What is the Best Stain Remover for White Clothing?

White clothes show every stain. Coffee, wine, and grease leave ugly discolorations. With the right products and methods, you can avoid clothing catastrophes and keep your favorite white tees, button downs, linens, and dresses looking brand new.

Quick links:

The struggle of removing stains on white fabrics

Different types of stains

Pick the perfect stain remover

Baking soda, vinegar, or borax—what to choose?

What is the best stain remover?

Removing common stains—tips and tricks

Dried stains are not a nightmare anymore

You don’t need washing machine

Our eco-friendly stain stick erases stains quickly and easily. Forget about ruined white clothes with this convenient stain remover.

Stain stick

Why is Removing Stains from White Fabrics Challenging?

White fabrics are synonymous with elegance and purity, but they come with a downside—the light, bright fabric provides full visibility of any drips, spills, or smudges. Whether it's a dinner mishap or an accidental coffee spill, dealing with stains on white fabrics can be quite a challenge. 

Many common stains come from foods, drinks, and other substances that contain dyes, pigments, or oils that bond to fabric fibers:

  • Dark sodas, coffee, tea, or wine contain deep pigments that dye light fabrics.
  • Condiments and sauces have thick textures that seep in.
  • Grassy fields or muddy environments leave embedded earth stains.

These staining agents latch onto the fabric at a molecular level. They can become permanently set into the material over time.

Harsh stain removal methods also damage delicate fabrics:

  • Hot water causes protein-based stains to cook and bind to fibers.
  • Bleach oxidizes and degrades silk, wool, colored cotton, and other fabrics.
  • Rubbing spreads stains further across the surface.

Tips for Removing Stains from White Clothes Instantly

Let’s eliminate stains from white clothes and linens with these effective techniques:

  • Act quickly when a stain first occurs to lift it before it sets
  • Gently blot wet stains with a clean cloth to absorb excess liquid
  • Pre-treat stains with a laundry stain remover stick, gel, or spray before washing
  • Check garment care instructions first to avoid damage
  • Wash with the coolest water temperature safe for the fabric
  • Repeat pre-treating and washing if needed to lift stubborn stains

Types of Stains to Remove from White Fabrics

White fabrics readily show stains from common everyday substances. Here are the culprits that can leave behind embarrassing spots and discoloration:

  • Food and drinks: coffee, tea, red wine, berry jams, tomato sauce, salsa, and other foods with deep pigments can permanently stain if left untreated. The dyes bond to the fabric fibers.
  • Makeup and beauty: foundations, concealers, self-tanners, lipsticks, and cosmetics contain oils and pigments that absorb into fabrics. The emollients allow the colors to sink in.
  • Outdoors: mud and dirt contain iron, minerals, and clay that discolor if ground into light fabrics. Grass and foliage also release tannins and green chlorophyll dyes when wet.
  • Bodily fluids: protein-based substances like sweat and blood can oxidize into yellowish, brown, or orange stains without proper enzyme pre-treatment.

How do I Choose the Best Stain Remover?

Choosing an effective stain remover for clothes means finding an enzymatic formula targeting your stain type and avoiding harsh bleaches that discolor fabrics.

  1. Enzymes are your stain-fighting superheroes—they break down stains at a molecular level. Seek formulas designed for your type of stain, whether oil-based, protein-based or beyond.
  2. Skip the bleaches—they weaken fabrics. Instead, grab sprays, gels, or sticks to pretreat stains for easy removal.
  3. Rescue your whites with the right remover. Revive and refresh clothes before stains meet their permanent end.

What is the Best Homemade Stain Remover for White Clothes?

Tired of dropping cash on store-bought stain removers? Your kitchen cupboard is crammed with DIY solutions to erase those pesky spots from delicates and whites.

Here are the best natural laundry stain removers that everyone can find on their kitchen shelves.

White Vinegar

Most households have white vinegar in the cupboard or pantry. Here are the steps for how to lift stains from white fabrics using white vinegar:

  1. Pour undiluted white vinegar directly onto the fresh stain. Target common stains like sweat, deodorant marks, wine, coffee, sauces, grass, mud, or blood.
  2. Use a clean, absorbent towel or cloth to gently blot the vinegar into the stain. Avoid aggressively rubbing the stain, as it can push it further into the fibers. Careful blotting will allow the vinegar to fully penetrate.
  3. After blotting, wash as usual on a normal cycle in the washing machine. The vinegar will remain on the fabric, continuing to break down the stain compounds as the item agitates in water.
  4. Check care instructions first and test vinegar on an inconspicuous area. While vinegar is a gentle acid, some silks and wools may require special treatment.

