A Guide to Removing Stains From Clothing

A Guide to Removing Stains From Clothing

Stains happen on clothing even in the best of circumstances. Although some stains can be stubborn, with fast action and a little effort, you can often get them out. Consider the type of fabric and the type of stain to determine the best approach to removing the stain without damaging your clothing.

  • Alcohol: Soak the stained fabric in cool water for one hour. Pretreat with a stain remover and wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Antiperspirant: Apply white vinegar to old stains and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Apply ammonia to new stains and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Wash in warm water.
  • Apple Juice: Blot the juice with paper towels and flush with cool water as soon as possible.
  • Ashes: Shake off excess ashes and rinse with cool water. Pretreat the stain and launder in warm water.
  • Avocado: Remove food residue quickly without rubbing it into the fabric fibers. Flush with cool water.
  • Ballpoint Pen: Blot the stain with dry-cleaning solvent to remove as much ink as possible. Saturate the area with isopropyl alcohol and allow the alcohol to dry. Launder as usual.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Rinse the stain in cool water. Apply white vinegar to the stain and rinse. Pretreat and launder in warm water.
  • Blood: Rinse the stain with cool water. Apply a liquid laundry detergent with enzymes, and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Wash as usual.
  • Blueberry: Apply liquid laundry detergent to the stain and soak in cool water for 30 minutes. Wash with either chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach, depending on the fabric.
  • Butter: Apply liquid dishwashing soap to the stain and rinse with cool water. Wash in very warm water.
  • Candle Wax: Remove as much wax as possible. Place layers of paper towel on both sides of the fabric. Iron with a warm iron to remove the remaining wax. Pretreat with a stain treatment and launder in very warm water.
  • Chalk: Pretreat the area with a laundry pretreating product. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Cherry: Rinse the stained area with cool water. Apply liquid laundry detergent and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Wash as usual in warm water.
  • Chocolate: Apply laundry pretreating solution and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Crayon: Add one cup of baking soda to a wash load and wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Deodorant: Spray white vinegar on the stained area and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder as usual.
  • Diesel Fuel: Pretreat the stain with a solvent-based stain remover, working it in with a brush. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Dip: Apply a solvent-based stain remover, working it in lightly with your fingers. After 15 minutes, wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Dirt: Pretreat the stain with a paste of powdered laundry detergent and water. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Dog Urine: Rinse the stain with cool water. Launder in the warmest water possible with a heavy-duty laundry detergent.
  • Easter Egg Dye: Blot the stained area with a paper towel, then rinse the area with cool water. Treat the stain with an enzyme laundry detergent, working it in well with your fingers. Launder as usual.
  • Egg: Scrape off excess egg and rinse under cool water. Pretreat the stain with a liquid laundry detergent containing enzymes. Wash the item normally.
  • Eggplant: Rinse the stain with cool water. Work in an enzyme laundry product and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Launder the item as usual.
  • Eyeliner: Pretreat the stain with a stain remover. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Eye Shadow: Shake off excess powder. Apply a stain stick and rub gently. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Fabric Softener: Rub the stain with a bar of unscented bath soap. Launder as usual.
  • Face Cream: Apply an enzyme-based stain remover and work it in with your fingers. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes and then launder as usual.
  • Feces: Remove excess feces without working it into the fabric. Flush with cool water, pretreat with an enzyme-based product, and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Formula: Rinse the stain with cool water. Apply an enzyme-based pretreating product and then launder as usual.
  • Frosting: Rinse the stain with cool water. Apply a laundry pre-wash product containing enzymes. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Glue: Rinse the area with cool water. Apply a stain pretreating product, and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Grape Juice: Rinse the area with cool water. Mix one teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent with one tablespoon of white vinegar and apply it to the stain. After 15 minutes, launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Grass: Apply an enzyme-based laundry detergent to the stain to pretreat it. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Grease: Apply baking soda to the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Gum: Scrape off as much gum as possible. Apply a dry-cleaning solvent to the stain. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Hair Dye: Apply an enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent and rinse. Soak the stain in oxygen-based bleach overnight. Launder as usual.
