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How to Get Detergent Stains Out of Clothes

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Learn how to get detergent stains out of clothes by following these quick and easy steps.

Woman holding a shirt with stains on it with text  "How to get detergent stains out of clothes".

Have you ever pulled out your freshly laundered clothes and noticed some spots here and there that seemed to appear out of the blue? Unfortunately, you might be dealing with a new problem — detergent stains. 

No need to worry, though. By using our tips and tricks on how to get detergent stains out of clothes, you’ll deal with the problem in almost no time at all.

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What Causes Laundry Detergent Stains on Clothes?

Detergents are cleaning agents used to wash and clean your clothes and dishes. Typically, they’re made up of water-soluble soaps that come in many forms, like powder, liquid, unit dose capsules, or laundry pods.

When you use laundry detergents, they lift away grease from the surface of clothes and break it down into smaller pieces, which can then be washed away with water. This makes them ideal to use when you’re dealing with garments that have a lot of grease and grime in them. 

However, the detergent can leave stains on clothing due to certain factors. In general, detergent stains occur when your laundry soap doesn’t dissolve well and is left behind on your clothes instead of getting washed away with water.

A woman holding a shirt with detergent stains on it, wondering how to get rid of them.

Your clothes might get these types of stains if you:

  • Use too much detergent.
  • Don’t use the right kind of detergent for the type of water you have.
  • Overload your washing machine with clothing.

What Does a Detergent Stain on Your Clothes Look Like?

The detergent stain will depend on the type of detergent you use to wash your clothes. Detergent stains look like clear, blue, or white splotches with a rough texture. 

When you use too much liquid laundry detergent, it may leave behind stains that look like wet spots. Meanwhile, if you use powder detergent, you may get laundry stains that look more like a white residue. 

They might even leave your clothes stiff, unkempt, scratchy, and brittle. That’s why dealing with them is a must.

With a little effort, you can take detergent stains out from your clothes before they set.

Different Methods to Remove Detergent Stains

Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to remove laundry detergent stains and get them off without much hassle.

Generally, the key to successfully removing these stains is to dislodge them from the fabric and rewash the affected clothing. Moreover, treating the affected clothing before putting it in the dryer makes it easier for the stain to be removed, as it hasn’t been set yet.

Here are some ways that you can use:

Water Method

This is the easiest way to deal with detergent stains and one of the first methods you should try before anything else. 

Follow these steps:

  1. Wet the affected clothing with clean water.
  2. Slightly rub or scrub the area with a soft brush to loosen the detergent stain.
  3. Rinse.

If this doesn’t work, then feel free to move on to using other methods. 

Rubbing Alcohol Method

Rubbing alcohol is a surprisingly effective bleach stain remover. It’s just as effective in getting rid of laundry detergent stains from clothes.

It is a good degreasing agent capable of breaking down grease and oils that bind the detergent stains to the fabric of your clothes. It’s also gentle, making it a good homemade solution to tackle this problem.   

A bottle of rubbing alcohol and a cloth, perfect for removing detergent stains from clothes.

To use this method, you will need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Cotton swab
  • Water

These are the steps to using rubbing alcohol when removing detergent stains:

  1. Soak the clothing in a basin of warm water.
  2. Rub the area with the stain using a sponge or cloth for a few seconds.
  3. If the stain doesn’t get removed, wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and then dab it at the stained area.
  4. Leave it for about 15 minutes.
  5. Rinse the clothing.
  6. Repeat the steps above if you can still see the stain.
  7. Once the stain is gone, wash the clothing as usual and set it to dry afterward.

Be sure to do a spot test on an inconspicuous area first if you’re using rubbing alcohol on colored clothing. Otherwise, it may damage or discolor some fabrics. 

White Vinegar Method

No homemade solution is complete without vinegar being included on the list. Vinegar is a fantastic household staple because it is used as an ingredient in different homemade cleaning products.

It’s awesome for tackling different types of household cleaning problems — even cleaning after stains. It has a high acidity that makes it strong enough to break down any stains left behind by detergents.

Plus, it’s affordable and easy to find, making it readily accessible.