Lemon Juice

Like vinegar, lemon juice provides natural acidity that breaks down stubborn stains on contact. Follow these steps to brighten whites using lemon juice:

  1. Squeeze fresh lemon juice directly onto the stain. Target fresh wine, berries, tomato sauce, spinach, mustard, and coffee stains.
  2. Use a clean, absorbent towel or cloth to gently blot the lemon juice into the fabric. Avoid excessive rubbing, which could damage delicate fibers.
  3. After blotting, launder the garment in a normal wash cycle. The lemon juice will remain on the fabric, continuing to dissolve the stain as the item agitates.
  4. Check care instructions first. Spot test delicate silks, wools, and colored fabrics, as lemon juice can lighten some dyes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda’s alkaline properties lift stains off fabrics for a deep clean. Follow these tips to erase stains with baking soda:

  1. Make a paste by mixing 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Adjust thickness as needed.
  2. Gently rub the paste onto the stain using your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Apply liberally over the stain.
  3. Let the paste sit for at least 30 minutes before washing to allow it to lift the stain.
  4. Rinse the paste out under cold water until completely removed before washing.
  5. Launder as usual with detergent at the coolest recommended temperature.

The abrasive texture of baking soda scrubs surfaces, while the alkaline reaction helps remove acidic stains like coffee, wine, tomato, mustard, and more.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that helps brighten whites and lift set-in stains. It naturally degrades over time into just oxygen and water, making it a safe yet powerful stain remover.

Follow these tips for using peroxide:

  1. Check fabric care instructions first, as hydrogen peroxide may lighten some fabrics. Spot test an inconspicuous area.
  2. Apply undiluted hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain.
  3. Let the peroxide sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the bubbles and oxidation process to lift the stain.
  4. Blot away excess liquid. Avoid aggressively rubbing it in.
  5. Launder the garment as usual, using the coolest recommended water temperature.


Table salt can help draw out liquid spills and deeply set stains. The abrasive grains of salt help scrub the stain, while the salt also draws out and absorbs liquid spills on contact.

Follow these steps to use salt for treating stains on white clothes:

  1. Pour a generous amount of salt directly onto the fresh stain. Target wine, sweat, grass, blood, or grease stains.
  2. Allow the salt to sit for 5-10 minutes to begin absorbing the stain.
  3. Gently blot the stained area with a clean, absorbent towel or cloth. Avoid aggressive rubbing.
  4. Rinse the fabric under cold water to wash away the salt residue before laundering.
  5. Wash as normal with detergent at the coolest recommended temperature.

Reviews of Top Stain Removers for White Fabrics

Home remedies are great, but sometimes you just want the quickest answer! If you are looking for effective stain remover products that you can buy at the store, here are some of the most popular recommendations:

OxiClean Max Force Laundry Stain Remover

The OxiClean Max Force spray uses an oxygen-activated enzymatic formula to penetrate set-in oil and food-based stains on white fabrics like coffee, wine, grease, and sauces. The spray applicator allows the foam to cling to vertical fabrics for targeted stain treatment prior to laundering. It is safe for most white fabric types.

Biokleen Bac-Out

Biokleen Bac-Out harnesses live enzyme cultures to target organic-based stains on whites and delicates like silk, wool, and linen. It helps break down chlorophyll, tannin, and protein stains from grass, mud, makeup, food, and beverages. The plant-based formula aims to digest and remove stains without abrasive chemicals.

Carbona Stain Devils 

Carbona Stain Devils offers specialized pretreatment stain remover formulas for different stain types. Varieties include enzyme-based devils focused on oil, grease, ink, blood, coffee, wine, perspiration, and rust stains.

Grandma's Secret Spot Remover 

This stain remover for whites and delicates uses a formula of lemon oil, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium lauryl sulfate to lift protein-based, greasy, and earth-based stains. The natural citrus oils help cut through oil and chlorophyll without harsh chemicals. It aims to gently lift set-in stains from fabrics like linen, cotton, and lace.

Smart Sheep Stain Stick

The Smart Sheep stain stick aims to remove stubborn stains on clothing and fabrics through a 3-step process: twist open the applicator, apply directly to the stain, then toss in the wash. The formula effectively targets blood, pet, grass, food, and drink stains.

The plant-based formula is gentle on the skin and safe around children. The compact paper packaging is portable for travel and reduces environmental waste compared to plastic containers.

The stain stick applicator allows for convenient pre-treating of stains on whites and delicates before laundering.

Stain stick

How to Remove Common Stains from White Clothes

Different stains need different treatments. Oily stains like grease or makeup require different pretreatments than protein-based stains like food or sweat. 

For food, sweat, and dirt stains, thoroughly soak the spot in an enzyme-based prewash spray. These enzymes will literally eat through and break down the bonded proteins in the stain. 

