Almost sure-fire clothing stain removal: The Two-Step Presoak

If you're like me, you're in full dresser emptying mode, making room for fresh summer clothes. I've come across plenty of outgrown, stained clothing which needs touching up before it gets shipped to Goodwill or the resale shop. I mentioned this hack long ago when writing up how to prepare second-hand clothes for sale, but I thought it was worthy of its own post because it works so well:

Soak the stain in whatever stain remover you like (I like Zout liquid but have used every brand with good results). Let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes. Then soak the item overnight in a bucket of hot water to which you've added some color-safe bleach (I like Biz). Stubborn stains, even those that have survived multiple washings, often come out with this treatment.

What's your favorite stain removal hack?

Related: Baby food stains come clean in a sunbath


  1. Jack Bornstein says

    Plain old Dawn dish detergent gets greasy stains out of clothing. My wife swears by Zout to get stains out of our messy daughter’s school clothes.

  2. says

    probably evil to the environment, but it works:
    in hot water, add 1c laundry detergent, 1c color safe bleach and 1c dishwasher powder, soak overnight and rinse twice after washing

  3. divrchk says

    Lestoil is my favorite stain remover. My son eats his pasta with olive oil and that always leaves a stain – Lestoil gets it out no problem!

  4. Lisa says

    Not really a “stain” but my favorite discovery (read it somewhere. . . can’t take credit) is for those white streaks from deodorant when you put on a shirt, etc. Rub the area with a clean, dry sock. Gets it off every time. Saves me from having to find something else to wear.

  5. Nicole says

    1 to 2 scoops of OxiClean powder (depending on how bad the stains are and how many items there are) in a sink full of HOT water. I usually leave it to soak overnight but have seen results after just an hour or two!

  6. says

    I have pretty good success with home made oxygen bleach.

    Into a big basin dump a small box of baking powder. Add hot water and stir to dissolve. Pour in a 400 ml bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Add your clothes, add more hot water to cover, give it all a stir and let it sit overnight.
    It is my last resort stain remover and works almost every time.
    Oh, and for funky t-shirts that still don’t smell clean after laundering, I spray the underarm area with cheap mouthwash I keep in a spritz bottle by the washing machine. Launder after spraying, and the alcohol kills the bacteria that is making the stink.

  7. Deborah says

    Clorox 2 for colors works every time. I put a little on and rub the fabric. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then put it in the washer with more clorox 2 and detergent. If it’s a really bad stain, I let it all soak in the washer for an hour before I run the washer. It even works on red sauce.

  8. D. Rathjen says

    Couldn’t come at a better time – as I am in the basement taking a break from ironing (!) baby clothes before I donate / resale them! It may be a bit overboard, but it does help me see the stains better ans I hope the next person to use these will appreciate the care.

  9. Kristie says

    I use mechanic’s hand soap to get grease stains out of our clothes. There are different brands, but it comes in a tub or squeeze bottle and is meant to be rubbed onto greasy hands and then wiped off with a towel. I get the kind without pumice.

    It works great- I’ve even been able to get out old grease stains that have gone through the dryer.

    I second the hot water soak method, but I don’t use a bucket. I pretreat the stains, throw the clothes in the washer and fill it with hot water, let it agitate for a few minutes, then turn it off and go to bed. In the morning, I start the washer and instead of letting it get to the rinse cycle, I start the washer again with new hot water, but no soap and let it go to completion. I’ve gotten many a seemingly hopeless grubby spaghetti sauced shirt clean with this method.

  10. says

    Sunning works like magic, and you don’t have to mess with all those chemicals. Just get the item damp and then lay out in the sun (I put them on a picnic table) and after a few hours the stains will be gone.

    It works great for cloth diapers and stained kids clothes!

  11. Dan G. says

    My son gets bloody noses from the dry air in the winter time.

    Hydrogen peroxide rubbed into the stain always takes it out.

  12. says

    Rub a dry bar of bath soap (I use Ivory) on the stain and put into the wash. This gets out breastfed-baby poop stains like a charm, and with no harsh chemicals.

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