How to Remove Different Stains from Your Clothes
Stains on your clothes can be really frustrating to remove, but you don’t have to retire your favorite shirt or jeans just because you spilled coffee or sauce on them by accident. But you don’t have to be too embarrassed by this – everyone spills something on their clothes from time to time.
Removing tough stains doesn’t have to be that hard. With the right knowledge, you can remove stains with confidence.
Not all treatments may work for all types of fabric – using the wrong treatment might end up even destroying your Sunday’s best. Chances are, these are the four most common cloths that you will be encountering in your laundry:
Cotton – A sturdy fabric that can endure soaking, drying, and warm water. The best stain treatments for this fabric are detergents and light acids, such as vinegar and lemon juice.
Synthetics – Vary in strength depending on the material used, but can be destroyed with oxidizing bleach. Best treated with standard laundry detergent. Grease-heavy stains may be remedied with dish soap.
Wool – A fabric more heat sensitive than cotton and requires more gentle treatment. Dry clean as much as possible.
Silk – Requires especially gentle treatment. Dry clean as much as possible. Check the label and test any cleaning agent on an inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying.
These are the types of stains you will most likely encounter:
Adhesive (tape, gum, cement) – Rub ice or apply cold water to harden the adhesive surface and scrape with a dull knife. Sprinkle with pre-wash stain remover, rinse, and launder as usual.
Beverages – Coffee and tea can be dealt with using vinegar and fruit juice stains can be removed using fabric-safe bleach. For alcoholic beverages, such as wine, warm water, salt, and glycerin should do the trick.
Blood – The first thing you need to do when you cut yourself is to get medical attention and bandage the wound. You can remove bloodstains either by rubbing 3 percent hydrogen peroxide on them or sprinkling table salt on the stained area wetted with water.
Collar rings – You might see these on your Sunday’s best after a hot day. Most of the time, these are made from sweat. Rub shampoo on the stains and launder as usual.
Grease – Sprinkle grease stains with cornstarch and let it soak for a few minutes before brushing away before laundering as usual.
Rust – Blot the stain with a cotton ball soaked in vinegar. Next, cover the stain with a thin layer of salt and rub it into the vinegar and the fabric. Lay out the fabric in direct sunlight until the stain has faded and launder as usual.
Ink – Though not all ink types can be removed, some ink stains can be removed by spraying with hair spray and applying vinegar to them.
These are the major kinds of solvent and the kinds of stains they can remove:
Water – Considered the universal solvent and can clean most water-based stains as well as reduce the effect of dyes. However, they don’t always work well on their own.
Salt – This can be applied on top of wetted stains, such as sweat/armpit stains, red wine, and blood, to give the chemicals something they can leach into.
Enzyme cleaners – Works by dissolving proteins. Best used on organic stains or stains with an odor (urine, blood, sweat), and should not be used on protein fiber cloths, such as silk and wool.
Vinegar/lemon juice- Mild acids are good stain removers for caffeine beverages (e.g. coffee, tea), grass stains, and sticky residue, but should not be used on wool.
Glycerin – Great for ink and dye stains. A lot of commercial “stain sticks” are a combination of glycerin and detergent.
Dry cleaning solvents – Usually made of diluted solids and can damage your fabrics if not used carefully. The safest option is to take your garments to a professional dry cleaning service.
Chlorine bleach – Harsh remedy that can potentially damage and/or discolor colored fabrics. Use on fabrics without “No Bleach” or “Chlorine Free” on the tag.
On Removing Different stains
Now that we know the fabric and the different kinds of stain removers, it’s now on to removing the stain. You should keep in mind that even with the right product for removing the stain, the wrong way of applying it can make the stain worse or destroy the fabric.
You can get better results by following these simple steps:
- Check the fabric – Not all fabrics can take the different stain removal methods without being destroyed in the process. For instance, enzyme cleaners are effective on organic stains, but would also destroy natural fibers that are made of protein, such as wool or silk.
- Do not apply direct force – This is key. Let the stain removing chemicals do the work for you. You should also avoid applying direct heat, at this could speed up the stain setting into the fabric. Use solvents at room temperature only.
- Pre-treatment – The sooner you soak or pre-treat a stain, the better you can remove it. Before pre-treating your clothes, always test the stain remover on an area of the fabric that won’t be seen when worn. This is to make sure that the stain remover doesn’t damage the fabric in question. As much as possible, pre-treat the stain with water.