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Do Stain Sticks Work?

Do You Really Need to Pretreat Stains?

Stains are stubborn, and spending the cash on stain busters and dry cleaning can get expensive. We decided to conduct our own test and put homemade and store-bought stain busters to the test. We were totally surprised with the results, which got us wondering: do we really need to pretreat stains?

After seeing how these products handle serious grass and dirt smudges and burgundy lip stain, you might be surprised with what worked (and what didn't) in our laundry experiment.

Read on for the results.

  1. We cut a white cotton sheet into five small squares to use as our base material and selected tough stains to evaluate. Each square got a bold swipe of burgundy lip stain, a good rubbing in the grass, a dollop of ketchup, a drop of coffee, and a label with permanent marker. The marks were left to set for an hour.
  2. Then we applied the stain treatments on all but one, which we marked with an "X." We spritzed Earth Friendly Products Zainz Laundry Pre-Wash ($5) over one square, and Ecover Stain Remover ($9) was rubbed into another, both applied following the product directions. Our own homemade stain stick conquered the third square, and the fourth was covered with a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. We tossed them individually in the wash and gave the squares a spin using GreenWorks Laundry Detergent.

  1. We were amazed to see that the square that wasn't treated at all came out looking pretty good. Ecover did bust through some of the permanent marker but left the lip stain pretty much intact. Our homemade stain stick did a good job, with Zainz successfully taking out the coffee stain, and baking soda doing well overall.

Final Verdict: For general stains, it seems pretreating isn't always the most effective way to bust through those stains. Simply getting laundry in the wash as soon as stains happens is the first step for making marks disappear. If you choose to pretreat, Ecover did a great job, with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide coming in second for overall performance.


Do you pretreat? Leave a comment below with your favorite way to bust through stains.

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