In testing, the Tide to Go instant stain-remover pen does well against a variety of fresh food stains, including ketchup, coffee and juice. It does less well on removing grease stains and stains that have set. Reviewers like the fact that Tide to Go is portable, making it easy to treat stains as soon as they happen. Testers are also very happy to see stains disappear instantly, but most agree it doesn't work on everything. Some users caution that Tide to Go can cause stains to spread and may even damage some fabrics or remove dye. Garments with multiple stains might benefit from a stain remover that is added to laundry, such as OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder (*Est. $6 for 1.5 lb.). Users who may forget to pre-treat a stain before laundering will appreciate that Shout Advanced Ultra Concentrated Gel (*Est. $3.50 for 8.7 oz.) can be used up to a week before laundering, unlike most other stain pre-treatments.
Tide to Go is tested by ConsumerReports.org and it's recommended as the best stain remover for clothing in Real Simple magazine (although this article is not dated and does not specify which other stain removers were tested). Tide to Go receives very mixed reviews from consumer reviewers at Amazon.com and Viewpoints.com. While some users claim it is a cure-all, others report the stain remover may not work on certain stains or on set-in stains. Other considerations include a change in the smell of Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover after extended use and a loose cap that's prone to fall off. Following the directions exactly is essential with this product.
While the list of ConsumerReports.org's top-performing stain removers is only available to subscribers, some of the results are reported at various media outlets. According to ConsumerReports.org, store brands, like CVS and Walgreens, offer good value and work just as well as the top-rated name-brand competitors. All three are tested on gravy, ketchup, wine, tea, soda and lipstick stains. The products were all tested on a variety of fabrics, including cotton and synthetics.
Review: On-the-Spot Stain Removers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2011
2. Good Housekeeping
In this round-up, Good Housekeeping lists 100 problems that are solved by products with the Good Housekeeping Seal. Tide To Go earns the seal, and Good Housekeeping Research Institute editors say this pen is the best on-the-spot stain remover they've tested. It appears to be the only instant stain remover to receive the Good Housekeeping Seal. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute puts products through very rigorous testing, but this article does not offer as much value as it might have if it detailed the specific results of testing.
Review: 100 Problems Solved by the Seal, Editors of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute
Many Amazon.com users offer feedback on the Tide To Go pen. While it doesn't receive terrible reviews, with only 4 stars it is not as highly rated as Shout Instant Stain Treater Wipes for removing stains on the go. The reviews are very mixed. Many like the product and some even claim it works on old and new stains as well as oil-based and tannin stains. However, others say the product hardly works at all. One reviewer notes that the material used for the tip of the Tide To Go pen has changed since the product was first released; the hard plastic tip used now is ineffective compared to the old softer, absorbent tip. Others say that the product does work sometimes, but may also spread the stain around or leave a ring once the fabric dries. Some say the pen is too harsh for delicate fabrics. Overall, it appears following the instructions exactly -- including what fabrics and stains to use it on -- is essential.
Review: Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover, Contributors to Amazon.com
The Tide To Go pen gets an immense number of reviews -- more than 1,000 at the time of our visit. But the reviews are not all positive, with the Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover earning an average of 82 out of 100. Reviewers say the pen is small, convenient and takes out many food stains. However, it does not remove many other types of stains, including ink and blood. Like Amazon.com reviewers, users at Viewpoints.com note that the Tide To Go pen can damage some fabrics.
Review: Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com