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Because of its effectiveness and affordability, Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam is our top pick.
There’s nothing quite like the initial panic of spilling red wine or a glob of foundation on your favorite blouse. Thankfully, there are a variety of laundry stain removers to help you quickly salvage your garments—no matter what type of stain you are dealing with.
“The first key to stain removal,” says Angela Brown, CEO of Savvy Cleaner, “is to identify the type of stains common to your lifestyle so you can treat it with the proper type of remover.” Whether you are constantly scrubbing grass stains out of baseball pants or just have the occasional mustard spot, there is a laundry stain remover for many common stains.
To find the best laundry stain removers, we tested 30 different stain removers in our lab. Using a predetermined methodology, our testers rated stain removers based on ease of use, effectiveness, and value. The brand names were hidden from our testers so they didn’t know what products they were testing. In addition to Brown, we also consulted Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at Two Maids and a Mop, for additional insight.
Overall, the Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam was the best laundry stain remover. It was effective in removing tough stains, and it’s widely available at an affordable price.
Here are the best laundry stain removers.
Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam, Laundry Stain Remover
Why You Should Get It: Testers noted that it was unscented and easy to use.
Keep in Mind: It wasn’t effective at removing wine stains.
Our top pick for the best laundry stain remover is the Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam. This affordable stain remover received perfect scores for ease of use, effectiveness, and value. It features stain-removing ingredients that dissolve tough grease stains, and it’s safe to use on machine washable fabrics.
To remove stains, hold the can six inches away from the stained fabric and spray. Then, wait one to five minutes and launder as usual. Be careful not to let the spray sit for too long on the fabric so it doesn’t dry.
When our testers used this stain remover, it completely removed chocolate syrup, grass, olive oil, and marker stains. The stains were removed on the first treatment without damaging the fabric. The stain remover didn’t completely treat a red wine stain, but because it removed the other stains so effectively, the testers were pleased with the results.
The instructions for this laundry stain remover were clear to read, and the applicator was easy to use. Our testers enthusiastically agreed that they would recommend this product because of how well it performed given how affordable it is.
Price at time of publish: $4
Type: Spray foam
Size: 18 ounces
Wait Time: One to five minutes
Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover
Why You Should Get It: It removes common fresh food stains and is small enough to keep in your bag or car.
Keep in Mind: Our testers found they had to use quite a bit of product to remove the stains.
If you’ve ever gotten a coffee stain on your shirt before an important meeting, you know the importance of having a pen stain remover in your bag. It’s no surprise that the reliable Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover is the best pen stain remover because of its convenience and effectiveness.
This bleach-free stain remover is perfectly portable and easily fits in a tote, briefcase, or glove box. The design and formula are intended to be used mainly on fresh food stains since those are the most common stains to happen when you’re on the go. It’s safe to use on machine washable and dry cleanable fabrics.
Even though the pen stain remover is formulated specifically for common food stains, our testers were impressed by how well it removed non-food stains, too. It easily removed fresh chocolate syrup and olive oil stains and also, completely dissolved grass and marker stains. When testing the pen against a red wine stain, it significantly reduced the appearance of the stain but didn’t completely remove it. Our testers pointed out that the pen had a very light chemical scent, but it was hardly noticeable.
Overall, because of its ability to remove fresh food stains, the Tide To Go pen earned a spot as the best pen stain remover on our list. Our testers stated they would recommend this product since it is affordable, portable, and effective.
Price at time of publish: $8
Size: 1.01 ounces
Wait Time: Immediate treatment
Method Stain Remover
Why You Should Get It: The small bottle features a built-in brush, making it convenient to use on trips or vacations.
Keep in Mind: The formula was able to remove most stains except red wine.
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.
This stain remover is made with plant-based ingredients and doesn’t contain any perfumes or dyes. The cruelty-free formula is safe to use on washable fabrics and works on both colored and white fabric. To use, squeeze the product on the stain until it’s completely covered, using the built-in brush if necessary. Wait five minutes, and then wash your clothing item as you normally would.
After one treatment using this product, our testers noted that both fresh and set-in grass, marker, olive oil, and chocolate syrup stains were completely removed. They were concerned that the stain may be transferred to other areas of the fabric since the formula was so sudsy. However, the product performed well and after washing the treated fabric there was no trace of the stains.
