I suppose since I don’t have job stuff to worry about anymore stains are now the bane of my existence

I think I whine about this too often, so you may be all too aware, but I am allergic to scented products. They give me awful headaches, sometimes migraines, and basically, I think anything scented is the devil. The fact there is so much of it in the world annoys me to no end. Also, “natural” or organic or non-chemical, what have you, makes no difference. It’s actually natural scents the allergy is TO, not only chemical reproductions of them. The worst is an actual lavender or lilac bush. Instant knock out headache. (Note to all manufacturers ever: KEEP THE LAVENDER SCENT OUT OF YOUR “NATURAL” CLEANING SHIT OR I CAN’T USE IT. THANK YOU.)
This is one of the reasons I’m absolutely head-over-heels in love with Charlie’s laundry soap. (This probably sounds sponsored, but it isn’t.) I packed white powder in a baggie to bring through airport security on vacation and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t end up in TSA jail because I couldn’t imagine using laundry detergent on my clothes. Partly because of the scent, but also because of Paul’s eczema, which is aggravated if he happens to wear something washed in detergent instead of soap. I had single-use packets of liquid Tide from who knows where that would have been easier to bring, but no one wants to be itchy on vacation, right?
The kids did a real number on their clothes on this trip, though. At one point, we had Margaret practically swaddled in cloth napkins all around her torso and she managed to drop an entire slice of pepperoni pizza onto her skirt. I can’t even. By the end of the trip, I’d decided the hell with natural products, when we got home I’d simply have to purchase a bottle of color-safe bleach and see what happens. I certainly have tried everything else.
On the journey home I read Manda’s Tide confession (thinking to myself how Tide is the scent and eczema devil), then clicked through to the New York Times article she linked and…hmm. It seemed to say Tide really was the best at removing stains. I thought detergent was detergent, but the article implied no one has ever really been able to replicate Tide’s proprietary formula (or, even if they have, consumers are still convinced Tide is the best).
That night, I washed the first load of vacation laundry in Charlie’s and when the clothes came out, the stains were in all of the exact same places they’d been on the way in. As they always are. I thought I stunk at stain removal, but was it my soap? I eyed the Tide packets, then quickly ripped one open and threw it in the washer before I could change my mind. I figured I’d do one load with Tide, then rewash it once or twice with Charlie’s to remove the stink.
The Tide didn’t work, either. I didn’t expect it to remove all evidence of pepperoni pizza or anything, but I expected go here some change. Maybe at least the little stains? But no. I’m going to have to buy that bleach.
As far as other things go, I’ve tried, over the last year, OxiClean with every load (I liked it, and felt it kept things nicer, but it doesn’t remove the kinds of stains my kids make)(I’ve also made a paste of it and rubbed directly on stains, but that didn’t help), source url Shout (what my mom – and I – have always used and, honestly, it works better than anything else I’ve tried, but it hasn’t gotten kid stains all the way out), and the source OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick Emily recommended (it has not worked at all for me. Nada.)(I did coat the clothes with it last night, though, because it can’t hurt to try again, right?)
Do you have anything else you swear by? I’m at a loss. Maybe the bleach will work? I’m not asking for a miracle here – that skirt, which Margaret also covered in watermelon stains, may be a loss – but I don’t even have anything that works on everyday stains. 


  1. watch Do you use the Shout twice? That helps me. I scrub with shout first as soon as I can (usually the night the stain happens), then toss the clothes in the laundry bin with everything else. Later that week when I’m doing laundry I scrub with Shout again before I put the clothes in the washer, maybe five minutes before.
    Some bad stains require a second round of that with another load later in the day, but that’s all I’ve (so far) had to do. I’ll let you know if I’m able to get the sweet potatoes out of Simon’s clothes from yesterday or not later.

  2. I love the Resolve all stains remover (used to be Spray and wash). Used it when Sean had a nose bleed in bed and it removed the blood from his night clothes. This stuff is great.

    • I’m up for trying anything! I’ll have to check it out.

    • I also love Resolve. However, if you’re looking for natural, have you tried hanging the stained stuff in the sun? Fades stains pretty well.

    • I always dried cloth diapers in the sun, and occasionally threw a stained white shirt out there with them, but it never seemed to help. Even after a couple months of (almost) always doing so, the cloth diapers didn’t look any better. But I bought them used and the stains were pre-existing.

      I’ve always been nervous about putting colors out there, because the sun will fade everything, right? Both the stain and the vibrancy of the clothes?

    • Yeah, the sun will fade vibrant colors too, that’s a downside. And I have had some stains that it didn’t work on at all, so I guess it just depends on what the stain is from?

  3. I use the oxyclean spray and soak for periods of time. I do’t have scent issues but I do have Tide allergies. I’ve had to throw out clothes bc my roommate washed my laundry in it. I stick w Allergen free soaps (up and up, mainly) and Oxyclean spray and hope for the best.

