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A Real Life Review of the Unscented Stain Stick

By Sam Smith

Let me tell you a tiny bit about myself.

I am a coffee loving, red wine-drinking, small-scale farmer. I am a mother of four kids, two dogs, and we have a flock of chickens that is constantly growing. There is no shortage of opportunity to ruin a perfectly good shirt, and I have an inexplicable penchant towards white linen pants. Am I a glutton for punishment? Obviously, yes. My clothes run the gauntlet of stains from sunup to sundown, and often in between (midnight salsa snacks are not so sneaky when you go back to bed with a huge red stain down the front of your pyjamas).

I’ve never been a fan of the Name Brand Stain Sticks™. That’s not to say I haven’t bought my fair share of them in the past. For the most part they have ended up drying out at the bottom of a tote bag, forgotten in the medicine cabinet, or lost under the passenger seat of my car with a million Cheerios, crumpled receipts, and that dirty old food container (note to self: clean your car). Not only that, but when I have made the effort to use them, they haven’t been all that effective. I end up with a glaringly-obvious off-white stain as opposed to the glaringly-obvious coffee stain. The point is, my clothes are gross. The Name Brand Stain Sticks™ end up in the trash along with the articles of clothing that I have thoroughly, well, trashed. The value of buying that sustainable, ethically made plain white t-shirt feels neutralized when I end up tossing it, since it’s looking more like a Jackson Pollock painting than a minimalist-chic wardrobe piece.

Enter: Botanical Trading Co.’s Unscented Stain Remover Stick

A small white stain stick wrapped in kraft paper and tied up with a white string.

The ingredient list is charmingly simple: coconut oil, distilled water, and sodium hydroxide. While minimal, these ingredients pack quite the punch when it comes to breaking down a stain. The coconut oil contains lauric acid which acts as a surfactant binding to the dirt on a molecular level. The sodium hydroxide converts fat and protein molecules into soap, thereby making them water soluble. The combination of the two ingredients covers most common household stains.

Using the stain remover stick is practically foolproof. Wet the area with the stain (I used my reCap Adapta Spray Lid) with warm water. Then you rub the stain remover stick into the stain until a soapy lather foams. That’s it. It’s that easy.

The Stain Lineup:

Each stain was applied in the following amounts to a white cotton pillow case. They were then dried for 15 minutes, and ironed for 5 seconds each to set the stain. 

  • Liquid Foundation - 1ml
  • Black Coffee - 15ml (plus I spilled some extra on there by accident)
  • Red Wine - 5ml
  • Salsa - 5ml
  • Mustard - 5ml
  • Grass - handful of blades rubbed across the surface 5 times
  • Dirt - 5ml, rubbed in
  • Bacon Grease - 5ml, applied while still in liquid form

Liquid Foundation: 6.5/10

This is likely the type of stain you would want to take care of pretty quickly on an article of clothing. The evidence of the stain remains around the edges, where there was a higher buildup of product. More than 50% of the stain is completely removed.

Black Coffee: 10/10

I barely have words. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there was coffee here. Very convenient for someone who deals with this type of spill often. Every. Single. Day. I’m in shock. I have never seen something clean coffee so well.

Red Wine: 6/10

The curse of red wine is that the more of it you enjoy, the more likely you are to end up with a stain on your shirt, or your carpet, or your couch. Roughly 60% of the stain has been lifted completely. There is a subtle discolouration where the remaining stain is, where the highest concentration of liquid was applied.

Salsa: 7/10

The stain is about 70% lifted. The discolouration is extremely minimal, but the entirety of the area shows evidence of where the stain was. I maintain hope that I can continue my midnight snacking without being busted the next day.

Mustard: 6/10

The mustard stain is about 45% gone. Interestingly, as soon as the stain remover stick was applied, the mustard stain turned dark red. I was convinced I would end up with a strange red spot, but it is a significantly faded yellow. The edges of the stain where less product was applied is significantly lighter than the centre. Had this stain been wiped away immediately and then treated, this stain would likely have lifted much better.

Grass: 5/10

Grass is one of the most notoriously difficult stains to get out. The bright green was faded to a medium-light brown, but remains the most aggressive stain of the test, and a bane to soccer players worldwide.

Dirt: 10/10

Another total knockout! This stain is completely lifted, which is great news for someone who insists on gardening in white t-shirts.

Bacon Grease: 10/10

Rounding it out with another huge win! While this won’t help with the bacon grease splash burning the heck out of your hand, you’ll at least have no evidence of it on your clothes. The stain is 100% lifted.

 

There you have it folks! Is it a miracle product? Of course not, but nothing is. This is about as damn close as you’ll get though. It is my opinion this product works as well, if not better, than the Name Brand Stain Sticks™, and manages to be eco-friendly and beautifully simple. After applying the stain stick again and washing again, the stains faded even more! If you have a stubborn stain, it might be worth applying and washing a few times until it fades. 

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