5 Foolproof Ways to Remove Detergent Stains

Published March 29, 2021
Woman adding stain remover to clothes before washing them

Open your washer only to see spotty clothes. Nothing is more frustrating. While you might still sigh, learn how to remove detergent stains with a few simple steps. Get tips and tricks to avoid this frustrating detergent situation.

How to Remove Detergent Stains With Alcohol

Laundry detergent isn't designed to stain clothes. However, if you use powdered or even too much liquid detergent on your clothes, you might find detergent spots. The key to getting rid of these detergent "stains" is breaking them up and rewashing the clothing. A simple way to do this involves using rubbing alcohol.

  1. Put the entire garment in a bath of warm water. (Check the care tag to ensure the fabric can tolerate warm/hot water.)

  2. Rub at the spot for about a minute.

  3. If the spot persists, wring out the fabric.

  4. Apply a generous amount of rubbing alcohol on the spot. (Spot check rubbing alcohol on a discrete area of the garment first to ensure it doesn't cause issues with dye.)

  5. Allow the rubbing alcohol to sit for about 10-15 minutes.

  6. Rinse the garment to check for residue removal and launder without detergent.

  7. Check before drying to ensure the detergent residue is gone. If it persists, repeat the procedure.

How to Get Detergent Stains Out of Clothes With Vinegar

Another sure-fire winner when it comes to battle laundry detergent stains is white or cleaning vinegar. To battle laundry detergent stains with white vinegar, you will have to grab a cup of it and head to the sink.

  1. Fill a tub or sink with warm water. (Be sure to check that your fabric can handle warm temps, if not, use cold.)

  2. Add a cup of white vinegar to the mix.

  3. Work it around well.

  4. Soak your garment for one hour in the solution.

  5. At varying intervals, check the garment and work the laundry detergent residue with your fingers to break it up.

  6. Wring out the fabric and launder without detergent. (Be sure to check before drying to ensure the stains are gone.)

Remove the Detergent Stains With Bar Soap

Do you avoid vinegar like the plague because the smell isn't to your liking? Well, rest assured, you are not alone in that. Many people don't like the smell of white vinegar. In this case, you might dry using a bit of bar soap as a laundry detergent substitute to get rid of your detergent stains.

  1. Wet the items in a sink with cold water.

  2. Rub the stains with bar or Castile soap.

  3. Work the soap in using handwashing laundry procedures.

  4. Rinse several times and check the stain.

  5. Drain the water.

  6. Add cold water and a ½ cup of vinegar.

  7. Soak the items for 15 minutes.

  8. Wring out the items and launder without detergent.

    A bar of soap, a soap dish and a bath robe

How to Remove Laundry Detergent Stains From Clothes With Baking Soda

When it comes to detergent stains, all you need to do is rewash the clothes to get rid of the residue. In this case, you are going to wash them without laundry detergent and substitute baking soda.

  1. Put the clothing in the washer and set the wash as usual.

  2. Do not add any detergent.

  3. Add a ½ cup of baking soda to the wash.

  4. Wash as normal.

For even more detergent stain-fighting power, add a cup of white vinegar to the final rinse.

Get Detergent Stains out With Dish Soap

If all else fails, then reach for some dish soap when it comes to laundry stains. It might seem odd to fight soap with soap, but it works. While you can use any type of dish soap you prefer, blue Dawn works the best for breaking up residue.

  1. Wet the fabric.

  2. Add a drop of dish soap to the residue.

  3. Work it in with your fingers.

  4. Wet and continue working the detergent residue out of the clothing.

  5. Allow it to soak in soapy water for 10 or so minutes.

  6. Work the soap into the stain again if it remains.

  7. Rinse and launder without detergent.

  8. Line dry or check before drying in the dryer. (Heat will set the stain.)

    Person Washing Clothes

Why Do Clothes Get Detergent Stains?

Even if you are being careful and reading instructions, you'll find several reasons why clothing gets detergent stains. One of the top reasons is the hardness of your water. Laundry detergent doesn't mix well with water full of minerals, so that you might see more detergent stains. Another top reason is adding too much detergent to the wash. When it comes to doing laundry correctly, more detergent is not better. In fact, too much detergent on clothes is like a magnet for dirt.

How to Prevent Laundry Detergent Stains

Now that you know what's causing those annoying detergent residue stains, it's time to look at how to avoid them. Because who wants to take an extra step to get rid of something that can easily be avoided, like a bleach stain?

  • Agitate the detergent and water together before washing clothes.

  • Dissolve the detergent in water before adding it to the laundry.

  • Avoid adding too much detergent.

  • Don't add too much clothing to the load.

  • Use liquid detergent with hard water.

Hacks to Save Your Laundry From Detergent Stains

When it comes to finding ways to save your laundry from detergent warfare, many methods are available. Most of the time, it comes down to being patient and paying close attention to detergent directions. Now that you're armed for the laundry stain smackdown, get cleaning, friends.

5 Foolproof Ways to Remove Detergent Stains