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Stains are a part of life, but you don’t have to let them ruin your favorite t-shirt! From ketchup to olive oil, from grass to pen ink, use our handy stain remover guide for a stain fighting formula that will get those clothes looking new again.
In this post, we will guide you through removing stains from:
- Ketchup and tomato products
- Olive Oil
- Nail Polish
- Berries and Fruit
- Red Wine
- Pen Ink
I am what you would call a “spiller”. If there is a mug full of coffee or a bowl of chili in my presence, I will spill them, and usually my shirt or pants fall victim to my clumsy ways. Before I researched the best way to remove some of the most common stains out there, I had a regular habit of ruining clothes and being forced to just throw them away. So wasteful!
Now, I know that with the proper care, almost any stain can be taken care of, and I’m no longer wasting perfectly good clothing.
It should be noted that these laundry stain removers are best used on fabrics that can go in the regular wash cycle. For anything delicate like silk or fabrics that need to be washed carefully like wool, it might be best to take these garments to a professional cleaner. My advice works best for newly made stains and will not work as well for old stains.
Need help organizing your clothing clutter? We found that having a closet storage system that works for you is one of the 12 habits of people who always have a clean house.
Let’s get started!
Ketchup Stain Remover
Kids love ketchup! Kids are also not the best at eating their meals neatly. My kids have ruined so many white t-shirts after eating a ketchup slathered hot dog or hamburger. Not anymore! Now I know how to best deal with stains from ketchup and other tomato products like tomato sauce.
The most important step when it comes to dealing with any stain but especially tomato products is to remove as much of the tomato product from the cloth as quickly as possible. Run the cloth under cold water and get as much of the ketchup out as you can.
Next, work in a few drops of dish soap and rinse in cold water again. Then, I like to soak the clothing item in a mixture of OxiClean detergent and warm water. I then wash the clothing item in my regular laundry load.
Olive Oil Stain Remover
Oil is a tricky stain to remove because like the old saying goes, oil and water don’t mix. The oil that has been absorbed into your clothes is going to repel any water you use to wash it out.
The best thing to do is to apply a generous amount of dish soap (I love the blue Dawn dish soap!) and work it into the stain thoroughly. Dish soap is designed to cut the oil and grease from your pots and pans. Because of its grease cutting properties, it will cut through the oil on your clothing.
Rinse the dish soap out with cold water and wash in your regular laundry load.
Nail Polish Stain Remover
I’ve recently started setting aside time each week to paint my nails. It always felt like something that I didn’t have time for, and truth be told, I still don’t have time for it. But, sometimes we have to put our foot down (in this case, our foot with freshly painted purple toe nails) and say that we’re going to make taking care of ourselves more of a priority. (Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk!)
Now that I’m painting my nails more, I had to figure out how to deal with nail polish stains. (I told you I was a spiller!) Here’s how.
Pour a generous amount of rubbing alcohol on the stain and blot it dry with a cotton ball. If you do not have rubbing alcohol, hair spray will work. If you do not have a cotton ball, try toilet tissue. Once you have repeated the process several times and the stain has been minimized, toss the item in the regular laundry load.
Berries and Fruit Stain Remover
Nothing is better than strawberries in early summer! We go to a pick-your-own field, and my kids eat more than they put in their buckets. I swear, the farmer should weigh them on the way out instead of their strawberry buckets. This strawberry eating party leads to lots of red berry juice stains all over their clothes.
A lot of fruits contain juices that can stain, but blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry juices seem to be the worst offenders. I like to soak the affected area in lemon juice or white vinegar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then throw the item in the regular laundry load.
Mud Stain Remover
Have you ever come home from a particularly rainy camping trip and had to face a mountain of muddy laundry? Mud stains can be removed, but they take a little extra attention.
First, take a soft brush and remove as much of the mud off the clothing item as you can. Next, apply a generous amount of liquid laundry detergent to the stain. Use an old toothbrush or a scrub brush to gently work the detergent into the stain. Rinse with cold water, and repeat the process until the stain is gone. Then, wash with your regular laundry load.
Red Wine Stain Remover
The secret ingredient for removing red wine stains is club soda. It works wonders!
You weren’t paying attention, and now your glass of red wine is laying sideways on the table. Red wine has spilled onto your favorite tablecloth. No worries! Grab some club soda. Bring the tablecloth to the kitchen sink, and pour club soda all over the stain. Rinse it with cold water and blot dry. If the stain is still there, repeat the process.
If the faintest of pink remains in the cloth from the red wine spill, I like to use a stain treatment like Tide Stain Remover Spray. I spray on a generous amount and then throw the cloth in my regular laundry load.
Pen Ink Stain Remover
Ink pens are a regular part of office work life. That means that if an ink pen leaks when it’s in your pocket, you could ruin your clothes. Office-appropriate clothing doesn’t come cheap! Try this before sending your work suit to the thrift store.
I have found that hand sanitizer works well in dissolving pen ink marks and stains from most surfaces from walls to car upholstery and even clothing. Start by running the stain under cold water to remove any excess ink. Then, apply a generous amount of hand sanitizer and work it into the stain. Run under cold water again. If the stain remains, repeat the process.
Grass Stain Remover
White sneakers are really trendy these days, and you can keep them white by following these steps to get rid of grass stains.
Soak the stain in hydrogen peroxide mixed with a little dish soap. Hydrogen peroxide has bleaching properties without damaging colors, unlike actual bleach. Let this mixture sit on the stain for at least 20 minutes. Then, wash the item in the regular laundry cycle.
Mildew Stain Remover
Mildew can be removed from fabric using a paste made from baking soda and bleach. Use a scrub brush to work the paste into the fabric. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse in warm water, and if necessary, repeat the process. Note that this process is not color-safe. The chlorine bleach will affect colored fabrics, but the mildew will be gone.
Sweat Stain Remover
If you love to stay active through sports and exercise, you probably have some pretty stinky laundry with some stubborn sweat stains on your hands. I love to jog in the mornings, and once I started using this method for keeping sweat stains at bay, I didn’t sweat the stains ever again. (Did you see what I did there?)
I mix one half cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup of warm water. I soak the stain in this mixture for one hour, and then the item is washed in my regular laundry cycle.
First, squeeze the juice of one lemon onto the stain, and then sprinkle on some salt. Work the mixture into the stain. Let air dry in direct sunlight. Then, wash with your regular laundry cycle.
Don’t throw that stained shirt away! Don’t panic when you spill red wine on your friend’s white carpet! Use our handy stain remover guide to clean up the stains and get on with enjoying life.
Got a great stain remover tip? Share it in the comments! Want more laundry tips? Check out our post about how to use vinegar as a fabric softener!