This Is the Best Way to Remove Tricky Food Stains

Love red wine (or chocolate sauce or marinara) but hate the stains it can leave behind? We tested seven brands to find the best stain remover. Now, you can worry no more!

When it comes to cleaning up after a party, I feel confident in getting the kitchen sparkling clean again. A good dish soap and an all-purpose cleaner do wonders in tackling the majority of dinner party messes. However, there are some stains that are just harder to tackle, like stains on fabric. Certainly, we all have a tablecloth or kitchen towel that can’t seem to give up the memory of marinara sauces or red wine spills past.

A good pretreatment can go a long way in getting your linens to give up those ghosts, though. The trick is to find one that really works on all the most common and stubborn stains. That’s where our staffers come in. Expert mess-makers and mess-cleaners tried seven popular stain removers to find out which was best at banishing the worst offenders like pasta sauce, chocolate, bacon grease, lipstick and red wine. Find out which cleaned our linens the best.

The Best Stain Remover: Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover Spray


If you’re faced with stubborn stains, we can’t recommend Seventh Generation’s stain remover enough. This plant-based treatment, which is also free of fragrance and dyes, managed to lift stains from cotton and synthetic fabrics.

What kind of stains, you ask? Try beet juice, strawberry juice, marinara sauce, chocolate syrup, bacon grease, red wine and lipstick. Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover managed to get rid of all but one. There was a whisper of lipstick left on the polyester-blend napkin we washed (though it came right out of our all-cotton tablecloth!).

That kind of performance is worth investing in, according to our testers. A bottle of this spray can save you a trip to the dry cleaner and can keep your favorite tablecloth looking brand new.

$5 for a 16-ounce bottle; available at retailers nationwide.

Get Stains Out with Our Other Favorites


Shout Triple-Acting Laundry Stain Remover

When it came to stains, this classic pretreatment brand pulled through. It managed to get rid of all the stains but some stubborn lipstick. At a less expensive price point, Shout is a great option for cleaning up foodie messes.

$3.60 for a 22-ounce bottle; available at retailers nationwide.


OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover

Prefer to use your favorite laundry detergent brand? OxiClean makes a great stain remover, too. Much like Shout, this brand lifted all the stains—including beets, berries and bacon grease—but one: lipstick.

$5 for a 16-ounce bottle; available at retailers nationwide.

The Bottom Line

If you choose one of these Best Loved stain removers, we’re confident that you can get rid of almost any food stain. Hosts and hostesses, you can now serve red wine without fear—here are some of our favorites of the boxed variety.

When it comes to non-foodie stains like lipstick, you shouldn’t have an issue if you’re dealing with natural fabrics like cotton. The only stains that wouldn’t budge were red lipstick on polyester-blends.

The best bet in treating any stain with any remover, though, is to act fast and wash in the warmest water the fabric allows.

More Ways to Get Stains Out and Get Everything Spotless at Home

Used as instructed, these cleaners can be lifesavers for your linens and clothing. To boost their cleaning powers, though, you can take one extra step that harnesses the power of Mother Nature. After spraying your fabric with the stain remover, let it sit in the sun for a bit (a half hour should be fine). The sunlight has a slight bleaching effect that can help reduce the appearance of any stain (don’t worry—a short stay outside won’t damage or discolor the rest of your garments or linens). But don’t stop there! Check out a few more ways to tackle dirty jobs at home:

Be sure to check out our other Best Loved Brands to keep your house feeling clean and fresh (and to keep your pantry stocked with the very best, too!).

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Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.