|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Most companies want to keep their recipies secret. However, some people are more generous with information. An example is this NZ-company.
Most stain removers contain some kind of detergent, that is some kind of soap. Depending on the type of stains to be removed, companies can adjust this detergent. Also the material on which the stain remover will be used is important. You can imagine that stainless-steel can survive more agressive detergents than some sensitive silk shirt.
Detergents remove most of the stains. However, some stain removers may contain some biological enzymes to help with the removal of really greasy spots or proteins.
Since stainremovers need a nice smell, some flavoring is added, like lime-smell. Some stainremovers also feature a nice color, which is usually also added separatly.
When the stainremover should also get rid of nasty bacteria and virusses, some kind of bacteria-killer must be added. The most common is bleach, but there are alternatives around.
All of this needs to be dissolved in something to make it usefull. In most household-stain-removers plain water is used. In more agressive stainremovers organic solvents or alcohol could be used to get rid of the stains.
Finally, at least for this story, there may be something to 'scratch' the stain away. This can be any semi-hard material, from sand and chalk to very small iron/aluminium pieces.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Chemistry.