A test drive of six eco friendly laundry stain removers, plus a DIY stain remover, to find out which ones work best on tough laundry stains.
Ground in dirt and grass stains from the big game. Blood stains from the wipeout on the bike. Curry stains from the delicious dinner. Baby poop, mascara, chocolate, wine….
We all know the challenges of dealing with stains on clothing, napkins, sheets and other laundry items.
Stain removal is a tough job and I know it’s tempting to reach for the chemicals, but in most cases, eco-friendly stain removers will do the job just fine!
Problems with Conventional Stain Removers
The stain removers you find on most store shelves and in most homes (Shout, Spray & Wash etc..) are formulated with a top secret mix of ingredients including chemicals that trigger asthma and allergies, mess with your hormones, and are even linked to cancer.
Some specific types of ingredients to try to avoid include:
- Chlorine Bleach – Can burn skin and the fumes are toxic to breathe. Bleach is one of the most common sources of poisoning from calls to poison control centers, especially when it is in spray bottles.
- 2-BUTOXYETHANOL – Linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity
- QUATERNIUM-15 – Linked to reproductive toxicity and can trigger asthma
- METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE – Can cause skin allergies in some people
- Artificial Fragrances – Can contain endocrine disrupting ingredients and allergens
Best Eco-Friendly Stain Removers
Do eco-friendly stain removers actually work? That’s a question I get a lot. So I decided to put a few non-toxic stain removers to the test to see how they performed.
Before I show you the results, let’s meet the contenders. Here are six eco-friendly stain remover products that I have personally used, plus one DIY option. They all have different benefits, so you may want to keep more than one of them on hand.
Be sure to download my FREE stain removal chart for more brilliant DIY stain removing tricks!
I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article including Amazon Affiliates. Full Disclosure
Molly’s Suds Stain Spray
- Key Ingredients: Unique blend of naturally occurring enzymes and other plant-based ingredients. (unscented)
- Best For: Ease of use
- EWG Rating: N/A but based on ingredients, my guess is that it would be a B
- My Experience: Love the ease of a quick spray on a stain and then tossing it into the wash. This product works really well on most stains.
Meliora Stain Removal Stick
- Key Ingredients: A simple blend of vegetable based soap and glycerin. (unscented)
- Best For: Low waste lovers
- EWG Rating: A
- My Experience: This simple stick works surprisingly well. It’s also low cost, low waste and lasts a long time.
Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus
- Key Ingredients: A blend of natural minerals and detergent boosters known for their stain-lifting properties (light citrus scent)
- Best For: Brightening colors and whites (color-safe formula)
- EWG Rating: B
- My Experience: This type of mineral-based, oxygen bleach is a staple in my laundry room. I add a scoop in most loads of laundry to help brighten fabrics. I’ve found that it works less well for specific stains.
(ECOS OXO Brite Stain Remover is another mineral oxygen bleach product that I like)
Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover
- Key Ingredients: A blend of live enzyme-producing cultures, botanicals, and plant-based surfactants (citrus scent)
- Best For: Pet accidents, wine, diapers and more.
- EWG Rating: B
- My Experience: This is a must-have for pet stains and other odors. Works well for some stains like wine, but not everything.
Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach
- Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide – a mineral-based active stain removal agent. (unscented)
- Best For: Chlorine bleach alternative
- EWG Rating: A
- My Experience: This is good for brightening whites. Mild enough to use in every load. I tend to use the oxygen bleach powder instead, but this can be poured into the bleach compartment in your washing machine.
Ecover Stain Remover
- Key Ingredients: A blend of plant-based and mineral ingredients. (fresh scent)
- Best For: Stains that need scrubbing
- EWG Rating: C (lower rating due to methylisothiazolinone and synthetic fragrance, although to their credit they do list all fragrance components)
- My Experience: The gel consistency and the handy brush dispenser makes this product really easy to use. Personally, I am fine with using this product even with a C rating, but you may need to test it for yourself and your family, or stick with one of the other options.)
DIY Stain Remover
My sister turned me on to this DIY stain remover idea:
- Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, eucalyptus essential oil, dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
- Best For: Low cost
- EWG Rating: N/A
- My Experience: First wet stain with hydrogen peroxide, then add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, then rub in some soap. This totally works and makes your clothes smell great too!
Eco-Friendly Stain Removers Put to the Test
With 2 boys, a husband and a dog, I have no shortage of stains to tackle, but for this test I decided to use my favorite reusable makeup pads stained with an equal swipe of foundation.
To make the test as even as possible, I first soaked each stained pad in water, and then followed the manufacturers instructions to apply the stain remover. Here’s the BEFORE picture:
The wait time was 10 minutes for the product to do its magic. Then I rubbed the fabric together to get a start on the stain removal. After that, the pads were laundered as usual in the washing machine, using Biokleen powdered laundry detergent.
Here is the AFTER photo:
and a closer look:
You can see that the Biokleen oxygen bleach and Seventh Generation chlorine-free bleach did not perform well for these stains. These products are best for brightening clothes in every load. The Biokleen Bac-Out is a rock-star for odors, but not always the best for stains. The Ecover stain remover worked fairly well but not as well as some others.
The best performers for this particular stain removal task were Molly’s Suds, Meliora and the DIY stain remover. I’m kind of torn between the easy spray of Molly’s Suds and the super simple low-waste option of the Meliora stick. Any of them are great choices!
One conclusion I had is that rubbing the stain remover into the stain is key. A bit of “elbow grease” will go a long way!
If you need help with removing other types of stains like blood, mud, chocolate and more, I’ve got you covered with my 9 secret weapons for non-toxic stain removal!
What are your best eco-friendly stain removing products?