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The Best Tips And Tricks For Cleaning Stains (With Printable)

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Inside: After 3 kids, I’ve become an expert at getting rid of tough stains. These are the best tips for cleaning stains of any kind, plus a free printable guide!

With three young kids (and a husband), I’ve had to become an expert at cleaning stains of every kind.

I’m sharing all the best products you NEED in your laundry room, plus the best stain removal tips.

I list all of the stains I’ve run into as a mom and the product and technique that works the best to remove each one. 

RELATED: The Ultimate List of Cleaning Tips For Busy Moms

What is the Best Stain Remover for Clothes?

Clothing stain removal products next to a laundry basket

I use lots of different products for cleaning stains. These are my favorites:

OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray
OxiClean Max Force Laundry Stain Remover Spray
Spray ‘n Wash Laundry Stain Remover
Fels Naptha Laundry Soap Bar
Clorox Bleach Pen
Clorox 2 Stain Fighter and Color Booster
Dawn Dish Soap
Baby Powder
Rubbing Alcohol
Hydrogen Peroxide

That may look like a long list, but most of the items are cheap and last a long time. They also each do a different job for cleaning stains and I find myself using them all on a weekly basis (because, yes, my kids are SUPER messy!).

RELATED: The Best Ever Cleaner for Laminate Floor Care

How do You Remove Tough Stains?

OK, now let’s jump into each stain and how to treat it:

Woman sprays spot remover for cleaning stains.

How To Get Food Coloring Out Of Clothes

This is one stain that my kids get all of the time!

After they eat things like popsicles, candy, colored drinks, or slushies I always get nervous that they’ve stained their clothes for good! But this is actually one stain that’s pretty easy to get out consistently.

  1. As soon as you can, pour Dawn dish soap over the stain.
  2. Then, soak in a sink full of vinegar and cold water.

Dawn dish soap is great for cleaning stains from food coloring!

Stained shirt before and after using best stain removers for food dye stains

How To Get Red Sauce Out Of Clothes

Clean stains from pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, or anything that’s red based with Spray ‘n Wash or OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover

  1. First, spray the stain with either product and let is sit.
  2. If that doesn’t do the job, add Dawn dish soap and scrub under cold water.

Stained shirt before and after using best stain removers for red sauce stains

How To Get Chocolate Out Of Clothes

  1. Spray chocolate stains with Spray ‘n Wash or OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover and let it sit.
  2. Next scrub the stain under cool water with Fels Naptha.

Stained shirt before and after using best stain removers for chocolate stains

How To Get Berry Stains Out Of Clothes

Cleaning stains from berries was one of my toughest challenges, but then I started using OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover!

I spray a little OxiClean Stain Remover on my daughters jam covered clothes and by the time she’s out of the bathtub, the stain is completely gone! It’s like magic!

Just don’t use Fels Naptha on the berry stain. It turns it a weird color that’s difficult to get out.

Stained shirt before and after using best stain removers for berry stains

How To Get Watermelon Stains Out Of Clothes

This one takes a little more work, but it’s worth it to get the stain out.

  1. First, soak the stain in cold water with Dawn dish soap.
  2. Then before you put it in the wash, add some hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Finally, right before you put the stained clothes in the washer, add some vinegar and wash like normal.

How To Get Mac And Cheese Out Of Clothes

This stain may take a few different tactics, too.

  1. First, soak the stain with Dawn dish soap.
  2. Next, spray the stain with OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover and OxiClean Max Force.
  3. Let sit.
  4. If stain still remains, use a little of the Clorox Bleach Pen and it should come right out!

Before and after mac and cheese stains

How To Get Oil Out of Clothes

Dawn dish soap is great from removing grease from dishes AND from clothes.

  1. Add some Dawn to the stain and scrub it under cold water.
  2. Let it dry and if the stain remains, add some baby powder and rub it into the stain. 

BONUS TIP: Sometimes after I dry my laundry I’ll find some oil stains on the clothes. I assume it’s from where the dryer sheet got stuck. Rub some baby powder on the stain and it will be good as new!

Homemade stain remover for clothes and oil stains

How To Get Grass Stains Out Of Clothes

For grass stains, you can try a few different things until the stain comes out. I’ve used Spray ‘n Wash, OxiClean Laundry stain remover, or Dawn dish soap and vinegar. You can also try pre-treating it with Clorox 2.

