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University of Illinois Extension

Chemical Solvents and Supplies for Stain Solution

No endorsement of companies or their products mentioned is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar companies or their products not mentioned.

Supplies for stain removal can usually be found in grocery, drug, general merchandise, or paint stores.
Many commercially available products have proprietary formulas that are protected by patent rights and not available to the public. Ingredients listed on labels for safety purposes can help you decide if the product will be useful for the stain removal task you have to do. There is no miracle product that will remove all stains.


Enzymes are a type of protein found in living matter. Used in laundry products, they have the ability to breakdown protein type stains, such as blood, meat juice, dairy products, baby formula, and vegetable proteins. Enzymes contain amylase (for starch), protease (for protein), and lipase (for fats).
Be sure to check detergent ingredients, because some do contain enzymes.

Enzyme presoak products include Axion and Biz Bleach.


Heavy-duty liquid detergents: All, Cheer, Era, Tide, Wisk
Light-duty liquid detergents: All, Amway, Arm & Hammer, Cheer, Dreft, Dynamo, Era, Purex Ultra, Surf, Tide, Wisk, Woolite
Powdered detergents: Amway, Arm & Hammer, Cheer, Dash, Dreft, Fresh Start, Oxydol, Purex, Rinso, Surf, Tide, Wisk, Woolite


Hydrogen peroxide (mildest bleach): Shoppers Value, Swan
Powdered all-fabric bleaches (sodium perborate): Biz, Borateem, Clorox 2, Purex, Snowy
Liquid all-fabric bleaches: Clorox 2, Snowy, Vivid
Liquid chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite): Clorox, Hilex, Purex
Gel brands: Spray 'n' Wash, Clorox Gel

Liquid chlorine bleaches have a limited shelf life. If your bleach is more than six months old and has no effect on stains, it may need to be replaced with fresh bleach.

To test for colorfastness to liquid chlorine bleaches, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach with 1/4 cup of water. Use an eyedropper or cotton-tipped swab to put a drop of this solution on a hidden seam or pocket edge inside the garment. Let it stand for two minutes, the blot dry. If there is no color change, it is safe to use the product. Powdered bleach packages have directions for doing colorfastness tests.

Water conditioners

Packaged water conditioners: Calgon, Spring Rain

Pretreatment products

Aerosol sprays petroleum-based solvent brands: Clorox, Shout, Spray 'n Wash
Gel brands: Shout, Spray 'n Wash, Wisk-Away
Pump-type sprays - detergent-based brands: Clorox, Shout, Spray 'n Wash, Wisk-Away, Zout
Squeeze bottle brands: Clorox Stain Out, Shout, Spray 'n Wash
Stain stick brands: Spray 'n Wash, Wisk-Away

Odor-reducing agents

Managing odor is difficult. Many air fresheners are on the market for the use in homes and offices. When airing alone is not enough, activated charcoal, calcium carbonate, or soda may reduce odors. These chemicals maybe helpful in treating carpets for pet urine or reducing skunk odor.

Brands: Febreze

Absorbent materials

  • Clean white cloths
  • Paper towels (white)
  • Sponges - white or neutral in color

Caution: Colored sponges or paper towels can bleed dyes onto fabrics, making dye stains that may be difficult to remove.

Tools that help

  • Used toothbrush or soft brush
  • Blunt kitchen knife
  • Spoon