remove stains from a variety of household items, including tablecloths, patio furniture, carpets, and grout. When it comes to cleaning and brightening up their garments, reviewers describe this product as “amazing.”
Best for White Shirts: OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener + Stain Remover
Stains on white or other light-colored garments may prompt you to grab for bleach in an attempt to remove them. Alternatively, you might use OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener + Stain Remover instead of bleach.
This stain remover works with detergent to break up tough stains and brighten white clothing. Its chlorine-free formula is supposed to be 40% more powerful than bleach. Similar to regular OxiClean, you should presoak stains with OxiClean White Revive for a few hours, and then add it to your washing machine during the cycle as well. However, note that this product is not safe for use on wool, silk, or leather.
Best Gel: SHOUT Advanced Stain Remover for Clothes with Scrubber Brush
When used in conjunction with detergent, this stain remover works to dissolve difficult stains and restore the brightness of white garments. There are claims that its chlorine-free recipe is 40% more potent than bleach. Presoaking stains with OxiClean White Revive for a few hours, then adding it to your washing machine during the cycle, is the same as with conventional OxiClean. This product is not suitable for use on wool, silk or leather.
Set-in stains are no match for this solution, and you can use it now and wash the results up to a week later. An integrated brush enables you apply gel directly to the stained area, and its formula works in any water temperature.. Using the thick gel, you can remove even the most stubborn stains such as chocolate and frying oil.
Shout Advanced Ultra Gel gets rave reviews for its stain-fighting abilities, especially on white garments.
Best Wipes: SC Johnson Shout Instant Stain Remover Wipes
Instant Stain Wipes from Shout are a convenient and effective stain remover that you can take around in your purse, travel bag, gym bag and more. These convenient, single-use wipes rapidly remove messes and are perfect for folks on the go.
The rough surface of these stain removers aids in the removal of stains more quickly. They’re safe to use on any colorfast materials and can remove blood, urine, coffee, and more. It is recommended to use these wipes as soon as possible after an accident, as they prevent the stain from being embedded in the cloth.
Stain wipes have been praised by many reviewers for their individual packets, which keep the wipes fresh and prevent them from drying out. However, they advise that you check the colorfastness of your apparel before using the product.
Best With Enzymes: Biokleen Bac-Out Enzyme Stain Remover
If you’re allergic to bleach or other harsh chemicals commonly found in stain removers, consider switching to a more natural option. Biokleen Bac-Out Stain+Odor Remover Foam Spray is an excellent choice for removing difficult stains naturally.
Stains and odors can be removed and eliminated with the help of live enzyme-producing cultures and plant-based substances in this spray. If you’ve ever had a pet accident or wine stain, this solution is safe to use around children and dogs. No phosphates, chlorine, ammonia, or synthetic fragrances can be found in this shampoo and conditioner combination.
Best Pens: Clorox Laundry Pens, 2 Bleach Pens and 2 Stain Fighter Pens for Colors
Stain remover pens that are small enough to keep in your laundry area are available. Clorox Laundry Pens come in handy when you need to remove stubborn stains. Stain remover and bleach pens are included in this purchase to help you deal with any messes life may bring your way.
Dual-ended Clorox Pens contain one tiny point and a thick, broad surface for bigger stains, making them ideal for cleaning. Stain remover pens are made to penetrate and eliminate stains on colored clothing, while bleach pens are ideal for use on whites and home surfaces.
These pens are best used as a pretreatment before washing, so some reviewers remark that they’re not great to use on the go. However, many say they’re incredibly effective when you need a spot treatment on small stains.
Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar & Stain Remover
Some reviewers complain that these pens aren’t ideal for usage on the fly because they’re best utilized as a pretreatment before washing. When it comes to removing minor stains, many claim they are really successful.
A rash can be avoided if the bar is used immediately after exposure. Using this bar even after a rash has developed can help reduce the overall length of time the rash lasts. What about blemishes and marks? Using a dampened soap bar, apply the solution to the affected region, and then proceed as normal.
Puracy Natural Laundry Stain Remover
With six plant-based enzymes and cleaners, Puracy stain remover removes anything from grass and berries to blood and sweat to oil and tomato sauce and even pet mishaps and dirt.
The Puracy product is an ultra-concentrated composition that requires only a few sprays to do its task. For children and dogs, it is safe to use on all textiles and fibers.
10 Quick Tips for Removing Stains from Clothing
10: Emergency Spot Remover
The clothing you worked so hard on isn’t going to look good with a glass of red wine or a bowl of tomato soup. Take a deep breath and calm down if something spills on your clothing while you’re out and about. It only takes a few simple measures to get rid of that pesky stain! First and first, never rub or clean something that has been spilt. Instead, use a white towel to gently dab the area. There is no white cloth in your possession? A piece of white bread can be a lifesaver in a situation, especially if you’re dining out!
