Red wine on your carpet? Pasta sauce on a white shirt? Grease on your favorite khakis? Don’t chuck them just yet.
Do you often find more of your food on your shirt than in your mouth? Then this guide is for you. The messy eaters, the accident prone, never fear. With the following tips you can get just about any stain out. So stop putting your name tag over today’s lunch spot and start reading.
Usually anything red lands directly on the lightest colors you’re wearing. It’s like a magnet. Pasta sauce, salsa, hot sauce, ketchup, they’re all bright red. The best way to get the stain out completely is to remove the article of clothing and run it for several minutes under extremely hot water. Because most red sauces and products are derived from tomatoes, at least in part, they’re mostly water based. All fruits are mostly water, making them easier to clean. Naturally derived products are easier to flush out of fabrics than synthetic or processed products. If there is still a remnant of a stain after several minutes of water flushing, remove the clothing from the water. Brush a small amount of soap into the stained area. Try using lemon dish soap and an old toothbrush. Dish soap is designed for greasy, oily foods while the citrus of lemon cuts through dirt and residue quickly. Pull the garment taught and gently scrub the stain with the toothbrush. Add a bit more soap and let the article sit for 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, repeat the hot water flushing. If the stain is still visible, repeat the steps above. Once the stain is mostly gone, add a small dab of soap to the stain and toss in your hamper. Letting the dish soap sit for a few more hours or days will loosen any remaining particles of the stain. Toss the item into your wash load as usual. Make sure to check the garment before throwing it in the dryer, as this will only set any remaining stain into the fabric.
Ink is one of the harder stains to get out of fabrics. But it’s not impossible. First, as with most stains, flush the stain with running water. Do not use hot water initially on ink. It may set the stain. Cool to lukewarm water works best. After flushing the excess ink out of the fabric, lay it on a flat surface. Liberally spray the area with hairspray. Either aerosol or a regular spray pump will work equally well. Allow the hairspray to soak into the fabric. After five minutes, wet a toothbrush, re-spray the stain with hairspray, pull the material taught and begin scrubbing the stain. (Always scrub with the grain of the material as this causes less damage.) Scrub until the stain is gone or greatly lightened. Rinse completely and continue to flush with water. If the stain is still visible, saturate it with hairspray a second time and let it sit for thirty minutes. Repeat the scrubbing and rinsing steps. The alcohol and other chemicals in the hairspray will loosen the stain, but won’t damage the fabric the way harsher cleaners will.
While red wine can actually follow the same guidelines as a tomato-based stain, there are some variables to red wine. Most importantly, start flushing the stain IMMEDIATELY. This is one that will set and will set quickly. Most often, red wine is spilled on fabrics that can’t be doused in the sink. More often than not, it’s spilled on carpeting. For this stain, you must act quickly. First, douse the entire stain with a thick layer of coarse sea salt. Allow the salt to sit on the stain. Rubbing the salt into the stain will help it absorb the wine. After a few minutes, pour club soda over the salt. Rub the mixture together in the carpet with a towel, and then pat dry the area. If any part of the stain is still visible, apply more salt and repeat the procedure. A final rinse with hot water will loosen and remove any remaining traces of the wine.
White marks on you black shirt? Deodorant has a tendency to get everywhere on a blouse or dress. Wiping it away with a damp cloth doesn’t always work, but usually leaves wet marks that later reveal the white marks underneath. Instead of a wet cloth, head to your sock drawer. A piece of nylon, the best to use is hosiery, will remove the stains completely. Simply take a pair of panty hose or tights and rub them against the white marks until the stain is gone. The porous material attaches to the deodorant stains and lifts them away without leaving wet marks or leaving any trace of the residue.
This is a stain that like red wine, needs immediate attention. Once again, lemon dish soap will be the best to use. Dab off any excess oil or grease from the fabric. Coat the stain with a thick layer of lemon soap. Dish soap is often advertised as ‘cuts through grease!’ and it will do the same on fabrics as it will in a pan. Allow the soap to sink into the fabric and loosen the grease. Rub the soap gently with a damp toothbrush. After letting the soap sit, rinse the stain thoroughly with hot water. Squeeze the fabric dry with a towel and check to see if the oil is still visible. If it is, repeat the steps above. If not, or if only slightly visible, coat the area with soap again and let it soak in until your next laundry load. Make sure to check the garment after washing and if the stain is still present, do not place in the dryer. Repeat the steps until the spot is no longer visible. Sometimes it is possible to get a grease or oil stain out after it has set, but the odds are much better if you can treat it immediately.
Blood can leave a stain that’s a light tan color. It’s mostly gone, but you can still see it. Most important is not to let blood set. Always rinse immediately if possible. Cold water will keep the stain from setting. If it’s a dried area, rinse with cold water and treat with lemon dish soap. Blood stains may require scrubbing and several soakings, or they may come out instantly with a rinse. It depends how long it’s been on the fabric and how thoroughly the blood saturated the fabric.
Any stain can be addressed best if dealt with immediately. A stain that is allowed to sit for hours or days is far more unlikely to come out. If you have a tendency to spill often at work, keep an extra shirt or sweater in your office. You’ll be happy to get out of the stained item and be able to clean the garment. At the very least, when having stained a garment, don’t let the stain set. A very handy trick is to rub an ice cube over the stain until it’s melted. Then, rub the stain briskly with a napkin. This will break up some of the stain particles and wipe many of them away. This trick has gotten soy sauce out of a white shirt, completely. Keep a small bottle of lemon dish soap in your car or office. It’ll work better than name brand laundry sticks or wipes. If your stain is on a white garment, remember that bleach will get just about anything out. For small stains or spot removal on white shirts, try a bleach pen. They’re designed for cleaning bathroom tiles, but the gel makes them more controllable and perfect for cleaning up a work shirt.
For any really difficult stain, coat it with soap or detergent. Let it absorb into the fabric. Then, let the garment soak for several hours. After letting it soak, try scrubbing it out. Repeat the rinse and scrub process until the stain is gone.