The stain remover also almost completely lifted a tough makeup stain, and the testers were confident it would be removed after another treatment. It wasn’t able to completely remove a red wine stain, but it did improve the stain quite a bit. Because the Method Stain Remover received perfect scores for ease of use, effectiveness, scent, and value, it’s one of the best stain removers on our list.
Price at time of publish: $11
Size: 6 ounces
Wait Time: Five minutes
Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick
Why You Should Get It: This laundry stick is an eco-friendly option to stain removal.
Keep in Mind: It didn’t completely remove most stains on the first treatment, but it reduced the appearance of stains significantly.
Laundry soap sticks are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional laundry stain removers that are packaged in plastic bottles. This soap stain stick from Ingredients Matter is the best stick laundry stain remover for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
This laundry stick looks like a bar of soap and is free of petroleum, phosphates, parabens, and dyes. The fragrance-free stain remover can be used on most fabrics including wool, workout clothes, and delicates. Using it is simple—just wet your fabric, rub the stick on the stain, and launder as usual.
When our testers used the laundry stick on fresh stains, it completely removed grass and marker stains. The laundry stick also removed a large portion of olive oil, makeup, wine, and chocolate stains on the first treatment.
On set-in stains, it successfully lifted grass stains and significantly reduced the appearance of chocolate, olive oil, marker, and makeup stains. The laundry stick had a more difficult time completely removing a set-in wine stain, but it was still able to make a noticeable difference after the first treatment.
This laundry stain remover received high scores across all tested categories, and the testers noted that the bar of soap made it easy to apply the stain remover in the exact stain area. They also noted it lathered well and smelled fresh and clean but didn’t have an overwhelming aroma.
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 2.4 ounces
Wait Time: No wait time
Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover
Best for Food Stains
Why You Should Get It: The plant-based formula was effective against fresh food stains.
Keep in Mind: It’s not recommended to be used on wool or silk.
For fresh food stains, your best course of action is to treat them immediately with the Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover. It’s made with almost all plant-based ingredients and doesn’t contain phosphates, fragrances, or dyes. The container itself is made out of post-consumer recycled packaging, and it’s recyclable. The brand also doesn’t test on animals.
To use, spray directly on the stain and saturate well. Wash your fabric immediately or within 24 hours for the best results. It’s safe to use on colorfast washable fabrics, but you should avoid using the product on wool or silk.
Our testers found that this laundry stain remover worked best on fresh food stains. After one treatment, the chocolate, olive oil, grass, and marker stains were completely removed from the stained t-shirts. The red wine stain showed improvement, but it was still visible. The testers also noted the spray bottle was simple to use, and there was no noticeable scent.
This product received perfect scores for ease of use and value and earned high marks across other tested categories. Because of its effectiveness and affordability, this is the best laundry stain remover for fresh food stains.
Price at time of publish: $4
Size: 16 ounces
Wait Time: Immediate to 24 hours
Defunkify Stain Remover Spray
Best for Grass Stains
Why You Should Get It: It’s EPA Safer Choice certified and can remove other stains in addition to grass stains.
Keep in Mind: It’s more expensive than other options.
If you have a house full of budding athletes, you’ll want to keep the Defunkify Stain Remover Spray on hand at all times. This EPA Safer Choice Certified formula will help remove those stubborn grass stains from baseball practice and soccer games. It’s safe to use on all fabric types, and can even be used on couches and carpets, too.
To treat stains, the instructions recommend shaking the spray bottle and then spraying the affected area. For best results, allow the product to sit on the stain for 15 minutes, and then launder the fabric as usual.
When testing this product, our testers noticed that this product completely removed both fresh grass stains and set-in grass stains. In addition to the grass stains, the stain remover also completely lifted the marker, chocolate syrup, and olive oil stains. However, the formula struggled to remove red wine and makeup stains. Testers also noted that the spray bottle was simple to point and spray, and no scent was detected.
Because it was so effective at treating grass stains, this is the best laundry stain remover to keep in your laundry room if you have a household full of sports lovers. Although the price is higher than other products on our list, it does come in a pack of two so you get double the amount of stain remover.
