What are the Best Natural Stain Removers for Clothes?

Natural stain removers rock. You can get those pesky stains off your clothes while respecting the environment and your budget. 

Quick links:

Baking soda

White vinegar

Lemon juice

Hydrogen peroxide


Talc, cornstarch, or chalk


Dish soap

Stain stick

DIY stain remover for whites

DIY stain remover for colors

DIY stain remover spray

There are some highly-effective stain removers that are cheap and easy, too! And if you really want to save time, buy our eco-friendly stain stick. You won’t believe how easy and effective it is.

Smart Sheep Detergent Strips

Why Use Natural Laundry Stain Removers?

Here are some of the most common motivations that drive people to use natural stain removers.


  1. Budget-friendly: natural stain removers are often more affordable than commercial options, helping you save money in the long run. Common household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are inexpensive and readily available.
  2. Ecology and sustainability: by using natural stain removers, you contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. Many commercial stain removers contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Choosing natural alternatives helps reduce your ecological footprint and minimizes the release of toxins into water systems.
  3. DIY satisfaction: making your own stain removers allows you to take control of the ingredients and tailor them to your specific needs. It can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience to create effective stain removal solutions from simple household items. DIY stain removers also empower you to reduce your reliance on store-bought products and embrace a more self-sufficient approach to laundry care.

What’s your reason for wanting to explore natural and eco-friendly options to clothing stain removal?

The Benefits of Natural Clothing Stain Removers

Natural stain removers offer the following benefits over commercial laundry products.

  1. Most of the solutions in this article are natural products that won't damage or fade your clothes, preserving their quality and longevity.
  2. By choosing natural stain removers, you're reducing your environmental impact. They are typically made from plant-based, biodegradable ingredients that break down safely in the environment.
  3. Traditional stain removers often contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause respiratory issues. Natural alternatives are free from harmful substances, making them safer for you and your family.
  4. Natural stain removers are surprisingly effective in tackling a wide range of stains, including grease, wine, grass, and more. They harness the power of natural enzymes and plant-based surfactants to lift stains without compromising fabric integrity.
  5. Making your own natural stain removers or purchasing eco friendly options can be more budget-friendly in the long run. Many ingredients used in DIY stain removers, such as baking soda and vinegar, are readily available and affordable.
  6. Opting for natural stain removers aligns with a sustainable lifestyle. By reducing your reliance on conventional stain removers, you contribute to a greener and more eco-conscious world.

The Best Stain Remover for Clothes

Let us look at some of the best zero waste and natural laundry stain removers for those looking for a natural alternative to fabric laundry products

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent natural laundry odor and stain remover. Check out these facts:

  • Baking soda has excellent odor-absorbing properties. It can help neutralize and eliminate unpleasant smells caused by sweat, food, or other sources.
  • Baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive, which helps lift stains and residue from surfaces. It can be used to scrub and remove stains from fabrics.
  • When used in combination with other stain-fighting agents like vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, baking soda enhances their cleaning effectiveness and helps break down tough stains.
  • Baking soda can absorb grease and oil stains from fabric and other surfaces. It helps to loosen and lift the greasy residue, making it easier to remove.
  • Baking soda can help remove coffee and tea stains from cups, mugs, or fabrics. It works by breaking down the tannins present in these beverages, reducing the appearance of the stain.
  • Baking soda can be effective in reducing discoloration caused by wine, juice, or certain food stains. It absorbs the pigments responsible for the color, making the stain less noticeable.

To use, create a paste by mixing baking soda with water and apply it to the stained area. Let it sit for a few minutes, then launder as usual.

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar should be part of your laundry routine. It is inexpensive, gentle on clothes, and a more environmentally friendly chlorine bleach alternative. What does distilled white vinegar do?

  • Distilled white vinegar has acidic properties that help break down protein-based stains like blood, sweat, and food stains. It works by loosening the proteins and making them easier to remove.
  • Vinegar is an excellent odor neutralizer and can help eliminate unpleasant smells caused by sweat, urine, or other sources. It neutralizes the odor molecules, leaving your fabrics fresh and odor-free.
  • Distilled white vinegar is effective in removing hard water stains on various surfaces like glass, porcelain, or tiles. Its acidic nature helps dissolve the mineral deposits responsible for the stains.
  • When used as a laundry additive, vinegar can help brighten white fabrics by removing dullness and discoloration. It acts as a natural fabric softener and can enhance the brightness of your whites.
  • Vinegar's antimicrobial properties make it effective in removing mildew and mold stains from surfaces like bathroom tiles or grout. It helps kill the spores and prevents further growth.

