Consumer Reports GreenerChoices Consumer Reports GreenerChoices -- Join our FREE e-mail newsletter

Greener Choices Home > Greener stain removers 9/11

Print this page
Greener stain removers 9/11
(This article is adapted from the September 2011 ShopSmart magazine.)

Before spills and dribbles turn to stains, you can rush in with a bottle of club soda and hope for the best. But fizzy water isn’t a cure-all.

Sometimes you have to bring in the big guns and zap the offending spot with a stain treatment before you toss it into the wash. But which stain remover is best?

Consumer Reports tests show that most brands do a pretty good job, although none removed 100 percent of all the stains in the tests. But many brands contain toxic ingredients you may want to avoid.

Green recommendations

In the tests, three stain removers were greener choices and worth trying. Although they weren’t as high-rated in the tests and can cost more than other brands, the three greener choices are made with much less toxic ingredients. They are: Ecover at 66 cents per ounce; Nature’s Source Natural at 20 cents per ounce; and Green Works Natural at 18 cents per ounce.

All three easily zapped blood stains. Nature’s Source rubbed out sweat and other body oils. Ecover handled grass stains, and Green Works was fine on wine. But they didn’t remove as much of the other tough stains in the tests, such as cocoa, coffee, and used motor oil.

Ecover comes with a handy bristle applicator cap to scrub out stains. But note that scrubbing might damage some fabrics. It’s better to blot and dab stains. Avoid brushing as it can alter the fibers leaving the fabric stretched or dull where the stain was.

Really tough stains such as indelible ink, dried paint, and some glues cannot be easily broken down, so they are almost impossible to remove yourself. Talk to a dry cleaner if the stain is on an expensive item.

• Check the labels before you use a stain remover. See whether the item is washable and whether it can go in hot water.

• Don’t delay. The longer you wait, the harder it is to remove stains. If you can’t get to them right away, dampen non-oily stains with water to get a head start. For oily spots, apply a dab of liquid detergent.

• Read the instructions on the stain remover. Some need to be applied 5 minutes before washing.

• Skip the dryer. Heat sets stains. So just hang them to dry after washing. If the stain has faded but hasn’t disappeared, treat, wash, hang dry and check it again.
Related links

Cleaners: Green buying guide. 1/11

Homemade household cleaners: best recipes. 1/11

About   |   Newsroom   |   Your privacy rights   |   Security   |   Contact us
Copyright © 2007-2014 by Consumers Union of United States., Inc., 101 Truman Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10703, a nonprofit organization. No downloading, transmission, photocopying, or commercial use permitted. Visit