7 Surprising Laundry Stain Removers

Shaving Cream
Tetra Images/Getty Images
  • 01 of 08

    7 Surprising Laundry Stain Removers You Probably Have On Hand

    hand washing a stain in a sink
    evgenyjs1 / Adobe Stock

    It never fails. A big spill happens, you're running late and you don't have any stain remover on hand. Fortunately, not every stain requires a specialty product and there are things you probably have on hand to help remove the stains and get you through the moment.

    So before you panic, look around and you may just be able to solve your problem with some shaving cream, a slice of bread or a bit of vodka!

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Shaving Cream

    Shaving Cream
    Tetra Images/Getty Images

    Head to the bathroom and grab some shaving cream. The less expensive type - no gels with moisturizers or extra color - is best. It's a can of ready-to-use whipped soap.

    For a spill on clothes (works on carpet, too), dampen the stained fabric and work in just a dab of shaving cream with your fingers. Flush the area with cold water or wipe away with a white cloth dipped in plain cold water. Always use a white cloth or paper towel to prevent color transfer from one fabric to the other.

    Next blot with a dry white cloth or paper towel or use a blow dryer on low heat to dry the area. You're on your way out the door.

    Shop for Shaving Cream on Amazon.com

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08


    sliced bread
    SeeDJan / Twenty20

    Everyone knows that the sooner you can treat a stain and keep it from getting bigger, the better. When a spill occurs - especially a greasy one - grab a slice of bread. By blotting the stain with bread, it acts like a sponge that will absorb the stain and keep it from getting bigger and moving deeper into the fabric fibers.

    Even old grease stains on suede or leather can be lifted by placing a slice of bread on the stain for an hour or so to absorb the oil.

    Any type of plain bread - white or whole wheat - will work. Just make sure it hasn't been buttered

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    White Chalk

    White Chalk
    Janasworld/Getty Images

    That box of white chalk can do double duty in the laundry department. 

    When an oily stain happens, rub the stained area of the fabric with a piece of white chalk. Rub it on in a very thick layer and allow the chalk to absorb the oil. Wait at least five minutes and then brush away. Repeat until the oil is gone or, at least, less visible. (You can also use baby powder or cornstarch in the same way.) This tip is safe to use on both white and colored fabrics.

    The second laundry trick for chalk is to cover stains on white clothes. If you have a food stain and don't have time to remove it, cover the stain with chalk until you get a chance to wash the garment. A piece of chalk is a must-have for emergency stains on white wedding dresses and can save a bridal meltdown!

    Shop for White Chalk on Amazon.com

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08


    a glass of vodka on the rocks
    Marti Sans / Stocksy

    When an ink stain happens on your favorite jeans, grab the bottle of vodka. Vodka works wonders in removing ink stains and it can be the cheapest brand you have on hand.

    Simply saturate a clean white cloth or a cotton swab with vodka and working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center, blot away the ink. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth or a clean swab until all of the ink is gone. Finish by blotting the area with a cloth dipped in plain water.

    Vodka also makes a great fabric refresher. Mix 1/2 cup vodka with 1 cup cool water in a spray bottle and spritz your stale-smelling clothes. Many of the commercial fabric refreshers contain high alcohol content.

    Shop for Vodka on Amazon.com

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08


    Wait, isn't WD-40 a petroleum-based lubricant that can cause stains on clothes? Well, yes, it is. But it is an easy stain to remove and can actually help remove others.

    WD-40 is a secret formula of lubricants and solvents like mineral spirits. Those solvents help break down oil - especially old oily stains - loosening the oil molecules from the fabric fibers. Simply spray the stain with a bit of WD-40 from the front and back of the fabric. Allow it work for about five minutes and then treat the stain with a commercial stain remover or a heavy-duty detergent and wash in the hottest water recommended for the fabric. You'll be amazed at the results.

    WD-40 can also be used to lift melted crayons, candle wax or chewing gum from fabrics. Just remember to wash immediately once the waxy stain is lifted from the fabric.

    Shop for WD-40 on Amazon.com

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Permanent Markers

    a black sharpie
    Imogen Photo / Getty Images

    Most of the time we are trying to remove stains from permanent markers that landed where they shouldn't be. However, permanent ink markers can be invaluable in saving a garment.

    If you have accidently splashed a favorite shirt with chlorine bleach, you may be able to save it by filling in the bleached areas with permanent ink. Black works best but with a bit of skill, you can use markers on other fabric colors. Water-based markers can also be used but will not last through the next washing.

    Permanent markers will also cover scuffs on shoes and handbags. 

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Cream of Tartar

    a bowl of cream of tartar
    bhofack2 / Getty Images

    Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is used in baking to give volume and stability to when whipping egg whites. It is a mild acid that also works great to remove stains like berries and red wine from white fabrics. Do not use on colored fabrics without testing first on an inside seam to make sure the fabric is colorfast.

    To use, make a paste of hot water and cream of tartar. Apply the paste to the stain and let it work for at least 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat if needed. 

    For rust stains, boost the cleaning power by mixing cream of tartar with a bit of lemon juice. The added acid from the lemons will help remove the stains.

    Shop for Cream of Tartar on Amazon.com