Stain Removal Tips That Are Spot On

There are some stubborn stains that even the most advanced washing machines and deep-cleaning detergents can’t tackle. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to make those “stains, stains go away." Here’s how:
Someone Ringing a Rag Inside a Soapy Water Bucket

Photo by: iStock

Helpful Hints To Keep In Mind Before You Start:

  • Have patience. Removing stains may take a little extra time, muscle and effort.

  • Fresh stains are easier to remove than old ones.

  • Read care labels to see if the item is dry-clean only. Not exactly sure what those symbols mean on care labels? Be sure to check out our Simple Guide to Fabric Care Symbols.

  • Always test for colorfastness.

  • Always launder washable items after treating to remove residues of the stain and stain remover.

  • Use cleaning products according to manufacturer’s labels and NEVER mix stain removal products, such as ammonia and chlorine bleach, because they produce hazardous fumes.

  • Regardless of the stain, make sure the spot is gone before you place the garment in the dryer. Otherwise, you may set it.

For Fresh Blueberry Stains:
  1. Remove as much as possible with a dull knife or spoon. If you can’t treat the stain immediately, sprinkle it with salt.

  2. Rinse well with cold water.

  3. Rub liquid laundry detergent into the stain.

  4. Let stand several minutes, then rinse the back of the stain well in hot water.

  5. If the stain remains, stretch the stained fabric stain-side down and run under water that’s as hot as possible.

  6. If the stain still hasn’t disappeared, apply a laundry spot stain remover and wash with liquid enzyme detergent.

  7. Stain still there? Sponge it with equal parts white vinegar and water. Rinse well and let air dry (ideally in sunlight). Repeat as needed until no more stain can be removed.

  8. Apply laundry presoak and re-launder with enzyme detergent.

  9. If the stain is still not gone, work in enzyme detergent and soak the garment in water up to 1 hour or until the stain is removed. Rinse well and launder.

For Dried Stains:
  1. Make a paste of borax and water (at a ratio of about 3 to 1) and spread onto the stain.

  2. Let stand 15 minutes, then rinse. If borax is not available, rub glycerin into the stain and let stand for 1 hour. Rinse.

  3. See steps 3 through 9 for fresh blueberry stains.

Butter Stains:
  1. Use the back of a knife or spoon to scrape off any butter on the fabric surface.
  2. Treat with undiluted dishwashing liquid (check to be sure it doesn’t contain bleach), rinse and dry.
  3. 3. If the stain is old, spray on a small amount of WD-40 to regenerate the grease, then work in undiluted dishwashing liquid as above and wash in the hottest water possible.

If that doesn’t work …
  1. Apply a laundry spot stain remover and let stand for several minutes.
  2. Rub liquid enzyme detergent into the stain and let stand a few minutes.
  3. Launder in the hottest water safe for the fabric.

Baby Food Stains:
(Fruits, veggies, jams, juices and berries):
  1. Gently scrape off any excess food from fabric.

  2. Run the fabric, inside out, under cold water to flush out as much as possible.

  3. Pre-treat with a solution that is one part vinegar and two parts water. Let sit for 10 minutes.

  4. Apply a combination solvent and wash in your regular cycle.

  5. Launder in the hottest water the fabric will tolerate, with either chlorine bleach or color safe bleach, depending on your fabric.

Tomato Sauce Stains:
  1. Remove excess tomato sauce from the fabric.

  2. Run cold water through the back of the stain as quickly as possible.

  3. Rub a liquid detergent into the stained portion of the fabric. Working it in a circular motion from the outside of the stained area toward the center.

  4. If the garment is white, or colorfast, use a sponge to apply a mild bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar or lemon juice on white fabrics. Rinse well.

  5. Repeat with detergent followed by mild bleaching agent until the stain no longer appears.

  6. Apply a stain remover stick, gel or spray. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes.

  7. Wash normally with detergent.

  8. If it remains, rub detergent into the tomato stain. Next, soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Rinse well.

  9. If the tomato stain is still stubborn, apply stain remover stick, gel or spray and launder according to directions. Remember, some stains cannot be removed. But the tips and techniques above should help with many of the most common stains you’ll encounter.
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AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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