We’ve all been there…a very stubborn stain on your favorite shirt, peanut butter smudged all over your kid’s brand-new clothes, or cute (but dirty) paws all over your carpet. 

Stains can be persistent… but so are we about removing them naturally! 

It’s easy to think you have to turn to harsh chemicals to fight stubborn stains. That’s what we’ve been told we “need” in order to really get rid of most stains. But conventional stain removers use toxic chemicals linked to allergies, hormone imbalances, skin conditions, and even cancer. 

And since there are natural stain remover options that work, why not use a safer option?!

In this guide, we’re exploring why it’s important to choose non-toxic stain removers, what ingredients to look out for, and the best natural and non-toxic stain removers you can rely on to keep your clothes and carpets truly clean. 

We’ve tested several different stain remover brands to find out which ones work best. We’ll give you a variety of options to choose from, too—from zero-waste stain remover sticks to powders and sprays.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn commission if you decide to make a purchase.


Why Choose a Non-Toxic Stain Remover?

Non-toxic stain removers allow for your clothes to be truly clean, not only visibly but also clean from toxins and chemicals that can harm your health. 

Conventional stain removers are made with a cocktail of potentially toxic chemicals, and unfortunately, the U.S. has virtually no regulations for what kind of ingredients are used in household cleaners. In fact, it’s not even necessary to disclose all ingredients! 

We’re paying a hefty price for these products with our health and that of our planet. 

Here are some of the ingredients commonly used by conventional stain remover brands that you’ll want to try and avoid if possible:

1. Unspecified fragrance

Because of what’s known as the “fragrance loophole,” manufacturers are legally allowed to “hide” about 4,000 different chemicals in their products without actually disclosing them to consumers.

While many of those ingredients are safe, they can also include endocrine-disrupting phthalates as well as allergens and carcinogens.

When possible, you’ll want to look for cleaning products that are either fragrance-free or shop from a brand that discloses its fragrance ingredients and/or has been vetted by a third-party certification such as MADE SAFE or EWG.

2. Isothiazolinone preservatives

Preservatives are important in preventing mold, mildew, and bacteria growth, but some of them are much safer than others.

Isothiazolinone preservatives, such as methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone, are common ones that can cause adverse skin reactions for some people. They’re not the best for people with eczema or sensitive skin.

3. Ethoxylated ingredients

Ethoxylated ingredients are extremely common in household and personal care products. This includes things like alcohol ethoxylates and polyethylene glycol.

The main problem with this group of ingredients involves contamination from the manufacturing process. Specifically, there are two potentially toxic ingredients that are used in ethoxylation: ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane. 

Ethylene oxide is an irritant that’s known to cause multiple types of cancer and infertility. 1,4 dioxane is also a known carcinogen.

In various third-party testing, these two chemicals have been found in final products. Because they are contaminants, these ingredients will not be found on an ingredient label.

4. Optical brighteners

Brighteners are used to make fabrics look whiter and brighter. They’re used to “treat” stains by coating fabric with a substance that reflects light. (So they really don’t get rid of the stains, they just help hide them.) Many of these brighteners can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs and can harm aquatic life as well.

5. Unspecific & hard to find ingredients

You’ll also notice that many conventional stain removers are just not super transparent about their ingredients.

We mentioned the “fragrance” issue above, but they also may do a similar thing with other categories such as “surfactant” or “polymer”—listing the general class of ingredient without listing the specific chemical.

Additionally, it’s often very difficult to even find the ingredients used in these types of cleaning products. They’re not usually listed on the actual packaging nor on the product page on the website. You often have to dig through the brand’s parent website to find ingredient lists… which not many people have the time to do!

By contrast, the brands below transparently list the ingredients on the packaging and/or right on the product page on the website.

We believe that ingredient transparency is important and that consumers deserve to know what’s actually in the cleaning products they use in their homes. Not only is this crucial for people with sensitive skin and specific allergies, but it’s also important for consumers to be able to have more control over reducing environmental toxins.

What to Look for in a Non-Toxic or Natural Stain Remover

Luckily, there are many companies out there that do prioritize safe, clean ingredients. They have amazing eco-stain removers that not only are safe but also work.

Although there are many toxic chemicals used in laundry detergents and stain removers, there are also plenty of brands crafting safe, non-toxic products. 

A non-toxic stain remover taps into safe yet effective ingredients like coconut-oil-based soap or baking soda to craft a tough-on-stains formula that works. They’re usually free from things like dyes, synthetic fragrances, and toxic chemicals like phthalates. 