Price at time of publish: $25 for a two-pack
Size: 16 ounces
Wait Time: 15 minutes
Shout Advanced Ultra Concentrated Gel Stain Remover
Best for Makeup Stains
Why You Should Get It: You can wait up to a week before laundering the treated stain.
Keep in Mind: It didn’t completely remove the stain, but it lightened the spot much better than other products we tested.
There’s nothing quite like the panic of watching a glob of foundation splat onto your favorite blouse when you’re getting ready for work or a night out. Makeup stains are tough to remove, and while we tested more than 30 stain-removing products, none of them entirely removed foundation stains from clothing. However, the Shout Advanced Stain Remover got pretty close.
This stain remover features a thick gel formula and a built-in scrub brush. It’s safe to use on colorfast fabrics and can be used in any temperature water. One of the best features of this formula is that you can apply the product without having to wash your garment immediately—you can wait up to a week before washing your stained fabric.
To use, apply the gel on the stain and cover the stain entirely, using the brush to work the formula into the fabric. Wait for one to five minutes, then launder as you normally would. If you can’t wash the garment immediately, don’t worry—this formula allows you to wait up to one week before laundering.
While testing this product, our testers noted that this formula was able to remove more of the makeup stains than any other products we tested. It didn’t entirely remove the foundation stain, but it did significantly lighten the spot. In addition to working well on the makeup stains, it also completely removed fresh grass and chocolate syrup stains.
Price at time of publish: $4
Size: 8.7 ounces
Wait Time: One to five minutes
OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder
Best for Red Wine Stains
Why You Should Get It: It’s unscented and the only product we tested that removed red wine stains entirely.
Keep in Mind: You will need a sink, container, or top-loading washing machine to soak your stained garment.
The OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder is the best laundry stain remover to use when evidence of your wine night is visible on your clothes. While several of the other stain removers on our list significantly lightened red wine stains, this was the only product we tested that completely removed the stains.
This water-activated powder formula is chlorine-free and unscented. Plus, it can be used on more than stained clothes—you can also use it to remove stains from carpets, upholstery, and more.
To remove stains using this product, scoop the powder to the second line on the included scoop, and pour it into a gallon of water. Allow the garment to soak for one to six hours, depending on the size and type of stain. After soaking the stained fabric, launder your garment as you normally would.
Our testers noted that this product completely removed both fresh and set-in red wine stains from t-shirts. In addition to the stubborn red wine stains, the powder also removed fresh and set-in grass, olive oil, and marker stains. It received a perfect score for value and received high marks for effectiveness.
While many other products on our list are sprays or brushes that you can apply directly to the stain, note that this is a powder so you will need a container or basin to soak your garment in.
Price at time of publish: $16
Size: 3-pound container
Wait Time: One to six hours
Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray
Best for Set-in Stains
Why You Should Get It: It’s an easy-to-use spray formula with a low wait time.
Keep in Mind: It’s more expensive than other stain removers.
Sometimes we aren’t able to treat stains immediately. When that’s the case, Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray is the best stain remover. This bleach- and chlorine-free formula is both effective and easy to use and can tackle a variety of stains including grease, oil, food, paint, and more.
For best results, simply spray the product directly onto the stain and wait five to 10 minutes. After the product has saturated the stain, wash your garment as usual.
When testing this product in our lab, the stain removed worked well against fresh stains, but it stood out among the rest in terms of removing set-in stains. It completely removed set-in grass, marker, olive oil, and chocolate syrup stains. Though it wasn’t able to fully remove makeup and red wine stains, both stains were lightened quite a bit.
The price is a bit higher than other products on our list, but our testers thought it was still a good value considering its effectiveness against set-in stains.
Price at time of publish: $13
Size: 16 ounces
Wait Time: Five to 10 minutes
The Bottom Line
Overall, the best laundry stain remover is the Shout Advanced Foaming Laundry Stain Remover because of its effectiveness and affordability. For a convenient and portable stain remover, the Tide To-Go Pen is small enough to fit in a purse or briefcase and can remove food or coffee stains without having to launder your garment.
Our Testing Process
To find the best stain removers, we tested 30 different stain removers at our lab in Des Moines, Iowa. Each product was covered during testing so the testers weren’t aware of the brand or price.
