You’re wearing your favorite shirt and accidentally spill a glass of red wine, your child comes home covered in grass and mud, or your Sunday sauce splashes all over your clothes. We’ve all been there. Unless you’re extremely careful and reclusive, stains are a common part of life.
Before you throw your hands up and surrender by tossing your stained clothing, learn the best solutions for removing tough stains. We’ve scoured through countless stain removal tips to find the ones that actually work, and in the quickest time possible. Use this essential guide to discover the best way to remove any stain, no matter how gross it might be. We promise you’ll save time and money in the long-run.
No Matter What the Stain, Follow These General Tips
Whenever you stain something, whether its bed sheets, clothing, bath mats, or carpets, you must act quickly. The sooner you treat the stain, the sooner it will come out. Immediately blot off any excess liquid, and avoid rubbing the stain into any delicate fabric. Treat a small area for colored fabrics to ensure you are not causing permanent damage, and always check the tag for specific instructions.
Always apply stain remover to the inside of the fabric. If the stain is solid like wax from a candle, use a knife to scrape off as much as possible. For liquid stains, place the stain downward on a cloth or paper towel to help absorb the stain, and treat the opposite side of the fabric. If you are out of the house, a good tip is to always carry around a Tide pen or Shout stain wipes so you are able to quickly pretreat the stain. If this isn’t available, dab the spot with water or seltzer and then wash the affected item when you get home.
Before placing any laundered items in the dryer, check them first to make sure the stain is gone. If the stain is still visible, use some elbow grease and keep trying to remove it before drying the item. Accidentally placing stained items directly into the dryer could cause the stain to heat set and become permanent.
Stain Prevention is Possible
The old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here. For bath mats, carpets, and upholstery treat these fabrics with stain resistant sprays beforehand. These protective and affordable treatments with extend the life of your fabric and coat the fibers with a repellant designed to ward off stains.
Also, some common sense will go a long way. Do not wear expensive, dry clean only clothes to a young child’s birthday party or an outdoor barbeque. Also, avoid attempting to remove stains from dry clean only fabrics with water or another liquid. This can often cause even more damage than the stain itself. Instead bring any dry clean only fabrics to a professional dry cleaner as soon as possible, and be certain to bring the stain to their attention.
The Four Main Types of Stains
There are millions of possible stain combinations, so it would be impossible to list them all here. Instead, we’ve aggregated the information to identify four main categories of stains: oils and grease, organic proteins, tannins, and dyes.
How to Remove Oil and Grease Stains
The first category includes any oil-based products like cooking oils, peanut butter, salad dressing, cosmetics, auto products, and more. These types of stains are best treated with an abundant amount of liquid detergent or dishwashing soap placed directly onto the stain. Soak the grease soiled spot for at least 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water and launder in the hottest water possible. Repeat if necessary.
For tough to remove oil stains like liquid foundation, rub the backside of the stain with alcohol. Then soak the fabric in hot water, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and enough liquid detergent or dishwashing soap to cover the spot. Then soak in the Oxy-Clean solution for 30 minutes and bleach if handling whites only. Place the item in a washing machine and watch the stain dissolve.
Treat Common Tannin Stains Like Spilled Red Wine or Coffee
Tannins are plant-derived molecules that give wine and tea its bitter taste. They are some of the most common, yet difficult stains to remove. Not to worry though, we’ll show you how to concur tannin stains from spilled tea, wine, coffee, fruit juice, soft drinks, and more.
First, pre-treat the stain by soaking it in cold water. Then blog the stain with a mixture of 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Then wash the garment or affected item in the hottest temperature setting and watch the stain vanish. If the stain is persistent, rub it lightly with the soft side of a sponge, and use baking soda for whites to help scrub the stain away.
Organic, Protein Stains are Best Treated with Cold Water
Most organic naturally produced stains, like vomit, blood, or a baby’s spit, is a protein stain. Protein stains will harden in hot water, so they are always best treated in cold water. Begin by soaking a protein stain in ice-cold water for half an hour. If still visible, apply a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution for whites or Oxy-clean solution for colored items for another 30 minutes. Then launder as normal.
Mud is a common protein stain that can be a mess to clean up. Start by taking a hard brush to whisk away any dirt particles, then soak in liquid detergent, white vinegar, and cold water. Soak for 30 minutes. If the stain is stubborn, follow the more advanced soaking options mentioned above and then launder the items.
Be Careful When Treating Dye Stains
Dye stains can occur from things like grass, ink, liquid dyes, dark berries, tomato sauce, or permanent marker. When treating dye stains it is particularly important to blot the area and not rub it. This will help prevent the transfer of the dye within the fibers of the fabric.
Pretreat these stains by applying liquid detergent to the spot, then soak in Oxy-clean and lukewarm water for 30 minutes. If the item is white, soak in bleach for 10 minutes. Then launder normally. For stubborn ink stains or ones that occur on fabrics like suede or leather, spray the affected area with hairspray like Aqua-Net and then try to gently blot away the stain.