Those stubborn stains that won’t budge can cut short the lifespan of a favorite outfit, blanket, or even furniture item. That’s where you need a powerful stain remover that was carefully formulated to break down stubborn marks. From tomato sauce to grease and everything in between, the best stain removers are built to rescue your latest soiled spot from an untimely demise.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, laundry isn’t topping the list of favorite chores for most people, and that’s before considering stubborn stains. In fact, a survey of 2,000 millennials and Gen Zers finds that 68 percent of people dread doing the laundry. Young adults say the biggest reasons are it’s time-consuming (52%), or they dislike a specific part of the process, like loading the machine or folding (50%). Two in five also think laundry is easy to mess up, with 66 percent of respondents limiting how often they wear some of their best outfits out of fear the washing machine will wreck them.
Another study finds that people in the United Kingdom between 15 and 64 years old usually spend about 43 percent of their work and study time on unpaid domestic chores, including laundry. But that may soon change, researchers argue. Roughly 39 percent of the time you usually spend on household chores will likely be on a robot’s to-do list in the years to come, according to the predictions of a group of artificial intelligence experts from the United Kingdom and Japan. The research team says that within the next decade, AI may help take care of many of the unpaid domestic tasks that eat up so many minutes and hours of our days right now.
But until the robots are able to take care of the chores, it’s important to launder your favorite items properly to get the most use out of them. When a stubborn stain appears, having the right product in your laundry arsenal is key to preventing it from settling in for the long haul. Before you retire your favorite t-shirt to the pajama drawer, try one of these powerful stain fighters to give your clothes a new lease on life. Not sure where to start? StudyFinds is here to help. We searched the internet for expert reviews of all the best stain removers on the market to bring you this list of the most frequently recommended products. Of course, if you have a favorite we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Stain Removers, According to Experts
When you’ve pulled out all the stops trying to remove a stubborn stain and nothing seems to be working, you need an extra powerful treatment to finish the job. That’s where OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover powder comes in handy. And just as the name suggests, this product is uniquely formulated to tackle stubborn stains of all kinds — even red wine. “The dreaded red wine stain can oftentimes be the end of life for articles of clothing, but this OxiClean Remover Powder lived up to the hype surrounding the brand name. It completely removed fresh and set-in stains — especially the formidable red wine,” notes Food and Wine. “If you plan to treat tricky stains at home, we recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the powder into water in a basin and let your garment soak for a few hours before you wash it. This, of course, prolongs the entire wash time cycle, but we think it’s worth it for those tough stains.”
This product is particularly effective at removing those stubborn sweat stains, experts say. “Yellow stains at the underarms, collar, and cuffs of a shirt are usually oxidized sweat and body-oil stains: The yellowing occurs when residual sweat reacts with oxygen in the air,” explains NY Mag. “To correct the color of oxidizable stains, you need an oxygen-bleach product like OxiClean powder (as opposed to a chlorine-bleach product like Clorox, which can be very harsh on clothing and, unlike most oxygen bleach, is not color safe). OxiClean powder is very effective when used correctly.”
With particularly stubborn stains, a lengthy soak in water mixed with a powdered treatment can often help loosen things up. Even better, you can let the passing of time do the hard work for you! As The Spruce explains, “with OxiClean stain remover, the length of time you let the product sit can make a big difference. The longer you let the product set, the more it removes the stain. We noted that it seemed to be very effective, especially at removing red wine stains, which other products struggled with. The makeup stain was lightened to some degree, too, earning the product a solid effectiveness score.”
Sometimes, you just can’t beat the classics. Perhaps the most recognizable stain remover on this list (or anywhere!), the famous Tide Pen is a must-have for on-the-spot stain fighting. It’s both portable and effective, making it a useful tool to keep on hand in your bag or car. “We’ve put these instant stain remover pens through many rounds of stain testing since they were first made available for purchase almost 20 years ago and have been impressed with the results every time,” says Good Housekeeping. “In fact, they are a Good Housekeeping Seal holder and fan favorite with almost 34,000 reviews on Amazon. When we tested these pens on 10 common food and drink stains in our Lab, they earned great scores across cotton, silk and polyester fabrics. We were especially impressed by its performance on dark red and purple juice and ketchup stains.”
“You might not always be near a washing machine when stains hit, which is why you should consider keeping a to-go stain remover handy. These compact pens work quickly to get rid of stains, helping to save the day,” notes The Spruce. “After seeing the results of this Tide product, one tester gushed, ‘I’m so impressed!’ Progress was made with each of the stains tested, and grass, marker, and syrup stains were totally removed. The pen contains a bleach-free formula that can be used on many different fabrics, even some that are dry-cleanable. All you need to do to use it is press the tip of the pen onto the stain to dispense the liquid. Plus, the pens come in a three-pack—perfect to stash in one’s purse, car, or desk.”
