Save your clothing by finding the perfect stain-removing formula. Here's what to know.
A few months ago, I was really excited about a new pair of jeans I'd just purchased. I rarely find pants that fit, so I couldn't wait to cut the tags off and wear them out to dinner that night. But with my luck -- or lack of coordination, really -- I ended up with an unfortunate mustard stain right on the thigh.
I wasn't expecting mustard to be so hard to remove from clothing, but after several washes, it was still there. I became determined to find the perfect stain-removing formula.
Life happens, and sometimes that means even your favorite garments get stains on them. But that doesn't mean it needs to be deemed unwearable. You just have to find the right stain-fighter. Whether it's blood, grass, oil, grease or otherwise, here are steps to remove just about any stain with household items you probably already have at home. (And for more cleaning tips, check out how to clean workout clothes and how to clean your running shoes.)
Oil and grease stains are tricky to remove, but not impossible. Dab some laundry detergent on the stain and wash the garment according to the tag instructions, or try a dish soap and white vinegar combo for stubborn stains. The method outlined below is one people online swear by, and only requires dish soap and baking soda. And remember, time is of the essence when it comes to oil and grease, so tackle the stains as soon as you notice them.
1. For any stain, first blot the mark, removing any excess.
2. Apply a few drops of gentle dish soap to the stain. Rub in the soap with clean fingers until the detergent is completely coating the stain.
3. Next, apply a tablespoon of baking soda over the soap and scrub it into the fabric for two minutes (you can use a soft bristle toothbrush for a more efficient scrub).
4. Once the mixture forms a paste, leave the solution and garment to sit for an hour.
5. Rinse the garment in the sink and then machine wash.
Grass stains are almost inevitable on kids' clothing, and can be stubborn to remove. You may be able to machine wash them out or use a stain remover, but if that doesn't do the trick, you can find a go-to solution here:
1. Soak the garment in a stain-fighting mixture for 30 minutes. You can use a solution of 2 cups white vinegar or a mixture of dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.
2. Gently scrub the spot with a soft brush.
3. Thoroughly rinse the mixture from the clothing with cool water.
4. Machine wash according to the tag.
Blood is notoriously tough to get out of clothes, and may require several treatments. But it's easiest to remove when it's fresh, so act as fast as you can. Here's one method:
1. Soak the stained garment in cold water in the sink as soon as you notice the stain. (Make sure water is cold, since hot water will encourage the blood's proteins to set the stain into the fabric.) If the stain is very recent, blot out all the excess with a paper towel or even run the garment under the faucet to remove as much as you can.
2. Coat the stain with a hydrogen peroxide (20%)mixture (1 part hydrogen peroxide to 6 parts cold water) or apply a baking soda paste (2 parts baking soda to 1 part water).
3. Rinse the garment in cold water before machine washing.
It's unfortunate, but it happens. Even in the hottest climates, though, you don't have to let sweat ruin your clothes with this method:
1. Make a solution of a quarter-cup of white vinegar with one cup of water.
2. Drench the sweat stain with the mixture or fully submerge the garment.
3. Allow the garment to soak for 30 full minutes.
4. Rinse with cool water and machine wash.
I drink coffee like it's my job. I love it. But I really don't love the coffee stains that inevitably get on my work blazer or favorite pair of business pants when I'm rushing in the mornings. Here's how to get those coffee stains out:
1. Fully submerge the stained garment in warm water.
2. Dab gentle laundry detergent or a diluted white vinegar mixture (a quarter-cup of white vinegar to one cup of water) onto the stain.
3. Machine wash on the hottest setting your garment will allow.
After a night out, you might be shocked by the sight of red wine on your favorite blouse or collared shirt. While it may look dramatic, you can easily and effectively remove red wine stains:
1. Blot the stain with a paper towel to remove any excess.
2. Mix an equal parts solution of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap and lightly work the mixture into the stain with your fingers.
3. Allow the solution to sit for 20 minutes to an hour before rinsing.
If you prefer not to use hydrogen peroxide, you can instead apply white vinegar and dish detergent, and follow the above steps as listed.
With any case, a little effort and some time will go a long way to making your clothes look brand new. Just remember to refrain from putting the garment in the dryer until the stain is completely gone (so the stain doesn't set) and feel free to repeat any of the above processes as needed to get the stains out.
For more laundry tips, explore why it may be time to ditch your favorite laundry project and the most energy-efficient way to do your laundry.