How To Get Detergent Stains Out Of Clothes

Do you know what it feels like to struggle with the stealthy discoloration of your clothes by detergent stains? Don't worry; we have you covered with our complete rescue guide for getting your coveted clothing items out of the clutches of those disgusting spills. After all, you just want to clean the clothes and get them fresh, but sometimes the detergent is a devil that leaves behind persistent spots. Detergent stains occur when the cleaning substance leaves its mark on clothes.

People may not always pay attention, and then, when they are in a hurry to finish their laundry, they spill too much detergent or do not rinse everything well. The result? The cunning spots that try their best to stay on and on. Together, we will discover the secrets behind the phenomenon of detergent stains. Therefore, start learning the amazing tips that will win you over as a laundry pro - you're ready to do it!

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The Causes Of Detergent Stains

Laundry detergents clean clothes but may cause stains. Residue from chemicals builds up in fabric over time. Stains vary, from dark grease spots to white patches. Towels may become scratchy due to this buildup.

  • The detergent you are using might not be dissolving in the water completely. This might be because the detergent is not made to mix properly with cold water.
  • You might be using excessive detergent that can leave more residues, which leads to stains.
  • Hard water or water with high mineral content will not dissolve the detergent properly, leading to the same problem.
  • If you put too many clothes in the washing machine, it will overcrowd the machine and restrict the movement of clothes. This will impede the detergent dispersal and affect the rinsing cycle, which will cause stains.
  • You might be using the wrong type of detergent. Not all detergents are made for all kinds of fabrics.
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Effective Methods To Get Detergent Stains Out Of Clothes

Several methods can help you remove laundry detergent stains from your clothes. Some of these methods are homemade and very effective, while others require specialized products. Let’s discuss each of these methods in detail:

1- Soaking In Rubbing Alcohol

The best way to remove detergent stains from clothes is by breaking them up and rewashing the fabric. The simplest method that can help you achieve that is soaking the cloth in rubbing alcohol.

  • Rinse the stain with cold water.
  • Fill a bucket with warm water and soak the garment in it.
  • Rub the stain spot.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol directly to the stain.
  • Allow the rubbing alcohol to work its magic for the next 10-15 minutes.
  • Rinse the garment with water again and check if the stain has been removed.
  • If the stain still exists, repeat the process.

It is important to check the garment label, too, to ensure that your garment is washable in both warm and cold water. Also, before applying rubbing alcohol, spot-check to see that the alcohol doesn’t reach and cause issues with the dye.

2- Using Vinegar Solution

One of the most effective home remedies for treating detergent stains is using a vinegar solution. Here’s what you have to do:

  • Fill a tub or sink with warm water.
  • Add a cup of white vinegar (250ml) into the water and prepare a mixture.
  • Soak the stained garment in the mixture.
  • Rub the stained portion against itself. This will help break the detergent mark.
  • Let the garment soak for about an hour in the mix.
  • Wash the garment again by itself or only with a small load.
  • If the stain persists, repeat the process until it disappears.

You must ensure first that the garment can handle warm water. If not, use cold water instead. Do not put the fabric in the dryer until the stain has been removed completely.

3- Rubbing Stain With Bar Soap

You can also use bar soap to fight the stains. This method is mostly used to remove fabric softener stains.

  • Rub the dry stain on the garment with bar soap vigorously.
  • If the stain is tough, you can use a brush to rub the soap.
  • Soak the garment in cold water and then rub it again.
  • Rinse it off and see if the stain is gone.
  • If not, run the garment through a regular wash cycle.
  • Repeat the process until the stain is gone.

This method doesn’t work for all detergent stains and is mostly used for fabric softener stains. You can use warm water if your garment is warm water washable.

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4- Washing With Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used to remove blue detergent stains. It is a very effective powder that can be used in multiple ways. You can use it directly in place of detergent in a regular wash cycle, or you can use it as a paste. To use it as a detergent:

  • Add half a cup of baking soda into the washing machine and put the stained garment into it.
  • Run the wash cycle.
  • To improve the fabric care routine, you can add one cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

To use it as a paste:

  • Mix equal parts of baking soda and water and prepare a paste.
  • Apply the paste on the stained garment.
  • Let it work for about half an hour.
  • Rise it thoroughly.
  • Repeat if the stain is persistent.

Both methods are very effective and remove detergent stains from your clothes. Baking soda really works like magic in a lot of other home remedies as well. Make sure you always have this magic powder at home.