A person with green gloves holding a bottle of vinegar.

To use the vinegar method, you will need:

Here are the steps to using white vinegar for removing detergent stains:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with warm water.
  2. Add one cup of vinegar and mix the solution.
  3. Soak the stained clothing for about an hour.
  4. Every 15 minutes, check the clothing. Gently rub or scrub at the stains to help dislodge them from the fabric.
  5. Rinse the clothing to remove any residue.
  6. If the stain is gone, wash the clothing as usual and set it to dry afterward.

Baking Soda Method

Alongside vinegar, baking soda is one of my favorite household items for tackling tough cleaning tasks – and fortunately, it includes getting rid of detergent stains.

A jar of baking soda with a spoon can help in removing detergent stains from clothes.

This product has alkaline properties that can interact with and help remove stains. Plus, it’s mildly abrasive, too, which makes it even more effective in lifting stains from clothing.

You have two options when it comes to baking soda. You can either:

  1. Add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash instead of using laundry detergent; or
  2. Treat the stain with baking soda, which you can do by:
    • Lightly wetting the stained area with water.
    • Sprinkling some baking soda onto the stain.
    • Using a cloth or sponge to gently rub at the area.
    • Leaving it for a few minutes.
    • Rinsing it thoroughly once the stain has been removed.
    • Washing the clothing as usual. 

Bar or Liquid Soap Method

Another good trick to try for tacking detergent stains is bar soap. It has great cleaning properties that can break down any detergent residue on your clothes.  

To use this method, you will need:

Here are the steps when using bar soap:

  1. Wet the clothing with water.
  2. Either rub the soap on the stain or apply a few drops of castile soap directly.
  3. Rub gently at the stain.
  4. Leave it for a few minutes.
  5. Rinse the clothing with cold water.
  6. If the stain is gone, wash the clothing as usual.

Dish Soap Method

Like bar soap, dish detergents do an excellent job breaking down stain residues on your clothing — even those from laundry detergent.

Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid on a white background.

To use this method, you will need:

Here are the steps to use dish soap to get rid of detergent stains:

  1. Wet the clothing with water.
  2. Apply a drop of dish detergent directly on the stained area.
  3. Gently rub the stain with your fingers, brush, or cloth.
  4. Soak the clothing in soapy water.
  5. Leave it for about 10 minutes.
  6. Repeat the steps if you can still see the stain.
  7. If the stain is gone, rinse the clothing with water.
  8. Wash the garment as usual.  

Commercial Stain Remover Method

If you prefer commercial stain removers, they also help remove detergent stains from your clothing. These products penetrate, lift, and remove stains from your clothing, leaving them stain-free.

For best results, be sure to follow the instructions as indicated on the label. 


How do you prevent detergent stains on clothes?

As with most things, prevention is better than cure. Here are some ways you can avoid detergent stains from forming on your clothes:

– Avoid adding too much detergent. Use only the suggested or recommended amount of detergent per load;
– Don’t wash too many clothes and overload your machine in the process;
– Try a different detergent or switch to a liquid detergent if possible.

Will vinegar damage clothes?

Vinegar is acidic, so it’s better not to pour it directly on your clothes without diluting it first.

Also, be on the lookout if you’re using vinegar on dark-colored clothing, as it may cause a bleaching effect that can’t be fixed. If unsure, you can do a spot test by putting a small amount of the water and vinegar mixture on an invisible corner of your clothing before soaking it in the solution.

If no changes occur after several minutes, then it most likely means that the solution is safe to use on your clothes.

How do you get rid of excess detergent out of clothes?

Rewashing clothes before they are dried will remove any excess detergent. This will also help keep any detergent stains from forming and setting on your clothes. 

Remove Detergent Stains From Clothes Using These Simple Ways

Detergents help get rid of dirt, but it’s a different issue when they leave stains on your clothes that you work hard to wash.

A woman pouring laundry detergent into a blue cup to wash clothes.

Knowing the tips and tricks on how to get detergent stains out of clothes can help you deal with the problem efficiently and effectively. These methods will definitely help you make sure your clothes look fresh, clean, and, most importantly, stain-free.

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