And if you’re skeptical that such a portable product can pack a stain-fighting punch, expert tests have yielded impressive results. “For a pen-style product meant to be applied in a pinch, the Tide To Go pen completely removed the grass, marker, chocolate syrup, and olive oil, while the wine stain was significantly lightened,” notes Food and Wine. “And despite the fact that it is formulated to work best on fresh stains, it even lifted or lightened all of the set-in stains we tested.”
If you prefer to use natural cleaning products, this Method stain remover is sure to do the trick. Made with plant-based ingredients and packaged with a convenient scrubbing brush lid, it’s the perfect product for natural and effective stain removal. As The Spruce says, “Method’s Stain Remover was a standout in our testing, scoring high ratings across the board. You can use it on pretty much any tough stain you’ll encounter, including grease, blood, grass, oil, food, makeup, and more. The plant-based formula lifts stains with minimal time or elbow grease required.”
“If you’re only looking to add one stain remover to your laundry room, make it this one from Method. Almost all the fresh and set-in stains — including grass, chocolate syrup, and olive oil — were completely removed, while the wine stains were markedly improved after one application,” raves Food and Wine. “Meanwhile, this stain remover made impressive work of a makeup stain, which proved to be the trickiest for all the products we tested — only this product and one other seemed to make any progress at all.”
When you need a bit more cleaning power than a stain stick but don’t want the bulk of a multi-product routine, experts find this Method treatment to be the perfect middle. As Better Homes & Gardens says, “for the best stain remover to take with you on vacation or an extended work trip, look no further than the Method Stain Remover. This 6-ounce bottle is conveniently sized to pack in a tote bag, and it features a built-in brush to help tackle stains when you aren’t equipped with your normal cleaning arsenal.”
Oftentimes, removing tough stains requires more than just a great product. A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way when it comes to ensuring your clothes come out stain-free, and thankfully, the Carbona Laundry Stain Scrubber makes it nice and easy. As an added bonus, it comes in a convenient and affordable 3-pack. “This trio is an all-in-one cleaner that doesn’t require the use of any tools and is travel-friendly, so long as you’re en route to a location with a washing machine,” notes NY Post. “Another green flag? It contains naturally derived bio-enzymes, an ingredient class recommended by our cleaning expert for helping to remove most stains.”
“Carbona’s Laundry Stain Scrubber has been a top performer in the Cleaning Lab’s stain removal testing for years. The first time we tested this stain remover from the brand, it received the highest score out of 37 tested stain removers, performing especially well on lipstick, mascara and ink stains,” notes Good Housekeeping. “Ink stains are notoriously hard to remove, but this stain pretreatment managed to completely remove ballpoint pen ink from our test fabric (the only one to do so in our tests). It was also one of only three stain removers that noticeably lightened red food coloring stains.”
If you struggle to remove older stains from clothing and fabric, this is the product for you. Even for marks that have long since set in, Carbona is up to the challenge. “Whether you didn’t notice the stain or just keep forgetting to treat it, a set-in stain may seem like it’ll live forever on your clothes. Luckily, the Carbona Pro Care Laundry Stain Scrubber was able to remove and significantly fade set-in stains during our Lab testing,” claims Real Simple. “This extra-strength gel is made with natural bio-enzymes and has a built-in brush head for easy application. Our testers were impressed with this product’s ability to remove set-in oil, makeup, chocolate, and grass stains.”
If you’re strapped for space in your laundry room, Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam is a great versatile stain treatment to reach for. Regardless of the spot you’re treating, this powerful foam is up to the task. As The Spruce notes, “it performed well across the board, removing most stains with ease, and took care of the remaining makeup and wine stains (which were challenges for most of the products we tested). We also liked the performance and price. Other highlights were its ease of use, unscented formula, and overall value. It’s a high-performing, budget-friendly, easy-to-use choice that proved to be effective during our testing process.”
“Shout’s foam formula is just one of the three stain-fighting products from the brand to make our list of the best stain removers. With useful laundry tips on the label and a simple spray nozzle, it’s no wonder it earned the highest ease of use score in our tests,” raves Good Housekeeping. “But it did not make our list just because of its ease of use. It also earned the fifth-highest overall score among the 37 products we tested and the highest overall score in food stain removal in warm water. Like most other stain removers, it struggled with mustard and red food coloring, but it completely removed six of the 20 stains we tested it with. We were so impressed with this foam, we chose it as a winner in our first-ever Cleaning Awards three years ago.”
“Out of all the laundry stain removers we tested, the Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam was the most impressive. This reliable stain remover is our favorite for its ability to effectively remove various types of stains, including set-in makeup, oil, and grease,” adds Real Simple. “Our testers found this product very easy to use: Simply spray the foam on stained clothes and wash as you normally would. The fast-acting foam is tough on stains while still being gentle on fabric.”
You might also be interested in:
- Good Housekeeping
- NY Mag
- The Spruce
- NY Post
- Food and Wine
- Apartment Therapy
- Better Homes & Gardens
- Real Simple
- Martha Stewart
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.