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10 Ways to Get Detergent Stains Out of Clothes


Have you ever had a detergent stain on your clothes and didn’t know how to get it out? Almost everyone has had the unfortunate experience of having laundry detergent stains on their clothes at some point.

If you’re not careful, those stains can be pretty difficult to remove. But don’t worry – with a few simple tips, you can get your clothes looking good as new in no time! Keep reading for instructions on how to remove detergent stains.

What Causes Detergent Stains on Clothes?

If you’ve ever opened your washing machine to find that your clothes are covered in detergent stains, you’re not alone. Though it may seem like a mystery, there are a few simple explanations for why this happens:

  • Hard water
  • Undissolved detergent
  • Overloading your washer with clothes
  • Using too much detergent
  • Older or cheaper washers

The most common cause is hard water. Water hardness is caused by minerals like calcium and magnesium that build up in your water supply. When laundry is washed in hard water, these minerals can react with the detergent to form a sticky residue that clings to clothing.

One more common possible cause is undissolved detergent. If the laundry is added to the washing machine before the detergent has had a chance to dissolve, it can leave behind a telltale stain. To avoid this problem, simply add laundry after the cycle has begun and the detergent has had a chance to dissolve.

Another likely culprit is overloading your washer with clothes. When there’s too much laundry for the washer to handle, the detergent doesn’t have a chance to evenly distribute, which can lead to spots and streaks.

Another common cause of detergent stains is using too much detergent in the first place. Even if you’re not overloading your washer, using more than the recommended amount of detergent can cause problems.

And finally, if you have an older or cheaper washer, it might not be able to properly dissolve the detergent, which can also lead to stains.

How to Get Detergent Stains Out of Clothes: 10 Methods That Work

Whether you’re dealing with a speck or a large splatter, these stubborn detergent marks can be difficult to remove. However, there are a few simple methods that you can use to get rid of detergent stains for good:

1. Warm Water Method


In most cases, small detergent stains can be removed relatively easily with warm water. That’s right – the first thing you should try when dealing with a detergent stain is to simply run the affected area under some warm water. This will help to loosen the stain and make it easier to remove.


  1. Pop your clothes in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a temperature of around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. You can always try washing them by hand in a basin of warm water. But whatever you do, resist the urge to scrub the stains too vigorously.
  3. If you don’t like the results, follow another method.
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2. Rubbing Alcohol Method


The alcohol acts as a solvent, breaking down the stain so that it can be easily removed in the wash. And since rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, it won’t leave any residue behind. Here’s how to do it:


  1. Soak the clothes in warm water for a few minutes.
  2. Apply the rubbing alcohol directly to the stain and rub at it for about a minute. You should see the stain start to lift.
  3. Continue rubbing and blotting until the stain is gone
  4. If the stain persists, simply apply a generous amount of rubbing alcohol on the spot and allow it to sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Launder the fabric without detergent and air-dry.

3. White Vinegar Method


White vinegar is an acidic liquid that works to break down the chemical bonds of detergent molecules, making them easier to remove. In addition, vinegar is a natural fabric softener, so it will help to restore the softness of your clothes.


  1. Fill a tub or sink with warm water and add a cup of white vinegar. Depending on the strength of the detergent stain, you may need to use more or less vinegar mixed with hot water.
  2. Soak your items with the vinegar solution for at least half an hour to one hour.
  3. Use cold or moderately warm water and try to remove any remaining stain or odor on your garments by hand.

4. Baking Soda Method


Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and mild abrasive, making it the perfect tool for tackling detergent stains. Here is a step-by-step on how to use baking soda to get detergent stains out of clothes:


  1. Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with a glass of water and apply the mixture to the stained area gently.
  2. Let it sit for at least an hour, then brush off the baking soda and rinse the clothing in water.
  3. Repeat the process if the detergent stain is still visible (you can also add a small amount of vinegar to the mix).

5. Coffee Grounds Method


That’s right, coffee grounds can sometimes help to remove detergent stains from clothing. The reason it works is because coffee grounds have a similar effect as baking soda. They help to break down the detergent molecules and lift them away from the fabric. Here’s how to do it:


  1. Make a mixture of coffee grounds and hot water. The ratio doesn’t have to be exact but aim for about 1/4 cup of coffee grounds per cup of water.
  2. Apply the mixture to the stained area and let it soak for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the better the results will be.
  3. Once you’re satisfied with the result, you can start brushing and washing the stain off. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any coffee-scented surprises later on!

6. Commercial Stain Remover Method


The active ingredient in most commercial stain removers is sodium laureth sulfate, which is a surfactant that helps to break down the grease and grime that can build up on clothes. When applied to a stained garment, the stain remover will work to break down the bonds between the dirt and the fabric, making it much easier to wash away.