9 Safe, Natural, & Non-Toxic Stain Removers for Tackling Tough Stains in 2024

First, we picked out our favorite non-toxic and natural stain removers that are made with safe ingredients. Then I did a little experiment to compare the different stain removers side by side. Here’s what I did:

  1. I smeared mascara onto a section of an old pillowcase. Nine smears for nine different stain removers. It’s worth noting that I did put more mascara on the fabric than what would normally rub off onto your pillow, and I worked it into the fabric with the mascara wand in order to get a really good stain.
  2. I let the mascara sit on the fabric for about half an hour. I forgot to take a photo of the “before” photo of the mascara stains—oops!
  3. I wet the fabric and applied the different stain removers according to their directions. I let the stain remover sit for roughly 15 minutes.
  4. I scrubbed each stain with an old toothbrush for an equal amount of time.
  5. I put the pillowcase through the washing machine on a regular cycle, but for the sake of this experiment, I did not add extra laundry detergent like you normally would.

Here are the stain remover brands I used on the stains, in order from left to right:

  1. Branch Basics
  2. MamaSuds
  3. ATTITUDE
  4. Aspen Clean
  5. Meliora
  6. Plantish
  7. Ingredients Matter
  8. SmartClean
  9. Molly’s Suds

The first photo is just before I put the fabric in the washing machine, after I treated them with each stain remover. The second photo is after I put the fabric through the washer and dryer.

As you can see, all of the stain removers did a pretty good job of removing the stains! Some of them were slightly better than others, with the Meliora Stain Stick being the most effective overall (and also the one that required the least “elbow grease”).

In addition to ingredients and effectiveness, there are some other factors to consider as you choose your stain remover, many of which come down to personal preferences!

So, read on to learn more about each of these eco-friendly stain remover brands.

1. Meliora’s Stain Stick

Best non toxic stain removers on TheFiltery Meliora

Price: $4.99 for 1.7 oz
Type: Stick

If you ask me, this is definitely one of the best overall non-toxic stain removers when you consider all of the factors. It will help you tackle all kinds of stains, even things like blood stains and coffee stains!

It’s not only one of the most effective stain removers, but it’s also very low waste (plastic-free) and safe (it comes with the MADE SAFE label, which is one of the strictest certifications regarding ingredient safety). Plus, it’s affordable and lasts a long time as well.

As I mentioned above, the Meliora Stain Stick required the least amount of elbow grease compared to the other brands. I did not have to scrub as hard with this stick as most of the other brands; the stain just started coming up immediately.

Here are a bunch of other good things about it:

  • Cruelty-Free, Vegan, & Plant-Based
  • Made in the USA
  • Bleach/Chlorine-Free
  • Fragrance-Free
  • Palm-Oil Free
  • Biodegradable

Plus, Meliora is a B Corp brand that sells a lot of other sustainable cleaning products as well, including laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap, all-purpose cleaning spray, and more.

What I like about it: 

  • Requires less scrubbing compared to many other brands
  • Plastic-free/Zero-waste

What I don’t like about it:

  • Nothing, really!

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2. Branch Basics Oxygen Boost Powder + Concentrate Spray

best non toxic stain removers on TheFiltery.com Branch Basics

Price: $22 for 4 lb bag
Type: Powder + Spray

This magic-in-a-bag cleaning powder works on pretty much anything. It can tackle the toughest stains, from red wine spills on clothing to stubborn scum in your tub. The formula is plant & mineral based and fragrance-free, bleach-free, and free from sulfates, dyes, and all the rest of the “bad guys.” 

It comes with the MADE SAFE certification as well!

I’ve been using Branch Basics to remove stains for years now. You can check out my full review here, where I use Branch Basics spray + Oxygen Boost powder to clean up a pair of dirty sneakers.

Whenever I use Branch Basics to remove stains, I combine the Oxygen Boost powder with the All-Purpose Spray. I’ll let them both sit on the stain for a little bit and then scrub it with an old toothbrush, adding more of the liquid spray if I need to. I think the grit of the powder helps to loosen stains.

What I like about it: 

  • It’s multi-purpose. The Concentrate/cleaning spray can be used for various things around the house, and the Oxygen Boost powder can also double as a laundry additive straight into the washing machine.
  • You can control the concentration. Even though I use usually use the solution from my All-Purpose Spray, you can actually use some of the un-diluted soap from your main bottle of Conentrate for even more stain-fighting power. (In retrospect, I should have done that for my stain-removing experiment!)

What I don’t like about it: 

  • Somtimes it does require a bit more scrubbing to get stains out compared to other products that are specifically formulated to remove stains.

Use the code THEFILTERY for 15% off Starter Kits.


3. ATTITUDE Spray Stain Remover

Best non toxic laundry stain remover spray on TheFiltery.com ATTITUDE

Price: $6.95 for 27.1 fl oz
Type: Spray

I’m a big fan of ATTITUDE’s products—and their carpet & laundry stain removal products are no exception. 

