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Here’s How To Remove Stains From Clothes (+Free Printable!)

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These are the best tips for how to remove tough stains from clothes. We’ve also included a free printable guide for easy access in your laundry room.

With four 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 how to remove those stubborn stains from your clothes.

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

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 of cleaning stains and I find myself using them all on a weekly basis (because, yes, my kids are SUPER messy!).

NOTE: I used to use OxiClean spray and powder on all stains but I’ve noticed that the products bleach or discolor certain clothes. I now only use those products on white or light-colored clothing. You can, however, mix the OxiClean powder in warm water and let any colored clothes soak.

RELATED: The Best Ever Cleaner for Laminate Floor Care

How To Get Stains Out Of Clothes

Woman sprays spot remover for cleaning stains.

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

How To Get Food Dye Out Of Clothes

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

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!

How To Get Red Sauce Out Of Clothes

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

Clean stains from pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, or anything that’s tomato-based with Spray ‘n Wash or Dawn Powerwash

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

How To Get Chocolate Out Of Clothes

Stained shirt before and after using best stain removers for chocolate stains
  1. Spray chocolate stains with Spray ‘n Wash or Dawn Powerwash and let it sit.
  2. Next scrub the stain under cool water with Fels Naptha.

How to get berry stains out of clothes

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

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 daughter’s 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 a weird color that’s difficult to get out.

How to Get Watermelon Stains Out of Clothes

Watermelon stains used to be my archenemy come summertime, but I’ve figured out a system to get them out 99% of the time.

  1. First, soak the stain in cold water with Dawn dish soap as soon as you can. The longer you let the stain sit the harder it will be to get out.
  2. If the stain hasn’t come out, sprinkle some OxiClean versatile powder on the watermelon marks (if it’s light-colored clothing) and let it sit for at least 3 days.
  3. Check the stain before you’re going to wash it and if it’s gone, wash like normal. If it’s still there, wet the stain, add some more powder and let it sit for a few more days.

How To Get Mac and Cheese Out of Clothes

Before and after mac and cheese stains

This stain may take a few different tactics, too.

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

How To Get Oil Out of Clothes

Homemade stain remover for clothes and oil stains

Dawn dish soap is great for removing grease from dishes and clothes.

  1. Add some Dawn dish soap or Dawn Powerwash 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. Rub some baby powder on the stain and it will be good as new!

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 my son 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.
  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

You can run a blood stain under cold water for several minutes until you see the stain start to fade.

Then scrub the stain under cold water with the Fels Naptha and the stain should come 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

Woman holds Dawn dish soap next to baby poop clothes.

I’ve cleaned my fair share of blowouts!

Of all the stain removers, Dawn dish soap works the best to get baby poop out of clothes! Just squirt some Dawn dish soap on the stain, rub it really well, and rinse it under warm water and the stain should be gone.

How To Get Pen Out of Clothes

The common suggestion to get pen out of clothes is to spray the stain with hairspray or dab it with rubbing alcohol.

Hairspray usually works the best! Just make sure it has alcohol in it because that is what breaks down the ink.

How To Get Marker Out of Clothes

Shirt before and after cleaning stains.

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.

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 OxiClean powder if a stain isn’t coming out. If a stain hasn’t come out after being pre-treated and washed, I’ll just sprinkle some OxiClean powder on the stain and let it sit until I do laundry again. 9 times out of 10 the powder removes the stain on its own!
  • 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.

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!

Pinterest graphic with text that reads "The Best Stain Removal Guide with Proven Results" And a woman spray stain remover on a shirt.


Monday 20th of February 2023

Is there still a printable offered?

Jessica Ashcroft

Tuesday 21st of February 2023

Yes! I'm so sorry. I think the code got messed up when I last updated. The form to get the printable should be showing now!

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!