The German Stain Remover I Wish I Knew About Earlier

updated Nov 23, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

I’m not proud to admit that, usually, my stain-removal process is the same no matter what I’m treating. Red wine, cooking oil, Sharpie — I grab my OxiClean, give it a rub, throw it in the laundry, and hope for the best. Sometimes, it works. Lots of the time, it doesn’t. Why? As I’ve learned more about laundry, I’ve also learned that not all stains are created equal. Organic stains like blood or other bodily fluids, for example, require totally different tools and processes than oily spots or ink. 

That’s why targeted stain removers really are best. And that’s why, in Europe, shopping for a stain-remover isn’t as simple as grabbing a single, universal treatment off the shelf and using it on everything. Instead, our European friends have specific, individual treatments for different types of stains. 

Carbona, which is actually a German company, sells a set of stain-removing formulas that embodies this way of attacking spills, spots, and splatters. The Stain Devils Complete Set, which is $40 on Amazon, comes with nine different formulas, depending on what you’re trying to clean. All of them have different ingredients and instructions, which ultimately leads to a more effective process (and less anxiety when you spill an entire glass of red wine on your new white shirt).

Of course, when I discovered the set, I had to try it. I’m sure I’ll eventually use all nine, but I started with the two treatments for stains I struggle the most to get out: Number 5, for fat and cooking oil, and Number 8, for coffee, tea, wine, and juice. 

Credit: Ashley Abramson

Let’s start with my on-purpose Malbec spill. I dripped a bit of the wine (probably a quarter glass) on an off-white towel and then I followed the package instructions, dissolving two teaspoons of the powder in a shallow bowl of hot water. After soaking the stained fabric in the solution for 30 minutes, I rinsed with warm water, and the stain was basically gone — in fact, the water I soaked it in turned dark yellow. I’ll probably treat it with OxiClean before washing to really finish the job, but honestly, the current results are good enough for me!

Credit: Ashley Abramson

For my next experiment, I poured my laundry archnemesis — olive oil — on a white piece of fabric. This stain treatment was a liquid, and the instructions were quite different. First, I put a paper towel beneath the stained cloth and covered the oily spot in the Stain Devils solution. Then, I rubbed the stain with my finger, which transferred most of the oil to the paper towel beneath it. Finally, I rinsed the rag in warm water and threw it in the laundry, mostly because it was hard to tell if the stain was gone when the towel was still wet. The oily stain was totally gone!

My verdict: The approach makes so much sense. I wouldn’t use dish soap to clean my windows, so why would I use an all-purpose stain remover for every spill? I’m definitely a fan of the bespoke way of doing laundry, and I’ll be keeping these little stain fighters around for future messes (which I’m sure will happen soon).