tips & tricks

Stain Removal 101

It always seems to happen – when you pull a new white t-shirt over your head, you get lipstick on the collar.  Or someone spills red wine… right on your new rug. Or your dog jumps up on you with muddy paws.

Stains! They’re the worst.

But if you know how to deal with them, and act quickly, you can minimize or even get rid of stains entirely.

Here are some common stains and how to remove them:

  • Beverages (coffee, tea, soda): Sponge or soak the stain in cold water. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or laundry detergent, and launder using sodium hypochlorite bleach (if safe) or oxygen bleach.
  • Blood: Soak in cold water and launder. If the blood has dried, pretreat or soak in warm water with a product containing enzymes, and then launder.
  • Chocolate: Scrape off any excess, then soak in cold water. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover and launder in the hottest water the fabric can withstand.
  • Cosmetics: Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or laundry detergent, or rub with bar soap. Then launder.
  • Grass: Pretreat or soak in a product containing enzymes.
  • Grease/oil: If heavy, place stain face down on clean paper towels. Apply cleaning fluid to back of stain. Replace paper towel frequently. Let dry, rinse, and then launder in hottest water the fabric can withstand. If light, pretreat with prewash stain remover or laundry detergent and then wash in hottest water fabric can withstand.
  • Ketchup: Don’t dab at it. Remove any excess with a spoon or knife, and then remove the garment and run cold water through the stain from the back to force the stain out.
  • Mud: Brush off as much as possible. Pretreat with detergent or a product containing enzymes and then launder.
  • Paint: Water-based: rinse fabric in warm water while stains are wet, then launder. Oil-based: Use the same solvent the label on the paint can advises for a thinner. If not available, use turpentine. Rinse. Pretreat with pre-wash stain remover, bar soap, or laundry detergent, then rinse and launder.
  • Wine: Sponge the stain with cool water or soak it in cool water for about 30 minutes. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover. Launder, and if safe, add chlorine bleach.

Here’s a chart that lays out the best stain-removal strategy for all of these stains and many more.


Good luck!



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