Do those portable stain remover pens and wipes really work?

This is the time that stains seem to follow you everywhere. You spill a glass of wine on your shirt at your company’s holiday party or you drop a cocktail shrimp with dipping sauce on your lap.

 Luckily, for you, you remembered to stash a stain remover pen in your purse, and you make a mad dash to the restroom for a quick repair.

 Do these portable laundry aids really work, or are they just an expensive waste of time and purse space?

 Tide to Go is a marker-sized magic pen designed to remove fresh food and drink stains without the need for water or a washing machine. Users appreciate its portability. It’s handy to have in a purse, car, desk drawer or luggage for those unexpected stains that need to be dealt with immediately, before they set into the fabric. It also comes in the form of a stain eraser.

 According to, Tide to Go does well against a variety of fresh food stains, including ketchup, coffee and juice. Its manufacturer, P & G, recommends it for use on tomato juice, ketchup, barbecue sauce, grape juice, coffee, wine, tea and chocolate syrup. Users say it doesn’t perform quite as well on grease stains or stains that have set into the fabric.

 Reviewers like the fact that Tide to Go is portable, making it easy to treat stains as soon as they happen. According to the review, testers were happy to see stains disappear almost immediately, but they noted in agreement that it doesn’t work universally on everything. In fact, sometimes, it can cause stains to spread and may even damage some fabrics or remove dye.

 Real Simple magazine recommended Tide to Go as the best stain remover for clothing, yet received very mixed reviews from and Following the directions exactly is essential with this product, testers suggest.

 Tide to Go is easily found at many point-of-purchase displays at grocery stores, drug stores, discounters, etc. At less than $3, it would make an affordable, useful stocking stuffer.

 Another popular on-the-spot stain remover is Shout Wipe & Go, individually wrapped moist wipes for stain removal. Most effective on fresh stains from food and beverages, they can be safely used on most fabrics, according to

 Package directions tell users to remove any excess stain before using the wipe. Then, working from the outside of the stain toward the center, blot or wipe away the stain. Additional tips are included inside for getting the best results. The package states that Shout Wipe & Go is safe for all colorfast washable and dry cleanable fabrics. For delicate fabrics like silk or rayon, test first on a hidden area before using on a visible surface.

 One reviewer on tried the wipes on a several stains, including mud and coffee on a cotton shirt. Both stains were fresh and the wipes removed both stains. Reviewers also commented that the wipes are quite wet and will leave a damp spot where the stain was, but it will dry quickly. To speed the process, blot the cleaned area with a white paper napkin or paper towel.

 The downside is that many reviewers said they were hard to find in many stores, so many resorted to buying them online.

 The Spray and Wash Stain Stick is another on-the-go pre-treat product with a lot of convenience and ease of use. Busy families can treat stains now and wash.

 Once you’re at home or near a washing machine, you can place garments with multiple stains into the washer with a stain remover that is added to the laundry. There are many stain removing products that can be used successfully at laundry time.

 The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tested 10 red wine stain removers to find the top three at removing red wine from both fabric (polyester and cotton) and carpeting. The top removers worked better than salt, laundry pre-treater or a carpet cleaning out getting out Cabernet.

Wine on your clothes, carpet?

Here are the winners to remove red wine:

Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover ($9.50 for 12 oz.), which comes in a variety of sizes, even purse-sized for travel.

Wine Enthusiast Wine B’Gone Ultra ($19.95 for 16 fl. oz.) Whether you’re seeing red on fabric, countertops or carpet, this is a miracle worker on both hard and soft surfaces. It also works well on coffee, tea and fruit. Reviewers said to apply this cleaner to carpeting lightly, as it’s a bit sudsy.

Gonzo Wine Out Stain Remover ($7.29 for 12 fl. oz). This squeeze bottle stain remover was easy to use and dispensed neatly without over saturating carpets. It’s less expensive than the other is, as it was found to be effective at cleaning other surfaces.

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