Herbal Stain Remover


Mrs. M.S. Mohite, Ms. Poonam Shelar, Dr. Pravin Pawar, Dr. A.V. Yadav, Ms. Rutuja Gadhave, Mr. Omkar Bhandwalkar.

Gourishankar Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Limb, Satara.

*Corresponding Author E-mail: msmohite.2008@yahoo.com



Stain removal is the process of removing a mark or spot left by one substance on a specific surface like fabric. The objective of present investigation is to formulate herbal stain removal for removing the stain from the fabrics. A solvent or detergent is generally used to conduct stain removal & many of these are available over another. In the present study stain removal was formulated by using herbal ingredients like Eucalyptus oil, Tween 80, Poloxomer, Citric acid, Carboxy methyl cellulose, Rose oil, Neem oil. The three different formulae were formulated viz. formula F1, formula F2 and formula F3.  The six different samples of stain were used for observation of stain removal like tea, ketchup, ink, iodine, mud, blood. The action of prepared formulation was seen on these stained fabrics. All the formulations shows positive results and formula F3 was shows the best results than other formulations.


KEYWORDS: Stain removal, Eucalyptus oil, Tween 80, Poloxomer.




Stain removal is the process of removing a mark or spot left by one substance on a specific surface like fabric. A solvent or detergent is generally used to conduct stain removal & many of these are available over another. 

Many stains may be removed from clothing and household furnishings, increasing their quality and prolonging their useful life.  A stain is a chemical reaction between the staining agent and the fibers and finishes of a fabric.  There is no single product or method for removing all stains, because the chemical makeup of each stain and agent is unique1, 2


Basic principle of stain removal:

1.     Absorb it:

The first thing to do is to lift off or soak up as much of the staining substance as possible from the fabric or surface, using absorbents such as talcum powder and paper towels.


2.     Dissolve it:

Residue that can't be absorbed needs to be dissolved. However, different substances have Differing solubility in solvents. For example, blackcurrant juice is soluble in water, while the curcumin colouring in turmeric requires an alcohol, such as methylated spirits, for it to dissolve. Therefore it's important to consider which solvent will be most effective on a particular stain.


3.     Use a detergent:

Greasy or fatty stains, such as gravy, will not dissolve in water. To get rid of the rest of the stain use detergent. Detergents work by changing the surface tension of water so that it can flow more freely into the crevices of a fabric. Molecules in the detergent form a Chemical link between the staining particles and the water. When the detergent is rinsed away, the water and stain are taken with it.


4.     Use a chemical reaction:

If principles 1 to 3 don't work, it's down to chemical reactivity, using agents such as bleach and enzymes. Bleach strips molecules of the electrons that give them colour, therefore making the stain invisible. Enzymes work by breaking down the bonds that hold the amino acids in proteins together. Separated, the amino acids are more soluble in water so can be more easily rinsed away to remove the stain3


Classification of Stains:

The system used here in classifying stains for removal from washable fabrics is not the only one that has been used. Other books or sources may suggest different methods that also may work. The purpose here is to describe at least one method that should give good results using readily available consumer products or supplies if used correctly. 


This stain classification system starts with stains that require similar treatment and are easiest to remove if treated promptly and correctly. Stains that require two-step or special treatment are listed last. 


Protein Stains:

Soak in cold water. Launder. 

Baby food, Milk, Baby formula, Mucous, Blood, Cheese sauce, Mud, Cream, Pudding, Egg, Urine, Vomit, Gelatin etc.


Fresh protein stains can be removed by soaking and agitating in cold water before washing. These stains contain other ingredients besides protein, but it needs treatment first. If hot water is used first, it cooks the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stains more difficult to remove. If protein stains are dried or old, scrape or brush off crusted matter (if any), then soak in cold water using a detergent or an enzyme presoak product. 


After treating the stain, launder in warm (not hot) water, rinse, and inspect. If stain remains, soakan additional half-hour, and then rewash. Bleach may be necessary if the stain was colored, such as baby food beets, strawberry gelatin, or ice cream.


Tannin Stains:

Do not use soap (bar, flake). Use detergents. 

