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Here’s What’s Inside Those Magical Stain-Erasing Pens

Its inevitable: After a wine tasting, spaghetti dinner, or spirited rib-eating competition, your white shirt will look like the fledgling stage of a Jackson Pollock painting. A more dignified alternative to wearing a bib? The Tide To Run stain releaser pen, a handy cleanser highlighter you rub on blotches to build them vanish. For this magical weapon of stain destruction to tackle an array of food threats, the chemists at Tide enlisted ingredients that assault different stains in different ways, working in combination to erase everything from coffee to ketchup. Out, damn places!

Hydrogen Peroxide

This common household product is here to delete stains. The chemical tends to produce free radicalsyes, the ones that people battle with antioxidant-rich superfoodsbut here their electron-stealing, cell-damaging powers are used to destroy chromophores, the molecular structures that devote red wine and BBQ sauce their eye-catching hues. Once the structures are disrupted, the colour fades, and its like the stain was never there.

Trimethoxybenzoic Acid

Hydrogen peroxides free radicals are effective color busters, but they can react with molecules theyre not supposed to, frittering away their power on nonstain distractions. So the benzoic acid acts like a kind of vestibule monitor, scooping up rascal revolutionaries and containing their chaos to the stains theyre decolorizing.

Alkyl Dimethyl Amine Oxide

Water sucks at getting grease off, so Tide uses compounds called surfactants that mix well with both. Alkyl dimethyl amine oxides water-loving head grips the H2O in this solution, and its alkyl chain latches on to petroleums, prying off small chunks of stain and surrounding them, where they remain incarcerated until you do your laundry. That route, the hydrogen peroxide can perform its bleaching run more thoroughly, and those globs of penne alla vodka dont end up back on your clothes in the wash.

Sodium Alkyl Sulfate

Compounds in this class of surfactant molecules are known for their foaming and emulsifying prowess. Found in everything from shampoo to dish cleanser, here SAS emulsifies stains, pulling them away from your precious fabric.

Citric Acid

The ingredient that makes lemons and limes sour, this acid lowers the pH of the solution toward neutral, which helps the active ingredients work correctly and maintains this stuff from irritating your skin. It also does doubled obligation by snapping up magnesium and calcium ions that might interfere with the surfactants.


The booze molecule has useful properties other than getting you shwastyits also one of the best solvents out there. Here, it maintains all the other ingredients in liquid form so the surfactants can get to the stain properly instead of gunking up inside the pen. Once the stuff is applied, it evaporates.

Sodium Hydroxide

Also known as lye, this caustic compound has been used for everything from unclogging sinks( as a main ingredient in Drano) to dedicating traditional Bavarian pretzels their crusty exterior. Since its pH is so high, the base can work alongside citric acid to tweak the( often acidic) food stain back to neutral, which helps the hydrogen peroxide and surfactants work more effectively.

Dipropylene Glycol Butyl Ether

A cleaning solvent that, like ethanol, helps keep the surfactants liquid so that they are able to infiltrate and withdraw existing stain from your clothes fibers. But it also one-ups ethanol by dissolving oily material from the stain itself and doesnt evaporate into so much vapor as soon as it leaves the pen.

Magnesium Sulfate

After youve erased the offending spot from your fancy dress shirt, this substance helps dry the solution this is why it doesnt leave a telltale wet spot while youre out and about. Magnesium sulfate is also called Epsom salt, and its manufacturers claim that, dissolved in a bath, it relieves everything from muscle aches to stress. We dont know about that, but at least here it dissolves the stress of a stained shirt.

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