For oil-based stains, rub a solvent-based pretreat stick directly into the spot to dissolve the greasy oils. Or, lather up a bit of dish soap—the degreasing power of the soap molecules will penetrate and lift the stain.

Let’s look at the different types of stains and how to tackle them.

Coffee, Tea, and Fruit Juice Stains

  • Blot excess liquid immediately.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon white vinegar with 1 teaspoon castile soap. Soak the garment for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle baking soda or oxygen bleach on the stain. Wash in cold water.
  • For stubborn stains, soak overnight in a solution of laundry detergent, baking soda, or oxygen booster.

Red Wine Stains

  • Blot promptly with a cloth to absorb excess wine.
  • Apply a solution of hydrogen peroxide, castile soap, and lemon oil. Gently agitate.
  • If needed, apply baking soda or peroxide. Let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing in cold water.
  • For tough stains, soak them for 15 minutes to overnight in detergent plus baking soda or oxygen booster.

Mud or Grass Stains

  • Apply a solution of castile soap, water, and oxygen booster. Let it sit for 5-15 minutes.
  • Wash in cold water. For severe stains, soak overnight before washing.

Blood Stains

  • Rinse the fabric under cold running water 1-2 minutes.
  • If needed, spray hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 15 minutes, and rinse.
  • For stubborn stains, spray on a cleaning solution and brush gently before rinsing.

Fruit or Tomato Sauce Stains

  • Wet stains quickly with cold water.
  • Spray cleaner on rag and gently agitate. Blot and rinse.
  • Soak overnight in baking soda or oxygen booster solution if needed.

Chocolate Stains

  • Remove excess chocolate from fabric.
  • Soak in ¼ cup baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or oxygen boost overnight and wash in the cold water cycle.
  • Wash in cold cycle.

Makeup Stains

  • Mix one teaspoon of laundry detergent, baking soda, and cold water to make a paste together in a cup.
  • Rub on stain.
  • If needed, soak overnight in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda.

Lipstick Stains

  • Use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot the stain. Don't rub it, as this can grind the lipstick deeper into the fabric. Gently dab it instead.
  • If it's a fresh stain, try using an ice cube to harden and lift the lipstick. Hold the ice on the stain for a few minutes, then gently scrape off any residue with a dull knife.
  • Apply a small amount of liquid dish soap directly to the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes to break up the oils in the lipstick, then rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  • Use baking soda and water to make a paste. Apply to the stain and let sit for 30 minutes before washing normally. The abrasive texture of baking soda can help lift lipstick.
  • Try squirting hairspray onto the stain before washing. This can help dissolve the lipstick.
  • Treat set-in stains with pre-wash stain removers or rubbing alcohol before laundering. Check the care label first and test on an inconspicuous area.

Sweat Stains

  • Mix ½ cup hydrogen peroxide with two tablespoons of baking soda, one teaspoon of cleaning concentrate or castile soap, and ¼ cup of water.
  • Apply to stain, agitate, and let it sit for 2 hours.
  • Wash on a cold cycle. If needed, re-treat and soak in an oxygen booster before drying.

Deodorant Stains

  • Mix ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide with two tablespoons of baking soda, one teaspoon of cleaning concentrate, and ¼ cup of water.
  • Apply to stain, agitate, and let it sit for 2+ hours.
  • Wash on a cold cycle. If needed, re-treat and soak in detergent and oxygen booster before drying.

For all those nasty stains, our eco-friendly stain stick is a miracle! With powerful plant enzymes, it erases even the toughest spots on contact.

Stain stick

How to Remove Dried Stains from White Clothes?

We've all pulled a favorite white shirt from the dryer, only to find a dried salsa stain still splattered across the front. With the right techniques, you can erase those stubborn dried stains.

Here are some tips for removing stains from white clothes after they've already been through the dryer:

  1. Re-wet the stain with warm water. This helps to loosen and rehydrate the stain so it will be easier to remove.
  2. Apply a stain pretreatment or rubbing alcohol. Lightly scrub it into the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. This will help break down stubborn stains.
  3. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain and let sit for up to an hour before washing. The baking soda will help lift discoloration.
  4. Try a bleach pen or bleach gel stick. Carefully rub the bleach into the stain. Let it sit for up to 5 minutes before washing. Check that the fabric won't be damaged by the bleach first.
  5. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. Apply to the stain and let it bubble for a few minutes before washing. The chemical reaction can help lift set-in stains.
  6. For tough grease stains, apply some Dawn dish soap and scrub with a toothbrush. The abrasion can help dislodge dirt and oils.
  7. Wash the item again with hot water, a stain fighting detergent, and the highest agitation setting. The heat and scrubbing action will help eliminate residue.
  8. Air dry the item in direct sunlight. The sun's UV rays can help whiten the fabric once the stain is removed.
  9. Avoid re-drying the item until the stain is gone, as the heat can further set the stain. Be patient and repeat staining techniques as needed.

