The Super Easy Stain-Fighting Tool My Teen Reaches for Again and Again

published Jun 14, 2022
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Credit: HalynaRorn/Shutterstock

My oldest daughter is thirteen, and after a year of virtual school that sucked all the sparkle out of her, I don’t take any school drop-offs or backpack heaves, or funny teacher stories for granted. She just finished her seventh-grade year, fully in person, and hearing the joys and trials of middle school life — among people — is something I’ll never listen to without gratitude. 

Along with daily stories of dodging the dress code police and what silly things her friends said or did walking to or from school, I’ve come to expect another story theme that I never saw coming: how my daughter and her friends used a Tide Pen that day. Yes, a Tide Pen. Wait for it…

I feel sheepish for never trying them out earlier (I have five children after all!), but the first time I ever actually used one was when I was trying them out for an article, which interestingly enough was about alternate uses for a Tide Pen around the kitchen. With a multipack of Tide Pens at the ready, my family began to reach for them and try them out for their intended purpose — removing stains on the spot. (No pun intended, but, wow, that was a good one, right?)

Tide Pens work like those chalkboard pens or metallic pens that you have to “pump” to get the ink out of. The liquid, in this case a special formulation of detergent that works without water or the need to rinse, fills the tip of the pen, which you can use to gently agitate the stain remover into the stain. Treated stains disappear right before your eyes and using them has become addictive for my daughter, who never leaves home without one. She’s used them to whiten the white rubber on her Converse and for addressing various stain mishaps that happen at school, like splattering tomato sauce on her shirt at lunch or sitting on a muddy spot on a bench. Her friends have come to rely on them too. She tells me how they come to her with their own stain emergencies, knowing she’s armed with a way to solve them. They’ve come to rely on Tide Pens so much that running out of them has become an “emergency” of its own in my home: “Mom! We’re out of Tide Pens! Can you order some more? Soon?!” 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

I must admit, her newfound obsession is great for me because it saves me some hassle on the backend. Although my daughter does her own laundry — most of the time — because she addresses stains as they happen, neither of us has to deal with treating old, set-in stains, or mourning the shirt that got run through the dryer with a forgotten stain and is therefore marred for good. 

Who knew that a simple Tide Pen would be one of my teen’s must-haves? I can’t say I saw that coming, but my inner stain-fighting pro is totally here for it. It’s a trend, albeit an unexpected one, that makes everyone in our household happy.