During testing, our testers applied grass, olive oil, marker, chocolate syrup, red wine, and makeup stains to t-shirts and circled each stain with a permanent marker. After waiting at least one minute, they followed the manufacturer’s instructions to attempt to remove each stain.
Testers also evaluated stain removers against set-in stains that had been sitting on t-shirts for at least eight hours. The laundry stain removers were evaluated on their ease of use, effectiveness, scent, and value.
What to Know About Laundry Stain Removers Before Shopping
There are many types of laundry stain removers including pens, sprays, and powders. When trying to decide which one is best for you, consider what kinds of stains you commonly remove from your clothes. If you frequently deal with small spots, a pen or spray may be your best bet. However, for larger stains, a powder may be more beneficial so you can soak the whole garment.
“Sprays and liquids are easiest and usually most convenient, but powders can be effective for big jobs or items that need to soak,” Cohoon says.
You can find laundry stain removers as small as a few ounces in a marker or as large as several gallons in a container. To choose the appropriate size for you, consider how often you are dealing with stains. If you live alone and just deal with the occasional coffee or mustard stain, a container with a few ounces will be sufficient. However, if you live with (or frequently come in contact with) pets or children, it may be a good idea to have a larger size on hand.
Whichever laundry stain remover you choose, make sure to follow the specific instructions for that particular product. Some products state you can brush the product on without rinsing immediately, while others recommend spraying the stain and allowing it to sit for a certain amount of time. Using the product incorrectly or leaving the formula on your garment for too long could damage the fabric instead of treating it.
“The secret to removing stains without harming your clothing is to follow the fabric care instructions (the labels on the clothing),” Brown says. “As well as the dwell time suggested by the stain remover manufacturer (the label on the bottle of stain removal spray or powder) when pretreating stains.”
Other Laundry Stain Removers We Tested
HEX Performance Stain & Stink Remover
The Hex Performance Stain & Stink Remover performed well across all tested categories, removing most stains except red wine and makeup stains. The testers also appreciated that the product didn’t have a strong chemical smell—instead, it had a light lemon scent.
Hate Stains Co. Miss Mouth’s Messy Eater Stain Treater Remover
Touted as an essential for parents, the Hate Stains Co. Stain Remover was effective at removing fresh chocolate and marker stains during our testing. This product is also free of allergens, perfumes, and dyes, and it’s EPA Safer Choice certified. However, the testers did note that the spray bottle was a bit more difficult to use than other laundry stain removers they used.
Meliora Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick
For another eco-friendly option, the Meliora Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick doesn’t use any plastic in its packaging. When put to the test, the laundry stick was able to remove fresh grass, chocolate, marker, and olive oil stains. It was also able to completely remove set-in chocolate and marker stains, but it only faded the set-in grass, red wine, and makeup stains.
Your Questions, Answered
What should you look for in a laundry stain remover?
“Laundry stain removers use enzymes or oxidation to break down stains and not all are created equal,” says Kathy Cohoon. “Look for stain removers that are gentle yet effective and avoid harsh ingredients like acetone and strong alcohol as they can damage dyed fabrics.”
Brown also notes that the best laundry stain removers are made with enzymes or surfactants that help address specific stains.
Which stains are the hardest to remove?
The hardest stains to remove are the ones that aren’t treated as soon as possible. “Lifting stains immediately will help reduce the likelihood of long-term damage and stains,” Cohoon says. To best remove tough stains, be sure to follow your garment’s specific laundering instructions and the instructions on the laundry stain remover.
How much do laundry stain removers cost?
Laundry stain removers are relatively affordable. The most inexpensive product on our list is $4 while more expensive ones can range from $18 to $25. Different factors such as ingredients, sourcing, packaging, and design all factor into the price. However, a more expensive stain remover doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best—our top pick was less than $5.
Who We Are
Brandi Fuller is a commerce editor for Better Homes & Gardens who writes about the best home and products. For this list, she researched important factors to look for in laundry stain removers and compared her findings with the insights provided by our testing lab in Des Moines, Iowa. She also received expert insight from Angela Brown, CEO of Savvy Cleaner, and Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at Two Maids and a Mop.
What Is BHG Recommends?
Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products and we let you know that we got it for free to remain as transparent as possible about our picks.
Looking for more products that have earned our BHG Recommends seal of approval? Check out our picks for everything from picnic blankets to humidifiers.