How to Get Detergent Stains Out of Clothes

The last thing that you think about when doing laundry is how to get detergent stains out of clothes. After all, you expect to have issues with grease or grass stains, not the cleaning agent you use to remove them. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that detergent residue can also leave marks on your clothing.

More confusing is that the stains may resemble grease marks and be challenging to remove. The good news is that with the right know-how, and a few household items,  It’s easy to vanquish liquid detergent stains.

In this article, the Judi’s Cleaners team goes over how to remove laundry detergent stains from clothes and how to prevent a recurrence of the issue.

Detergent Stains Explained

How can detergent and water stain your garments? Here are some of the probable causes:

6 Tips on How to Get Detergent Stains Out of Clothes

  • An overloaded washing machine makes it difficult for the water to rinse every item properly
  • Using too much liquid or powdered detergent for the load makes it harder to rinse out
  •  A problem with the machine not agitating the water enough
  • Using the incorrect setting
  • Choosing the wrong detergent for the water—for example, powdered detergent may leave marks if you live in a hard water area.

Also, check out: What Will Happen If You Mix Bleach With Laundry Detergent?

Before doing anything else, it’s essential to check your laundry for these stains before putting the clothes in the dryer. This tip applies to all types of spots, as heat may set them and make them impossible to remove.

If you see detergent stains on clothes after washing them, rewashing the item gives you the best chance for success. If you miss this opportunity, here are other tips on how to remove detergent stains.

There is one caveat with all of these methods. If you are cleaning delicate fabrics, consult a guide on their care before proceeding. It’s also wise to spot test an inconspicuous area to verify that the stain remover won’t do any damage.

We also recommend always trying to dislodge the stain with clean water before using any additives. Sometimes, the stain will dissolve in water as you slightly rub the area. Finally, please check each garment’s care label to see if there are contraindications to any of the following methods.

1. Rubbing Alcohol

One of the top tips on how to get blue detergent stains out of clothes is to use rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is a highly effective and gentle alternative to a commercial stain remover.

The alcohol breaks down the stain’s bond with the fabric without damaging it or marking it. Follow these steps to learn how to get laundry detergent stains out of clothes using rubbing alcohol:

  1. Soak the cloth in a basin full of warm water
  2. Gently rub the spot to see if the detergent shifts
  3. Perform a spot test using some alcohol
  4. If the material passes the spot test, dab alcohol onto the area using a cotton swab without drenching it
  5. Then allow it to stand for 15 minutes before rinsing it out
  6. Check the stain and repeat if necessary before setting it out to dry

2. Vinegar

Vinegar’s acidity helps break down spots:

  1. If the fabric can handle it, place warm water in a tub
  2. Pour a cup of white vinegar into the water and then stir it up
  3. Soak the item for at least 15 minutes
  4. Check if the stain lifts, and if not, let it soak for longer
  5. Rewash the garment to ensure that all the residue is gone
  6. Dry as usual

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a stand-by in the laundry world when it comes to how to get laundry detergent stains out of clothes. Not only does it deodorize your machine and clothes, but it effectively removes any residue:

  1. Use a half a cup of baking soda instead of adding laundry detergent to your wash
  2. Run the machine cycle as normal
  3. As an optional extra, you can pour a cup of vinegar into the rinse water or fabric softener dispenser
  4. Check the item and repeat as required
  5. Dry as usual and allow the vinegar smell to dissipate

4. Bar Soap

An unscented, plain bath soap might be your go-to option if you feel that vinegar or alcohol may damage the garments. Look for soap that has as few additives as possible. Bars with exfoliants, organic bits, or seeds may discolor the garment.

Castile soap scores top marks when it comes to how to get blue detergent stains out of clothes, but plain soap can also prove effective:

  1. Choose a simple soap without colorants, fragrances, or unnecessary additives
  2. Soak the marked area in cold water
  3. Run the soap across it and rub it in using your fingers
  4. Rinse well to remove any residue and repeat if necessary

Wash the clothing as usual, and check the stain after the wash is complete. Repeat the above steps if necessary. If not, you can dry the clothing and iron it as usual.

