The Best Editor-Tested Laundry Stain Removers You Can Buy Now

updated Jul 31, 2023
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Woman throws laundry detergent into the washing machine close-up with Best List seal.
Credit: Rozhnovskaya Tanya / Shutterstock

When it comes to laundry, we either have a secret weapon or we’re on the hunt for one. Stains are one of life’s many inevitabilities, so having a go-to stain remover in your cleaning supplies arsenal is a must. Even if you don’t have pets or kids, non-toxic products are the way to go whenever you can help it. Between sprays, bars, and powders, the options can be overwhelming; and figuring out where to even start can be a struggle. Fortunately, we’ve been testing stain removers — both household name brands and the lesser known, as well as solid, liquid, and cream formulas — for months to determine the best of the best.

Whether you want a new reliable stain treatment to stock your laundry room with or want to know the best drugstore option next time you’re in the middle of a public stain emergency, the best laundry stain remover formulas we’ve tested are all right here.

The Best Laundry Stain Removers

What to Consider When Buying a Stain Remover

Most stains fall into one of two categories: water based or oil based. Protein, tannin, and starch stains are examples of water-based stain-causing compounds. Essentially, water acts as a vessel for salts, acids, and/or particulate matter (dirt, for example), and its low viscosity allows it to penetrate fabrics, especially natural or unfinished fabrics, and cause those annoying, deep, set-in stains. “Flushing” these stains out with an enzyme-rich water-based formula, giving mild agitation to the product on the stain, and blotting (unless directed otherwise) is usually the way to go. Oil stains, on the other hand, benefit the most from non-aqueous or “dry” chemical treatment (hence “dry” cleaning) but can be treated with water-based formulas powered by enzymes like lipase, an enzyme family that catalyzes the hydrolysis of fats.

Types of Stains

Protein: Grass, dirt, blood, and milk are examples of stain causers with proteins that bond with the fibers in clothing and can become some of the hardest stains to treat.

Tannin: Coffee, tea, ink, and wine contain tannins, a natural dye (thus, a stain causer) found in bark, grape skins, tea leaves, and other plants.

Starch: Viscous and opaque stain causers like chocolate, tomato sauce, gravy, and bananas are sources of starch stains, which can often effect the texture of a fabric in addition to creating a visual stain.

Oil: Salad dressings, sunscreen, sweat, smoke, and cosmetics are examples of oil-based stain causers, which create the look of wet marks that don’t dry. Add pigment to the mix, and oil stains can be some of the most seemingly impossible to remove.

What We Look For in a Stain Remover

We tested a range of stain treatments for our best list, judging them on the following criteria:

  • Effectiveness: Does it remove stains? How well does it treat them? What kinds of stains does it work on?
  • Functionality: How does it work? What is the packaging like? Is it portable? Does it go in the washing machine or does it treat stains directly?
  • Experience: Does the formula have a smell? Is it easy to use? If it’s portable, is it convenient to carry and use on-the-go?

The eco-friendly Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray is at the top of our list when it comes to stain removers. The spray doesn’t have added bleach, chlorine, or phosphates, and yet it still manages to obliterate any stain that comes its way. Just spray a small amount directly onto your stain, wait anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes, and then pop in the washing machine for best results. This non-toxic and biodegradable formula targets so many different types of blemishes, such as oil, paint, blood, pet stains, grease, makeup, grass, clay, inks, tar, coffee, rust, fabric bleed, and more.

Sarah, our commerce SEO editor, agrees: “I absolutely adore Grandma’s Spot Remover Laundry Spray! I first put this spray to the test on the stain of all stains — turmeric. I had little faith that I was going to be able to get such a notoriously stubborn stainmaker out of my favorite white blouse, but alas, a couple sprays, some patience, and a wash later, and my shirt was good as new!”


  • Concentrated liquid spray
  • Pre-wash treatment
  • 16 fluid ounces, available in a single or 2-pack
  • Citrus fragrance

Who It’s Best For: Those who want a single stain remover for everything; those who prefer eco-friendly sprays.

Good to Know: This spot remover is also available as a two-ounce dropper that’s perfect for travel or trying out the formula before you commit to the spray. 

