This is the no-fail way to get laundry detergent stains out of your clothes

We all have our favorite laundry soap, often because of its particularly fresh scent. It can feel like a betrayal, though, when your laundry detergent stains your clothing. Laundry soap is meant to get out stains, not leave them behind, right? While there are a few reasons your detergent could be leaving behind those pesky stains, the good news is that you can get them out with the right method. Here’s how!

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Why do my clothes get stains after washing?

The culprit of detergent stains isn’t necessarily the brand of laundry soap you’re using. The reason your detergent is leaving stains is that it’s not dissolving properly in the water. One or more of the following factors could be at play:

  • You have hard water. High mineral deposits in the water prevent detergent from dissolving properly. Test your water, and get a water softener if needed.
  • Too much detergent was used. Make sure you’re using the recommended amount of laundry soap.
  • Powdered detergent doesn’t dissolve as well. This is particularly true in cold water. Try using warm water or switching to liquid detergent.

Does vinegar remove detergent stains?

Vinegar is the best method to use because it is non-toxic and its acidic makeup will combat the detergent left behind and lift it. Here’s what you need to get the detergent stain out with vinegar:

  • A pluggable sink
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 quart warm water


  1. Check the garment’s care tag to be sure it can handle both warm water and vinegar without becoming damaged.
  2. Make sure the sink is cleaned and sanitized.
  3. Plug the sink, and add the water and vinegar.
  4. Soak the stained garment in the mixture for a moment to get it completely wet.
  5. Rub the stained area thoroughly to lift the stain.
  6. If the stain remains, let the garment soak in the mixture for up to an hour and then try rubbing the stain again.
  7. Run the garment through another cycle in the washing machine.

Other ways to remove detergent stains from clothes

If you don’t have any vinegar on hand or you don’t want to resort to using it just yet, there are a couple of other methods you can try.

Rubbing alcohol

  1. Check the garment’s care tag to be sure it can handle both warm water and rubbing alcohol without becoming damaged.
  2. Soak the garment in warm water, and rub the stain a bit to loosen it.
  3. Wring out the fabric, and pour rubbing alcohol on the stain generously.
  4. Let the alcohol sit on the stain for up to 15 minutes.
  5. Rinse the garment and wring it out before confirming that the stain has lifted.
  6. Run the garment through another cycle in the washing machine.

Bar soap

If you don’t want to use smelly methods like vinegar or rubbing alcohol, try using bar soap.

  1. Fill a clean, sanitized sink with cold water, and soak the garment until it’s completely wet.
  2. Rub a bar of soap against the detergent stain for a few moments until the area is layered with soap.
  3. Use your fingers to work the soap into the stain.
  4. Rinse the area thoroughly before checking the stain and repeating as necessary.
  5. Rinse the material completely, and run the garment through another cycle in the washing machine.

Your laundry detergent is supposed to make your clothes cleaner and your life easier, but sometimes it fails. Detergent stains are frustrating, but because they’re essentially just caked on soap, they lift off of clothes fairly easily with the right treatments and methods.

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