How to Remove Stains from a White Shirt Without Washing?

Maybe you’re on the go, and you stain your white shirt. You don’t have time for a washing machine, or maybe you don’t have access to one. Here’s how to handle the situation.

  • For food stains, gently scrape off any excess debris with a dull knife. Apply a mix of equal parts dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and water directly to the stain. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water and dab dry. The peroxide will help lift and bleach the stain.
  • For grease stains, sprinkle baby powder, cornstarch, or talcum powder over the spot to absorb grease, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then brush off. The powder will pull the grease right out of the fabric.
  • For makeup or ink stains, dab rubbing alcohol on the area using a clean cloth. Let it soak in for a few minutes, then blot away. The alcohol will break down the pigment.
  • For sweat stains, make a paste with baking soda and water. Gently rub it into the stain and let it sit overnight if possible before rinsing. Baking soda is also a great odor remover.

Stain Remover FAQ

What removes stains from white clothes?

Distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide all help lift and remove stains. Vinegar breaks down stains, baking soda eliminates odors and discoloration, and hydrogen peroxide acts as a mild bleach.

The Smart Sheep stain stick is also effective at removing all types of stains using natural enzymes. 

What is the best stain removal method for white fabric?

Here are some tips on the best stain removal methods for white fabric:

  • For food-based stains like coffee, tea, wine, etc., pretreat with a stain stick or spray containing enzymes. Enzymes break down the proteins in the stain. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before washing.
  • For oil-based stains like grease or makeup, apply a small amount of dish soap directly to the stain and gently rub it in. Rinse with cold water. The soap will cut through the oils.
  • For ink or dye stains, dab with isopropyl alcohol using a clean white cloth. The alcohol will help dissolve the stain. Be careful not to spread the stain.
  • For sweat stains, make a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub it into the stained area and allow it to sit for 1-2 hours before washing. Baking soda will help lift discoloration.
  • For best results, hold the garment taut while pretreating stains to keep the fibers open. Always check care labels and test products first. With the right stain removal method, white fabrics can look fresh and new again.

Can baking soda remove stains from white clothes?

Baking soda can effectively remove many types of stains from white clothes. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, apply it to the stain, and let it sit for 1-2 hours while keeping it moist. The baking soda will help lift and absorb the stained particles. 

Can vinegar remove stains from white clothes?

Vinegar helps break down and disinfect stains. For fresh stains, apply undiluted vinegar directly. For set-in stains, soak in a vinegar/water solution before washing. Rinse thoroughly after soaking. Vinegar works well on food, coffee, wine, and grass stains. 

Does vinegar bleach clothes?

Vinegar doesn’t bleach clothes. Because vinegar is not a traditional bleach, it will not bleach fabrics in the same way that oxygen or chlorine bleach will. However, vinegar has stain removal properties that allow it to whiten white fabrics or intensify the colors of darker fabrics.

Do yellow stains come out of white clothes?

When it comes to removing yellowing from whites, two go-to ingredients work wonders—lemon juice and vinegar. The citric acid in lemon juice helps cut through discoloration, while vinegar's acetic acid tackles dingy buildup.

Just soak clothes in a lemon juice or vinegar solution before washing. For extra brightening power on severe stains, team up these acidic ingredients with hydrogen peroxide or an oxygen bleach. 

What is the best red wine stain remover?

The best way to remove red wine stains is to act quickly while the stain is fresh. Flush it with cool water first, avoiding hot and warm water that can set the stain. Use a clean white cloth to blot up excess wine. Then dilute the stain by pouring a little white wine on it before rinsing with cold water again.

While removing wine stains, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, salt, or laundry detergent can also help lift the pigment. 

What is the most effective method for removing blood stains?

To remove blood stains, use a stain remover pen or a solution with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide effectively breaks down the proteins in blood, lifting the stain.

Simply apply the stain remover to the blood stain, let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water before washing as usual. The stain remover pen allows you to target just the stain, without having to soak the entire garment.

Be sure to act quickly when removing blood stains - fresh stains come out easiest.

How can I remove coffee stains?

To remove coffee stains, using a stain pretreatment is best. Stain remover wipes with enzymes will break down the stain when rubbed on the spot. You can apply a liquid enzyme-based stain remover or use baking soda and white vinegar.

Further Reading

Homemade stain remover for white clothes

Why is the dryer making my clothes smell burnt?

Will essential oils on my dryer balls stain clothes?

What is the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin?

Detergent sheets vs liquid detergent—who wins?

How can I keep my sheets from balling up in the dryer?

How to recharge wool dryer balls

How to add essential oils to dryer balls