- Getting a stain out of a white shirt can be hard, sometimes even impossible.
- We tried removing stains using two of the most popular detergent brands on the market: Tide and Arm & Hammer.
- Both removed a soda stain completely, but Tide removed a red wine stain more effectively.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
We’ve all been there: You’re at a party, out at a restaurant, or celebrating some holiday with family and suddenly a glass of wine, spaghetti sauce, or maybe a milkshake spills onto your pristine white shirt. You rush to the nearest bathroom to douse the shirt in water and use whatever you have at your disposal (salt? Maybe some baking soda?), then pray that the stain can be removed.
These days, there are a myriad of laundry hacks touting the ability to get stains out of white shirts instantly. But when it comes to your run-of-the-mill detergent, which really has the power to get your clothing looking good as new?
We tried removing stains from a white shirt using two of the most popular detergents in the US: Tide and Arm & Hammer. When it came to removing a soda stain right away, both were viable options. But when it came to removing a wine stain an hour later, Tide did a better job.
Keep reading to see the full experiment.
Whether it’s a nice, crisp button-down shirt or a simple tank top found in the recesses of your brother’s closet, getting a white shirt dirty is the pits.
According to Business Insider, a good laundry detergent removes not just stains but dirt, oil, and sweat from clothing, too. It should also leave your clothing smelling fresh and not alter its colour.
The best laundry detergent you can buy
But what’s the best way to remove a stain from a white shirt? We compared two of the most popular laundry detergents in the US to see which one does a better job.
For this experiment, we also used a brush (technically a dish washing brush), a bucket, and hot water.
To begin with, we chose to stain our white tank top with Coca Cola, a popular soda that’s likely responsible for many stains.
According to previous reporting by INSIDER, the biggest priority after staining a shirt is to prevent the stain from setting, so try removing it as soon as possible.
We first tried to remove the stain with Arm & Hammer by pouring a hefty load of the detergent directly onto the stain.
According to USA Today, Arm & Hammer is a good detergent for those looking to save a bit of cash as it’s one of the lowest-cost brands. Indeed, the bottle, which says it’s good for 32 loads, cost just $US6.99.
We then used a brush to scrub the stain for a couple of minutes to really get the detergent in there.
On its website, Arm & Hammer lists the “ABC’s of stain removal,” which are to act ASAP, to test your stain remover in a discreet place first to make sure it doesn’t alter the colour of your clothing, and to check whether the stain is actually gone before throwing your item into the dryer.
We then put the shirt with the detergent in a bucket of hot water and hand washed it, before letting it air dry.
According to previous reporting by INSIDER, treating a stain with a little water immediately is better than doing nothing (in the moment), so if you’re in a pickle, make a mad dash for the bathroom.
The results? The stain was completely gone.
No stain whatsoever. We’re impressed.
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But what about Tide? How does it compare to the success of Arm & Hammer? We put it to the test as well.
Tide shows up on many laundry detergent recommendation lists,including Business Insider’s 2018 list for the best laundry detergents you can buy. Tide products won both best laundry detergent overall and best laundry detergent pods. This bottle, which says it’s good for 25 loads, cost $US9.99.
This stain got a little out of hand …
According to Mental Floss, some of the most common food stains are coffee, red wine, and ketchup.
We poured a hefty cup of Tide on this monster stain as well, before scrubbing it for about five minutes, and hand washing it in the same bucket of hot water.
On its website, Tide lists two ways of getting rid of soft drink stains: using a Tide stain remover and using cold water, Tide detergent, and a laundry machine. We used the same method we did for Arm & Hammer for consistency.
We wrung the water out of the shirt both times to help it dry as fast as possible.
We then let the shirt air dry.
Tide, too, did a stellar job, and the shirt was left completely stainless.
True to its internet-wide popularity and various positive rankings, Tide left the shirt stainless, too.
But what about a more heavy-duty stain? To test the detergents under a different kind of pressure, we stained the same shirt with red wine and left the stains to soak in for an hour.
Real Simple also recommends blotting wine stains with salt before machine washing.
Otherwise, we used exactly the same process: we poured detergent on the stain, scrubbed it in, then soaked the shirt in hot water before wringing it out.
Admittedly, this time around we scrubbed a little longer to get those stains out.
The outcome: Tide ultimately did a better job removing the soaked-in wine stain than Arm & Hammer.
A red wine stain that has been soaking into fabric for an hour is, of course, much harder to remove than a soda stain that was only there for a few minute. As we don’t always have access to detergent right away, we figured we’d try a harder second test for Tide and Arm & Hammer.
This time around, Tide won the stain test, leaving less of a mark than Arm & Hammer.
In conclusion, both Tide and Arm & Hammer were satisfactory in removing a large soda stain from a white shirt, immediately, though Tide was better at doing it with a wine stain after an hour of letting the stain soak into the shirt.
When you’re out in public and find you’ve gotten messy with your foods, INSIDER recommends blotting the clothes gently, scraping thick stains gently, and using cold water.
- Read more:
- The best laundry stain removers you can buy
- The Laundress makes safe, eco-friendly laundry products for all types of fabrics – including ones that purport to be ‘dry clean only’
- 14 ways you’re ruining your clothes without realising it
- 11 things you should never put in your washing machine
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