  • Hairspray: Apply a solvent-based stain remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder as usual.
  • Hamburger: Treat hamburger as a blood stain. Rinse with cool water. Apply an enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Wash as usual.
  • Honey: Blot the stain with a paper towel. Launder as usual.
  • Hot Sauce: Pretreat the stain with a liquid laundry detergent and rinse well. Apply white vinegar to the stain and allow it to sit until you can barely see it. Launder as usual.
  • Ice Cream: Rinse the stain in cool water. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Ink (Permanent): Launder in hot water with a heavy-duty detergent and bleach if possible.
  • Ink (Washable): Avoid using natural soap on this stain. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Insect Droppings: Mix oxygen-based bleach and cool water and soak the garment for at least eight hours, then launder as usual.
  • Iodine: Apply sodium thiosulfate to the stain and launder as usual.
  • Jam: Rinse the stain with cool water. Mix a half-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent with one tablespoon of white vinegar in one quart of warm water. Soak for 15 minutes and then launder as usual.
  • Jello: Rinse in cool water. Apply isopropyl alcohol to the stain, then rinse well. Launder as usual.
  • Jewelry Tarnish: Rinse the stain with cool water. Apply oxygen bleach with water to the area and allow it to soak for at least four hours. Launder as usual.
  • Juice: Rinse with cool water and pretreat the stain with laundry stain remover. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Ketchup: Rinse with cool water, apply liquid laundry detergent to the stain, allow it to sit for 30 minutes, rinse, and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Kiwi: Apply a laundry pretreating product and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Kool-Aid: Pretreat with a heavy-duty laundry detergent, rinse with cool water, and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Lemon: Rinse with cool water and launder as usual.
  • Lime: Rinse with cool water and launder as usual.
  • Lipstick: Apply a solvent-based stain remover and rub it in gently. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Liquor: Blot immediately with paper towel and rinse with cool water. Do not use a natural soap. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Lotion: Blot immediately with paper towel and pretreat with an enzyme-based stain remover. After 15 minutes, rinse and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Mango: Blot with a paper towel, rinse with cool water, and wash immediately as normal.
  • Maple Syrup: Blot immediately with a paper towel. Do not use a natural soap. Soak the stain in an oxygen-based bleach for at least four hours. Launder as usual.
  • Margarine: Sprinkle baking soda on the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Apply a solvent-based stain remover, and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Mascara: Work stain remover into the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Mayonnaise: Apply a solvent-based stain remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Nail Polish: Turn fabric face-down. Blot stain with acetone. Rinse stain with cool water, pretreat the stain, and launder as usual.
  • Nail Polish Remover: Pretreat with a stain remover and launder as usual.
  • Nectarine: Blot away as much of the stain as possible with a paper towel. Rinse with cool water, pretreat with a solvent-based stain remover, and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Nicotine: Mix a half-teaspoon of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent with one quart of warm water. Soak the item for 15 minutes. Wring out excess water and apply isopropyl alcohol sparingly. Launder as usual.
  • Oil: Lightly sprinkle baking soda over the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Apply a stain pretreating product and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Olive Oil: Rub liquid dishwashing soap into the stain, then rinse with cool water. Apply a laundry pretreating product and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Onion: Pretreat with a stain remover and wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Orange Juice: Rinse with cool water, apply a stain remover, and wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Oyster: Blot with paper towel and sprinkle with baking soda to absorb oils. Apply a solvent-based stain remover and let it sit for 15 minutes. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Peanut Butter: Scrape away excess peanut butter. Treat with a solvent-based stain remover. After 15 minutes, launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Pencil: Gently rub a pink eraser over the stain and brush away the debris. Apply a stain remover, then launder as usual.