To use, mix equal parts of vinegar and water and apply the solution directly to the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then blot or gently scrub the area. Launder as usual.

Avoid using vinegar on delicate fabrics that may be sensitive to acidity.

Lemon Juice

The acetic acid in fresh or bottled 100% lemon juice has a natural bleaching action on clothes. Why should you use lemon juice?

  • Lemon juice can lighten and remove discoloration caused by stains on fabrics.
  • Lemon juice can be used to brighten white fabrics, particularly when combined with exposure to sunlight. The citric acid helps to remove dullness and revive the brightness of white clothing or linens.
  • Lemon juice works well in removing stains caused by fruits and vegetables, such as berry stains, tomato stains, or juice stains. Its acidic nature helps break down the pigments responsible for the stains.
  • Lemon juice has natural deodorizing properties that can help eliminate odors from fabrics. It can be used to neutralize unpleasant smells, such as sweat or food odors.
  • Lemon juice can be used to lighten or reduce the appearance of certain types of discoloration, such as underarm stains on white shirts or yellowing on white fabrics.

To use lemon juice for stains:

  • For fabric stains: apply fresh lemon juice directly to the stain and gently rub it into the fabric. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with cold water. Launder as usual.
  • For bleaching whites: mix equal parts lemon juice and water, then apply the mixture to the fabric. Leave it in direct sunlight for a few hours to enhance the bleaching effect. Rinse and launder as usual.

Hydrogen Peroxide

When you need to whiten your clothes, reach for the hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet as an alternative to the much harsher chlorine bleach.  

  • Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent that releases oxygen when it comes into contact with stains. This oxygen helps to break down and lift away the stain particles from fabrics.
  • It can help whiten and brighten fabrics, particularly white or light-colored ones. It can be effective in removing yellowing or dinginess caused by stains or age.
  • Hydrogen peroxide works well on organic stains, such as blood, sweat, urine, or food stains. Its oxygen-releasing properties help break down the organic compounds and lift the stains from the fabric.
  • It can be effective in removing mildew or mold stains from fabrics. It helps to kill the mold or mildew spores and break down the stains caused by them.
  • Hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial properties and can help disinfect fabrics, particularly when dealing with stains caused by bacteria or odors. It can neutralize unpleasant smells and freshen up the fabric.

To use hydrogen peroxide for stains:

  • Spot treatment: apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Gently blot or rub the stain with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse with cold water and launder as usual.
  • Soaking method: for stubborn stains or heavily soiled items, you can create a soaking solution by mixing hydrogen peroxide with water. Submerge the stained fabric in the solution for a few hours or overnight, then rinse and launder as usual.


Borax is a mineral compound composed of salt, boron, oxygen, and water. It emits no hazardous gases and is environmentally safe. Here is why borax is a powerful natural stain remover:

  • Borax has excellent stain penetration properties, allowing it to reach deep into fabric fibers. It helps to break down and loosen tough stains, making them easier to remove during the washing process.
  • It enhances the cleaning power of your laundry detergent. When added to the wash, it helps to remove dirt, grease, and stains more effectively.
  • Borax has natural brightening properties, making it effective at whitening and revitalizing dingy or yellowed fabrics. It can help restore the original brightness of white or light-colored garments.
  • It is particularly effective in removing stains caused by food, oil, grease, and organic substances. It can help break down and lift these types of stains from fabric fibers.
  • Borax can help eliminate unpleasant odors from clothes. It works as a deodorizer, neutralizing odors and leaving your laundry smelling fresher.

To use borax for stains:

  • Pre-soak: dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in warm water and create a soaking solution. Submerge the stained fabric in the solution for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Rinse thoroughly and launder as usual.
  • Add to laundry: add 1/2 cup of borax to your regular laundry load along with your detergent. The borax will boost the cleaning power of your detergent and help remove stains.

