In my household, stain removers are a vital laundry product. Going through your laundry and stain spraying each individual garment can be time consuming, so I decided to try out the add-to-the-load style stain removers that seem to be flooding the market at the moment. I tested out three common ones on my family’s laundry: Vanish Oxi Action Multi Fabric Stain Remover, Biotex Stain Removing Powder, and Ace Gentle Stain Remover.
Vanish products seem to be the most readily available stain removers in England, and are constantly being advertised on TV. I tested the Vanish Oxi Action Multi Fabric Stain Remover with Colour Protect. It comes in a pink tub, and you add a scoop of the powder to each load of laundry. According to the advertisements, the “intelligent stain seekers” then find and remove all of the stains on your clothes during a normal wash. They claim to remove all types of stains. Unfortunately, it did not work like the commercials for me. In fact, it didn’t work for me at all. Adding the Vanish powder to my laundry didn’t seem to make any difference. The clothes were not any more visibly clean than they were when washed with just the laundry detergent and no stain remover. It didn’t seem to make any difference at all on stains, and it didn’t seem to matter whether they were easy to remove stains (like mud) or difficult stains (like tomato sauce). Neither of them had been washed out. I paid £3.98 for the 500g tub at Asda, although the price has now been rolled back to £3.00. It was a complete waste of money as it didn’t seem to make any difference at all to my laundry.
The next add to the load stain remover that I tried was Biotex Stain Removing Powder. It is also a powder, and comes in a cardboard box. It cost £1.85 for a 500g box, so it seemed cheaper than the Vanish. However, after bringing it home I realized that instead of needing a small scoop like the Vanish, you use ¾ of a cup or more per load. In the end, the entire box only lasted for three loads of laundry! So it did not work out to be cost effective. According to the box, the powder “gently softens and loosens even the most stubborn stains.” Well, I can give it credit for that-it did soften the stains. However, it did not remove them, which is what I want a stain remover to do. Using it on my laundry, it seemed to make all of the stains more smudged looking. They were not as bright and distinct as they were before going in, but were definitely still noticeable. For example, instead of having a dark brown mud patch on the knee of my toddler’s jeans, that whole area looked grubby and brownish. If you just have dirty, but not stained, clothes, it may help, but it didn’t remove stains. It did soften them, but it made it impossible to then fully remove them (I tried). I tried using more of the powder in the next load, increasing it up to 1 ½ cups of powder in a single load, but the result wasn’t any better. Because it left the clothes looking kind of worn out, and turned out to be much more expensive than I expected, I would not buy Biotex stain removing powder again.
The final product I tested was the Ace Gentle Stain Remover. Unlike the other two products I tried, this add to the load stain remover is in liquid form, not a powder. It costs £1.88 for a 1L bottle at Asda. It is Woolmark approved and contains colour protection, so is suitable for use on a wide variety of garments. It is easy to use, as you measure a capful of liquid out and pour it directly in with the laundry. Unlike the powders, Ace stain removing liquid actually worked! My clothes came out looking clean and mostly stain free! All of the clothes just seemed to be a bit brighter and cleaner looking. The liquid removed most stains on the first attempt, with only the very soiled garments left with still visible stains. I just put those through the wash again. This product really did help remove stains, and was a lot easier to use than a stain spray where you have to go through each item. I will definitely buy this product again.
Overall, the stain powders were not very effective, and were expensive. The Ace Gentle Stain Remover (in liquid form) was by far the best of the three stain removers that I tested.