Revealed: the bargain £1 stain remover you need in your cupboard

We put Vanish, Astonish and Dr Beckmann stain removers to the test and the results were surprising

Presenter Laura Crombie tested stain removers from Astonish, Dr Beckmann and Vanish on the Real Homes Show
(Image credit: Future)

Struggle to make it through a meal without dropping food down yourself? We feel your pain. That's why we've put three stain removers to the test on some of the most common spills – red wine, coffee, curry sauce and tomato sauce. You can watch the test on the latest episode of the Real Homes Show, or take a look at our findings below. 

For the best way to remove stains from every surface, including carpets, mattresses and toilets, check out our ultimate stain removing guide

The contenders

We tested stain removers from Vanish, Dr Beckmann and Astonish on curry sauce, red wine, coffee and tomato sauce stains

(Image credit: Vanish, Dr Beckmann, Astonish)
  • Astonish Fabric Stain Remover RRP £1 for 750ml – Use the spray nozzle to apply to both sides of the stain, leave for 10 minutes and then wash as normal. The only one of our trio that can be used on silk and other delicate fabrics.
  • Dr Beckmann Pre Wash Stain Devils RRP £2.39 for 200ml – Apply to the stain using the soft brush applicator and leave for 10-15mins before washing as normal. Claims to work on short washes and at low temperatures.
  • Vanish Gold PowerGel RRP £3.50 for 200ml – Apply to stain in circular motions using the head applicator. Leave for five mins and wash as normal. Claims to remove some stains, such as red wine and soy sauce in just 30 seconds.

The stain remover test

We took three white cotton T-shirts and applied coffee, red wine, curry sauce and tomato pasta sauce stains. To make the test really tough, we left the stains for an hour before treating them (well, you can't always get your stain remover our in a restaurant!). We then popped the T-shirts on a 45-minute 30-degree wash and waited to see the results.

TOP TIP: If you're getting stains out of a coloured item of clothing, make sure you test the stain remover on a hidden area before  you apply it to the actual food spill to check it doesn't strip the colour.

The results

We were amazed to find that all three stain removers performed almost identically, despite the price difference. They all got rid of the coffee and red wine stains completely, and left only a very faint trace of tomato pasta sauce. It means the £1 Astonish Fabric Stain Remover (750ml) performed just as well as the £3.50 Vanish Gold Power Gel (200ml).

Curry sauce was where they all struggled, and there were clear orange marks left on all three T-shirts. If you love a curry (and don't want to wear a bib), then we'd suggest you try a homemade remedy for any stains. Mix a tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent with one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups of warm water and apply with a cloth.

Which stain remover should you choose?

If you want one product that can deal with most food stains quickly and efficiently, then buy a bottle of the Astonish Fabric Stain Remover for just £1. For the best results, use a clean cloth or remove any lumps and then apply the stain remover as soon as possible  (always before it has dried). Then maybe just avoid curries for a while... 

Laura Crombie

Laura Crombie is a journalist and TV presenter. She has written about homes and interiors for the last 17 years and was Editor of Real Homes before taking on her current position as Content Director for Country Homes & Interiors, 25 Beautiful Homes Period Living and Style at Home. She's an experienced home renovator and is currently DIY-renovating a 1960s house in Worcestershire. She's been quoted on home design and renovating in The Times, The Guardian, The Metro and more. She's also a TV presenter for QVC and has been a commentator for Channel 4 at Crufts dog show.