The 10 Best Laundry Stain Removers of 2022, According to Our Tests

We like Shout’s Advanced Grease Busting Foam for its ability to remove a variety of fresh and set-in stains.

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Best Laundry Stain Removers

Amazon

While it’s possible to fade some stains using common household ingredients, laundry stain removers are an easy and effective way to get rid of tough messes

To find the best laundry stain removers, we tested 30 options—including foams, sprays, sticks, and gels—in our Lab and evaluated them on ease of use, effectiveness, scent, and value. We evaluated each product on its ability to remove common stains, like red wine, grass, chocolate syrup, and olive oil. For expert insight on stain removal, we spoke with Beatrice Flores, cleaning expert at Living Pristine.

“A stick is great for smaller and more localized stains, but can be a bit messier and difficult to use on widespread stains,” Flores says. “Sprays are great for larger stains, and pens work for precision staining, but are usually for quick or on-the-go use.”

Our top pick is Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam because of its easy-to-use formula and ability to remove a variety of both fresh and set-in stains.

Here are the best laundry stain removers.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall Laundry Stain Remover:
Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam at Amazon
Best Laundry Stain Remover for Food Stains:
Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray at Amazon
Best Laundry Stain Remover for Makeup Stains:
Method Stain Remover at Amazon
Best Laundry Stain Remover for Red Wine Stains:
OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder at Amazon
Best Laundry Stain Remover for Set-In Stains:
Carbona Laundry Stain Scrubber at Amazon
Best Laundry Stain Remover Stick:
Meliora Stain Soap Stick at Amazon

Best Overall Laundry Stain Remover

Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam, Laundry Stain Remover

4.9
Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam

Amazon

Who it's for: People who want an effective and affordable foaming laundry stain remover.

Who it isn't for: People looking for a product that can easily get rid of wine stains.

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. (It struggled to remove fresh foundation and set-in wine stains, though.) 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. 

As the label claims, this laundry stain remover was specifically formulated for grease and oil, which makes it especially effective for mechanics, cooks, and messy eaters. We also love that this stain remover is safe to use on colorfast and machine-washable fabrics in any water temperature. When using stain removers (like this product) that need to be pre-treated, Flores recommends dampening the stain with warm water, applying the stain remover, and letting it sit for a couple of minutes before washing. 

Price at time of publish: $4

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Foam
  • Size: 18 ounces
  • Stain Type: Oil, grease, grass, ink, chocolate

Best Enzyme Laundry Stain Remover

Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover

4.8
Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover

Target

Who it's for: People who want a natural laundry stain remover to get rid of organic stains.

Who it isn't for: People who need a powerful product to completely remove set-in makeup stains.

Enzymatic cleaners use biological methods, like beneficial bacteria, to break down organic matter such as food stains, grass stains, and more. In our testing, Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear Laundry Stain Remover was very easy to use. Our testers found that it worked best on fresh, organic stains (it completely removed the olive oil, for example), but it did help fade some of the more stubborn set-in stains (like red wine and foundation). 

We love this laundry stain remover spray because of its naturally-derived ingredients, plant-based enzymes, and ability to effectively get rid of fresh stains. As a bonus, this stain remover contains no dyes or fragrances. For best results, simply spray directly onto the stain and let saturate for a few minutes, and then wash immediately or within 24 hours. For its value and effectiveness, one tester says this enzyme-based stain remover’s performance exceeds its affordable price point. 

Price at time of publish: $4

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Spray
  • Size: 16 ounces
  • Stain Type: Food, grass, olive oil

Best Laundry Stain Remover for Food Stains

Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray

4.6
Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray

Amazon

Who it's for: People who want to get rid of food and oil stains on all types of fabrics.

Who it isn't for: People who prefer a laundry stain remover with natural ingredients.

Food stains may perhaps be the most common type of stain on clothing and fabrics. In our testing, we found that the best laundry stain remover to get rid of food stains is Grandma’s Secret Laundry Spray. The easy-to-use spray is gentle on all fabrics, but tough on stains—and it’s formulated without bleach, phosphates, or chlorine. Even though it wasn’t able to completely remove foundation and wine stains, this product had no problem tackling chocolate syrup, olive oil, grass, and marker stains in our Lab tests. 