5. Dish Soap

Dish soap can also prove helpful in the fight against staining. Simply follow the same steps you did for the bar soap, except here, use a small amount and lather it up. Then rinse until the water runs clear.

6. Agitation

Our last bit of advice on how to get detergent stains out of clothes is to check the level of agitation in the washing machine. Washing heavy bedding on a delicate cycle is bound to lead to unsatisfactory results because the water will not move around as much as it should.

Consult your washing machine manufacturer’s website and the garment label to determine the correct setting for your machine and fabric.

Also, be sure to use the correct water level for the load you add. It is better to stick to a slightly smaller load than overloading the machine.

Related Posts:

Other Tips and Tricks on How to Remove Detergent Stains

Now that you know your options and how simple they are, you are probably all set for the future. However, even when the steps are so simple, they still increase the time it takes to complete your laundry.

In this case, prevention is better than cure. With the following tips, you can avoid the issue in the first place and streamline your laundry process.

Use the Correct Amount of Detergent

As a preventative measure, it doesn’t get much better than this. While some people may believe that using a little more detergent is safer than less, it could potentially be just as problematic.

Using too much powder or liquid means it won’t dissolve as effectively as it should. It also makes it more difficult for the water to rinse out the soap.

Check the instructions for both your machine and detergent. Use just enough for the load you are currently busy with and don’t go overboard in dosing the machine.

Watch the Size of the Load

It may be tempting to throw just one more towel or item into the machine—especially when you don’t have enough to make up another full load. The problem is that stuffing too much into the machine makes it impossible for the rinse water to get into every area it needs to.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for load limits and the optimal setting on your machine for each type.

Get Things Moving

We’re saying this twice because it is that important. The water must be able to agitate the fabric properly. The whole reason that a washing machine works is that the movement of the drum stirs up the water.

This ebb and flow have a similar effect to beating the washing on a rock or rubbing away dirt during hand washing.

Be More Careful With Powdered Detergent

If your home has hard water, it’s better to use a liquid product. It is far more effective and less likely to leave a noticeable residue.

Failing that, you can dissolve your laundry powder in a bit of water. Then allow the machine to fill with water before stirring it in and adding your clothes.

Can Hand Soap Leave Spots?

Hand soap has an entirely different formulation from laundry detergent because it has to be gentle on the skin. Therefore, it has fewer grease-fighting or harsh chemicals. As a result, it’s less likely to stain.

However, you should also consider that hand soap may include dyes, essential oils, or fragrances. These compounds might impact material differently from how they affect the skin.

It is better to use undyed, non-fragranced hand soap with as natural a formulation as possible to stay on the safe side.

If you are concerned about staining and are desperate, you can use liquid hand soap. Stick to a colorless version to decrease the chances of dyes affecting your garments.

However, it’s best to stick to a custom-designed product when laundering your clothing.

Get a Professional to Remove Detergent Residue

What happens if you wash a fabric like cashmere, wool, or silk at home out of desperation, and it leaves behind a stain or residue? You could try soaking the garment again to remove the blemish.

However, it’s better to leave this kind of issue to the professionals. If you have expensive, dry-clean-only clothing, please bring them to Judi’s Cleaners in Sacramento or your local dry cleaners.

Our team is highly skilled and has ample experience removing marks from delicate items. By entrusting us with your garments, you extend their lifespan and keep them looking fresh for longer.

Thanks to our affordable rates and 100% satisfaction guarantee, there is no need to take a chance. Leave the expensive clothing to us, and we’ll take proper care of it.

Related: Why Dry Clean?

Contact Judi’s Cleaners Today

Are you still unsure of how to get detergent stains out of clothes? Are you worried that you’ll damage a delicate garment? If so, you can rely on Judi’s Cleaners in Sacramento to choose the optimal method and stain remover for the fabric.

Contact us today to arrange your first pickup, and we’ll deliver your clean clothes back to you within two business days.

Free Pickup & Delivery