An oil-based stain, like from a salad dressing, can also be handled with tableside ingredients. Simply sprinkle it with salt, allow it to sit for a bit and then brush the seasoning off the garment. Voila! The salt should have absorbed the oil.
Tableside ingredients can also be used to remove an oil stain, such as that from a salad dressing. Simply sprinkle it with salt, let it sit for a while, and then use a brush to remove the seasoning. Voila! The oil should have been absorbed by the salt by now.
Lemon juice and cream of tartar can be combined to make a potent stain remover if you’re near a laundry machine, like at home for a romantic meal. Those marks you thought you’d never get rid of will be gone with a simple wash and dry.
9: Grass Stains
Pickup baseball games are ruined if there is a grass stain on the field. There is no need to worry about your children’s clothes getting dirty after they play in the yard because there is a simple solution. Even while grass stains seem indestructible, they aren’t.
One of the best ways to remove grass stains is to use toothpaste! An old toothbrush and simple white toothpaste can be used to remove grass stains from clothing, but only if you use a paste version and not a gel. Dip the toothbrush in clean water and use it to scrub away the stain after squeezing a little amount of toothpaste over it. If necessary, repeat this procedure until all of the stain is removed (s). Launder the garment and the area as normal. You no longer have to think twice about stealing home plate. When it comes to removing ink spots from clothing, toothpaste is an excellent choice!. Who would have guessed?
8: Blood Stains
Most people who cut themselves are more concerned with getting a bandage and potentially avoiding fainting than they are with maintaining their appearance. When the dust settles and you’re back to normal, a soiled shirt merely adds insult to injury. To be clear of the blood stain, you do not have to work for long hours. To make the discomfort a distant memory, follow this simple tip!
The first-aid area of the drugstore has hydrogen peroxide 3 percent, which you can use to remove blood stains from garments. Soak the stain with the peroxide, use your fingernail or the blade of a butter knife to help loosen and scrape away the blood, then rinse it away with more hydrogen peroxide. After that, wash as usual. Treating stains as soon as possible can help you get rid of them more easily, especially when it comes to getting rid of blood stains.
If you don’t have easy access to hydrogen peroxide, don’t worry too much about it. No matter what you call it, cola/soda/pop is adept at addressing blood stains in a pinch. All you have to do is soak the stain, ideally overnight, in the soda. Then, wash as normal.
7: Collar Stains
Whether it’s on work shirts or Sunday best, staining around the collar can be easily vanquished with a touch of something you’re pretty much guaranteed to have in the house — shampoo. Just pour a little shampoo onto the collar, rub the collar together to work the shampoo in well, allow it to soak for about 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Follow-up by laundering as usual. Although any shampoo will likely do the trick, some experts recommend using a brand that’s formulated specifically for oily hair because it is designed to break down body oils, grit and other stuff that transfers from skin to collar [source: Taylor].
With a little bit of shampoo, you may quickly get rid of stains around the collar of your business shirts or your Sunday finest. Pour a small amount of shampoo into the collar, rub it together, let it soak for about 15 to 30 minutes, and then rinse completely with warm water. Launder the item as usual after use. While any shampoo should work, others prefer using an oily hair shampoo because it is meant to break down oils, grit, and other material that gets transferred from the skin to the collar [source: Taylor] from the body.
6: Lipstick Stains
Let us help you out with this laundry technique for those of you who have been kissing a lot on your sweetheart’s collar: There are so many different colors and formulations of lipstick that experts claim it’s one of the most difficult stains to remove. Another important issue is the sort of fabric that has been discolored. If the stain is on a garment made of cashmere, wool, or silk, it’s generally better to have it cleaned by a professional..
For anything else, you should carefully scrape any remaining lipstick off with a makeup sponge. Paper towels should then be laid out in front of you on a firm surface. Place the stained side of the paper towels down on the affected area. In order to remove the oil from the stain, use a dish detergent with grease-eating properties. Flip the garment over so the stain is on the outside. Use a clean toothbrush to gently cleanse the affected region. The artwork should not be washed. Instead, use the gentle cycle on your washing machine and wash as usual. Continue the procedure until the stain is gone.
5: Grease Spots
If the pitter-patterers in your family prefer to wipe their hands on their clothes rather than the perfectly acceptable napkins you provided, laundry day will be a challenge for you. This is especially aggravating when fatty foods like fried chicken are on the menu. You can’t just pretend that stubborn grease stains don’t exist since they don’t seem to mix in with the cloth.
In the event that you can identify with this, don’t worry. Opt instead for this hack from the pantry: Cornstarch should be sprayed on the area. Brush the cornstarch off after it has absorbed the grease for a few minutes. You can get back to persuading people to use napkins instead of their garments once the grease stain has been removed.
WD-40 is another great solution for removing grease stains. That’s correct, the anti-squeak spray for door hinges and other things. The stain can be removed in as little as 30 minutes after spraying with the solution and letting it sit. Allow it to sit for another 30 minutes after treating it with a small amount of dish soap or liquid laundry detergent. Running a stain through a dryer almost guarantees that it will never be removed, so run it through a washing machine as usual and hang it out to dry.
