The 6 Best Eco-Friendly Stain Sticks of 2021

Remove stains on the go without all the chemicals.

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Did your dog jump on you with muddy paws? Spill a little salsa on your tie? Tap water (a natural solvent) might work just fine for minor messes, but tougher jobs need something stronger, and it’s never a good idea to wait until laundry day to address stains. That’s why it’s helpful to have a stain remover on hand.

There are many stain sticks on the market, including numerous alternatives to those made with harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, or other toxic ingredients. Some are better for the environment as well.

Our picks for the best eco-friendly stain sticks will lift stains, while being gentler on the planet by keeping chemicals out of the water supply.

The Rundown
Made from a blend of organic coconut and sunflower oil, the Meliora Soap Stick busts stains before fabrics go in the wash.
Suitable for anything from grease to pen ink, the Sea & Clean Soap Stain Stick is handmade from coconut oil.
A good pick for the scent sensitive, Ingredients Matter discloses ingredients via an Environmental Protection Agency program.
While many eco-friendly stain sticks are packaged in paper sleeves, the Celsious Wunderbar instead opts for a compostable pouch.
Best for Hand Washing Laundry:
Ethique Laundry Bar & Stain Remover at Walmart
Rather than a stick, the Ethique Flash Laundry Bar & Stain Remover is a burly block, perfect for scrubbing.
Made in cold-pressed batches, Soulshine's Stain Stick Bar cures for four to six weeks, resulting in an enduring stain remover.

Best Overall: Meliora Soap Stick for Laundry Stain Removal

Meliora Soap Stick for Laundry Stain Removal

A vegetable soap made from a blend of organic coconut and sunflower oil, keep this stain stick on hand to treat stains before they set in. To get stains out, simply wet the affected area first, then rub the stain with the Meliora Soap Stick before putting it in the wash.

The Meliora Soap Stick for Laundry Stain Removal is MADE SAFE certified, so it's been screened for ingredients that are hazardous to people and the ecosystem. It's also received an A rating from the Environmental Working Group and has been certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny Program, which means the manufacturer doesn't use animal testing. In addition to the non-toxic, eco-safe ingredients found in their Soap Stick, Meliora is a certified B Corp, which requires adherence to transparent environmental and labor standards, and pledges 2% of its sales to environmental causes through the 1% for the Planet program.

Best Budget: Sea & Clean Soap Stain Stick

Sea & Clean Soap Stain Stick

Suitable for anything from grease to pen ink, the Sea & Clean Soap Stain Stick is handmade from saponified coconut oil (mixed with lye to be turned into a bar soap). To use, simply tear back the paper to expose about a half inch of soap, then wet both the end of the stain stick and the fabric stain before rubbing them together until suds are visible. The stained item is then ready to be laundered, whether right away or later.

Designed with portability in mind, the Sea & Clean Soap Stain Stick is easy to pocket, weighing only 2.6 ounces. A sliver of the Soap Stain Stick dissolved in water can even be used as detergent replacement for easy cleaning on camping or road trips.

Best Unscented: Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick

Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick

Coconut soap flakes, natural salts, and essential oils replace petroleum, abrasive chemicals, and synthetic fragrance in this stain stick. In addition to the saponified coconut oil found in several of our other picks, the Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick also includes salt, for a little extra scrubbing and stain-absorbing power. Its safe for all fabrics—simply wet the stained area, rub on the stain stick, then wash as usual.

For those with fragrance or other sensitivities, Ingredients Matter partners with an Environmental Protection Agency program called Safer Choice, which fully discloses and tracks ingredients. The Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick is not only fragrance free, but also free of detergents, synthetic preservatives, dyes, parabens, phosphates, and brighteners. It's also certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny Program.

Best Packaging: Celsious Wunderbar Stain Stick

Celsious Wunderbar Stain Stick

While many eco-friendly stain sticks are packaged in paper sleeves, the Celsious Wunderbar Stain Stick instead opts for a compostable pouch. You can use this coconut-based vegetable soap to remove oil, makeup, food, and other stains from fabrics. The bio-based, resealable packaging is great for storing the sudsy stain stick afterwards, rather than using a plastic bag.

Founded by sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams, who operate an eco-friendly laundromat in Brooklyn, Celsious pledges a percent of its profits to environmental organizations through the 1% for the Planet program.

Best for Hand Washing Laundry: Ethique Flash Laundry Bar & Stain Remover

Ethique Flash Laundry Bar & Stain Remover

Rather than a stick, the Ethique Flash Laundry Bar & Stain Remover is a burly block, perfect for scrubbing. Simply rub the bar directly onto wet clothing, massage it into the fabric (including wool and silk), soak, and rinse. In addition to coconut oil, the Flash Laundry Bar is scented with lavender and peppermint oils, and also incorporates kaolin clay, a gentle cleanser that absorbs oils.

Vegan and cruelty-free, the Etique Flash Laundry Bar & Stain Remover comes in compostable packaging. Each laundry bar is also made with 100% biodegradable ingredients, making it suitable for camping or other outdoor adventures.

Best Concentrated: Soulshine Soap Co. Stain Stick Bar

Soulshine Soap Co. Stain Stick Bar

The Soulshine Soap Co. Stain Stick Bar may only weigh two ounces, but these coconut-oil based stain sticks pack a punch. Made in small, cold-pressed batches, Soulshine's Stain Stick Bar cures for four to six weeks, resulting in a dense and enduring stain remover. Made from just coconut oil, water, and lye, this stain stick is all cleaning power, without the need for scents or other additives.

To use, wet both the Stain Stick Bar and stain with water, rub until lather is created, then launder normally.

Final Verdict

With thorough certifications from environmental groups and powerful stain-busting, the Meliora Soap Stick for Laundry Stain Removal (view at Amazon) is our top pick for most people looking for an eco-friendly alternative to plastic and detergent stain sticks. Those with fragrance sensitivities should opt for the Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick (view at Amazon), which is not only unscented, but carefully documents and vets its ingredients. If you’re looking for something to take along on a camping trip, the Ethique Flash Laundry Bar and Stain Remover (view at Walmart) is made of 100% biodegradable ingredients and can handle a hard scrubbing.

What to Look for in Stain Sticks

Many commercial stain removers include active ingredients like bleach, borax and ethoxylated alcohols that can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs. But there are less harsh alternatives, like citric acid and washing soda, in addition to the vegetable soap bases found in many eco-friendly stain sticks. More eco-friendly stain removers often begin with vegetable oils derived from coconuts, jojoba, and hemp. Castile soap, for example, is a versatile cleaner and can be used for laundry, dishwashing, and even as a shaving cream. The Environmental Working Group ranks a number of options in their Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger combines comprehensive market research with individual expertise. Our testers have extensive experience with cleaning and other household products that informed our search for the best eco-friendly stain sticks, while third-party certifications and environmental watch dog groups were consulted to evaluate the environmental impact of ingredients and manufacturing techniques.

Author Heidi Wachter has been writing about health and the environment for over a decade. She’s also a DIY cleaning product enthusiast.