How To Get Dirt Out Of Clothes

I panicked when Hudson got mud on one of his light-colored button down shirts, but I was able to get the stain out over a few days.

  1. Spray the stain with Spray ‘n Wash and the OxiClean Laundry stain remover.
  2. After it sits for a few days, scrub it under cold water with your Fels Naptha bar.

How To Get Blood Out Of Clothes

Fels Naptha does wonders on blood stains; even dried blood stains! Scrub the stain under cold water with the Fels Naptha and the stain comes right out! (If it’s on white clothing, you can also use the Clorox Bleach Pen if any of the stain remains).

How To Get Baby Poop Out Of Clothes

I haven’t had to deal with this for awhile, but I’ve cleaned my fair share of blowouts! Of all the stain removers, Dawn dish soap works the best! Just rinse it under cold water with some Dawn dish soap and the stain should be gone.

How To Get Pen Out Of Clothes

Pen is hit or miss for me. I’ve removed pen stains from our couch (thanks to my son drawing on it!) but couldn’t remove it from my faux leather wallet.

The common suggestion is to spray the stain with hairspray or dab it with rubbing alcohol. Hairspray has usually worked the best for me!

How To Get Marker Out Of Clothes

This is another stain I haven’t been 100% successful at getting out. My daughter got marker on her shirt so I put a rag underneath it and dabbed the stain with rubbing alcohol. It was a black stain which turned blue. I can’t remember all of the other products I used but the stain eventually came out.


Shirt before and after cleaning stains.

Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Stains

  • These are the best stain removers I’ve found for the specific stains, but if one stain remover doesn’t work, try the others! Sometimes I make a “cocktail” of the stain removers until something works! 
  • For really tough stains, let them sit with the stain removers on for as long as they need. The instructions for the OxiClean Max Force say to let it sit on the stain for up to 7 days and sometimes I do!
  • Check pre-treated clothes before you put them in the dryer! If a stain is not completely removed, the dryer will set them in and make them nearly impossible to get out. 
  • Use the Clorox Bleach Pen if a stain isn’t coming out. It’s supposed to only be used on white clothing, but if nothing else has worked, use the pen before a wash and see what happens. I’ve had success with this before and it didn’t discolor my clothing!
  • For extra soiled clothes, wash the whole load with the Clorox 2 Stain Fighter and Color Booster! It does the trick every time!

RELATED: How I Replaced my Household Cleaning Products with $34 Cloths

Mom and kids sort the laundry after cleaning them with stain remover products

Two kids sort clothes after getting out the laundry stains

Mom and daughter sort laundry after cleaning stains.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Stains

It may seem like hard work to clean stubborn stains, bit it will save you so much money on clothes! I hope you’ll use these tips to stay on top of your children’s stains (and, maybe your husbands too!)

Want More?

Check out this easy home cleaning checklist and don’t forget to download your free printable for cleaning stains!

Download your FREE printable Stain Removal Guide below!



Your Turn

Do you have any great tips for cleaning stains to add to my list? Are there any tough stains you still need help with? Let me know in the comments!

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Julie Sanders

Monday 30th of September 2019

I consistently have trouble removing chocolate. Any recommendations other than what you suggested here if the stain is there after I already attempted it and washed it. I believe I treated it with Fels Naptha. It hung dry. It's a nice quality boutique top that hasn't been worn much. Please and thank you!!


Monday 30th of September 2019

Hi Julie! What type of fabric is it and what color? Chocolate usually comes out fairly easily for me on colored clothes. If it's white, I would definitely recommend using the Clorox bleach pen on the stain. If it's a colored top, you may want to try the OxiClean max force gel stick (not pictured). I would apply that and let it sit for a few days. Let me know how it works!

Pamela Sands

Thursday 4th of July 2019

I have so much trouble getting the stains out of our work shirts ihave tried several things no lunch so thank you. Pamela Sands


Thursday 11th of July 2019

I hope some of these suggestions will help you get those stains out!

Ashley Ziegler

Thursday 16th of August 2018

This is so helpful because sometimes I'm at home and just like... what the heck do I use to get this out!?!?


Friday 17th of August 2018

Stains can be soooo frustrating!! I'm glad you liked it Ashley!! Thanks so much for reading!