A Mom’s Guide to Stain Removal

“Impossible!” is a rare word, especially when it comes to difficult stains. With the right ingredients and procedural application, anyone can alter a problematic blemish into a visual miracle. And, here is a handy-dandy practical guide to help!

Catch Stains Early

Not all stains require the same remedy; however, you can prevent the stain from setting into the fabric by gently dabbing the area with water. (It is important not to rub. Some stains may spread or become absorbed into the fibers.) Immediate, preventative care will help lift the stain; so, remember to take care of your garment as soon as you arrive home.

Tip: Dye stains such as coffee, tea, grass, juice and blood should not be rubbed with bar soap. It will cause the stain to absorb into the fabric, and become permanent.

Types of Stains:

Antiperspirant: Old stains can be tackled by allowing white vinegar to sit directly on the affected area for 30 minutes. New stains require the same application, but with ammonia. (Test the area, first, to ensure the fabric will not be damaged.) Afterward, launder the fabric in hot water. Adding a laundry stain remover will also help.

Blood: For fresh stains, do not use hot water (it will set stains); instead, soak in cold; then, with a cotton ball, dab with ammonia before washing. For dried stains, allow the fabric to soak in warm salt water for two hours. Rinse.

Coffee or Tea: Flush the area with lemon juice or white vinegar before treating the area with a strong bleach. To eliminate the stain affected by sugar or milk, spray with a diluted dishwashing soap; then, wash.

Fruit Juice: Soak the fabric in warm water mixed with your preferred detergent for 30 minutes. Old stains will need to be washed in bleach. Wait until all stains have been treated before placing the item into the dryer. Heat will caramelize the stain, and leave your fabric permanently stained.

Gum or Wax: Use cubes of ice to freeze the gum or place it in the freezer; afterward, scrape off as much as you can. Next, use mineral oil to remove the residue; then, rinse with isopropyl alcohol before washing.

Grass: Begin by soaking the fabric with a solution made from one part vinegar to two parts water for an hour; then, use a toothbrush to lightly scrub the stain before laundering.

Grease: Treat first with acetone; then, drip isopropyl alcohol onto the area and allow to dry. Continue treatment by spraying a diluted dishwashing soap, and soak with an enzyme detergent before washing.

Ink: In a small confining bowl, build a wall with petroleum jelly surrounding the area; then, use a water-saturated cotton ball to dab on the stain. If the stain lifts, the ink is most likely a felt-tip pen and will then require dishwashing soap to remove. Otherwise, the only way to remove ballpoint ink is drip isopropyl alcohol onto the stain and rinse with a diluted dishwashing soap solution. Afterward, allow the item to go through a full wash cycle.

Mud: After allowing the stain to dry, scrape to remove; then, soak in a solution of one-quart warm water, one teaspoon of dish detergent, and one teaspoon of white vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse with water. If the stain persists, sponge with rubbing alcohol and rinse.

Sweat Stains on Collars: Combine four tablespoons of baking soda and one fourth (¼) of a cup of water. Dab on the stain until it’s gone, and then wash. (Bleach is not a viable solution. It will react with the proteins within the fabric and make the stains darker.)

Watermelon: These invisible stains can oxidize into pale yellow to brown stains. As a preventative, launder your clothes in hot soapy water.

Wine: Sponge the stain with cool water, or allow to soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Pre-treat with a stain remover before washing.

Share the Knowledge

To help today’s youth be prepared for independence, pass on the knowledge of stain removal. Key ingredients such as baking soda, white vinegar, and isopropyl alcohol are universal stain fighters when used correctly. In learning about stains, young adults can become empowered to save a garment and money!