  • Perfume: Pretreat with a stain remover, then launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Perspiration: Saturate the area with white vinegar and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Rinse, apply stain remover, allow it to sit for 15 minutes, then launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Pollen: Brush away as much pollen as possible. Apply stain remover, then wash in the warmest water possible.
  • Raspberries: Rinse the area with cool water, apply liquid laundry detergent to the stain, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Launder as usual.
  • Red Wine: Soak the garment in cool water for 30 minutes. Apply stain remover, then launder with a chlorine or color-safe bleach.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Blot stain with a paper towel, then rinse with cool water. Launder as usual.
  • Rubber Cement: Allow the adhesive to dry. Remove the excess dried glue, apply a solvent-based stain remover, then launder as usual.
  • Rust: Sprinkle salt over the stain and apply fresh lemon juice over the salt. Place the garment in the sun and allow it to dry there. Try a rust remover if the stain persists. Wash the garment with heavy-duty laundry detergent.
  • Salt: Rinse with cool water or soak overnight for stubborn stains. Launder as usual.
  • Self-Tanners: Rinse with cool water. Mix liquid dishwashing detergent with warm water and work at the stain. Rinse with cool water and launder as usual.
  • Shoe Polish: Apply an enzyme-based stain remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Soft Drinks: Blot away as much liquid as possible and rinse with cool water. For brightly colored drinks, apply isopropyl alcohol to the stain. For soft drinks with tannins, apply a solvent-based stain remover. Launder as usual.
  • Soy Sauce: Blot away excess soy sauce and rinse with cool water. Rub liquid laundry detergent into the stain, allow it to sit for three minutes, and rinse. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Tar: Freeze the garment and chip away the excess tar. Apply an enzyme-based stain remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder with heavy-duty laundry detergent in the warmest water possible.
  • Tea: Rinse with cool water. Work some liquid laundry detergent into the stain, let it sit for five minutes, then soak in cool water for 30 minutes. Launder as usual.
  • Tomato: Apply an enzyme-based laundry detergent to the stain to pretreat it. Allow the detergent to sit for 30 minutes, then launder as usual.
  • Toothpaste: Launder as usual as soon as possible.
  • Tree Sap: Apply an enzyme-based stain remover and work it in with a brush. Rinse the area after 15 minutes, then launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Urine: Presoak the stain in a mixture of cool water and a half-cup of baking soda. Add one cup of baking soda to the washing machine and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Vanilla Extract: Blot the stain with a paper towel, then rinse with cool water. Soak the stain in oxygen-based bleach for at least four hours, then launder as usual.
  • Vegetable Oil: Apply liquid dishwashing soap to the stain, then rinse in cool water. Apply a pretreating product and launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Vinegar: Mix a half-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and one quart of warm water. Soak the stain for 15 minutes. Rinse, then launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Vitamin Gel Caps: Mix oxygen-based bleach with cool water. Soak the stain for at least eight hours, then launder as usual.
  • Vomit: Scrape away as much debris as possible. Rinse the stain with cool water. Launder with a disinfectant in the wash cycle.
  • Washable Markers: Rinse the stain with cool water, apply a pretreating product, and launder as usual.
  • Watermelon: Rinse the stain with cool water, apply an enzyme-based stain remover, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder as usual.
  • White Wine: Blot the stain with paper towel and rinse with cool water. Apply an enzyme-based laundry product, then launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Wood Stain: Apply mineral spirits to the stain with a dry cloth. Launder as usual.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Rinse the stain with cool water. Apply isopropyl alcohol or ammonia to the stain, then rinse. Apply a stain remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Launder as usual.
  • Yellowing: Soak the garment in a solution of oxygen-based bleach and cool water. Allow it to soak for at least eight hours, then launder with laundry detergent and a half-cup of white vinegar.
  • Yogurt: Blot the stain with a paper towel and rinse with cool water. If a stain remains, try blotting with isopropyl alcohol or ammonia. Launder in the warmest water possible.
  • Zucchini: Rinse with cool water, apply a pretreating product, and launder in the warmest water possible.

Further Cleaning