Plus, it comes with a travel-size spot treatment that’s convenient to keep in the car or at the office so you can pre-treat as soon as the mess happens. While our testers thought that the price point for this laundry stain remover is on the higher side, we think this is an effective product that’s well worth the price for those looking to get rid of food and oil stains. 

Price at time of publish: $19

 Product Details:

  • Formulation: Spray and spot treatment
  • Size: 16 ounces and 2 ounces
  • Stain Type: Food, oil, ink, grease, coffee, dirt, grass, baby stains

Best Laundry Stain Remover for Makeup Stains

Method Stain Remover

4.9
Method Stain Remover

Amazon

Who it's for: People who often find makeup stains on their clothing.

Who it isn't for: People who prefer a spray or pen laundry stain remover.

Whether they’re fresh or set in, makeup stains—especially foundation—can be quite difficult to remove. For cases like these, we love Method’s Stain Remover. Our testers raved about this product, noting that it’s extremely easy to use (even for large stains) because of its built-in scrubbing brush. It performed well on the makeup stains compared to other stain removers we tested, with our testing noting that the set-in foundation was “significantly lightened” after treatment. 

“The grass, marker, and syrup were all totally removed and no residue from the stain or cleaner remains,” says our tester. “I was worried about the stain transferring based on the sudsiness of the application process, but it all washed away cleanly.” Even though this laundry stain remover comes in a small bottle, our testers found that a little goes a long way. For best results, apply the product to a stain, gently scrub using the applicator brush, let sit for five minutes, and wash like normal.

Price at time of publish: $11

 Product Details:

  • Formulation: Liquid
  • Size: 6 ounces 
  • Stain Type: Makeup, grass, chocolate, ink, oil

Best Laundry Stain Remover for Grass Stains

Shout Advanced Ultra Concentrated Gel Stain Remover

4.8
SHOUT Advanced Stain Remover for Clothes with Scrubber Brush

Amazon

Who it's for: People who have active kids who play sports or roll around in the grass. 

Who it isn't for: People who would prefer to use a stain remover spray. 

Grass stains may seem easy to remove since they come from organic matter, but they can be a challenge to get out once they’ve set in. Whether you’re an outdoorsy person yourself or have active children who love to roll around in the grass, the Shout Advanced Ultra Concentrated Gel Brush is about to be your new go-to on laundry day. In our tests, we found that this gel stain remover was the best at eliminating both fresh and set-in grass stains. 

Our testers also mentioned that this stain remover significantly faded tougher marks like wine, marker, and makeup. Unlike many other laundry stain removers, this product can be left on a stain for up to a week before washing. It’s a thick gel that comes in a squeeze bottle with a built-in scrubbing brush for quick and easy application. It’s also the most budget-friendly product on our list. 

Price at time of publish: $4

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Gel
  • Size: 8.7 ounces
  • Stain Type: Grass, food, coffee, wine, makeup, oil, baby stains, dirt

Best Laundry Stain Remover for Red Wine Stains

OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder

4.6
OxiClean

Amazon

Who it's for: People who need to get rid of hard-to-remove stains like wine. 

Who it isn't for: People who want an easy-to-apply laundry stain remover. 

OxiClean is well-known for its effective cleaning power, so it’s no surprise that the brand’s Versatile Stain Remover Powder was able to completely get rid of red wine—one of the most stubborn stains—during our testing. Unlike other laundry stain removers, this oxygen-based, water-activated formula works on various types of fabrics and clothing as well as upholstery, carpet, grout, and other surfaces.

Our testers loved how versatile and effective this product was at removing the toughest set-in stains, especially wine, makeup, and ink. While the powder formula can be a little messy to use, especially when mixing in a spray bottle, it’s definitely effective. The label recommends pre-soaking items in warm water before washing for best results, while our testers recommend a lengthy pre-treatment. “The longer you let the product set, the more it removes the stain,” says one tester.

Price at time of publish: From $8

 Product Details:

  • Formulation: Powder
  • Size: 48, 80, or 116 ounces
  • Stain Type: Wine, oil, ink, grass, makeup, grease, dirt, food

Best Laundry Stain Remover for Set-In Stains

Carbona Laundry Stain Scrubber

4.4
Carbona Pro Care Laundry Stain Scrubber

Walmart

Who it's for: People who don’t have time to immediately treat messes and want to remove set-in stains.