5- Brushing With Dish Soap

You can also use dishwasher soap to remove the stain. However, you must first spot-test the garment to ensure that the dishwasher doesn’t react badly with the garment. The process is simple:

  • Wet the stained area with hot or cold water.
  • Add one drop of dishwasher soap to the stain.
  • Rub with a soft brush until the stain is removed.
  • Rinse with cold water.
  • If the stain is persistent, repeat the process.

6- Applying Grease Remover

For tough and persistent stains, you can use a small amount of grease remover. It might prove very effective against some of the tougher stains. To do this:

  • Fill a bucket with water (hot or cold, depending on the fabric) and mix your regular detergent into it.
  • Add a small amount of grease remover to it.
  • With your fingers, rub the stain and agitate it.
  • Let the garment soak for about half an hour.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Repeat the process if the stain is persistent.

It is important not to use too much grease remover as it can damage the fabric and make your clothes go slack.

7- Soak In Saltwater

Some detergent stains, like liquid detergent stains, aren’t very tough and can be easily removable. If you have just a light detergent stain on your clothes, you can run another wash cycle with clean water to remove it. If it doesn’t come off, you can soak the garment in saltwater to enhance the process.

  • Add half a cup of salt in a gallon of water and soak the stained garment for half an hour.
  • Then, run the garment through a normal wash cycle.
  • Repeat until the stain is 100% removed.
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8- Rubbing Lemon Juice Directly

One of the common home remedies is using fresh lemon juice to remove the stains. The acetic acid in lemon acts as a natural bleaching agent. So, if you have some fresh lemons, you can try this process as well:

  • Squeeze lemon juice directly on the stained part of the garment.
  • Pour some salt over the stain.
  • Rub the mixture with your fingers.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Repeat the process until the stain is completely removed.

9- Adjust The Setting On Your Washing Machine

Sometimes, the reason you are getting detergent stains is because you are not using the correct settings on your washing machine. To ensure this is not the problem, check the level of agitation on the washing machine. Make sure you have the correct water level, and use smaller loads to ensure you are not overloading the washing machine. Doing this might resolve the issue, and you will only have to run a normal wash cycle.

10- Use A Specialized Detergent Stains Remover

There are laundry products available in the market that are specially formulated to remove detergent stains. These products might be available in powdered or liquid form. You can use this smart solution and apply it directly to the stain to remove it. Using these products can be very effective, but you will have to follow their instructions strictly. Make sure you purchase the one that is compatible with your particular kind of fabric.

11- Getting A Professional To Remove the Detergent Stains

If you have a premium piece of fabric like silk or cashmere, then trying out home remedies might not be the best idea. While most of the home remedies and solutions I have suggested are very effective, a slight mistake or human error might ruin your precious garment.

So, for such treasures, it is better to leave the issue to professionals. You can take your clothes to a local dry cleaner that is well-reputed and get them to remove the detergent stains. The dry cleaners are highly skilled in removing all kinds of stains and will also provide you with instructions for future washing. They will help you narrow down the cause of the stain.

Illuminating Methods To Get Detergent Stains Out Of Clothes



Soaking In Rubbing AlcoholAfter rinsing, soak the stained garment in rubbing alcohol, taking fabric compatibility into account, and repeat if needed.
Using Vinegar SolutionWash the stained garment in a bowl of warm water and vinegar solution, rubbing off the stained parts against each other and repeating until the stain disappears.
Rubbing Stain With Bar SoapWipe fabric softener stains with a bar soap and then wash; repeat the process if required. For garments sensitive to warmth, use cold water.
Washing With Baking SodaApply baking soda directly or as a paste on washers, or mix vinegar into the rinsing cycle or as a paste on stains for proper cleaning.
Brushing With Dish SoapPerform a spot test with a drop of dishwasher soap, rub the stain, rinse, and repeat if needed.
Applying Grease RemoverMix detergent and grease remover in water, rub it until completely absorbed, let it soak, rinse, and repeat for tough stains.
Soak In SaltwaterDip the garment in the saltwater basin for lightly detergent-stained clothes; soaking is recommended if the next washing cycle is to remove the stains.
Rubbing Lemon Juice DirectlyUse lemon juice and salt on stains, rub the mixture, rinse, and repeat the stage if you see the stain still exists in the end.
Adjust The Settings On Your Washing MachineCheck agitation, water level, and load. Shift to a smaller load to avoid detergent stains.
Use A Specialized Detergent Stains RemoverUse the specially formulated detergent stain remover as per the product instructions for most stain and fabric-friendly removal.
Getting A Professional To Remove The Detergent StainsFor premium fabrics, professional dry cleaners are the only choice because they remove detergent stains cleverly with the linings left safe.
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How To Avoid Detergent Stains On Clothes?

