Picture this: You finally carve out the time to do laundry. You open the washer expecting to find clean clothes, but instead, you see spotty clothes. Frustrating, isn’t it?
But what exactly are laundry detergent stains? How do I get rid of them?
These spots are laundry detergent stains. Ideally, laundry detergent should clean your clothes. But if you use powdered (or even too much liquid detergent on your clothes), you might find detergent spots. One of the top reasons for detergent stains is the hardness of your water. If the water at your home is rich in mineral content, laundry detergent will not be able to completely dissolve in the water, hence leaving stains instead of removing them.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, you haven’t ruined your clothes. As with other stains, you can get rid of laundry detergent stains too.
In this blog, I will share 6 simple ways that you can get rid of these stains. The methods are a mix of store-bought chemicals and quick home remedies. Try out whatever is the most convenient for you.
1. Use rubbing alcohol to remove detergent stains
You can use rubbing alcohol to break these stains and then, rewash your garment. You also probably have rubbing alcohol at home so, this works as a good quick and easy fix.
- Check the wash instructions of your fabric. If it can tolerate warm water (90-110 F), soak for 10 minutes.
- Rub at the detergent spot for a minute and wring your garment.
- Apply a generous amount of rubbing alcohol on the stain.
- Let the garment rest for 15 minutes.
- Rinse your garment and put it in the washer again without any detergent.
- If the spots are gone, dry your garment, If not, repeat the procedure.
2. Use vinegar for liquid laundry detergent stains
If you’re sure that the stain has been caused by liquid detergent, vinegar is the best fix. Your detergent just probably didn’t rinse away completely. Thankfully, these stains are very easy to remove, so you don’t have to say goodbye to your clothes.
- Use your sink or laundry tub to mix vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:4. Vinegar is not only inexpensive but also high in acetic acid which will cause a natural bleaching action.
- Submerge your affected garments in the vessel, and let it rest for 2-3 minute, so that the acetic acid has enough time to act.
- Rub the stained portion against the garment to loosen the detergent and let the garment rest in the tub for at least an hour.
- Run it in the machine separately or only with a few other clothes. Don’t overstuff the machine. Note: The key to getting the stains out is giving your garments enough room to agitate and tumble in the machine.
- If the stain persists, repeat the process. If not, dry the garment. Do not dry your garment unless you’re sure that the stain is gone or else drying can set the stain.
3. Use baking soda to wash detergent-stained clothes
If you’re in a severe time crunch or do not have the patience to go through multiple steps, washing with baking soda is as easy as it gets. Your first instinct might be to just rewash your soiled clothes, and you’re right. We’ll do exactly that with just a tiny change.
- Put your soiled clothing in the washer and set the wash as usual.
- Do not add any type of detergent. Instead, add a ½ cup of baking soda to the wash.
- Wash as normal. Your stain should be out.
- Optional: add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse. This will brighten and soften your fabric.
4. Use lemon juice for white clothes
There’s nothing worse than staining your white clothes. All the effort you spend on dodging stains just to end up with your laundry detergent doing the evil.
I’ve been through this several times. My go-to solution is lemon juice.
- Only use fresh or 100% lemon/lime juice. Like vinegar, lemons have a high content of acetic acid that allows them to act as a natural bleaching action.
- Squeeze some lemon juice directly onto the stain and then pour some salt over it.
- Gently rub the mixture on the stain and then rinse with water.
- Keep repeating till the stain is gone.
- Dry your garment, and if required, put it in the washer again.
5. Use an advanced-action gel on detergent-stained clothes
I have found that such a gel works very well to get rid of most stains. Here are the steps.
- Spray the gel on the spots to saturate the stain.
- Thoroughly rub the stain into the fabric.
- Let the fabric rest for at least five minutes. For best results on heavy-duty stains, leave the fabric overnight
- Wash with your regular detergent in the warmest water the fabric will accept
6. Use a heavy-duty stain remover laundry spray if you find detergent stains too often
If you deal with detergent stains often, I recommend getting a bottle of heavy-duty stain remover laundry spray. That way you keep it in your household and can use it immediately after you notice a stain. The use is not limited to laundry detergent stains.
- Shake the bottle well before use. You can spray directly onto the stain until saturated.
- The best part about the stain remover is that it will also work on severe detergent stains where you think home remedies might fail. You can leave it up to 5 minutes or for a week, depending on the severity of the stain. If you think your fabric is prone to color change, do not leave it on for more than 5 minutes.
- Wash with detergent in the warmest water the fabric can tolerate.
- Do not use this on your silk, wool, leather, and fabrics labeled dry clean only.
FAQs – Laundry Detergent Stains: how to prevent, and further action
1. How do I prevent laundry detergent stains?
- Dissolve the detergent in water before adding it to the laundry.
- Less is more. Too much detergent on clothes is like a magnet for dirt.
- Don’t add too much clothing to the load.
- Use liquid detergent with hard water.
2. I have tried multiple methods, nothing works. What should I do?
Stick to the same method. Repeat the method at least twice or thrice. Some stains are tough. If the stain persists even after that, go for chemical stain removers like OxiClean.
3. I didn’t notice the stain immediately after. What should I do?
If you notice the stain after your garment has dried, there’s a good chance the stain has already been set and there’s not much you can do. Your safest bet is to go for a chemical stain remover. If the stain still persists, unfortunately, it’s there to stay.
The key to getting stains out is finding the best method depending on your fabric type and the severity of the stain. Before you try any of these methods, read the care instructions for your fabric carefully. Or else, you can end up with discolored or ruined garments.