Guide to fabric stain removal

April 27, 2016

If you’ve ever stained your shirt or pants, you’ve experienced the frustration of thinking your favourite clothes are ruined. Next time your clothes are covered, try one of these fabric stain removal tips to save your wardrobe.

Guide to fabric stain removal

Name that stain

If you notice that after a day of cooking in the kitchen your clothes didn’t survive without a stain, here’s what you should do:

  • First, take off the item so you can deal with the stain right away.
  • Before treating the stain, read the manufacturer's care label to make sure you launder it properly.

Coffee: To remove a coffee stain, use a clean cloth and a little cold water to gently sponge the stain thoroughly. Remove the excess water.

• If that doesn’t fix the problem, try a stain remover.
• If it’s an old coffee stain, try this homemade stain remover using vinegar, baking soda and ammonia.

Gravy and mustard: With the right formula, you can remove either of these stains from your clothes.

  • First, cover the stain with grease-absorbing baking soda, cornstarch, flour or salt.
  • Brush off the surface.
  • Pour on liquid laundry detergent and hot water
  • Dab the stain with a lemon juice-soaked cloth until the stain completely disappears.

Chocolate: Most of the time, a little cold water and a drop of soap will get rid of a fresh chocolate stain if you act quickly. If the stain has dried, don’t worry.

  • Scrape off any dry chocolate with your fingernail or with a spatula
  • Clean with a solution of white vinegar diluted 2:1 with water
  • If none of the cleaning solutions work, a visit to the dry cleaner may be your best bet.

Red wine: If you’ve spilled some wine on your clothes, grab the club soda, which is a common antidote for red wine stains. If that doesn’t work, try one of the following ideas:

  • Soak the stained item in a Borax solution for a minute
  • Use a mixture of dishwashing liquid and vinegar
  • Try salt and boiling water

Removing really stubborn stains

Oil stains: Whether it’s massage oil, cooking oil or motor oil, the secret to effective grease stain removal is to treat it as quickly as possible. Sponging the stain is an absolute must. Then:

  • Apply a stain removal solution. You can use a chemical one or make your own stain remover.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes and then wash as directed on the label
  • Don’t put the item in the dryer unless the stain is completely removed

Rust: If you get rust on your clothes, you can buy a rust-removal product from the store or you could prepare a mixture of lemon juice, water and salt.

Blood: This is another annoying stain that can prove difficult to remove. If it’s dried on, it will need a heavy-duty approach. Regardless if it is fresh or dried, these steps will get out those blood stains for good.

  • Treat the stain
  • Rinse it out
  • Wash it with detergent

Paint: Finally got down to painting the baby’s room and now you’ve got soft pink on your jeans? It’s not impossible to remove paint stains from your clothing:

  • Blot away the stain; avoid scrubbing it so you don’t further embed the stain in the clothing
  • After applying your stain remover, wash the clothing in cold water.
  • Avoid drying the clothes until it’s completely removed to prevent “baking” the fibres.

Ink: Acting immediately before ink dries is the best solution, but if that’s not possible, alternative stain removers such as hairspray, toothpaste or milk can do the trick. Remember, if nothing seems to work, take the garment to your favourite dry cleaner.

Perspiration and deodorant stains: These tough stains don’t have to ruin your clothes. To remove very stubborn sweat spots, you can use a vodka solution to get them out. Soak the stain overnight in a mixture of vodka and water and wash the garment in the washing machine. Remember:

  • Never pour a cleaning solution directly onto the stain
  • If the garment has already been washed and dried, it may be too late to remove the stain even for a professional dry-cleaner.

Natural remedies for stain removal

Not all stains should be treated the same way. The general rule? The fresher and damper the spot, the easier and more completely you can remove it. Natural stain removers include water, vinegar and glycerin. Other options are:

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Epsom salts
  • Cologne or oil-free nail polish remover
  • Mineral water for coffee or bloodstains on carpets
  • Basic DIY solutions to remove most stains

Nothing says “wardrobe malfunction” like an ugly stain, but with all of these handy tips at your disposal, you’ll be able to banish those annoying spots for good.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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