Alcoholic beverages, Beer, Coffee, Cologne, Soft drinks, Tea, Tomato juice, Fruit juice, Felt-tip water color pen or washable ink, Berries (cranberries, raspberries, strawberries) etc.

Oil-based Stains:

Use heavy-duty detergent with hot water. 

Automotive oil, Hair oil, Bacon fat, Hand lotion, Butter/margarine, Lard, Car door grease, Mayonnaise, Collar/cuff greasy rings, Salad dressing, Cooking fats and oils, Suntan oil or lotion, Face creams etc.


Oil stains can be removed by pretreatment with a heavy-duty liquid detergent, an aerosol petroleum-based solvent pretreatment spray, or a pump-type detergent-based pretreatment spray. If these products are unavailable, you can use a powdered detergent that is mixed with water to make a runny paste and apply that to the stain. 


The heavy-duty liquid detergents or aerosol sprays are more convenient and effective. Work the full-strength heavy-duty liquid detergent into the stain or spray with the pretreatment product, then wash the garment using hot water (if safe for fabric), the recommended amount of detergent for a regular laundry load, rinse, and inspect before drying. Repeat this treatment if removal is incomplete the first time. 


Dye Stains:

Need detergent wash and bleach as safe, for fabric. 

Cherry, blueberry, Grass, India ink, Kool-Aid, Mercurochrome, Mustard, Tempera paint, Color bleeding in wash, Felt-tip pen (permanent ink-may not come out)  etc.


Dye stains are very difficult to remove. First, pretreat the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent, then rinse thoroughly. Soak the stained garment in a dilute solution of all fabric powdered bleach. 


If the stain persists, and the garment is white or colorfast, soak in a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. Bleaching damage to colored garments is irreversible. To decide if a fabric can be bleached safely, use the test described previously. If the stainis not removed in 15 minutes, it cannot be removed by bleaching and further bleaching will only weaken the fabric.


Caution: Since bleachescan alter the color of a fabric as well as the stain, bleach the whole garment and donot try to bleach just a spot.


Combination Stains:

Two step treatment:

(1) Remove oily/waxy portion,

(2) Remove dye portion using bleach as safe for fabric. 


Combination stains contain a variety of ingredients, but these stains usually have an oily/waxy component and a dye or pigment component. Use the procedures recommended for removing oil stains first. 


Step 1 procedure depends on whether stain is in Group A or B as follows: 

Group A.Spray or sponge with dry-cleaning solvent (perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene) then rubs with heavy-duty liquid detergent before washing. 

Eg. Ball-point ink, Candle wax, Carbon paper, Carbon typewriter ribbon, Crayon, Eye make-up, Floor wax, Furniture polish, Lipstick, Livestock paint, Pine resin, Shoe polish 


Group B.  Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent in to stain before washing. 

Eg. Calamine lotion, Catsup or tomato sauce, Cocoa or chocolate, Gravy, Hair spray, Face make-up (powder, rouge, foundation) 


After you've done the procedures above, do step 2-removing dye stains. Start with all fabric bleach because it is less damaging to colors and fabrics. Use liquid chlorine bleaches for tough dye stains, if fabrics are colorfast to bleach4, 5, 6.  


Types of Stains:

There are 3 Types of Stains


1. Organic Stains:

Organic Stains refer to stains that are created by organic compounds. Organic compounds are composed of molecules containing carbon and hydrogen and other elements, but do not include metals. Some organic stains are polar and others are non-polar, which essentially refers to a positive and negative charge on the molecule. Some organic stains are very long molecules and must be broken apart into shorter "chains" before the stain can be properly removed.


2. Inorganic Stains:

Inorganic stains or inorganic compounds that stain are not biological in origin. In other words, the compound is usually man-made or was not found in a plant or animal to begin with. Inorganic stains are typically removed, or covered up, through the application of Inorganic solvents. This is achieved through a redox reaction, where oxygen is introduced and the composition of the stain agent is chemically altered.


