13 Stubborn Stains and How to Remove Them
Check out these infamous stains and learn how to clean them for good.
By: Amanda Formaro
Stains on your clothing, furniture and your carpet are the definition of frustrating. But before you throw away that blouse you accidentally spilled red wine on, or retire your child's good jeans because of grass stains, try some of these helpful tips.
Before We Begin
- The most important aspect of stain removal is pre-treating as soon as possible. The sooner you can soak or pre-treat a stain, the better your chances of being able to remove it.
- When pre-treating, always test a discreet area of fabric with a pre-treating solution to make sure the product doesn’t damage your garment.
- Try an enzyme detergent. These detergents are specifically formulated to break down proteins and lift out stains.
And now for the main event: These stains have been the cause of plenty of scrubs, bleachings and soaks over the years, so try these tips before you end up throwing your hands up in frustration — and maybe even the garment into the trash.
1. Apply stain treatment then rub the fabric together. An old toothbrush can be very helpful to get the treatment into the fibers.
2. Use diluted white vinegar or ammonia to remove any remaining color.
3. Methylated spirits, also known as denatured alcohol, can be used and is available from hardware stores and supermarkets.
1. Cover the stain with a handful of salt. The salt should begin to absorb the color, turning it salt pink.
2. Soak garment in cold water with enzyme detergent and allow it to soak overnight.
3. If you can't get home to wash your garment right away, try treating it with club soda.
Allow the chocolate to completely harden then gently remove as much of the chocolate as you can.
1. Treat with colorless dishwashing liquid and water. Gently blot the stain using a light-colored cloth.
2. If the stained was milk chocolate, use a few drops of ammonia. If the stain was dark chocolate, use two tablespoons white vinegar (for colors) or hydrogen peroxide (for whites).
3. Use a mixture of one tablespoon of enzyme laundry detergent and two cups of water. Allow item to pre-treat for 20 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
For items too large for the washing machine, apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse carefully. Use a combination of water and a mild detergent to clean the any remaining stain.
Chewing Gum, Glue and Other Sticky Substances
1. For gum, freeze the garment (if you are able to) by placing it directly in the freezer. If you can’t, put some ice cubes in a small plastic bag and place it on the clothing where the gum is. When the gum has hardened, you should be able to lift it off with no visible stain remaining.
2. For glue and other sticky substances, try using a product specifically made for getting rid of goo. These products are formulated to break down sticky residue, allowing it to wash out. Apply product and allow it to work for 10 to15 minutes. Begin working out the sticky substance, repeating as necessary until gone.
3. Water-based glues (like white school glue) simply need some dish washing liquid and water.
Glues that are permanent, such as epoxy or super glue, will require acetone followed by a thorough rinse and wash.
1. Apply product made to remove sticky substances and allow it to work for 10 to 15 minutes. Begin working out the crayon, repeating as necessary until gone.
2. Place the garment with the stain facing down on top of a stack of paper towels. Spray with a lubricant and allow it to sit for five minutes. Turn item over and spray it again, let sit five minutes. Rinse item well.
3. Liquid dishwashing soap and warm water can be used as well.
1. Soak clothing in cold water for 30 minutes. Use a drop or two of enzyme detergent and warm water to soak it further. Rinse with cool water then apply a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
2. Apply a stain treatment product and wash in enzyme detergent.
1. Cover the spot with stain remover and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Wash in warm water using an enzyme detergent.
2. Use liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water to work on the stain.
3. If the coffee contained milk use use a product an oil solvent.
1. Allow the mud to dry and brush off as ouch as you can. Using a gentle detergent and some water, rub the fabric to create suds. After rinsing, if there are any remaining stains, use one part white vinegar and one part water to remove and finish with a wash in an enzyme detergent.
2. For items that can't go in the washing machine, let dry and brush off as much mud as you can. Use a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and a cup water to work on the stain. Rinse with cold water.
1. Place item stain side down on a stack of paper towels. Apply an oil solvent and allow it to dry then rinse. Machine wash, using the hottest water recommended for the fabric.
2. Cover stain with an absorbent powder such as cornstarch, baking soda, salt or baby powder and allow it to sit. Brush the powder off but don't rub it. If stain is persistent use a dry cleaning solvent.
3. Apply dishwashing soap to the stain and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Blot with a clean cloth then wash in enzyme detergent.
For carpets, blot oil stains with rubbing alcohol.
1. The most commonly known remedy has to be hairspray! Place a clean towel or cloth under the stain and spray the ink until saturated. Let it soak for several seconds then blot ink stain with another clean cloth. Repeat this process until gone and wash in enzyme detergent.
2. Soak item in milk overnight then wash as usual.
3. Goo Gone is formulated to remove ink stains, launder afterward with enzyme detergent.
1. Soak in cold water, gently rubbing the spot with your fingers. Depending on the size of the stain, you may need to change the water as it begins to turn pink from the blood coming out of the clothing.
2. Rinse, blot then soak in cold water. Use a stain remover and allow it to sit before washing.
3. Hydrogen peroxide can be used on white or light-colored fabrics for stubborn blotches.
4. Soak item in a saline solution made up of 2 tablespoons salt for every quart of cold water.
1. Use a prewash stain remover and allow it to sit as directed. Wash item in the hottest water recommended for the fabric using an enzyme detergent and oxygen bleach.
2. After pre-treating with stain remover, use diluted vinegar to remove any remaining color. Rinse thoroughly with cool water.
Ketchup and Other Tomato-Based Substances
1. Whenever possible, rinse under cold running water right away.
2. Soak garment in warm water and dab the spot with a sponge that has been coated with dishwashing soap.
3. Stubborn stains can be treated with methylated spirits.
4. Apply a stain treatment and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Use diluted white vinegar to remove any remaining color.
Amanda is a mother of four, craft designer and recipe developer who also runs several sites, including Crafts by Amanda , Cooking with Amanda and the Secret Recipe Club. Her work has appeared on SheKnows.com and Family.com as well as in Parents, Redbook and Mixing Bowl magazines among others.