Here's the secret to removing every type of stain. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated: April 01, 2019

Last year, writer Danielle Postel-Vinay spilled the secrets to the French way of doing laundry in her book Home Sweet Maison, a text inspired by, and full of the wisdom passed down from, her French mother-in-law. Since then, there's been one French laundry lesson we can't stop thinking about: the French way of dealing with laundry stains.

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Instead of trying to use one stain remover to tackle everything from pasta sauce splatters to chocolate ice cream drips, French grocery stores sell a range of stain removers specifically formulated to target each type of stain. There's one for grass and dirt, another for coffee and tea, and another for chocolate. At first glance, this method may seem excessive (who really wants 12 little bottles taking up space in their laundry room or cleaning closet?), but there is a very practical reason for it.

"Grass stains are not the same problem as ballpoint pen ink, and olive oil is utterly different on a silk blouse than coffee. How could one expect to remove all these different stains with the same chemical?" writes Postel-Vinay.

Each formula is created according to the chemical composition of the stain it's targeting. For this reason, stains that have seemingly nothing in common but that actually have similar chemical properties are treated with the same stain remover. For example, blood, dairy, and ice cream are treated with the same remover because they are all protein-based stains. 

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Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), you don't need to book a trip to France to get your hands on these specialized stain-fighters because Carbona is one brand selling these products in the U.S. Available on Amazon, the Carbona Stain Devils Complete Set ($38) comes with nine little bottles of stain removers that work on everything from ink stains to nail polish spills. According to reviewers, the stain-fighting magic really happens when you follow the directions on the bottle.

Several reviewers rave about how these stain removers even worked once the stain had already been through the washer and dryer—a typical point-of-no-return in the stain removal process. "These stain removers are the best," one reviewer writes, "Using the Carbona Stain Devil #6 for Makeup, Dirt, and Grass Stains, I was able to save a top that had already gone through the washer and dryer." Maybe the key to removing laundry stains we thought were lost causes is simply using the right remover for the job.