Humans are dirty creatures – some more than others. So unless you exclusively wear army fatigues or you've based your wardrobe around mission brown, you're going to have some stubborn stains gracing your laundry.
The sooner you treat the stain, the better the chance of getting rid of it.
While stain remover sprays are good for targeted areas and easy to use, stain remover powders are a good option for hard-to-remove stains and overall whitening.
How do you use stain remover powder? You can either dissolve the powder in water and soak your laundry in it, or make a paste and put it directly on the offending area for extra stain-busting power, followed by a regular wash. (This is how we test powder stain removers in our labs.)
But among the dizzying array of stain removal powders on the market, which ones are the best to use, and for what stains? We'll break it down for you.
How the brands performed
Pink wins the day
Our stain remover powder test was a 'pinkwash': all three products we recommend are from Vanish NapiSan and score 70% and above.
But don't pick up just any old Vanish product off the shelf: not all of them are created equal, and the price of some of them are pretty steep. The most expensive Vanish product comes in at $1.07 per 100mL but doesn't make the top three, and the worst performing Vanish product scored a paltry 60%.
Don't pick up just any old Vanish product off the shelf: not all of them are created equal
Many of the product names are so similar you might end up picking up the wrong one by mistake.
Do you think you could tell the difference between 'NapiSan Oxi Advance Crystal White Gold Whitening Powder', 'NapiSan Oxi Action Crystal White', and 'NapiSan Oxi Advance Gold Multi Powder Power' as you scan the towering shelves of laundry soakers at the supermarket?
And the rest
No other brands in this test were recommended by our experts, but a Coles and a Sard product came in not far behind the winning Vanish NapiSan products – and they cost much less!
Coles' Ultra Oxy-action Laundry Stain Remover received the same score as Vanish NapiSan Oxi Advance Gold Multi Power Powder (can you say that three times fast?), but costs less than half the price.
And Sard's Super Power Stain Remover, Toughest Stains came in just one percentage point below these and costs 39 cents per 100mL.
While supermarket own brands often perform well against the big-name brands, Woolworths unfortunately didn't even come close in this test. Its two stain remover powders came in fairly low down the list with scores of just 64% and 59%.
IGA's house brand Community Co didn't fare much better, scoring 60%, and Black & Gold's product came equal last with another Sard product at 56% – just one percentage point better than plain water.
Stain remover powders are a good option for hard-to-remove stains and overall whitening.
The top-rated stain remover soaking powders
While the top three Vanish NapiSan products are recommended by our experts, the other products listed here are also well worth considering – the Coles and Sard products in particular if you're on a budget.
Here's how each product scored overall in our test, and how much it costs.
Vanish NapiSan Oxi Advance Crystal White Gold Whitening Power
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 74% (Recommended)
- Cost per 100mL: $0.80
Vanish NapiSan Oxi Action Colour Safe
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 73% (Recommended)
- Cost per 100mL: $0.80
Vanish NapiSan Oxi Action Crystal White
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 70% (Recommended)
- Cost per 100mL: $0.65
Coles Ultra Oxy-action Laundry Stain Remover
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 69%
- Cost per 100mL: $0.40
Vanish NapiSan Oxi Advance Gold Multi Power Powder
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 69%
- Cost per 100mL: $1.07
Sard Super Power Stain Remover, Toughest Stains
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 68%
- Cost per 100mL: $0.39
You can soak grass stains in water and detergent overnight before washing.
The most common stains
When we asked Australian shoppers what kinds of stains they typically encounter on wash day, the most common culprits were:
- grass and mud
- cooking/food oil
So, which product is best for which stain?
The best way to get rid of sweat stains
Your best bet is Vanish NapiSan Oxi Advance Crystal White Gold Whitening Power. It scored 80% when we used it to remove sweat stains in the wash.
If you're after a home remedy, you could try a paste of equal parts baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, left on the stains overnight. This one is probably best for light-coloured fabrics as the hydrogen peroxide can bleach fabric.
The best way to get rid of grass and mud stains
First things first: remove any solid bits. For mud, wait for it to dry and then scrape or brush off as much as you can. Put some liquid laundry detergent on the mud stain and let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash as usual.
You can soak grass stains in water and detergent overnight before washing. But if it's a particularly stubborn stain, try soaking it in a solution of water and oxygen bleach (not chlorine bleach) following the label directions, then wash as usual.
If you want to use a stain remover powder, Vanish NapiSan Oxi Action Colour Safe is the best choice: it scored 73% on this test in our labs.
The best way to get rid of grease and oil stains
You don't necessarily need a stain remover to get rid of oil stains – good old-fashioned dishwashing liquid is a great option for removing these greasy marks.
But if you're doing a pre-wash treatment anyway, Vanish NapiSan Oxi Action Colour Safe was the product that gave the best results on cooking oil stains in our labs.
Stock images: Getty unless otherwise stated.