The best portable, on-the-go stain removers The best portable, on-the-go stain removers

Never Worry About Stains Again

Worry About Stains Again

The best on-the-go stain removers for clothes, dry-clean only garments and shoes

Blame it on my early years as a Boy Scout, where the motto "be prepared" was drilled into us over and over again. But, in truth, it's an adage that's served me well. I tend to overpack slightly for trips, conduct vigorous research before any purchase and perhaps, most importantly, I'm never too far from a stain-remover. Because really, nothing sucks the cool out of you faster than dribbling iced coffee on your shirt. Or a plop of ketchup on the crotch of your pants.

Maybe people aren't quietly judging you. Maybe they're not thinking you're a slob, but it sure feels like it, right? But you're not going to wear a bib. So the easiest way to keep your dignity intact is to make sure you've got a good on-the-go stain remover. And thankfully, they've only gotten more effective over the years. Here are the best on the market. Stock up accordingly.


Tide to Go Pen

For Simple Spills

It really doesn't get easier than a seemingly magical marker that you rub over a spill and erase it away. Perhaps this is why the Tide pen has emerged as the gold standard for mobile stain fighters. And that's because Tide enlisted ingredients that attack different stains in different ways—from hydrogen peroxide and citric acid to "alkyl dimethyl amine oxide," a compound that latches on to oils and grease to help lift them out of fabrics.

Tide to Go pen,
$3.69 at Target

Shout Wipe & Go

For Optimal Portability

We found these to have the same stain-fighting abilities as the Tide pen, but the textured wipes can tackle larger stains easier than a marker tip. Another upside is that you can purchase one box that has a whole bunch of individually-wrapped wipes, so you can spread them around in all your bags, desk drawers, jacket pockets or wherever else you may need one. And the individual packaging also means it won't dry out even if it stays in a suitcase pocket for a year.

Shout Wipe & Go, $5.49
(for a 12 count box) at Amazon

Spray 'n Wash Pre-Treater Stick

For When You Can Take
the Item Off

This one doesn't work the same as a Tide pen or Shout wipe. This is a proper pre-treater, but we're including it here because several fashion insiders have turned us onto this for travel. Packable and potent, you simply swipe this stick over the offending stain, let it sit for bit and then rinse it out in the sink. By the time the garment (or shoe) is dry, the stain is gone.

Spray 'n Wash Pre-Treater stick,
$9.38 (for two) at Amazon


Dryel On-the-Go

For Dry-Clean Only Garments

There are some items you might not want to use detergents or even a Tide pen on. This pen works in much the same way but is safe for dry clean only clothes and hand washables such as wools, silks, rayons, linens, cottons and other special care fabrics. The soft-touch applicator helps work out and lift stains. Then simply blot the fabric dry. The peroxide-free formula leaves no residue or any other clue the stain was ever there.

Dryel On-the-Go,
$10.19 at Amazon

Jason Markk Quick Wipes

For Your Shoes

From the preeminent sneaker care brand, Jason Markk, these clever individually-packaged wipes keep scuffs, spills and other stains off your beloved kicks. One side is plain and smooth for simple spot cleaning on fabrics and knits, while the other is built with textured blue dots to give each wipe a slight abrasiveness—ideal for rubber midsoles and tougher stains.

Quick Wipes, $30
(for a 30 count box) at Amazon

Purell Hand Sanitizer Gel

For When the Others
Don't Work

Some stains are really tough. Sriracha, pen ink or mustard can be notoriously difficult to remove from fabric. Especially if they're not caught right away. This is a tip we got from renowned cleaning expert and best-selling author Jolie Kerr. Rubbing alcohol will do the trick on those seemingly impossible stains. And since most people don't have a bottle of drugstore isopropyl alcohol handy, use the next best thing that is much more portable: instant hand sanitizer, which has a high concentration of alcohol. Massage a small amount into the stain and it lifts it out and then rinse with water (if needed).

Purell hand sanitizer gel,
$2.18 at Wal-Mart

How to remove a stain


When tackling a spill, work from the center of the stain outward to help avoid leaving a ring around the cleaned area.

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