Who it isn't for: People who prefer an on-the-go spot treatment. 

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. 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. 

Although one tester had an issue with the brush smearing certain fresh stains like chocolate, they recommended lightly dabbing any excess from the stain and wiping off the brush after each application. Despite this, our testers still recommend this product for its value and effectiveness on set-in stains. It’s also worth noting that Flores recommends pre-soaking items with set-in stains for best results.

Price at time of publish: $8

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Gel 
  • Size: 8.4 ounces
  • Stain Type: Oil, grass, makeup, blood, baby stains, ink

Best Scented Laundry Stain Remover

HEX Performance Stain & Stink Remover Pack of 2

4.4
HEX Performance Stain & Stink Remover Pack of 2

HEX

Who it's for: People who want a lightly scented yet effective laundry stain remover.

Who it isn't for: People who need to remove tough makeup and wine stains.

Some laundry stain removers have a subtle, chemically clean scent, while others might have no scent at all. It’s rare to find any type of cleaner that’s free of fragrance and dyes, yet still leaves a pleasant aroma, which is why we love the Hex Stain & Stink Remover. “The cleaner had a slight lemon scent that nicely covered up the normal chemical smell that cleaners typically have,” says one tester. 

In addition to its fresh scent, this product also stands out for its effectiveness at removing or fading most stains. Our testers found that this stain remover got rid of grass, marker, and oil stains with ease, and it faded tougher makeup and wine stains. This pick is also designed to neutralize odors and remove sweat stains from activewear, shoes, and more. 

Price at time of publish: $6

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Spray
  • Size: 12 ounces 
  • Stain Type: Oil, grass, ink, chocolate, sweat

Best Laundry Stain Remover Pen

Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover

4.5
Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover

Amazon

Who it's for: People who want an on-the-go spot remover. 

Who it isn't for: People who plan on washing their stained laundry immediately after treating it.

For those everyday stains that occur anywhere from the office to a restaurant, we love Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover. This compact and portable stain remover pen is effective at removing small stains, both fresh and set-in, caused by food, grass, ink, and oil. While the red wine and foundation stains needed a bit more work, our tester says “the grass, marker, and syrup were all totally removed.”

This laundry stain remover pen is the ideal solution for getting rid of stains while on the go without the need for immediate soaking or washing. “It’s definitely a product to keep on hand, though the small size and slow application process make this more of an emergency product, or better suited for small areas,” says one tester. 

Price at time of publish: $8 for 3-pack

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Pen
  • Size: 1 ounce each
  • Stain Type: Food, coffee, grass, ink, oil

Best Laundry Stain Remover Stick

Meliora Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick

4.2
Meliora Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick

Meliora

Who it's for: People who want a natural stain remover.

Who it isn't for: People who would prefer a less-messy formula.

You might think laundry stain removers would require harsh or abrasive chemicals since they’re some of the hardest working cleaners. But in our testing, we found that the Meliora Cleaning Products Soap Stick works just as effectively using natural ingredients. Our testers were impressed by this stain remover stick’s performance, noting that while it’s a little messy to use, it removed fresh and set-in makeup, oil, grass, and food stains. Testers also liked that this product doesn’t use any plastic packaging. 

With an A rating from the EWG, this laundry stain removal stick can effectively get rid of several stains by just adding water to the stained area and rubbing the stick over it before washing it. Its formula contains coconut oil and glycerin, which are gentle on hands and several types of fabric. While this stain remover is a bit more expensive than others, we think it’s the best option for those who want an effective natural cleaner that comes in stick form. 

Price at time of publish: $12

Product Details:

  • Formulation: Stick
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Stain Type: Oil, dirt, grease, makeup, food, grime, coffee

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam for its ability to remove various types of stains, easy-to-use foaming spray formula, and affordable price. For those who want a laundry stain remover with enzymes and similar powerful cleaning abilities, we recommend Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Stain Remover.

Our Testing Process

To come up with this list, we blind-tested 30 laundry stain removers in our Lab (aka our testers were not aware of the brands they were evaluating until all tests were completed). To test each product’s effectiveness on fresh stains, we applied 1 teaspoon of red wine, 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup, a smear of grass, and a scribble of a blue Crayola marker to a yellow T-shirt and drew circles around each stain. Testers also applied 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of foundation to a separate T-shirt to judge each product’s efficacy on oil-based stains. 