Talcum Powder, Cornstarch, or Chalk

Talcum powder, baby powder, kitchen cornstarch, or plain white chalk are miracle workers for helping to absorb organic stains. Here are reasons to use these natural stain removers:

  • Talcum powder, cornstarch, and chalk all can effectively absorb moisture and oils from stains, helping to lift them from the fabric.
  • These powdery substances work well on fresh oil and grease stains. Apply a generous amount of talcum powder, cornstarch, or crushed chalk directly onto the stain. Gently press the powder into the fabric to absorb the oil or grease. Let it sit for several minutes or overnight, then brush off the powder and launder as usual.
  • Talcum powder or cornstarch can help absorb sweat stains from clothing. Apply a liberal amount of powder to the stained area, gently rubbing it into the fabric. Allow it to sit for a few hours or overnight to absorb the sweat, then brush off the powder and wash the garment as usual.
  • Talcum powder or cornstarch can also be effective in removing fresh ink stains. Sprinkle a generous amount of powder onto the ink stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Blot the area with a clean cloth to lift the ink, then brush off the powder and treat the stain further if necessary.

These powders work best on fresh stains and may not be as effective on set-in or stubborn stains.


If you have a stain, liberally sprinkle it with table salt. Use the least expensive salt you can find. Allow it to absorb the liquid before brushing it away and washing the item. 

  • Salt is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. When applied to wet stains, it can help draw out the liquid, making it easier to remove.
  • Salt is commonly used to tackle wine and blood stains. If a spill occurs, immediately blot the area with a clean cloth to remove excess liquid. Then, generously sprinkle salt onto the stain while it's still wet. Allow the salt to absorb the liquid for a few minutes or up to an hour. Once the salt has absorbed the moisture, brush it off and rinse the fabric with cold water. Launder the garment as usual.
  • Salt can also aid in treating fresh food stains such as tomato sauce, coffee, or tea. Blot the stain to remove any excess residue. Sprinkle salt on the stain to absorb the liquid. Allow the salt to sit for a few minutes and then gently rub the fabric together to help loosen the stain. Rinse the area with cold water and launder the garment as directed.
  • Salt can be effective in reducing yellowing or discoloration caused by perspiration. Make a solution by mixing equal parts salt and cold water. Apply the solution to the stained area and gently rub it in. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before laundering the garment as usual.

Dish Soap

Depending on your dish soap brand, this may not be a “natural” option, but it’s an effective household stain remover nonetheless. Dish soap is great for eliminating oily stains from textiles. 

  • Dish soap contains surfactants that break down grease and oil. This makes it effective in treating stains caused by substances like cooking oil, salad dressing, or makeup.
  • Dish soap can act as a pre-treatment for stains. Apply a small amount of dish soap directly to the stained area and gently rub it in. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the soap to penetrate the fabric and break down the stain.
  • Dish soap can be added to the regular laundry process as a stain-fighting booster. Mix a small amount of dish soap with water to create a soapy solution. Apply it to the stain, gently rub, and allow it to sit for a few minutes before laundering the garment as usual.
  • Dish soap can effectively tackle a wide range of stains, including food stains, grease stains, oil stains, makeup stains, and even some ink stains. It is particularly useful for removing stains from fabrics that can tolerate water and gentle scrubbing.

Smart Sheep Stain Stick

If you want one product that does it all, get our magical stain stick. It is proof of our dedication to doing good for the planet.

What makes our stain stick the best eco-friendly laundry product? Let’s see.


  1. Advanced stain removal technology: our stain stick is formulated with cutting-edge ingredients to penetrate deep into fabric fibers, effectively breaking down and removing even the most stubborn stains.
  2. Versatile stain fighter: whether it's food, drink, grass, blood, or pet stains, our stain stick tackles them all with remarkable efficiency. No stain is too challenging for its powerful stain-fighting action.
  3. Gentle on fabrics: while tough on stains, our stain stick is gentle on fabrics. It won't cause discoloration or damage, ensuring your clothes retain their original quality and appearance.
  4. Easy and convenient: with a simple application process, our stain stick saves you time and effort. Just apply directly to the stain, let it work its magic, and launder as usual. It's a hassle-free solution for busy individuals.
  5. Travel-friendly design: compact and portable, our stain stick is perfect for on-the-go stain emergencies. Toss it in your bag or suitcase, and be prepared to tackle stains wherever you are.
  6. Eco-conscious packaging: we care about the environment, which is why our stain stick comes in minimal packaging made from sustainable materials, reducing waste and contributing to a greener planet.
  7. Safe and effective: our stain stick is crafted with a top-secret formulation that’s gentle on the skin, safe for kids, and super effective. Your new stain treater is perfect for home or travel.

