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Stain Removal

How To Get Laundry Detergent Stains Out Of Clothes: 8 Easy Ways

There’s nothing worse than pulling your clothes out of the washer after a cycle and noticing excess detergent on them. It’s frustrating and it may even leave you wondering whether you can fix the issue of this soap residue or whether you need to replace your clothes altogether. 

Don’t worry, I’m going to share my tips on how to get laundry detergent stains out of clothes.

Since such situations can take a massive toll on your budget and wardrobe, we have eight easy methods here that’ll get rid of this waxy residue in a flash. 

From simple home remedies like soaking to specialized techniques and professional services, I’ll talk about it all!

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Why Do Detergents Stain Clothes?

Before we jump into how to remove laundry detergent stains, we should understand why it happens.

Right off the bat, the issue may be related to your water supply. If you live in an area with hard municipal water and don’t have a water softener system, it could be the cause behind the stains. 

Hard water means that the liquid contains high levels of minerals like magnesium and calcium. These minerals affect how well your detergent dissolves, which may result in the discoloration of your garments.

Another potential culprit is the detergent itself. Your cleaning solution may contain harsh chemicals that stay on your clothes even after a wash cycle. 

How to Get Laundry Detergent Stains Out Of Clothes

Now that you know why your detergent is staining your clothes, let’s take a look at the following methods to get rid of the blemishes. 

1. Soak Your Garments in Warm Water and White Vinegar

The first and arguably simplest method uses two common household ingredients. To start, create a solution that’s one part water and four parts white vinegar (approximately one cup of vinegar). 

Then, soak the stained garment in the mixture for about an hour. During this time, the acidity of the vinegar will slowly eat away at the pesky stains and dissolve them. 

After that, pop your clothes into the machine on a rinse cycle to rinse out any excess vinegar. 

2. Apply Lemon Juice to the Stains

Even though vinegar is an effective method at eliminating laundry stains, it can sometimes give off an unpleasant, pungent odor and it might leave both your home and garments smelling a bit harsh. 

So, if you’d rather avoid the scent, you can use lemon juice as an alternative, using the same method. It’s acidic enough to get rid of the tough stains, but it’ll leave your clothes smelling nicer – citrusy and fresh!

3. Use an Alcohol Wash

While the lemon solution should get stains out in a flash, it may not work for more stubborn stains. Luckily, you can use alcohol instead. 

Start by soaking the clothes in warm water, then wring out the excess moisture. 

Next, apply a generous amount of rubbing alcohol on the stain and work it into the fabric using a soft brush. After about 15 minutes, you can rinse off your clothes and leave them to dry. 

4. Spot Treat with Dish Soap or Fabric Softener

If you’re dealing with smaller stains, the most effective solution may be spot-treating your garments. This is quick and hassle-free, which is good news for busy folks.

For this method, you’ll want to make sure your clothes are entirely dry.

Lay out the garments on a flat, even surface, and stretch them out without tugging at the seams. 

Once that’s done, grab your favorite dish soap or fabric softener and apply a small amount directly on top of the stained area. Let it sit on the fabric for one or two minutes, then use a soft-bristled brush to rub the stain out.

Then, throw your clothes in the washer for a speedy cycle, and they should be as good as new. 

5. Apply Grease Remover to the Fabric

Sometimes, detergent stains can be particularly stubborn. Even with vigorous scrubbing, they’ll persist. 

In that case, you’ll need a stronger cleaning agent. That’s when a grease stain remover can come in handy. Such a solution uses various chemicals that can eat away at the stain without harming your clothes.

All you’ll have to do is apply the grease remover on the blemishes and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then, wash your garments and you’re done. 

6. Wash Your Clothes With Baking Soda

Another straightforward method of removing detergent stains is using baking soda. It’s efficient and can give your clothes a nice, soft texture.

Start by mixing half a cup of cold water with half a cup of baking soda. This will give you a paste that you can rub directly onto the stains. 

It’s best to do the scrubbing using your hands rather than a brush because the baking soda is a bit grainy. Using a tool or a lot of force can damage your clothes if they’re made of delicate fabrics. 

If you’d rather skip the step that involves elbow grease, you can throw your clothes in the washer and add half a cup of baking soda with no detergent. The only downside to that is you’ll waste a lot more water. It’s easier to do it the traditional way.

7. Soak Your Garments in Saltwater

Contrary to popular belief, salt can do a lot more than add flavor to a dish! In fact, it can be an exceptionally effective cleaning agent. 

For this method, you’ll need a solution that’s around six parts hot water and one part salt. Once your mixture is ready, soak your garments for at least 30 minutes.

The sodium chloride in the solution should break down the detergent residue and lift the stains from the fabric.

On top of that, salt is mildly abrasive, which means that means it’ll act as a scrub for your clothing to remove any other stubborn stains.

After you’re done, don’t forget to rinse off your clothes with a little fabric softener.

8. Send Your Clothes to a Professional

If you don’t have enough time to get rid of detergent stains yourself, you can always send out your garments to your local dry cleaner and they’ll be able to remove the detergent stains in no time. 

While this is the most convenient method on our list, it’s also the most expensive. So, if you’re on a budget, this option may not be ideal. 

How to Avoid Laundry Detergent Stains

At this point, you should know how to remove detergent stains effectively. But, you may have noticed that the majority of the methods we discussed can take a long time. 

Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks you can rely on to prevent these stains altogether. 

Wash Your Garments Inside Out

If you deal with detergent stains often, it may be a good idea to start washing your clothes inside out. While this won’t prevent blemishes, it’ll ensure that any discoloration is hidden on the part of the garment that no one sees.

That way, you won’t have to spend a good chunk of your day recleaning your clothes after they’re out of the washer.

Use a Liquid Laundry Detergent Rather Than a Powdered One

As previously mentioned, if your home has hard water, your detergent may have a tough time dissolving. Fortunately, switching to a liquid cleaning agent should resolve this issue. 

A liquid detergent will be able to disperse evenly, reducing the chances of detergent stains. 

If you’d still like to use a particular type of powdered detergent, consider dissolving it in water first. 

Don’t Overstuff Your Washer

The main reason your washer turns at high speeds is to tumble your clothes and agitate the detergent so that it can work its way through your garments. 

But this can be difficult to achieve if you overstuff your washing machine. 

While it’s tempting to throw as many clothes into the washer as possible to minimize loads, it may be the cause of the detergent stains. 

For that reason, make sure to leave a little breathing room inside the tumbler so that your washer can do its job properly. 

Don’t Use Too Much Detergent

Detergent stains are a result of the cleaning solution building up on your clothes in specific spots. So, it stands to reason that using less detergent will prevent that from happening. 

However, you’ll still need to use enough cleaning agent to ensure your clothes end up clean. It may just take you some time before you figure out the correct amount of detergent to use. 

Don’t Use the Dryer Before You Get Rid of the Stains

Most of us will pull clothes out of the washer and directly throw them in the dryer without inspecting them first. Unfortunately, this will make dealing with laundry soap stains even more of a chore. 

The heat will set the stains in place and make them more difficult to remove. So, I recommend you inspect the load of laundry before drying. 

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Wrapping Up

So, there you have it. If you’re trying to figure out how to get laundry detergent stains out of clothes, there are many methods you can try out, including soaking your garments in vinegar or lemon juice and spot-treating them with fabric softener, alcohol, or grease remover. 

To prevent laundry detergent stains in the future, wash your clothes inside out, add less detergent to the wash cycle, and avoid overstuffing your washing machine because it causes it to work harder and less efficiently.


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