    • Thomas does all the grocery shopping, so I have to request what I want and haven’t really browsed. I didn’t know there was an oxyclean spray! Everyone seems to be recommending it so I’ll have to get some.

  4. When I get a really horrible stain, I tend to just keep at it over multiple loads of laundry with my stain stick (I’ve tried different brands, they all seem to be the same) until it finally gives up and goes away. I just pull the thing out of the washer, apply more stain remover, and then put it in the next load.

    • Mine just don’t seem to give up. I treat them over and over (without drying) and they just stay. I’m great at getting bodily fluids out (blood, spit up) but food stains I just can’t seem to get rid of. I realize my OxyClean is meant for more biological stains rather than food, but I’ve tried other things, too!

  5. I swear by the Oxy Clean spray in a bottle, although it doesn’t get everything out. If there’s something left after I’ve oxy cleaned it twice, I usually just put it in a load with a little bleach.
    We did have to switch to Tide too from Charlie’s because it wasn’t getting the clothes clean. We use the unscented stuff too because Erik is violently against scented cleaners and laundry stuff…I forget the sciencey bits but it’s supposed to be terrible for baby/toddler aged boys. Something about testoterone.

    • I’m probably going to have to use something other than Charlie’s, too, at least occasionally. Our washcloths get to smelling moldy and the Charlie’s isn’t fixing that. I don’t think they’re really clean.

      I remember hearing most things have a natural scent and “unscented” actually IS a scent covering up the original. Is it less harmful than other scents? I think it IS, but I don’t actually know. I mean, it is for me, headache wise, but I wasn’t sure about the hormones.

  6. I have this Shout spray (it comes in a big aerosol can that seems to mean business) that I use and really, really hose down the stain before throwing it in the wash. I’ll sometimes re-spray the stain for subsequent loads if it didn’t come out all the way the first time and even that seems to lighten it.

  7. Hi, I just stumbled on your blog today and just had to comment! I have had very similar problems, though not as bad (I think). My oldest (just turned 6) and I both get rashes from scented stuff, especially Tide!! I tried Charlie’s, but found it just didn’t get stuff clean. I prefer the All Free & Clear detergent. For stains, I agree with someone who commented previously to let your stain remover SIT on the stain. That works for some. For the really hard stains I use Shaklee’s Nature Bright Stain Remover: http://www.shaklee.com/us/en/products.php?sku=00305 Let it soak overnight, sometimes even several days in a bucket. That has worked miracles for me! Good luck!

    • I LOVE All Free & Clear. It was all I used for years until switching to Charlie’s. I may go back. I’ve used the Shaklee Nature Bright detergent as well (and like it) but I haven’t tried the stain remover! I might have to get some. Though my Shaklee “membership” has lapsed.

    • Since I only buy the stain remover and the fabric softener *maybe* twice a year, I’ve never paid to join as a ‘member’. Last year they were offering free membership with an order over $100, so I just stocked up on my stuff and got a free membership. I’ve used it once since then 😛

    • I did the same! Got a free membership (1.5 years ago) with the purchase of $75 of stuff, I think. Have you tried the Scour Off heavy duty paste? That stuff is the best.

      So, uh, I just looked and what I have IS the laundry booster and stain remover. I’ve been using it as detergent when it clearly said it was an additive. Oops.

  8. The oxyclean spray works way better than anything else I’ve ever tried. (This one, not the max force one http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/oxiclean-laundry-stain-remover/ID=prod4267169-product)

    What I do is I have a bottle in our bedroom, and I spray whatever I can as soon as I take it off (me, the kid, whoever) and throw it in the hamper. That way it soaks some. I ALSO have a bottle by the washing machine, that I use if it’s a last minute, right before the laundry goes in the machine stain spotting. Then, I double check it after it comes out of the wash…if the stain didn’t come out, I repeat it before I put it in the dryer. It’s not foolproof, but it works better than most things I’ve tried, particularly on kid-related stains.

  9. I’m definitely going to have to try the OsyClean spray. A bottle in the bedroom is a good idea! I try to treat things as soon as we take them off. If not, I just wash it normally then take it out of the washer and put stain remover on. Then I wait a day and wash again.

  10. Kid stains are not of this earth. I try to put Anna in a lot of dark colors nd patterns.

  11. I can’t say enough good things about this SPECIFIC Shout product: http://www.shoutitout.com/en-US/Products/Pages/shout-advanced-gel.aspx (It says “Formulated for Set In Stains” right on the bottle. It’s gotten rid of stains from months before and works on stuff that NEVER wants to come out, like MUD and tomato-y stuff. 🙂

  12. Would you be willing to try a third form of oxyclean – I use the spray on everything.