Stain Pen

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Stain Pen - Disappointing Product

Dec 10, 2005 (Updated Sep 22, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The convenient mini size bottle - would be a pro, if it worked.

Cons:Doesn't remove stains, hard to apply (especially the mini size bottle)

The Bottom Line: I was really hoping this product would work as advertised, but it disappointed me on so many levels. It's not easy to use, and it simply doesn't work.

I was so excited to try the Stain Pen. I thought it would be such a handy item. It comes in a 3 oz bottle that resembles a roll on antiperspirant bottle, and also a cute mini version that's .25 oz. The smaller one is about the size of a lip balm. I thought, how convenient it would be to toss the mini version in the car, in my purse, in my desk, etc. Then no matter where I am, when I notice a stain, I can attack it instantly!

But, convenience isn't really enough, if the product doesn't work, right? So the first step was to test the product.

In order to test it thoroughly, I took a pair of white shorts, and cut them into thirds. My plan was to stain each fabric equally, and launder them. One fabric would receive no pre-treatment at all, one would receive Shout (my usual pre-treater) and one would receive Stain Pen.

I made four stains on each fabric: mustard, ketchup, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray, and grape jelly. I felt very "scientific" as I applied the items equally to all three fabrics, and even took pictures so I could document the results. (Too bad these reviews can not include graphic images!) I allowed the stains to sit for a few minutes, then blotted the excess using clean paper towels. One fabric I set aside. I then sprayed a generous amount of Shout on the stains on the second fabric, and grabbed the Stain Pen for the third fabric. But - before I can apply the Stain Pen, according to the instructions, I had to place a towel underneath the fabric. It says to do this step, if possible, to "absorb stain away from fabric". I don't know if that really works or not, but since that's what it says to do, that's what I did. Interestingly, this step is NOT included on the instructions that appear on the bottle, it's only mentioned in the pamphlet that came with my samples.

Using the Stain Pen:

The first thing that occurred to me was "this is dumb" as I rolled the product on the fabric. How much easier life is with a spray bottle, rather than a roll-on. After all, the roll-on ball has to come in contact with the stain, so I was actually transferring food stains from the fabric to the roll-on ball. I kept having to use a paper towel to wipe the roll-on ball clean so as not to contaminate the next stain. Of course, I was only testing the product, but in a real-life situation, I would still have to constantly wipe the roll-on ball clean with each use.

The next thing I noticed was the odor of the Stain Pen product. It's pretty bad. Not so bad that it would prevent me from buying the product, but still, it's pretty bad. When I was finished applying it, I was very happy to wash my hands with a nice, fragrant soap, to remove the Stain Pen's odor from my fingers.

On the last stain, I decided to try the mini version. This was a big disappointment. I simply could not get any liquid to roll out. The ball doesn't roll easily as it does in the larger version. I had to use my fingers to spin the ball, so that the wet side was facing out. Even then, the ball would not roll, so I'd get a tiny drop of liquid out, and nothing more. Plus, I was having to get the stuff all over my fingers each time I manually rolled the ball. Thinking it was just some bad luck, I opened up the second mini sized bottle, and had the same result. What a real shame... because if the product works as well as the pamphlet describes, the mini size would be such a convenience... but not if I can't get the liquid to come out! I gave up using the mini size, and went back to the large size bottle for that last stain.

Following the Stain Pen instructions, I then dabbed some water on each of the four stains.

My conclusion so far, regarding the usage of this product: A spray bottle is much easier, and cleaner to use, the product has a pretty strong odor, the mini sized bottle is completely useless, and the extra steps of placing a towel underneath, and blotting with water after are a bit of a pain.

Of course, what REALLY matters are the results. If the product works as described, then these minor annoyances would all be worth it.

After allowing the fabrics to sit for a while, but before laundering, here are the results:

Mustard and ketchup: somewhat lighter on both pre-treated fabrics. No difference between the two pre-treatments.
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter: much lighter on both pre-treated fabrics. No difference between the two pre-treatments.
Jelly: Completely disappeared on the Stain Pen fabric, and much lighter on the Shout fabric.

OK - so, for 3 out of 4 stains, applying Stain Pen lightened the stain, but didn't take it away completely (as advertised). Furthermore, Stain Pen didn't work any better than Shout. On one stain, it worked to completely remove the stain, and worked better than Shout. At this point, I'm thinking this is not a miracle "on the spot" stain remover, but the real test would be after laundering, to see if Stain Pen makes a difference.

So I washed all three fabrics in warm water using my normal detergent.

The Final Results:

Mustard: The mustard stain is lightest on the Stain Pen fabric, but not completely gone. Conclusion: Stain Pen helped to lighten the stain, but did not remove it completely. It worked better than Shout at lightening the stain.

Ketchup: The ketchup stain is much lighter, though still visible, on all three fabrics. Conclusion: Stain Pen did not help remove this stain, and did not do any better than Shout.

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray: This stain is completely gone on all three fabrics. Conclusion: This stain was removed whether the fabric was pre-treated or not.

Jelly: the jelly stain is completely gone on both pre-treated fabrics, but is still visible on the non-treated one. Conclusion: Stain Pen helped to remove this stain (but so did Shout).

So - will I buy the Stain Pen?

No. In the one case where it worked better than my normal pre-treater (the mustard stain), it still did not remove the stain completely. So my shorts would still be ruined. I'll stick with my normal pre-treater, one that's easy to spray on, doesn't smell, and doesn't require towels, or water blotting.

I can't tell you the price, as I received one 3 oz. bottle, and two .25 oz mini bottles of this product from Source Direct Holdings, Inc. with the mutual understanding that I will post my honest opinion on

Recommend this product? No

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