3. Pigments and Dye Stains:

Pigment stains and dye stains that contain pigment are composed of chromophores, which are molecules that contain double bonds and emit a specific wavelength of light that shows as the color of the stain. Two typical examples of pigment are wine stains (Tannin) and grass stains (chlorophyll), which are both organic chromophores. These a difficult to remove stains because they don't readily respond to oxidation7.


Procedure for Removal Techniques:

For successful stain removal, the correct technique is as important as the correct product. Use one of the following procedures.


Sponging with absorbent material, such as cotton, white paper towels, or clean white cloths, can transfer the stain from your garment into the sponging pad. Place the stain on absorbent material. Work from the underside of the stain to avoid driving it through the fabric. Sponge the stain with a light brushing motion, working from the edge to the center to prevent carrying the stain out into the fabric. Work carefully and patiently. Avoid circular motions because rings can develop. Brush irregularly around the edge. Move the absorbent material each time you apply the stain remover. Also, change the sponging pad and absorbent material often to prevent the chance of re staining your fabric.


Rubbing with a spoon will loosen stains on sturdy fabrics, but this method should not be used on delicate ones. Place the stained area directly on the work surface without absorbent material underneath. Add stain remover. Rub the stain with the bowl of a stainless steel or plastic spoon, using short, light strokes to avoid damaging the fabric.


Tamping with the bristles of a soft, clean brush works well on some sturdy fabrics. Work without absorbent material under the stain. Use the brush as if you were driving a tack with a small hammer. Raise the brush 2 or 3 inches and bring it down squarely on the stain, using a light action. Never use so much pressure that the bristles bend. Too much tamping can damage even sturdy fabrics. Never try it on delicate ones8, 9, 10, 11.




Poloxomer was purchased from Sigma Aldrich. Citric Acid, Carboxy Methyl Cellulose, Neem oil, Rose oil, Eucalyptus oil are procured from local market, Satara, MS, India.



Preparation of stain remover:

The all ingredients are weighed in proper proportion. Before taking ingredient during weighing all equipment should be dried. Firstly all oils are taken in dried mortal pestle and mixed properly. Then added CMC, citric acid and lastly poloxomer / tween 80. Mixed well until all solids are get dissolved. Then made formulation is filtered & filled into a suitable container. 



Table 1: Composition of Stain Removal





Eucalyptus oil (%)




Tween 80 (%)




Poloxomer (%)




Citric acid (%)




Carboxy methyl cellulose (%)




Neem oil (%)




Rose oil (%)








Stain Removal Chemistry Test in Lab

·       Staining of fabrics (Figure-1)

Each pieces of fabric need to cut into a square. Different fabrics (no. 6) are taken for the testing. The stains are used for testing are as follows: 

Iodine, Blood. Tea, Mud, Ink, Ketchup.

Allowed the stain to dry over a night.


Washing of fabrics:

The dried stained fabrics are taken for the testing. The prepared stain remover formulation was applied on the stained fabrics. Then these fabrics are kept for socking for half to one hour in water containing 4-5 drops of formulation. After socking these fabrics are washed with water then kept for drying.


Figure 1: Different stains




Figure 2: Observation of formulation F1.


Figure 3: Observation of formulation F2


Figure 4: Observation of formulation F3




F1 formulation was failed to remove stains of iodine and ink and it having solid consistency. All other stains are removed. F2 formulation was able to remove stain of iodine slightly but not able to remove ink, other stains are also removed but it also having semi solid consistency. F3 formulation was able to remove iodine & other stains but ink stain slightly remain on fabric. The consistency of formulation F3 remains liquid.



The study concluded that, among all the formulations F3 formulation provide better results as compare to other formulations. The optimized formulation (F3) contains Eucalyptus oil and showed highest consistency and remained in liquid state for longer duration. So, on the basis of result it can be concluded that complete stain removing by help of herbal ingredient is achieved



The authors are very grateful to Principal of Gourishankar Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Limb, Satara for providing necessary facilities for carrying out this work.



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Received on 21.10.2016          Modified on 04.12.2016

Accepted on 21.01.2017      ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Pharmacognosy and Phytochem. 2017; 9(1): 31-36.