DIY Stain Remover for White Clothes

Creating your own stain remover for white clothes is easy. Here is a homemade stain remover recipe for you:

  1. Ingredients: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid dishwashing detergent.
  2. Mix the ingredients in a small bowl or container. Combine 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 1 part baking soda. Add a small amount of liquid dish soap and stir until you have a smooth paste-like consistency.
  3. Apply to stains. Before applying the DIY stain remover, dampen the stained area with water. Then, using a clean cloth or sponge, apply the mixture directly to the stain.
  4. Gently rub the stain remover into the fabric using circular motions. Allow the mixture to sit on the stain for about 15 minutes. For stubborn or set-in stains, you can let it sit for longer.
  5. Launder as usual. Check the stain before drying to ensure it has been completely removed. If needed, repeat the process or try an alternative stain removal method, such as our “Top Secret” stain stick.

Homemade Stain Remover for Colored Clothes

Creating a homemade laundry stain remover for colored clothes is easy. You’ll be treating stains in no time.

  1. Ingredients: you will need white vinegar, liquid dish soap, and baking soda.
  2. Mix the ingredients. In a small bowl or container, combine 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and a tablespoon of baking soda. Stir the mixture until well combined.
  3. Apply to stains: before applying the stain remover, dampen the stained area with water. Then, using a clean cloth or sponge, apply the mixture directly to the stain.
  4. Gently rub the stain remover into the fabric using circular motions. Allow the mixture to sit on the stain for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Rinse the stained area with cold water to remove the stain remover. Launder the garment as usual.

This homemade stain remover is gentle yet effective in removing stains without causing any harm to the fabric's color. It's a great alternative to commercial stain removers and allows you to maintain the vibrancy of your colored garments.

DIY Stain Remover Spray

Creating a DIY stain remover spray is simple and cost-effective. Here's a basic recipe you can try:


  • 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup of liquid dish soap
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 2 cups of warm water


  1. In a spray bottle, combine the hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and baking soda.
  2. Slowly add the warm water and gently mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Spray the stain remover directly onto the stained area and let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Gently rub or blot the stain with a clean cloth or sponge.
  5. Launder the garment as usual.

Stain Remover FAQ

What is the best natural stain remover?

White vinegar is a magical stain remover to have on hand in your laundry room. You can leave your clothes soft and fresh with just three minutes of simple soaking in distilled white vinegar before adding them to your washing machine. It's safe on fabrics, as no harmful chemicals or fabric softeners are needed!

What is the best stain remover for stubborn stains?

Smart Sheep’s stain stick is the best stain remover for stubborn stains. 

What is a powerful stain removing ingredient?

There are many powerful ingredients you can use to create your own stain remover. Hydrogen peroxide is one of them. Hydrogen Peroxide is a powerful DIY stain remover that can safely be used on your laundry. It works for removing tough stains from blood and grass!

How do you remove stains from clothes naturally?

  1. Blot the stain.
  2. Pre-treat with vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda. 
  3. Soak in a solution of water and a natural stain-fighting ingredient like vinegar or baking soda. 
  4. Wash with natural laundry detergent, like our eco-friendly laundry detergent strips.
  5. Sun-dry. The natural UV rays can help bleach out any remaining stains and freshen the fabric.

Is vinegar or hydrogen peroxide better for stains?

Both vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can be effective for removing stains, but their effectiveness depends on the type of stain. Vinegar works well for stains caused by substances like coffee, tea, or juice, while hydrogen peroxide is more suitable for removing sweat, grass, and blood stains

Can sodium percarbonate remove stains?

Sodium percarbonate is used to de-stain, deodorize, and whiten. It is very effective as a laundry pre-soak for heavily stained articles. Place it inside the washing machine drum to boost your laundry detergent. Use 1 tablespoon for 4-5 kg of laundry or 2 tablespoons for tougher stains.

What are homemade bleach alternatives?

These are a couple of homemade bleach alternatives that will do the job without the harmful side effects.

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lemon
  • Tea tree oil
  • Castile soap

How do you make homemade cleaning spray?

If you prefer natural cleaning products, you should make your own DIY natural cleaning spray. 

In a spray bottle, combine 13 ounces of hot water, 12 cup of white vinegar, 15 drops of grapefruit essential oil, 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and seven drops of lemon essential oil to make a spray that will clean just about anything—countertops, the sink, light fixtures, and more.

Further Reading

Wool dryer balls vs dryer sheets

Wool dryer balls vs tennis balls

The benefits of wool dryer balls

Do dryer balls work?

How many dryer balls do you need?

How long do dryer balls last?

Essential oil recipes

Essential oils for laundry

What are some fabric softener alternatives?

How to use dryer balls for down jackets

How to add essential oils to dryer balls

The best wool dryer balls

What are natural dryer sheet alternatives?