The Complete Guide to Removing Stains on Your Clothes
When it comes to stains, they seem to happen despite our best intentions. Whether it’s from that delicious curry laksa you had for lunch or the glass of red wine accompanying your dinner, all it takes is one stain to ruin your favourite shirt or pants.
Fortunately, stain removal is possible even with the trickiest types of stains. By working quickly and understanding what you’re working with, you can give your favourite skirt or scarf the best chance of surviving what would otherwise be permanent damage.
Treat the stain immediately
Once you get a stain, act quickly to prevent it from settling in before you wash it. The first few minutes after you get the stain can be a critical stage. What you do during this time could make all the difference when it comes to preventing the wine, coffee, or other substance settling into the fabric and staying there forever. Some liquids, especially oil-based substances, can create a chemical bond with whatever you’re wearing, creating an impossible-to-remove stain.
Sometimes the fibres on the fabric wear off while you attempt to rub off the staining liquid. In this case, treat the stain right away with water if you don’t have access to the correct solvent. You can start by dabbing the area with a wet paper towel until you’ve soaked the stain.
Once you get home, try scrubbing the stained area with your bio-home laundry detergent before rinsing with lukewarm water. If you have a grease stain, you could use a small amount of bio-home dishwashing liquid and rinse with water to work the stain out of the fabric.
Read the label and understand the fabric you’re working with
The above method is suitable for emergencies, but if you get a stain on your clothing while at home, you’ll probably have more time to ensure you’re using the correct method for the type of stain and fabric. One of the dangers when dealing with different fabrics and types of stains is damaging the fabric or making the stain even worse.
Follow these general guidelines to deal with stains on the most common types of fabrics, but first check your clothing labels and follow the recommended washing instructions.
- Cotton – Cotton is one of the easiest fabrics to work with as it’s generally able to tolerate any type of solvent. This includes bleach and light acids at any temperature, as well as bio-home’s eco-friendly, gentle laundry detergent.
- Wool – Wool is a more delicate fabric compared to cotton and so it will need more care. If you’re trying to remove a stain from a wool-based fabric, the best method is probably to keep it soaked in the right wool-friendly solvent or detergent rather than heavy scrubbing or applying too much force. Keep in mind wool is heat-sensitive, so avoid washing in high temperatures.
- Synthetics – Synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon tend to be tough, tolerating heavy-duty scrubbing. However, they can be sensitive to hydrogen peroxide-based bleaches and harsh chemicals like bleach, so use standard detergents if you’re trying to remove a stain from a synthetic fabric.
- Silk – Silk is a delicate fabric, so make sure you use the right silk-appropriate detergent like bio-home’s delicate laundry detergent.
Apply the right method to the stain type
Consider also the stain type when you’re trying to remove it from your clothing. Use the right type of solvent or cleaning solution by considering both fabric and stain type.
Blood is one of the most common stains in the average household. Always use cold water for blood stains since heat encourages blood to set into fabrics. The optimal temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius. Try to remove the blood stains as soon as possible.
With fresh stains, you can simply soak in cold water, regardless of the type of fabric. If you’ve stained a mattress or sofa, use a damp sponge or cloth to dab at the spot. You can also use hydrogen peroxide, diluted or full strength, on fresh blood stains if it’s a fresh one, provided the fabric can tolerate this type of solvent.
Another solution for removing fresh blood stains includes using two parts salt and one part baking soda, which you apply to the stain before rubbing and rinsing. Repeat if necessary. You can also try mixing a paste of salt and water and applying to the stain before rinsing with cold water.
For old bloodstains, try soaking in cold water for longer, at least 30 minutes to an hour first. Mix a tablespoon of unseasoned meat tenderiser powder mixed with a teaspoon of water. Apply to the stain and leave it for an hour. For delicates, soak in lemon juice or vinegar for 15 minutes before washing.
Our love affair with the coffee bean has unfortunately made coffees stains more common than we’d like. Immediately blot the stain with a paper towel, soaking up as much coffee as you can. Rinse the back of the fabric for one to two minutes with cold water to prevent the stain from spreading.
As soon as you can, rub in equal parts laundry detergent and cold water. Allow to rest for five minutes before soaking with cold water and washing as usual.
Soak in cold water, 1/2 teaspoon of bio-home liquid dishwashing detergent, and one tablespoon of vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse and treat with detergent or stain remover if necessary, and then wash in warm water. If it’s a stubborn stain, soak it in an enzyme-based product and wash it again.
Let mud stains dry before brushing as much of the soil away as possible. Soak in around one litre of water, a teaspoon of dish detergent, and one tablespoon of white vinegar for 15 minutes before rinsing. For stubborn stains, you can then try applying rubbing alcohol with a sponge before rinsing and washing as normal.
Dye stains can be easy to remove when fresh but hard to get rid off if they’ve settled into the fabric. Run fresh stains under cold water and wash at the hottest possible temperature for the fabric.
If it’s a fresh stain, soak and agitate in cold water before washing as normal. For dry stains, scrap or bush off as much as you can, and then soak in cold water with bio-home laundry detergent to help break the stain down. Wash in warm water. Soak and wash again if the stain is still there.
For fruit or fruit juice stains, wash the item in laundry detergent at the highest possible temperature for the fabric. You might need to use bleach to get rid of the tough stains, but check first to see bleach is safe for that fabric.
If it’s a berry stain, you can try lemon juice. Wash the item as normal and leave it in direct sunlight to help bleach the stain. Rub lemon juice or place a slice of lemon over the stain. Rinse, dry, and repeat if necessary.
Milk can be used to remove stubborn chocolate stains. Bag the item and place it in the freezer to make it easy to scrape off the hardened chocolate. Run hot water on the back side of the fabric to melt the chocolate and push it to the front. Rub some detergent into the stain and soak it in milk for an hour. You can then wash as normal before repeating if necessary.
Soak the stain in a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse and then rub detergent to the stain before washing the item in a cool cycle. You may repeat this if necessary.
Ink stains are some of the hardest to remove. Try soaking the stain with an alcohol-based product, such as methylated spirits or hairspray, before dabbing at the stain until it fades. Wash as normal.
Getting stains on our clothes from time to time might be unavoidable, but if you act quickly and use the right methods for fabric and stain type, you’ll have a better chance of getting rid of unsightly stains and saving your favourite clothing items for longer.
bio-home is a trusted supplier of eco-friendly, biodegradable cleaning products that are highly effective, even against stubborn stains. Check out our home-savvy tips for easy cleaning around the home, or explore our product range for more information about how our all-natural, plant-based products could help you remove the toughest stains.