They have several different kinds, so you can choose what works best for you. For example, their Baby-Safe Stain Remover is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and its formula is specifically made with sensitive skin families in mind.

ATTITUDE also offers a non-toxic stain and odor remover for pets, which is a must for any new puppy parent! You can not only use it on laundry but also carpets and other surfaces.

All of their stain removers are EWG Verified as well.

What I like about it: 

What I don’t like about it: 

  • Not plastic-free (comes in a plastic spray bottle)

4. AspenClean

best non toxic stain remover powder on TheFiltery.com AspenClean

Price: $17.99 for 24.7 oz
Type: Powder

Aspen Clean is a family-owned company that crafts non-toxic, EWG Verified cleaning essentials. Their stain-fighting, plastic-free Oxygen Powder is free from fragrances, parabens, petroleum, and other potentially harmful ingredients.

To use it as a stain remover, you can just dissolve some of the powder into a container of your choice with some warm water. But then, if you need some extra grit to help loosen your stain even more, you can add some of the (undissolved) powder onto your fabric or carpet before scrubbing.

What I like about it: 

  • It’s multi-use; it can double as a laundry booster/bleach alternative

What I don’t like about it: 

  • It requires an extra step (dissolving the powder into another container)

5. Molly’s Suds

Best pet stain remover spray on TheFiltery Molly's Suds

Price: $12.99 for 16 fl oz
Type: Spray

Molly Suds Stain Remover uses enzymes to help you tackle all kinds of stains—from ink to grass stains to persistent armpit stains. It’s unscented (aka fragrance-free) and perfect for sensitive skin, including babies!

We especially love that they have lots of their products in travel sizes to help you do laundry safely everywhere you go! 

What I like about it: 

  • It contains enzymes, which help even more with tougher stains and odors—making it a great option for pet accidents and sweat stains!

What I don’t like about it: 

  • Not plastic-free. (Comes in a plastic spray bottle.)

6. Ingredients Matter

Best natural stain removers on TheFiltery.com Ingredients Matter

Price: $9.99 for 2.4 oz
Type: Stick

The Ingredients Matter laundry stick is another great option for any type of stain.

As their name suggests, ingredients DO matter, and they make sure to use safe formulas that are easy on your clothes and your health. 

What I like about it: 

  • Plastic-free
  • Some of their products are available at big box retailer stores such as Target and Meijer

What I don’t like about it: 

  • Nothing, really!

7. SmartKlean

Best natural stain removers on TheFiltery.com SmartKlean

Price: $12.50 for 2 oz
Type: Stick

We really love how many non-toxic stain remover options are out there, and SmartKlean’s stain remover bar is no exception. Their handcrafted bar is perfect for clothes, carpets, and even fabric baby diapers

Although the bar is not fragrance-free, they use pure eucalyptus essential oil for scent. It’s free from the main offenders when it comes to potentially toxic chemicals: parabens, phthalates, petroleum distillates, phosphates, dyes, and more.

What I like about it: 

  • Plastic-free/Zero-waste

What I don’t like about it: 

  • This one uses borax, which some people may prefer to avoid. (Borax is kind of controversial among natural cleaning aficionados! You can read more about it here.)
  • They do not have a fragrance-free option.

8. Plantish

Best natural stain removers on TheFiltery.com Plantish

Price: $1.80 for 0.5 oz (or $12 for 3.5 oz block)
Type: Stick or Block

Here is yet another simple yet effective, non-toxic stain remover bar! This one is by Plantish, a Canadian company handcrafting all of its products to support a more sustainable future. Their bar is plastic-free, fragrance-free, and plant-based. And, of course, it is free from dyes, phosphates, sulfates, and parabens.

They also say you can cut a chunk of the bar off and throw it in your washing machine with a regular load to add some extra umph. I haven’t tried that yet! 

What I like about it: 

  • One of the most affordable options (the stick is small, but that will at least give you a chance to try it out before spending more money!)
  • Plastic-free/Zero-waste

What I don’t like about it: 

  • Nothing, really!

Use the code THEFILTERY15 for 15% off your first order.


9. MamaSuds

Best non-toxic stain removers on TheFiltery.com from MamaSuds

Price: $8.50 for 0.7 oz
Type: Stick

This stain remover stick one is made “by mamas, for mamas”! The ingredients in this natural laundry stain remover are about as simple as you can get—it’s made with just on ingredient! (Well, in addition to water.)

In addition to clothing, you can use this for pet stains on carpets, spills on upholstery, cloth diapers, and more.

To stock up your laundry room, you can grab their Laundry Bundle, which includes the stain remover stick, laundry detergent, and oxygen boost powder. You can also sign up for a subscription to save some money.