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  1. Check the garment’s care label to see if it is safe to use a stain remover on the fabric. If so, proceed to the next step.
  2. Wet the stained area and apply the stain remover, being sure to follow the directions on the package.
  3. Allow the stain remover to sit on the stain for the amount of time specified in the directions.
  4. Launder the garment as usual.

7. Bar Soap Method


If you’ve ever run out of laundry detergent and had to improvise, you may have considered using bar soap instead. And it turns out that this can be an effective way to get your clothes clean. The reason why it works is that most laundry detergents are just heavily scented bars of soap. Bar soap is usually milder than other detergents, making it less likely to cause staining.


  1. Soak the fabric in warm water for at least half an hour. This will loosen up the stain and make it easier to remove.
  2. Rub the affected spot with the bar soap and hand wash gently. Be sure to use a light touch so you don’t damage the fabric.
  3. Rinse with regular water and air dry.
  4. You may need to repeat the process a few times to get stubborn stains out.

8. Liquid Dishwashing Soap Method


Liquid dishwashing soap is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to remove detergent stains from clothing. Dishwashing liquid contains surfactants, which are molecules that break up grease and oil.


  1. Wet the fabric as this will help to dilute the stain and make it easier to work with.
  2. Add a drop of dish soap to the residue and work it in with your fingers for a few minutes.
  3. Allow it to soak for about 10 minutes.
  4. You may need to repeat this process a few times for tough stains, but eventually, the soap will break up the dirt and grime.
  5. Once the stain is gone, simply launder your clothes as usual.

9. Lemon/Citrus Method


Citrus fruits like lemons or limes contain a natural substance called citric acid, which is a powerful cleaning agent. When you apply lemon juice to a detergent stain, the citric acid helps to break down the stain, making it much easier to remove.

  1. Mix 1 cup of citrus-based ingredients with 3 cups of water.
  2. Apply the solution to the stained area, and let it soak for at least half an hour.
  3. After that, rinse with cold water.
  4. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.

10. Mineral Oil Method


When you apply mineral oil to a laundry detergent stain, it helps to break up the molecules of the stain. In addition, mineral oil is also effective at dissolving built-up detergent residue that can cause fabrics to become stiff and dull. Here’s how to use mineral oil for cleaning detergent stains on clothes:


  1. Pour the colorless, odorless, light mineral oil directly on the stained area.
  2. Rub gently. You don’t want to damage the fabric.
  3. Cleanse and rinse with cold water. Repeat the process if necessary.

How to Prevent Detergent Stains on Clothes

Detergent stains are some of the most stubborn kinds, but there are a few things you can do to prevent them from occurring in the first place:

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  • Be sure to use the correct amount of detergent for the size of your load. Too much detergent can cause excess suds, which can lead to staining.
  • Always pre-treat any particularly dirty areas. This will give the detergent a chance to work on the stain before it sets in.
  • Be sure to wash your clothes on the correct cycle. Certain fabrics require different cycles to avoid damage.
  • Always add detergent to the water before adding clothes. This will help to distribute the detergent evenly and prevent it from coming into direct contact with the fabric.
  • Be sure to always read the care instructions on your clothing labels. This will give you the best guidance on how to wash your garments.
  • Try washing your clothes inside out. This will help to keep the detergent away from the fabric where it can cause staining.
  • Some fabric softeners can increase the risk of staining, so switching to a different brand may make a big difference.

Final Thoughts

Stains can be especially frustrating if the stain is from a common household product like laundry detergent. Remember that rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and baking soda can be your best friend when it comes to removing these stains. If you don’t have any of those things on hand, coffee grounds or a lemon can also do the trick.


And lastly, don’t forget that sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of warm water and dish soap or bar soap to get the job done. So there you have it! Ten ways to get those pesky detergent stains out of your clothes. Good luck!


What does a detergent stain on clothes look like?

Detergent stains typically appear as either blue or white splotches, and they often have a waxy finish or a rough texture. Different detergents leave different stains, and if you don’t treat them quickly, they can become very hard to clean.

Are detergent stains permanent?

In most cases, detergent stains are not permanent and can be removed with a little time and effort. If you act quickly, you can often remove detergent stains before they set in. The key is to treat the stain as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get rid of the stain.

Does Dawn dish soap remove detergent stains?

Dawn dish soap is a powerful cleaning agent that can remove all sorts of stains, including detergent stains. When pretreating a stain with Dawn dish soap, be sure to apply it directly to the stain and rub it in gently. Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water. Then, wash the garment as usual in your laundry washing machine.

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