Stain Removal Tests

Reporter: Helen Wellings

When it comes to dirt and stains we're an intolerant lot. If something says it'll remove stains then that's what we expect it to do. So for the most stubborn of splotches, which stains removers really work? More than half the clothes we wash at home are made of cotton fabric. We treated cotton T-shirts with the most common, toughest of stains, red wine, coffee, tomato ketchup.

The ultimate challenge, we left the stains to set overnight before threating with stain removers. We also tested how well normal laundry washing detergents got out stains. Cleanliness expert, Julie Finch-Scally of The Duster Dollies cleaning franchises, judged the stain removal and soaker tests. "You have chosen the top 3 as far as I'm concerned. You have red wine always very difficult to remove, tomato ketchup the red stain in that is really difficult to get out, and coffee which soaks into the material." She said

Following the user instructions, we put 7 well-known clothing stain removers and pre-wash soakers to work on the spills.

Coles Ultra Pre-wash Plus 500ml just $1.49,

Napisan OxiAction pre-treatment 1kg $8.29,

Vanish Preen Original 440 ml $8.89,

Bio Zet Attack Ecosmart 380mls $8.39,

Sards Wonder pre-Wash stick 100gm $4.49,

Exit stick 50gm $4.50,

Dylon Ultra Whitener OxiStain Removal 180gm $9.95 - all claimed to remove stains.

Pam Daniels Sales Manager of instant stain remover Exit, a pure vegetable stick or spray, invented in Queensland back in the 1930s explained "You can disappear into the bathroom and it will be a tiny bit wet, other than that it will dry quite quickly."

Julie Finch-Scally assesses the results with an eagle eye. "I would have to go for no 3 being the best and following that would be no 1 because there is just a slight stain from the coffee on that one, Six then follows on and the red wine is nearly gone on that one." She said

Her final verdict "Julie the one that got out all the stains was Napisan, the next is Coles Ultra, there is hardly any red wine and a bit of coffee."

Remember we left the stains to dry overnight, most removers work most effectively, some work only with immediate treatment. Next of our best, Exit "I've seen it in the supermarket and wondered whether it works and it DOES! The red wine was practically gone, the tomato sauce is all gone and only the coffee stain remains." Said Finch-Scally

Sards red wine and coffee haven't disappeared. And the rest, the stains still stand-out. "They didn't remove red wine not the coffee stains the way they should've done." She said

We also scientifically tested how well normal clothes washing-machine detergents removed stains, with no pre-treatments or soaking. A spectrometer measured how much stain was removed.

"What we compared was Omo Ultimate versus a top-selling product in Australia. We stained them with some very common Australian stains - tomato sauce, bbq sauce and we put them under the dryer for 2 days." Said Taylor

These tests were done at the largest detergent research facility in the world, Unilever's massive global stain-removing testing laboratory at Vlaardingen in the Netherlands. That R and D gives Omo, made by Unilever, the edge on its competitors in laundry detergent stain removal, as independent tests, like Choice's, keep proving. Lana Taylor is Omo's marketing manager.

"Here we have the competitor shirt. You can see it hasn't fared very well. The bbq sauce and chocolate custard can still be seen and even the gravy and the chocolate milk. This would be a 6 out of 6, 6 stains all removed. Overall we would give this a rating of 75% stain removal and this rated 100% stain removal for Omo."

Julie's Top tips for most reliable results, act quickly.

"Do it very soon don't leave it in the wash basket for a week because it doesn't work then, it's got to be done as soon as it happens if it is very expensive DONT do it YOURSELF, take it to the drycleaner as quickly as possible." She said

Contact details

Duster Dollies -

'The Third Oldest Profession: The A-Z of House Cleaning' by Julie Finch-Scally -