Chemical Solvents and Supplies for fabric Stain Removal

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Chemical Solvents and Supplies

Supplies needed 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.


  • Heavy-duty liquid detergents (Era, Fab, Grease Relief, Tide, Wisk)
  • Light-duty liquid detergents (Delicare, Ivory, Lux,Woolite)
  • Powdered detergents (Amway, Cheer, Dash, Oxydol, Sears, Tide)


  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Powdered all-fabricc bleaches (sodium perborate)(Biz, Borateem, Clorox 2; Purex, Snowy)
  • Liquid all-fabric bleaches (Snowy, Vivid)
  • Liquid chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite)(Clorox, Hi-lex,Purex)
  • 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 I tablespoon of bleach with 1/4 cup of water. Use an eyedropper to put a drop of this solution on a hidden seam or pocket edge inside the garment. Let it stand two minutes, then blot dry. If there is no color change it is safe to use the product. Powdered bleach packages have directions for doing colorfastness tests.

Pretreatment Products

  • Aerosol sprays-petroleum-based solvent (Clorox, Shout, Spray'n Wash)
  • Pump-type sprays-- detergent based (Clorox, Shout, Spray'n Wash)

Absorbent Materials

  • Clean white cloths
  • Paper towels (white)
  • Sponges (white or neutral colored)
  • Caution: Colored sponges or paper towels can bleed dyes onto fabrics, making dye stains that may be difficult to remove.

Odor-reducing Agents

  • Activated charcoal
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Soda

Stain Removal Chemicals

Common name Chemical Brand Names
Alcohol (rubbing) Isopropyl -
Ammonia ammonium hydroxide Ajax, Bo Beep, Top Job
Color remover sodium hydrosulfite Rit, Tintex
Commercial stain removers* isopropyl alcohol or other unspecified ingredients Easy Wash, Tech, Whizz
Drycleaning fluid or petroleum-based pretreatment solvent perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene petroleum distillates Energine, Clorox Prewash, Shout, Spray n'Wash
Enzyme presoak products** amylase, protease, lipase Biz Bleach, Axion
Lemon juice and salt citric acid and sodium chloride -
Nail polish remover acetone -
Rust removers*** hydrofluoric acid, oxalic acid RoVer, Whink
Photo supply acid fixer sodium thiosulfate -
Turpentine terpene -
White vinegar acetic acid -

* Limited testing on these products has shown them to be less effective than advertised.

**These must be used at body temperature for enzyme action to occur, Chlorine bleach and hot water inactivate enzymes.

***Do not use these products with chlorine or oxygen type bleaches.

Note: Some of these products may no longer be available; while new products have also been developed.

Special thanks to Iowa State University for allowing us to reproduce this information.

Reproduced with permission from the Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011.

Prepared by: Janis Stone,
Textiles and Clothing Specialist,
Iowa State University

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No endorsement of companies or their products mentioned is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar companies or their products not mentioned.
 The information found on the pages in this section are provided by Ohio State University for educational purposes. is not associated in anyway with Ohio State University.  Apparel Search is simply providing viewers of the fashion industry with easy access to the helpful educational material that has been developed by Ohio State University.  Please visit the Ohio State University web site to learn more about the wonderful educational opportunities that they provide. 

Clothing Care and fiber Content Labels

fabrics Labeled "Dry-clean Only"

A Note about Modern fabrics

Garments with Contrasting Colors or Trim

Removing Stains from Washable fabrics:

Spot Treatment Technique (Sponging) for Apparel fabrics

Chemical Solvents and Supplies

Follow These Safety Precautions

Classification of Stains

What to Do if You Don't Know

Stains Needing Unique Treatment Methods

Common Remedies to Avoid

How to Identify and Prevent

Additional Stain Removal References

Learn more about washing clothes.

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