Best Stain Removers for Clothes Everyone Should Own
We eat, we drink, we spill. Luckily, we also have experts to recommend the stain removers for clothes to clean it all up.
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Be prepared for the inevitable
Stains happen. But instead of getting stressed out when they do, be prepared. We asked fashion stylists, who have lots of horror stories themselves, to share their favorite stain remover for clothes. They’ve learned the hard way how to remove chocolate stains and how to get red wine out of clothes, and they have products they swear by to do the job for them.
When it comes to removing stains, to ensure these products give you the results you want, though, you have to set the scene for success. “When it comes to removing stains, time is of the essence,” says Shelby Goldfaden, senior manager of merchandising and product development, M.M.LaFleur. “It can be tempting to toss a stained garment into your hamper, forget about it, and hope for the best on laundry day—but the sooner you take action, the better chance of salvaging it. Gently blot the stain with a dry cloth to absorb as much as the stain as possible, then proceed with one of these stain removers for clothes.”
Best overall stain remover for clothes: Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover and Laundry Spray
Grandma’s Secret is a “stain-fighting powerhouse,” raves fashion stylist Samantha Brown. “It gets rid of nearly everything and is very user-friendly.” Amazon reviewers agree, sharing stories of all the challenging stains it has removed, from ink and paint to tomato sauce and chocolate. It’s also great for make-up and lipstick, according to celebrity and fashion stylist Brendon Cannon. “It gets the stain out 99 percent of the time, and has been a lifesaver,” he says. Non-toxic and environmentally safe, this stain remover spray is not likely to remain a secret for long.
Best on-the-go stain remover: Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Pen
This bestseller has more than 20,000 five-star reviews because, according to Brown, “It’s easy, inexpensive, and you can keep it in your handbag or glove compartment.” And it works. Designed to remove fresh food and drink stains—the stains that occur most frequently on the go—the powerful cleaning solution breaks them down and a micro-fiber pad lifts and absorbs them. “It’s perfect if you’re running late to a meeting and spill coffee on your shirt,” says Elise Armitage, founder, What the Fab. “You just press the tip of the pen onto the stain area to dispense the liquid, and gently rub.” Reviewers describe it as “a miracle worker,” and those who consider themselves “spill people” stash the portable pens everywhere so they don’t have to walk around wearing their meal.
Best stain remover for white clothing: Nellie’s WOW Stick
If you ever wished you could just erase stains from your white clothes, your wish is about to come true. “I love Nellie’s WOW Stick,” says Cannon. “It’s all-natural, smells great, and has even gotten red wine stains out of white shirts.” Just wet the stained area, rub the WOW stick on it, agitate the stain under water, then launder as usual. As grass, make-up, and even blood stains, disappear, you’ll understand why this magical stick is named WOW.
Best stain remover for colors: Shout Advanced Spray and Wash Gel Laundry Stain Remover
According to Armitage, this top laundry stain remover lives up to its slogan, “tough on stains but gentle on colors.” In fact, you can leave this super-concentrated gel on your clothes for up to a week before washing, and it will work on stubborn, set-in stains and tough grease stains as well. Because they’re thicker than liquids, gels are especially good for honing in on stains without running all over the rest of the garment.
Best stain remover for oil-based stains: The Laundress Wash and Stain Bar
The Laundress is a favorite of the pros for delicate, more expensive clothing items and Goldfaden and Cannon (who calls it “true magic”) recommend their non-toxic, hypoallergenic Wash and Stain Bar for spot treating oil-based stains like salad dressing, oil, and makeup. “Simply rub it on the stain and work it into the fabric using hot water,” Goldfaden explains. “If you’re at home, use a stain brush to gently work the stain out of the fabric and soak for 30 minutes.” Amazon reviewers are especially impressed by how effective it is on hard-to-clean collars and cuffs.
Best budget stain remover: OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder
“This seven-pound box of OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder is going to last you a very long time, making it a great budget-conscious option,” says Armitage. “I’ve had my box for years and have yet to run out!” This bestseller has almost 18,000 five-star reviews because, according to Brown, “it’s one of the best stain removers on the market.” Use it to pre-treat stains, then add it to the laundry with your detergent. Voila! Stains are gone! Plus, it even works on carpets and hard surfaces.
Best food stain remover: Zout Laundry Stain Remover Spray
This triple threat laundry stain remover spray is powered with three enzymes to tackle protein, starch, and oil-based stains with just a few spritzes. Zout has been getting rid of tough stains since the 1960s when it was originally developed as a professional cleaning solution for medical uniforms. “It’s still a favorite among doctors and nurses so you know if it can get out blood stains, it can handle food stains like ketchup,” says Armitage.
Best stain remover wipes: Shout Wipe & Go Instant Stain Remover Towelettes
Fashionistas carry these wipes wherever they go because they’re individually packaged, disposable, and effective. “These are one of the most frequently used items in my styling kit,” says Brown. “They’re amazing for accidental deodorant or makeup stains that happen while getting dressed.” Because they’re so portable, they’re a must for every bag, drawer, and pocket, and you’ll want to buy them in bulk.
Best stain remover for clothes that are dry-clean-only: Dryel On the Go Stain Pen
Because you can’t always get your dry-clean-only garment to the dry cleaner quickly when it gets stained, Cannon recommends Dryel for treating it, well, on the spot. Designed to be safe on dry-clean-only clothes, delicates, and hand washables, it’s ultra compact and TSA-friendly. While you’re squeezing the pen, use the scrubber like an eraser to eliminate the stain and blot if necessary. As one Amazon reviewer says, “Follow directions and you won’t need a dry cleaner again.”
- Shelby Goldfaden, senior manager of merchandising and product development, M.M.LaFleur
- Samantha Brown, fashion stylist
- Brendon Cannon, celebrity and fashion stylist
- Elise Armitage, founder, What the Fab