Testers then waited no more than 30 minutes before treating the fresh stains with each stain remover, making sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions (including washing and air-drying for products that require a wash cycle post-treatment). They took detailed notes of their experience using each stain remover: Does the formula cause any color loss or change? Are there any noticeable scents? Is the packaging or applicator convenient to use? 

Immediately after the treatment, testers observed whether the product lightened, completely removed, or had no effect on the stains. And once the soiled shirts were air-dried, testers performed another visual inspection to see how noticeable each stain was. To see how well each product works on set-in stains, we also performed the above test with pink T-shirts that were pre-stained with the same substances. Once finished, testers received the price of each laundry stain remover and scored its value considering its performance in our tests.

How to Shop for Laundry Stain Removers Like a Pro

Formulation

Laundry stain removers come in a few formulations, including sticks, sprays, foams, and pens. According to Flores, each has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right product for the type of stain you’re dealing with. 

Sticks work better on smaller stains and can be a bit messy with larger stains, according to Flores, while pens are best for on-the-go use. While none of the products we tested were able to remove every stain on the first try, we found that foams, sprays, and gels were the most effective types of laundry stain removers in our testing. The Shout Advanced Grease Busting Foam, our best overall pick, impressed our testers with its easy-to-use formula and ability to remove a variety of stains.

Ingredients

When it comes to choosing a laundry stain remover, Flores recommends staying away from products that contain ingredients such as ammonia, sulfates, and bleach (which can damage most colored fabrics). Certain chemical cleaners, however, are more likely to remove tough, set-in stains.

Natural laundry stain removers will usually contain ingredients such as enzymes, sodium citrate, glycerin, and sodium carbonate. They’ll also usually be free of synthetic fragrances and dyes.

Stain Types

According to Flores, blood, grass, ink, and wine are some of the hardest stains to remove, especially once they’ve set in. Other common stains, such as food, oil, makeup, grease, grime, dirt, coffee, and baby stains, can be removed with the right product and pre-treatment if necessary. 

More Laundry Stain Removers to Consider

Hate Stains Co. Miss Mouth's Messy Eater Stain Treater: Our testers liked this product for getting out immediate food stains such as chocolate syrup, juice, and sauce. It’s also EPA Safer Choice-certified and is safe to use on several types of fabrics, toys, and even mattresses. However, it struggled to remove wine and foundation stains in our tests.

Questions You Might Ask

How do you use a laundry stain remover?

Before choosing a laundry stain remover, Flores recommends first making sure that the product is safe for the fabric you're trying to clean. She also says it’s important to follow the instructions on the package—and when applicable, make sure to pre-treat the stain before washing it.

“If you follow these steps, you should be able to get your stain out,” says Flores. “Before applying the product, dab the stain to remove any excess and wet the area with warm water. Then, apply the stain remover according to the package directions, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wash as usual.”

What’s the best method for removing set-in stains?

Set-in stains are not always impossible to remove. Flores suggests pre-treating the stain before washing it. Another method she recommends is to soak the stained item in a solution of water and vinegar for 30 minutes before washing. 

“Depending on the fabric, you can also try making a paste of baking soda and water and rubbing it into the stain, letting it sit for 30 minutes before washing,” says Flores.

What are the hardest laundry stains to remove? 

Some stains are more difficult to remove than others. Flores says that blood, grass, ink, and wine are common stains that are very hard to remove. Certain stains, like bleach, are nearly impossible to remove.

Blood stains can be tough to remove because they contain proteins that bind to fabric fibers. To treat a blood stain, soak the garment in cold water for 30 minutes before laundering it as usual,” Flores says. “Grass stains are difficult to remove because of their saturated green pigments, so it might require repeating the stain removal process a few times. Ink is also hard to remove from fabric because it’s water-resistant. To treat an ink stain, blot the area with a dry cloth to absorb as much of the ink as possible.”

In our testing, most of the laundry stain removers struggled to completely remove set-in foundation—even the best results were significantly faded.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by L. Daniela Alvarez, contributing writer for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing about lifestyle content and product reviews. To compile this list, we tested 30 laundry stain removers in our Lab and evaluated them on the types of stains they removed, effectiveness, ease of use, and overall value. Daniela also consulted Beatrice Flores, cleaning expert at Living Pristine.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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