Washing clothes can produce so many different stains. You may not be aware that not all detergents are created equal, and some will cause more staining than others, depending on what you’re washing.
For this reason, it’s good to know how to get detergent stains out of clothes because they can occasionally happen, especially if you use free and clear laundry detergent or anything else that doesn’t keep things completely stain-free.
Detergent stains often left behind in pants, jeans, or shirts can be difficult to get out of fabric. Washing clothes with a load of whites can be the start of a very frustrating problem. When that baby powder-colored shirt gets mixed in with the white towels, it is no longer visible – but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. And every time you put on that shirt and hug someone, they are going to notice your little secret.
What many people don’t realize is that detergent has two ingredients that can really stain clothes; baking soda and bleach. Baking soda is used as an anti-redeposition agent, helping keep soil suspended in water during the wash cycle so it doesn’t redeposit onto clothing. Bleach helps remove discolorations in the fabric or other soils by breaking up stains and removing them from the clothing fibers.
These two ingredients are what make detergent so effective at fighting stains, but they can wreak havoc on one’s wardrobe. The good news is, you can remove those tough detergent stains from clothes by using the following methods.
This is how to get detergent stains out of clothes
Soak the affected area
Soaking the clothing which has been stained with detergent is an important step when trying to remove this kind of stain from fabrics. Fill a bucket or other container with lukewarm water and let the garment soak overnight before attempting any additional cleaning processes on it.
Apply an enzyme-based cleaner or soap solution
Detergents cause problems because they contain enzymes that help break down organic materials such as food, lipids, or perspiration while leaving synthetic materials alone. These enzymes, however, can eat away at organic materials such as clothing or carpet when left on their own. An enzyme-based cleaner works to break down the enzymes in the detergent and remove the stain from clothes.
Soak in salt water for 30 minutes
Salt is an effective cleaning agent because it cuts through stains and helps lift them out of fabrics with its abrasive qualities. Combine one part salt with ten parts warm water and soak the affected fabric or garment for half an hour before washing it normally. Salt will have loosened up any dirt within a few minutes; after soaking for 30 minutes, brush off any loose particles and normally wash to continue removing dirt from materials stained by laundry detergents.
Use vinegar to rinse out the fabric
Using white or apple cider vinegar as a final rinse on fabrics stained by detergents can help lift any remaining particles of dirt. Add one cup of vinegar to finish rinsing a load of clothes that have been stained using this process. The acid in the vinegar will remove stains from most materials and leave them clean after washing in cold water.
Make a paste out of baking soda and water
Baking soda is another effective way to remove detergent stains left behind after attempting these other methods. Mix three tablespoons of baking soda into one cup of warm water until it forms a smooth paste, and apply this directly onto any stained areas of fabric or garments. Scrub the paste into the material with a toothbrush and then rinse thoroughly before washing as usual.
Treat stains while they are still fresh
Removing detergent stains from clothing or fabric immediately after use is always easier than trying to remove them later, and it reduces overall stress on the fibers of the material itself. Blot clean any soiled areas right away using paper towels; if this doesn’t work, apply one of these other options directly onto the stain and allow it to soak in overnight before laundering as normal. Vacuuming up detergent spills is also an effective way to prevent stains from setting in too deeply or causing damage to fabrics, while rinsing them out, later on, can be more harmful than helpful.
Use salt for removing liquid soap stains
Salt absorbs moisture from liquids spilled on fabrics without ever leaving any residue behind itself. Saltworks well for removing liquid soap residues left behind by other cleaning agents; fill a bowl with table salt, add enough water to make a paste, and apply this directly onto any soiled areas of fabric. Allow this mixture to soak in overnight, and then wash the garment as usual before wearing it.
Shave off excess soap powder
As mentioned previously, every load of laundry has around three percent detergent embedded into its fibers after washing. Removing that residue reduces the risk of clothing looking dingy or faded over time, and it can also lessen the amount of soap suds visible on top of fabrics while laundering them for their next use. To avoid overuse of detergents but still get great-looking clothes, shave off that excess residue by running an old blade along the surface of the fabric just after removing each item from the washer.
Remove detergent residue before drying clothes
Removing all traces of detergent both protects fabrics against color loss over time and eliminates any soapy suds that can damage or leave white spots on lighter materials when washed together in a load. Rinse each item thoroughly after removing it from the washing machine until no more soap bubbles appear, then shake off excess moisture and lay items down flat for an hour or two while they dry. Removing clothing promptly from the washer prevents soap residues from drying onto fabrics too early, which could lead to spots or marks appearing later on.
Use a lint roller for removing lint
Most dryer sheets contain chemicals that melt onto fabrics in order to help those items retain their shape after drying, but these chemicals also attract fabric fibers and pull them away from the surface. As this occurs, clothing loses some of its ability to resist moisture over time due to a layer of powder or silica gel acting like glue for dirt and grime.