4: Oil Stains
If you have unsightly stains on your pillowcase, don’t worry because you are absolutely not alone. Pillows often get stained by sweat and natural body oils. Sometimes, simply tossing them in the washer will do the trick and lift the stain right out. But if this standard fix isn’t cutting it and the frustration is keeping you up at night, it’s probably time to try another tactic.
You’re not the only one with a stained pillowcase, so don’t worry about it. It is common for pillows to be discolored by sweat and body oils. Tossing them in the washing machine can sometimes remove the discoloration completely. For those times when a simple remedy isn’t doing the trick, it may be time to try something else.
White chalk, another common household item, can be used as a quick and easy repair. It’s as simple as applying the chalk on the oil stain and letting it dry for around 15 minutes. Remove any remaining chalk by scrubbing or shaking, and then wash as usual.
The problem can be avoided in the future if you follow a few simple actions on laundry day. Pre-treat any oil stains with liquid laundry detergent before placing them in the washing machine. Then, wash your clothes in hot water and with an enzyme-rich detergent. Add a quarter cup of bleach to light-colored linens for an extra boost.
3: Ink Stains
For those of us who’ve ever put a ballpoint pen in our pockets for safekeeping, we’ve learned that ink explodes everywhere. In the meantime, don’t give up hope on those jeans. The treatment, on the other hand, differs depending on the type of ink used.
Put a paper towel under the stain if you get ballpoint pen ink on your outfit. Then, apply some rubbing alcohol to the area that is inflamed. Larger stains may necessitate a 15-minute soaking period. When you realize that ink is no longer being transferred, stop blotting/sponging at the stain. You can use pre-treatment (if you have one) and wash as usual in hot water after rinsing and applying it.
This type of pen is more difficult to remove ink from, but is still achievable. Cold water should be used to properly clean the stain. Soak the clothing in hot water with a liquid laundry detergent for a few minutes before pressing. If you have it on hand, throw in a few drops of ammonia to amp up the flavor. Add the item and carefully rub the stain after thoroughly mixing the solution. If the stain is stubborn, let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes or even overnight. Add extra detergent and wash after it appears to be gone.
2: Red Wine
Having a glass of red wine in your hand looks better than having it on your outfit! Fortunately, the stain may be removed with a little elbow grease and a few ordinary home materials.
If the red wine stain is still new, sprinkle baking soda on it immediately. Wine stains can be removed by gently rubbing the stained area with a clean, moist cloth. Do not use a scrubber or a rubbing motion! Apply a layer of salt on the stain and allow it to set for about five minutes. After that, stretch the stained fabric over a large bowl or kettle and secure it (a large rubber band is best). Then, carefully douse the fabric in hot water. To ensure that the stain is completely removed, it is recommended that you spray from a height of about eight inches above the stain. Finally, run it through your washing machine on the hottest setting.
1: Tea Stains
Don’t give up hope if you’ve got stains from tea on your clothes. Everything is fine as long as you didn’t burn yourself on the hot coffee when it spilled. As quickly as possible, use cold water to wash the stain off your clothing. When rinsing, be sure to apply water from behind the stain rather than directly on top. Rather than forcing it all the way through the material, this allows it to exit out the other side the way it entered. Rub any old liquid detergent into the stain, and you’ll be good to go. Allow to stand for at least five minutes before using. To remove dried stains, soak them in cold water for around 30 minutes with detergent. Then, flush the discoloration with water.
Another method is to use baking soda to remove wet tea stains. I hope the powder can remove any color from the garment! Then wash as usual.
Can you remove a stain after drying?
You can remove a stain after it has dried, but it is advisable to address the stain right away and prevent drying the article of clothing until you are satisfied with how well it has been cleaned.
Can old stains be removed from clothes?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to stain removal. Saturating old stains with vinegar and then wiping the stain with baking soda and vinegar paste is recommended by the Spruce.
Can baking soda remove old stains?
Baking soda will remove stains from a wide variety of fabrics, and this is a fact. Pre-treating with a paste comprised of 6 tablespoons of baking soda and 13 cup of warm water is recommended by Arm and Hammer. You should try it on a piece of clothes first, then apply the paste, let dry, and wash it.
What causes brown stains on clothes after washing?
While rust, corrosion, and accumulation in the washing machine can all cause brown stains on clothing, benzoyl peroxide and rust are two of the most common causes.
Will vinegar take color out of clothes?
It is possible to brighten faded colored clothing items by soaking them in 1 gallon of warm water with 1 cup vinegar. Follow this with a clear water rinse.
In contrast, many drab clothing items can be brightened by soaking them in 1 gallon of warm water and 1 cup of vinegar for a few hours. This is followed by a rinsing with clear water.