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How to Remove Those Tricky Stains

Getting a stain, large or small, can ruin a perfectly good item in seconds. You try to rinse clothes or linen with water and soap and all other concoctions but nothing helps, and you end up having to give up a beloved t-shirt or favorite table cloth. Luckily, there are some little known tricks that can save your stained item. We have compiled a laundry list (pun intended) of perfected methods that will ensure you always have stain-free fabrics.

Click on an item in the table below to discover its cleaning instructions.

Glue


 

Drinks
 

Blood
 


Bodily
fluids


 

Candle
wax

 

Chocolate


 

Collar &
Cuff soil


 

Cosmetics


 

Body
Spray


 

Dye
transfer



 

Egg




 

Fabric
softener

 

Grass

 

Ink
 

Lipstick


Mud


 

Nail
polish

 

Paint

 

 

 

Perfume

 

Sweat

 

Scorch

 

Shoe
polish



 

Brown /
yellow
stains

 

Dairy
products

 

Red
wine

 

Mustard


 

 

Fruit
& juices


 

 
 

Glue

  1. Apply ice to harden the surface and then scrape with a dull knife.
  2. Saturate the sticky area with a prewash stain remover or cleaning fluid.
  3. Rinse and then launder.

This method also works well for chewing gum and rubber cement marks.

Drinks / Beverages

This method works for tea, coffee, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks.

  1. Sponge or soak the stained area in cool water.
  2. Apply prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or liquid detergent booster. A mixture of powder laundry product and water acts similiarly.
  3. Launder with oxygen bleach or fabric safe sodium hypochlorite bleach.

Note: older stains also respond to being soaked in a product containing enzymes before being laundered.

Blood

For fresh stains soak in cold water and launder. Using hot water will set blood stains.

For dried stains soak the fabric in warm water with a product containing enzymes then launder. 

Bodily fluids

  1. Soak or pretreat the fabric with a product containing enzymes.
  2. Launder with oxygen bleach or safe-for-fabric sodium hypochlorite bleach. 

Brown / yellow discoloration

  1. You can buy a rust remover recommended for fabrics.
  2. Launder.

Note: Using sodium hypochlorite bleach will intensify discoloration. 

Candle wax

  1. With a dull knife scrape off the surface wax.
  2. Place stain between paper towels and press with a warm iron.
  3. Make sure to replace the paper towels frequently as to absorb the wax and avoid transfer stains.
  4. Sponge any remaining stain with a prewash stain remover or cleaning fluid and blot with paper towels.
  5. Let this dry then launder.

Chocolate

  1. Pretreat the stained area with a stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. You can also use a paste of powder detergent or laundry additive with water, or rub the stain with a bar of soap.
  2. Launder.

Collar / Cuff soil

  1. Pretreat these areas with a prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or a paste of water and powder detergent.
  2. Launder. 

Cosmetics

  1. Choose a prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or mix a paste of powder detergent with water and apply it to the fabric.
  2. You can, alternatively, rub with a bar of soap.
  3. Launder.

Dairy products

  1. Pretreat or soak the stained area with a product containing enzymes.
  2. For fresh stains soak for 30 minutes. For more aged stains soak for several hours.
  3. Launder. 

Deodorants and anti-perspirants

For light stains pretreat with a liquid laundry detergent before laundering.

For heavy stains pretreat with a prewash stain remover and then allow it to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Launder with an oxygen bleach.

Dye transfer

  1. First try to restore the fabric using a packaged color remover, following the label directions.
  2. Launder.
  3. If the dye remains, launder again using safe-for-fabric sodium hypochlorite bleach. For non-colorfast fabrics, you can soak the material in oxygen bleach before laundering.

Egg

  1. Soak the egg stained area with a product containing enzymes.
  2. Soak for 30 minutes. For aged stains soak for several hours.
  3. Launder.

Fabric softener

  1. Dampen the stained area, rubbing the stain with a bar of soap.
  2. Rinse out the soap, then launder.

Fruit juices 

Simply wash the garment with bleach that is safe for fabric. 

Grass

  1. Pretreat or soak the material with a product containing enzymes and then launder.
  2. If the stain persists launder with oxygen bleach, or sodium hypochloride bleach, if it is safe for fabric.

Ink

Note: Laundering may set ink. It’s recommended that you pretreat the stain before washing,

Option 1: Treat with a prewash stain remover and then launder

Option 2: Denatured alcohol or cleaning fluid

  1. Sponge the stained area with alcohol or cleaning fluid before you apply to the stain itself.
  2. Place the stain face down on paper towels and apply the alcohol or cleaning fluid to the back of the stain. Replace the paper towels frequently.
  3. Rinse the stain thoroughly then launder.

Lipstick

  1. Place the fabric down on a few layers of paper towel.
  2. Dappen a towel with rubbing alcohol and dab the stained area repeatedly. The lipstick should be showing on the paper towel.
  3. If any lipstick remains spritz with a prewash spray on both sides of the fabric.
  4. Let this sit for several minutes then scrub with a small brush.
  5. Rinse, wash and air dry. 

Mud

When the mud has dried, brush off as much as you can.

For light stains apply a paste of powder detergent with water, a liquid detergent booster or a liquid laundry detergent, then launder.

For heavy stains soak in a product containing enzymes before laundering.

Mustard

  1. Apply a prewash stain remover to the stained area
  2. Launder the fabric using oxygen bleach or safe for fabric sodium hypochlorite bleach. 

Nail polish

Note that some nail polishes cannot be removed.

  1. Use nail polish remover but not on acetate or triacetate fabrics.
  2. Placing the stain face down on paper towels, apply the nail polish remover to the back of the stain, replacing the paper towels often.
  3. Repeat this until the stain disappears.
  4. Rinse and launder.

Paint

For water based paints rinse in warm water while the stain is still wet, then launder. Dry stains cannot be removed.

For oil-based paint or varnish, use the solvent the paint can label advises using as a thinner. Alternatively, use turpentine. Then rinse. 

Perfume

  1. Pretreat the fabric with a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent.
  2. Launder. 

Perspiration

  1. Treat the stain with a prewash stain remover
  2. If the sweat has changed the fabric color, apply ammonia for fresh stains. For older strainers apply white vinegar. Rinse.
  3. Launder using very hot water.
  4. More stubborn stains might respond better to being washed in a product containing enzymes or by being washed with oxygen bleach in very hot water. 

Red Wine

  1. If the fabric can be washed, dab it with cool water. Alternatively you can soak it for 30 minutes.
  2. Apply a prewash stain remover then launder.
  3. If its safe for the fabric, add chlorine bleach to the wash. 

Scorch

  1. Launder using safe-for-fabric sodium hypochlorite bleach.
  2. Alternatively you can soak the fabric in oxygen bleach and hot water before laundering.

Note that many scorched fabrics are beyond repair.

Shoe polish

For paste shoe polish:

  1. With a dull knife scrape all residue from the fabric.
  2. Pretreat the stained area with cleaning fluid or a prewash stain remover, then rinse.
  3. Rub the detergent into the dampened area.
  4. Launder with a bleach safe for fabrics.

For liquid shoe polish, you can pretreat the stained area with a paste of water and powder detergent, then launder.

H/T: www.cleaninginstitute.org

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