Removing detergent stains is not very difficult, but prevention is always better than cure. Here are some of the steps that you can take to prevent the detergent stains from surfacing in the first place:

1- Avoid Putting Detergent After Clothes

Usually, we add the detergent into the washing machine after adding the clothes which is not a good practice. This might be the very cause of detergent stains in the clothes. So, avoiding this practice can help remove the detergent stains from the clothes.

If you are using a top-loading washer, then you must add the detergent first in the water and let it dissolve fully before you add the clothes. As the detergent will be fully dissolved, there will be less to no risk of detergent stains on your garments. If you are using a front-loading washer, then it is better to mix the water and detergent separately in a bucket and then add it to your wash cycle.

2- Switch To Liquid Detergent

There might be a problem with the powder detergent. Many people do not prefer using liquid detergent, but it just proves to be better most of the time because it gets dissolved easily into the water.

If you are getting too many stain problems with your powdered detergent, then consider shifting to a liquid detergent to resolve the issue. The best practice is to alternate between powder and liquid detergents to avoid detergent residue buildup in the clothes.

3. Avoid Using Larger Loads

As I have mentioned several times above, using larger loads is one of the most common causes of detergent stains, as it limits the mobility of clothes in water. So, the best way to avoid these stains is to use smaller loads in the washing machine. Hence, never load the machine to its full capacity and only fill it three-quarters from the bottom. This will ensure that clothes have plenty of space to move about and will prevent stains.

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4. Do Not Add Fabric Softener Directly

If you are using a fabric softener, do not add it directly to the washing machine. It is better to dissolve it in a bucket of water before adding it. Directly adding fabric softener can lead to fabric softener stains in clothes, which are also persistent and frustrating. Regardless of whether you are adding the fabric softener in the wash cycle, rinse cycle, or dispenser, you must dilute it first so that it can work better with your clothes.

5- Add Only Recommended Amount Of Detergent

Overloading the washing machine with detergent is also another common cause of detergent stains. So, you must follow the instructions of your detergent, regardless of whether you are using liquid or powder detergent. Never guess the quality of detergent, and use the proper measuring tools like the cap of the detergent bottle or the included scoop. Using the appropriate amount of detergent will help prevent detergent stains.

6- Use the Correct Water Temperature

Your detergent might have instructions that it would effectively dissolve only in water of a specific temperature, that is, warm water. Hence, you must go with the temperature that the manufacturer recommends. As a rule of thumb, warmer is always better. But you must also ensure that your clothes are warm water washable. If not, then you must get a detergent that dissolves easily in cold water.

7- Using Laundry Water Softener

High mineral content in water, also known as hard water, is another common cause of detergent stains. If you don’t have a proper water softening system at home, then it is highly recommended to get one if your local water supply has hard water.

Hard water is not only not good for your clothes but also for your body, ceramics, kitchen appliances, etc. You can get a water softener system installed that will improve your quality of life. However, specifically for laundry purposes, you can use a laundry water softener in the wash cycle that will remove the hardness from the water and prevent detergent stains.

Are Detergent Stains Permanent?

Detergent stains are not permanent, but some of them are very persistent and can become difficult to remove if not treated in time. The key is to act swiftly as soon as you notice the stain. If you leave the stain after the wash until it has dried completely, then it becomes difficult to remove. The longer the stain remains, especially when exposed to heat or sunlight, the more difficult it becomes to remove. However, they are still not permanent and can be removed with effective strategies.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Remove Dried Laundry Detergent Stains?

Once the detergent stains have dried, they become very tough. Hence, you will have to use one process several times to remove these stains. We have shared various effective methods in the above guide that can help you with the process.

Does Vinegar Remove Detergent Stains?

Yes, white vinegar helps in removing detergent stains and is very effective. You can use it with a regular wash cycle or with clean water to remove the stains. The above guide discusses a detailed step-by-step method for this process.

Does Baking Soda Remove Detergent Stains?

Yes, baking soda is very effective and can be used in place of detergent in the washing machine. You can also make a paste of baking soda and apply it directly on the stain to remove it.


To sum it all up, detergent stains can be persistent and annoying, but they are not impossible to remove. With the right method and technique, you can remove all kinds of detergent stains. This guide discusses various methods that can help you remove these stains and also discusses their causes. I have also provided you with preventive measures that can help you avoid these unsightly stains in the first place. Always better to be safe than sorry. Know something we don’t? Drop it in the comments section below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Sophia William

An accomplished author with an impressive history of 6 years of contributions to renowned informational websites.

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