An old lint roller can be used to remove all traces of dryer sheet residue that leftover clothing may contain after it comes out of the dryer, which leads to less static cling in previously laundered items and gives them a smoother, more comfortable feel when worn. It removes any clinging particles and reduces the risk of static returning as soon as you get dressed.
How do you prevent getting detergent stains out of clothes
Apply hydrogen peroxide before laundering
Applying hydrogen peroxide directly onto clothing helps break down stains caused by laundry detergents before laundering them, helping the item look clean even if it requires multiple washings to completely rid of soap residue. Soak the garment in between six and eight ounces of hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes before laundering as usual.
Use a pre-treatment spot cleaner
Commercial cleaning agents designed to remove soap residue from fabrics are available in most supermarkets and department stores. Spray the soapy stain with a commercial pre-wash or soak product before laundering the garment, making sure that the stain is fully saturated. Launder according to the care instructions on the tag of each garment, which will vary depending on material composition.
Replace regular detergent with a milder soap
Using a non-detergent soap, such as dish liquid or hand soap, instead of laundry detergent can help remove stains from fabrics left behind by traditional laundry products. These soaps do not contain the enzymes found in detergents and are safe to use on most materials without causing damage. However, it’s important to check care instructions before trying any home remedy that involves applying different cleaning agents to the stained fabric. If the garment is machine washable but requires dry cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper laundering procedures before using this method to remove stains.
Use white vinegar to remove hard water deposits
White vinegar is extremely effective for getting rid of soap residue without affecting colors or damaging fabrics, but it can have trouble removing visible white mineral deposits left behind by hard water and other minerals in tap water. To restore a machine’s ability to get clothes clean after being exposed to tough minerals that are common in hard water, pour a half-cup of vinegar into the washing machine’s detergent cup and run it through an empty cycle with no clothes inside.
Some advice for doing your laundry
Use a laundry stain stick for difficult stains
Stain sticks are specially formulated to remove stubborn stains without ever affecting colors or harming fabrics, and these products can be used on almost any material without causing damage, instead of wasting money repeatedly replacing stained items or trying home remedies that might not work as well, invest in a bottle of stain stick and use this product as needed instead.
Wash dark garments inside out
Liquid detergents can cause dark clothing to fade quickly by exposing them to too much light while drying, but they will also prevent white residue from getting trapped in the areas that remain dark over time. To protect darks against fading while washing them, keep dark garments inside out during the laundering process and make sure the door to the machine is closed whenever water starts filling it.
Wash new clothes with old ones
Just because clothing has never been worn, this does not mean that it is clean.
New clothing can often be packed with invisible particles of dirt and allergens that cling to the fibers, which makes doing the second round of laundering before wearing them necessary if you want to feel clean and comfortable in your garments. Wash new clothes together with old ones to completely rid any items made from natural or synthetic materials of lingering pollutants before they ever reach your skin.
New clothes come into contact with many chemicals during the manufacturing process, which can cause bright colors to fade when they come into contact with water. Before wearing a new garment or putting new fabric to use, wash it in cold water using regular detergent and no other laundry products. Do not dry clean this garment yet; the chemicals used during that phase of production will still be present and could affect your clothes by causing color loss or fabric damage if worn together right away.
Drying the article before washing it first is also a good way to make sure any size labels are totally secure after laundering.
Give your washing machine a deep clean once in a while
Front-load washers are more efficient than their top-loading counterparts, but they can also be exceptionally difficult to clean without harming them. To remove food particles and other contaminants that collect over time within your high-efficiency washing machine, make a habit of wiping down the rubber seals around the door, keep soap scum off the glass so it does not cause streaking or leave behind smears when you adjust settings, and avoid touching stainless steel components during laundering because fingerprints or acidic skin oils from your hands can corrode metal if left on an item for too long.
If cleaning the rubber gasket or wiping down the controls on top of your front-load washer doesn’t keep it looking clean and functional, giving it a complete makeover is necessary to remove traces of residue that may cause it to impair performance. Remove all clothing from both baskets, then wash the empty tub with dish soap to remove stains left behind by food particles, dirt, and other pollutants. Once you have rinsed away any suds or grime, pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the drum before adding clothes back in for another round of laundering; this final step ensures that no leftover residue remains inside by removing even tiny bits locked deep within the washer’s crevices.
The key to getting your clothes looking new is by following the instructions on the detergent package. It’s a good idea to read through these before you buy any product and then follow them closely after that. For example, if it says “wash separately in cold water” or “dry on low heat only,” make sure you do just as instructed! Remember when washing whites with colors-laundry can become ruined quickly once mixed together without care.