Congratulations on successfully managing your laundry without a stain remover so far! However, we’d like to offer a few suggestions for the future, as there may come a day when you’ll need to incorporate one into your routine. Laundry stain removers provide a targeted approach to tackling tough stains on clothing, using enzymes or oxidation to break them down and remove them. Unlike traditional detergents that wash the entire garment, stain removers focus on specific spots.
Remember that stubborn red wine stain on your favorite pants from last month’s dinner party? There is hope, but don’t plan on wearing them out tonight just yet. One key difference between stain removers and detergents is that the stain removal process takes time. As Kathy Cohoon, field representative at Two Maids, suggests, applying a stain remover should be done prior to washing and left to sit for a minimum of four hours. While specific instructions may vary depending on the product, this advice provides a good starting point.
To help you find the best stain remover available, we conducted extensive research and tested 30 different stain-fighters in The Lab. Our evaluation criteria included ease of use, effectiveness, scent, versatility in tackling various substances, and overall value. We examined both well-known brands and hidden gems to identify the top-notch stain removers that are truly worth your consideration.
Method Stain Remover
What We Like Exceptionally effective in removing various types of stains Convenient built-in bristle brush Great value for money Plant-based formula What We Don’t Like Bottle size could be larger Method’s Stain Remover truly stood out in our testing, earning high ratings across all categories. It delivers impressive stain-fighting power and can be used on a wide range of tough stains, including grease, blood, grass, oil, food, makeup, and more. The plant-based formula effortlessly lifts stains with minimal time and effort required. Our tester was amazed by the results, stating, “Wow! This product delivered fantastic results. The grass, marker, and syrup stains were completely gone, leaving no trace of the stain or cleaner residue.” We were initially concerned about potential stain transfer due to the product’s sudsiness during application, but everything washed away cleanly. The Method Stain Remover particularly excelled in removing wine stains, outperforming other products we tested.
What makes it even more convenient is the combination of the brush and bottle design. It’s incredibly easy to use, especially when dealing with large stains. While the built-in brush is a favorite feature, you can also directly apply the product, especially for spot-cleaning smaller stains.
Furthermore, Method’s Stain Remover offers excellent value for your money. Although the bottle may not be the largest, our tester noted, “You still get enough product to tackle large or tough stains. The bristle applicator is a significant advantage as the friction it provides helps lift stubborn stains like makeup.”
Carbona Laundry Stain Scrubber
PROS Exceptional at completely removing ink stains Effective in both warm and cold water CONS Brush applicator may be too harsh for delicate fabrics For years, Carbona’s Laundry Stain Scrubber has consistently been a top performer in the stain testing conducted by the Cleaning Lab. Its unique applicator top serves a dual purpose, allowing you to loosen stains and work the powerful stain-fighting formula into the fabric.
In our extensive testing, it earned the highest score among 37 stain removers, demonstrating remarkable efficacy in removing lipstick, mascara, and ink stains. Impressively, it was also one of only three products that visibly lightened red food coloring stains. The Stain Scrubber’s enzyme-based formula effectively lifts protein, tannin, and oil stains, and it is safe to use on most fabrics.
Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam, Laundry Stain Remover
Why You Should Get It Testers found it unscented and easy to use.
Keep in Mind It may not be effective at removing wine stains.
Our top recommendation for the best laundry stain remover is the Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam. This budget-friendly stain remover achieved perfect scores in terms of ease of use, effectiveness, and value. Its powerful formula is specifically designed to dissolve stubborn grease stains, and it is safe to use on machine washable fabrics.
To tackle stains, simply hold the can six inches away from the stained fabric and spray the foam. Allow it to sit for one to five minutes before laundering as usual. It’s important to avoid letting the foam dry on the fabric by promptly proceeding with the washing process.
During our tests, the Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam successfully eliminated chocolate syrup, grass, olive oil, and marker stains. These stains were effectively treated with just one application, without causing any damage to the fabric. Although it didn’t completely remove a red wine stain, our testers were still satisfied with the overall performance, considering its exceptional results with other stains.
The instructions provided with this laundry stain remover were clear and easy to follow, and the applicator proved to be user-friendly. Our testers enthusiastically agreed that they would highly recommend this product, given its impressive performance and affordability.