What I like about it: 

  • It’s just made from two ingredients: water and saponified olive oil.
  • Low-waste

What I don’t like about it: 

  • The stain remover didn’t dissolve off of the bar and onto the fabric as easily. It takes a little more rubbing to get the stains out compared to some of the other brands.

DIY Stain Remover Spray

If you like to make your own home cleaning products, here’s an easy recipe for a homemade stain remover that you can make with ingredients you probably already have around your home:

Ingredients:

  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part baking soda
  • 2 parts water
  • A few drops of liquid dish soap (optional, it can help with oil or grease stains)
  • An empty spray bottle

Instructions:

  1. First, pour the vinegar into the spray bottle. 
  2. Add the baking soda. Be careful as adding baking soda to vinegar can create a reaction and cause it to fizz up. To avoid any mess, you might want to do this over a sink.
  3. Once the vinegar and baking soda reaction has settled down, add water to the spray bottle.
  4. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap if you have it on hand. This is optional but can boost the stain-removing power of the spray.
  5. Close the spray bottle and shake it to mix the ingredients well.

How to use:

  1. Spray a generous amount of your DIY stain remover directly onto the stain.
  2. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the solution to penetrate the stain. 
  3. Blot the stain with a clean cloth, or gently scrub it with a soft-bristled brush.
  4. Rinse the area with water, or if it’s an item of clothing, wash as usual.

Remember, always test any homemade cleaning solution on a small, hidden area first to make sure it won’t discolor or damage the material.

Here are some other easy DIY cleaning recipes for your home!


Can vinegar remove stains?

Yes, vinegar can be an effective household item for stain removal as well. The acetic acid in vinegar can help break down stains in fabrics, carpet, upholstery, and other surfaces.

Here are a few ways you can use vinegar to remove stains:

1. Clothes: Vinegar can help remove tough stains like sweat, deodorant, wine, and more. Before washing, apply undiluted white vinegar directly to the stain and let it soak in for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also add a cup of vinegar to your wash cycle for general stain removal and fabric softening.

2. Carpet/Upholstery: For a DIY stain remover, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. Spray the mixture on the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then blot with a clean, dry cloth.

3. Hard Surfaces: Vinegar can help remove stains from hard surfaces like countertops, dishes, and stainless steel. Make a paste with vinegar and baking soda, apply it to the stain, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then wipe clean.

Remember to always test any cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage the material.

Can baking soda remove stains?

Yes, baking soda is also an effective natural stain remover for various materials. Its mild abrasive nature and natural deodorizing properties make it a great solution for removing stains. Here are a few uses:

1. Clothes: You can make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it directly to the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes to an hour before washing as normal.

2. Carpet/Upholstery: Sprinkle baking soda on the stain and let it sit for a few hours to absorb the stain and any odors. Then, vacuum up the baking soda. For more stubborn stain removal, make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it to the stain, let it dry, then vacuum.

3. Hard Surfaces: For hard surfaces like countertops, sinks, and tiles, make a paste of baking soda and water, apply it to the stain, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then scrub with a soft cloth or sponge and rinse thoroughly.

4. Silverware: To remove tarnish from silver, make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Apply the paste with a clean cloth or sponge, then rinse thoroughly and dry for a shining finish.

5. Cookware: For stubborn stains on pots and pans, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda, adding just enough water to create a paste. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then scrub the area with a soft cloth.

Just like with vinegar, it’s important to test the baking soda solution on a small, hidden area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the material.

Can hydrogen peroxide remove stains?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer and bleaching agent, making it very effective at removing stains. It’s particularly good for organic stains, such as blood, wine, or sweat. Here’s how you can use it:

1. Clothes: Apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with cold water. It’s especially effective on white clothes, but be careful when using on colored clothing as it may bleach the fabric. Always dilute with water (usually in a 1:1 ratio) before using on colored fabrics and test on an inconspicuous area first.

2. Carpet/Upholstery: Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water, apply it to the stain, and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. Blot with a clean, dry cloth to absorb the liquid and the stain. Remember to do a patch test on a hidden area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the fabric.

3. Hard Surfaces: You can use hydrogen peroxide to clean stains on countertops, tiles, bathtubs, and sinks. Spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse. 

Remember, hydrogen peroxide can act as a bleaching agent, so be sure to use it with caution and always perform a spot test before applying to a larger, visible area. After applying, make sure to rinse the area well to remove any residue. Also, be sure to keep it away from your eyes and skin, as it can cause irritation.

It Is Possible to Remove Stains Naturally

There you have it—our favorite brands and products to fight stains safely and naturally. There’s no reason to use toxic-chemical-based products when there are so many alternatives that work and keep you and your family safe. 

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About Abbie

Abbie Davidson is the Creator & Editor of The Filtery. With almost a decade of experience in sustainability, she researches and writes content with the aim of helping people minimize environmental toxins in an in-depth yet accessible way.


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