Dawn Dish Soap Is the Best Cheap Hack for Removing Stains

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At 28, I’m just now entering the period of my life where I feel pretty confident in my adulting abilities. I have an accountant. I’ve gotten things dry-cleaned. I’ve roasted a chicken (once) that was (mostly) edible. And, recently, I finally cracked the code to stain removal.

I’m quite skilled at getting things like mustard and coffee on my whitest, brightest clothing. And for years, I learned to live with faded yellow and brown spots. Turns out the solution to these stubborn stains has been right in front of my face this entire time: It’s Dawn Dish Soap.

After crowdsourcing stain removal hacks for a story, more than 1/3 of them had the same somewhat surprising solution: Using dish soap to remove the stains — specifically Dawn Dish Soap; the blue kind, to be exact. People messaged me (sometimes in all caps) saying that there was nothing that removed any type of stain better. Naturally, I had to put it to the test. 

My Dawn Dish Soap Stain Removal Experiment

In a rather bold move, I decided to purposely stain my most beloved white T-shirt with the most common offenders when it comes to stains: Ketchup, mustard, and vegetable oil. I squirted a quarter-sized amount of each liquid on the shirt and then smudged each blob around, making sure the pigment and oils had really soaked into the shirt.

Pretty quickly, all three liquids (particularly the oil) had soaked through the the other side of the shirt. Though it pained me, I let them sit on the shirt for a minute or two before spot-treating the stains.

After soaking the spots in water, I squirted some Dawn onto the stains and worked the soap into the stains. While that seemed to do a good job of neutralizing the ketchup stains and most of the oil residue, the mustard stain stuck around. And the combination of the yellow mustard and blue soap gave the stain a somewhat green tint to it — and it was large.

I let the shirt sit overnight and was pleased to see the stains had almost completely disappeared except for the slightest yellow tint in one area. I was impressed with what the soap had done already with the stains and threw it in the washing machine to see if a cycle through the washer and dryer would make much of a difference.

Much to my surprise, the shirt came out of the dryer with zero stains whatsoever — well, almost. If you really, really look, you can see a small yellow tint around the stain, but even that is very, very hard to make out.

My takeaway? Dawn dish soap really does work — even with zero finesse and strategy for applying the dish soap itself. The best part is that it cost me close to nothing. The little blue bottle of dish soap is less than $3 and will likely last me for hundreds more ketchup and mustard stains.

P.S. If you try this at home, the one choice I made that I think helped to remove the stains was letting the dish soap and water mixture sit on the shirt overnight. (My mother-in-law also swears by letting the dish soap soak into the stain for a while).

P.P.S. Have you tried this hack? Did it work for you too?



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