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How we test stain removers

Our rigorous testing helps you find the best laundry product to rid your clothing of stains.

young woman looking at clothes HWT
Last updated: 07 October 2020


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stains occur every day and in every household. Ideally, you should treat the stain immediately, but sometimes stains are left to soak in or dry before you get a chance to remove them. You don't want to be tossing out your favourite garments and linen because of pesky stains, so this is when you'll need a trusty stain remover in your laundry cupboard.

Our expert testers

We sent stain removers commonly available from major supermarkets to a laboratory for testing. We also took a look at their packaging claims and worked out how much they cost per 100ml or 100g.

How we choose what we test

With this type of consumer good, our aim is to try to cover the whole stain remover market (covering both powder and spray forms of the product), especially what you're most likely to see in stores.

We start off by surveying manufacturers to find out about their range of products. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and buy each product, just as you would. We do this so we can be sure what we're testing is the same as any consumer would find, and not 'tweaked' in any way.

How we test

Our Product Use Survey reveals which stains are most common in households. Our experts put each stain remover to the test, attempting to remove:

  • perspiration
  • grass/mud
  • olive oil (cooking oil)
  • blood
  • tomato
  • mineral oil
  • chocolate ice cream
  • baby food
  • make-up
  • ground nut oil (which simulates collar grime).

All products are tested as pre-treaters. We use cotton material swatches that have specific formulas of these stains applied to them. Before washing, our experts apply a set amount of each stain remover to the stained swatch and let it sit for five minutes. 

We use a front loader washing machine on a cold wash cycle with Fab Perfume Indulgence Sublime Velvet laundry detergent (a mid-performing detergent in our laundry detergents test).

Following the wash cycle, we measure the degree of stain removal.

We also test how well stain removers compare to washing with:

  • Fab laundry detergent only
  • water only, and no detergent.

Test criteria explained

The overall score is made up of:

  • perspiration (25%)
  • grass/mud (20%)
  • olive oil (cooking oil) (20%)
  • blood (5%)
  • tomato (5%)
  • mineral oil (5%)
  • chocolate ice cream (5%)
  • baby food (5%)
  • make-up (5%)
  • ground nut-oil (which simulates collar grime (5%)

You told us in our Product Use Survey that perspiration, grass/mud and cooking oil stains are the most common stains in your household, so we've weighted these more highly in the overall score than the rest.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.