For those who prefer a heavy-duty spray, the Tide Rescue + Oxi Spray and Wash Laundry Stain Remover is the way to go. This Tide and Oxi combo product targets stains across all fabric types, from clothing to carpets. For best results, spray the stain within 24-48 hours, rub it in, and then wait at least five minutes before washing. This multipurpose spray comes in handy for cleaning your car, upholstery, pet beds, and so much more. Specifically made for tough stains, it eradicates mars caused by dirt, food, pets, wine, grass, grease, blood, coffee and more.

Contributor Ni’Kesia says, “The Tide Rescue with Oxi laundry stain remover spray has become a staple in my home. Whether I need to remove a tough stain on my clothes from running around outside with my dog or need to get a food stain out of the couch or carpet, this stain remover can do it all. An added plus? It smells so good!”


  • Water-based liquid spray
  • Pre-wash treatment
  • 21.5 fluid ounces, pack of 1
  • Unscented

Who It’s Best For: Those targeting tough stains; those who prefer a spray stain remover.

Good to Know: Some tougher stains may require more than one treatment to get the job done.

If you’ve ever wondered how effective a stain remover bar could be, we highly recommended that you check out the Kind Laundry Vegan Stain Remover Bar. “This was my first time using a stain remover bar, and I was thoroughly impressed by this one by Kind Laundry,” says AT’s organizing & cleaning editor, Stephanie. To use, just wet the affected area, gently rub the bar on the stain for at least 20 seconds, and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing. Then wash as usual to complete the stain removal process. This bar is plant-based, vegan, and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals, yet it’s still able to target tough stains from grass, coffee, wine, spaghetti sauce, and more. Perfect for traveling, this lightweight and liquid-free bar is gentle on clothes and even safe enough for hand-wash-only items. 


  • Plant-based bar
  • Pre-wash treatment
  • 4.94-ounce bar, pack of 1
  • Fragrance free

Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer a liquid-free stain remover; those who prefer vegan products; those looking for a  travel-friendly stain remover.

Good to Know: The bar can get pretty slippery and hard to hold onto during use.

Best for White Clothes: Grove Co. Stain Remover Spray

Wearing white clothing always feels like tempting fate when it comes to stains, so having a great stain remover like the Grove Co. Stain Remover Spray is essential. This spray is boosted by natural cleaning enzymes, which helps remove grease and attack a wide variety of stains to leave your whites looking bright. “This stain remover got a red wine stain out of my favorite pair of pants, so naturally, I love it,” says AT shopping writer Nikol. “I use it most often on white socks, which get those hard-to-scrub gray stains on them after a few wears.” This Grove Co. spray doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, synthetic fragrances, or parabens, and it’s also packaged in a bottle made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled material. 

Read our full review of the Grove Co. Stain Remover Spray.


  • Plant-based liquid spray
  • Pre-wash treatment
  • 8 fluid ounces, pack of 1
  • Fragrance free

Who It’s Best For: Those who wear a lot of white clothing; those who prefer cruelty-free and sustainable products.

Good to Know: This spray is most effective as a pre-wash, so let the spray sit for at least five minutes and follow it up with a wash. 

The OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover is perfect for targeting stains across all categories in your life. This stain remover can be used on your laundry, in your kitchen and bathrooms, on your carpet, and on your furniture, among other things. “It did get a Guinness stain out of one of my white T-shirts, so it’s pretty effective!” says Ian, senior commerce editor at AT sister site The Kitchn. “It’s also the best way to soak labels off of jars or bottles for repurposing them!” This color-safe stain remover is water-activated and works with regular detergent to get clothes extra clean. Simply fill a scoop with powder and dissolve it in water before soaking your stained clothes in the solution anywhere from 1-6 hours. Then, wash as usual to complete the stain removal process. 


  • Oxygen-based powder
  • Pre-wash treatment
  • 3-pound box, pack of 1
  • Scented, but available in fragrance-free version

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for a multipurpose stain remover; those who prefer a water-activated powder.

Good to Know: The tub is a bit bulky, which can make storing a bit difficult. It also isn’t very portable due, so it’s best for home-use only.