Life happens and when it does, stains are usually in the picture. Mom spills a glass of red wine on the carpet. Dad opens a bottle of soda and it explodes on his pristine white shirt. Your charming two-year-old colors all over his brand new shorts. You, well, you’re left with figuring out how to remove tough stains thrown your way.
Half the battle of keeping a clean home is handling the challenges of stain removal. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if there was one product you could use on any stain for it to magically disappear? Sadly that’s not the case. Instead with the invention of synthetics and other fabrics, stain removal has become somewhat of a science.
Here’s the secrets, tips, and hacks on how to get stains out of almost anything – and we do mean anything!
How To Remove Tough Stains Out of Almost Anything
Act fast! The sooner you treat a tough stain, the more likely it is to come out. Even with quickness, not all stains can be removed.
Be sure to blot any excess liquid immediately.
Be sure to check for colorfastness before treating the stain.
Stain remover should always be applied to the underside of the stain. To do this place the stain down on a clean paper towel, then treat from the opposite side to push stain off the fabric and onto the paper towel.
For carpet & upholstery, treat with a stain resister before stains occur. This could save you in costly replacements.
For solid stains, such as wax, remove as much of the solid as possible with a table knife before treating.
Don’t aggressively rub delicate fabrics.
Bring dry-clean only fabrics to the dry cleaner as soon as possible, and be sure to give the cleaner as many details as possible about the stain.
Be patient! Some stains take several treatments to fully remove. If you follow the steps below but the stain is still visible after washing, just repeat the process again before drying. Heat drying will set stains, so avoid drying until the stain is gone!
TOUGH STAIN FIGHTERS YOU’LL WANT TO KEEP ON HAND:
- All Fabric Bleach (such as Clorox 2)
- Dish Soap
- Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Oxy-Clean Powder
- Paper Towels
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Stain Remover
- Table Knife
ALL NATURAL ALTERNATIVES
For those of you who like a more all natural approach to stain removal like I do, I use Seventh Generation products from Grove Collaborative. With Grove and Seventh Generation I know I’m using all natural laundry products that are both safe for my family and safe for the environment.
HOW TO REMOVE TOUGH STAINS | STAIN REMOVAL 101
Rinse under very cold water. Spray or pour hydrogen peroxide onto the stain and let it sit while it bubbles. Then rinse in cold water and repeat. Rub the fabric against itself for final stain removal and add in some Dawn detergent if necessary. Again, don’t put the piece through the dryer until the stain is fully removed.
Soak item in cold water and Oxy-Clean solution for several hours or overnight. Launder normally, using bleach for whites. If stain remains, soak in Oxy-Clean solution again, then re-wash.
The beauty of a Sharpie pen is that it writes on almost anything and is permanent. Sadly, that’s also its downfall. When in doubt try a Mr. Clean Sponge and if this method fails, use the method below:
Clothes: hand sanitizer.
Walls: toothpaste or hairspray.
Wood: rubbing alcohol.
Carpet: white vinegar.
Ceramic or glass: One part toothpaste to one part baking soda.
Fiberglass: green and yellow sponge with Windex or alcohol.
Plastic: toothpaste and toothbrush or oil sheen hair spray and a cloth.
Related: My Super Simple Laundry System
Place stain face down on clean paper towel. Pre-treat underside of stain with liquid laundry detergent or stain remover, rubbing stain gently. Rinse. Soak for 30 minutes in a solution of lukewarm water and all-fabric bleach. Rinse. If the item is white or colorfast, soak in the bleach solution for 15 minutes. Rinse and launder normally.
Yellow Underarm Stains
Use a combination of baking soda, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide to bring your dingy shirt back to life. Apply the ingredients directly to the shirt, use an old toothbrush to work them in for a minute, and then let the shirt sit for at least an hour before putting it in the washing machine.
Oil or Grease
Place stain face down on clean paper towel. Pre-treat the underside of stain with a generous amount of liquid laundry detergent or stain remover, rubbing stain gently. Rinse with hot water. Launder normally in the hottest water possible.
Accidentally Dyed Laundry
Soak overnight in Oxyclean. Repeat if necessary and do not put your laundry into the dryer until you’re satisfied with the results.
Mix 1 tablespoon vinegar with 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol. Use a clean cloth or rag to blot the stain with rubbing alcohol solution. Continue blotting until liquid is absorbed and stain disappears. Launder normally. 3 percent hydrogen peroxide also will work on a wine stain.
Place stain face down on clean paper towel. Gently rub from the underside with a cloth or sponge soaked in nail polish remover. Repeat with clean paper towels until the stain is gone. Launder normally.
Place some paper towel over the candle wax on the fabric or carpet and iron over the paper with a medium iron. Don’t touch the carpet with the iron, make sure you keep the iron on the paper.
If the wax leaves an oily stain on the fabric afterward, treat the oily stain with colorless hair shampoo or dishwashing liquid.
Lipstick can be one of hardest stains to remove—if you don’t use the right stain remover. The grease in lipstick makes it hard to get out of the fibers in the fabric, but rubbing alcohol breaks through it nicely. Just apply rubbing alcohol with a damp cloth to the stain, and dab until the lipstick starts to come off, applying more alcohol as necessary. Then launder as usual.
To remove this stain, cover with liquid dish detergent and rub in. Then turn your laundry room sink on at full blast and run under cold water.
Remove rust stains by wetting the spots with lemon juice, then sprinkling with salt. Let the fabric stand in direct sunlight for 30–45 minutes.
Have a mystery stain you can’t get out? Try using the old toothbrush trick. First, apply some dishwashing liquid, or even just some laundry detergent, to the stain. Then rub inwards with an old toothbrush for about 30 seconds. The toothbrush will help penetrate the fibers of your clothes, even getting out worn-in stains.
However you address the stains in your life, make sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions and to never ever mix random cleansers, especially bleach and ammonia, as the combination will create chlorine gas, which is extremely toxic.
There’s a cleaning solution for just about every stain, especially if you catch it before it goes through the dryer. Just use the right combination of cleaners and technique to remove tough stains that come your way.