In researching our recent report on the best stain removers, we came across one especially sticky situation -- green stain removers. "Green-washing," or making (often unfounded) eco claims, occurs in almost every product category these days, but household cleaners are notorious for exaggerating their environmental benefits.
The Today Show provides some excellent pointers for picking out truly eco-friendly products, like watching out for vague claims and double-checking ingredient lists or product websites. But if comparative shopping and crossing your fingers doesn't quite seem like a sure thing, we've got a solution for you. Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and independent non-profits, Green Seal and Eco Logo, have already done the work for you, identifying products that are safe for the environment, and you and your family. Considering only those products that were approved by at least one of these organizations, we've rounded up some of the highest-reviewed, eco-friendly stain removers on the market.
Best Laundry Pre-Treatment: Notably un-green-washed, Shout Triple Acting Trigger, is Shout's original stain remover, and just so happens to also get the EPA's stamp of approval. It gets 4.5 stars from About.com Laundry Guide Mary Marlowe Levertte who says that Shout is effective on food, grass, and red mud stains. It works after pre-treating a stain for only a few minutes if the garment is washed in warm water, but Leverette says it may take a few hours of pre-treating to remove stains in cold water. More than 50 Viewpoints.com users also give Shout Triple-Acting about 4.5 stars. They say it is both effective and budget-friendly. Reviewers say it gets out several different types of stains, including blood, oil, and red wine.
Best Laundry Add-In: For some of us, the best stain remover is the kind you don't have to think about. Vaska Oxygenbleach is just that -- simply add it to a regular load of laundry and this chlorine-free bleach is safe on colors and on all fabrics. Soap.com and Alice.com users give it about 4 stars, while Drugstore.com shoppers give Vaska nearly 5 stars. Almost all of the reviewers say Vaska's oxygenated bleach is easy to use and offers clear instructions. Most also say it works at least as well as bleach, but is less damaging to clothing and isn't harsh on sensitive skin. One reviewer says it got out blood when used as a pre-treatment, though most use it on entire loads to fight dinginess. Leverette gives Vaska a full 5 stars on About.com, and says it removes stains and brightens clothing. She also praises its very short ingredient list -- only three items long. Vaska Oygenbleach is approved by the EPA.
Best Multi-Surface Stain Remover: Green Concepts Stain Remover flies under the radar, but it seems to get the job done. It can be used in various concentrations to clean hard, non-porous surfaces (like floors and counters), carpets and walls. Not to mention, Green Concepts gets eco-seals from the EPA, Green Seal and Eco Logo. While QVC users say the product doesn't work well as a degreaser, most are very impressed with its performance on old, set-in stains. Users say it removes even permanent marker stains. The obvious downside to this product is that it may be difficult to find. In addition to QVC, we also found it on Amazon.
Best Instant Stain Remover: To be fair, the WowGreen Stain Pen is the only eco-friendly instant stain remover we found. It is approved by the EPA, but we found only one review of it (it gets 5 stars) on GreenOptions.com. Given the miniscule amount of user feedback, we'd hardly say this product is a sure thing. But for those looking to bring green stain removal with them on-the-go, the WowGreen Stain Pen may be an option.
For those looking for even more green stain-fighting tips (or hoping to lighten the eco-load on their wallet), there are even more ways to fight stains with household products like salt and vinegar.