Puracy Natural Laundry Stain Remover – 16 oz
Puracy harnesses the power of six plant-based enzymes to combat a wide range of stains, including challenging ones like blackberry juice and waterproof mascara. In my testing, it delivered impressive results, which is no small achievement. What’s more, this stain remover is free from sulfates, phosphates, parabens, petroleum-based ingredients, animal by-products, perfumes, and dyes. I appreciate the brand’s commitment to sustainability, as evidenced by their refill pouches, which offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to repeatedly purchasing new plastic spray bottles.
Whink Wash Away Stain Remover
Pros Effectively removes most stains in our tests Ideal for children’s clothing, targeting common stains they encounter Cons Struggles to completely eliminate foundation and wine stains With this liquid stain remover, you only need 15 minutes to soak older stains, and it performs well on typical culprits like grass, blue marker, chocolate syrup, and olive oil, with satisfactory results. However, the red wine stain showed some remaining traces, and despite multiple treatments, the makeup foundation stain was still visible, albeit lightened. The squeeze-bottle packaging allows for easy application, although the liquid dispenses a bit quickly. On the positive side, there is no noticeable scent, making it suitable for individuals with sensitive noses and skin. Priced at around $13 for a single, albeit large, bottle, this product falls short in terms of value. According to our testers, the price seemed steep considering its inability to remove all stains. However, it should be noted that wine and makeup stains were particularly challenging across our testing, and this stain remover performed well on stains commonly encountered by children.
Things to Consider
Type of Stain “Stains are an inevitable part of life, considering the number of stains our clothes encounter in a single day,” says Drew Westervelt, laundry care expert and founder of HEX Performance. “However, not all stains are created equal, and they should be treated accordingly.” Tanu Grewal, Chief Cleaning Officer at AlEn USA, adds, “While a general stain remover is useful to have, the best approach to eliminating stains is to address the specific cause and appearance of the spot. Oil-based stains like salad dressing, lipstick, or grease require a different treatment than colored stains from grass or dirt.” Enzymatic removers, such as our top-rated Method Stain Remover, are effective for grease-based stains as they utilize enzymes to break down lipid molecules. Oxygen-based removers like OxiClean are ideal for plant-based stains like grass and dirt.
It’s also important to consider the color of the stain. Grewal advises, “If there is brown or yellow discoloration, you may want to use a rust-removing prewash (as long as it’s safe for the fabric!). Avoid using bleach in such cases as it can intensify the discoloration and further set the stain.”
Furthermore, the duration of the stain determines the appropriate removal method. Grewal suggests, “If you’re in a rush and want to ensure the coffee stain is lifted, a stain-removing pen or wipe [e.g., Tide To Go] is a great temporary solution. Just remember to treat the stain again before tossing it into the wash. However, for stains that have been on your child’s soccer jersey for a while, you’ll need something stronger with a brush head to scrub effectively before the next laundry cycle. In such cases, you may consider using the Shout Advanced Stain Remover.”
Type of Fabric Delicate materials like silk require special care when it comes to stain removal. Grewal emphasizes the need for a stain remover that is tough on stains while remaining gentle on clothing. “In some instances, it may be safer to use natural or homemade stain removers (such as a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar) on delicate fabrics rather than relying on store-bought options. It’s crucial to find the right balance to protect the fabric.”
How do you use a laundry stain remover?
Before choosing a laundry stain remover, Flores recommends first making sure that the product is safe for the fabric you’re trying to clean. She also says it’s important to follow the instructions on the package—and when applicable, make sure to pre-treat the stain before washing it.
“If you follow these steps, you should be able to get your stain out,” says Flores. “Before applying the product, dab the stain to remove any excess and wet the area with warm water. Then, apply the stain remover according to the package directions, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wash as usual.”
What’s the best method for removing set-in stains?
Set-in stains are not always impossible to remove. Flores suggests pre-treating the stain before washing it. Another method she recommends is to soak the stained item in a solution of water and vinegar for 30 minutes before washing.
“Depending on the fabric, you can also try making a paste of baking soda and water and rubbing it into the stain, letting it sit for 30 minutes before washing,” says Flores.
What are the hardest laundry stains to remove?
Some stains are more difficult to remove than others. Flores says that blood, grass, ink, and wine are common stains that are very hard to remove. Certain stains, like bleach, are nearly impossible to remove.