10 Types of Stains You Can Get Out from Clothes


Accidents happen, stains are formed, and the hope of getting them out of your clothes is generally lost! In fact, the moment a stain appears on a piece of clothing, the first thought is to discard the item altogether; the second is to get rid of the stain which, more often than not, is followed by “I don’t know how to do that!”

The truth is that most people don’t know how to get ink out of clothes or remove blood stains without spreading them around or damaging the fabric. Therefore, it certainly pays to know what you’re doing by doing your research! On the other hand, for messy situations like chewing gum on your clothes or very large stains, you might want to save yourself the trouble of removing them by going straight to the professionals!  If you are, however, willing to put in the time and effort, there are many things to consider when removing different types of stains from your clothing, most of which are crucial if you want to achieve desirable results. 

So, whether you’ve spilled wine on your favourite blouse, or got mud on your t-shirt, here are 10 types of stains on clothing that you can get rid of with their respective cleaning methods.

1. Red Wine

NOTE: For delicate fabrics such as silk and wool, have the item professionally dry cleaned.

One of the most common stains you can find on clothing is caused by none other than red wine! It is also one of those stains that send you into a state of panic; however, that needn’t be the case anymore because the solution is rather simple! If the fabric in question can be washed using strong cleaning components (refer to clothing label), use the following steps to remove red wine stains from your clothes:

    1. Lay the clothing item on a flat surface and place some paper towels underneath the stained area of the fabric. These will be used to soak up moisture and parts of the stain. 
    2. Soak a sponge in hot water, squeeze out some of the excess water, and dab the stain. Rinse the sponge and repeat to lift as much redness as possible. 
    3. Choose a bleach-based liquid stain remover; apply it to the stain and surrounding area. As an alternative, regular laundry stain remover can also be used; however, you may need to repeat the process when attempting to clean with a less powerful product.
    4. Check the label of the product for special instructions or directions. More often than not, there will be a fixed amount of time to allow the cleaning agent to work on the stain before moving on to the next step.  
    5. Machine wash the clothing item in a regular cycle (temperature will depend on the fabric)

NOTE: Check the clothing item’s label to ensure that the fabric can withstand any form of bleach. If you cannot find this information on the label, check online for a list of fabrics that are not suitable to be cleaned with bleach.

2. Fruit Juice

Particularly among kids, spilling fruit juice on clothes is a very common occurrence. Fortunately, it is fairly simple to remove fruit juice or fruit stains from clothing with just laundry detergent and a hot wash cycle! Here are the appropriate steps one should take to successfully remove juice stains from clothes:

    1. Rinse the area with cold water to lighten the stain as much as possible (avoid scrubbing). 
    2. Choose a laundry detergent that contains enzymes as this substance helps to tackle different types of organic matter. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and spread the product over the stain and surrounding area using your fingers. 
    3. Wait for approximately 20 minutes before tossing the clothing item in the washer and running a hot cycle. 

NOTE: Check the label on the clothing item for laundry symbols or washing instructions before running it through a hot water cycle. 

3. Ink (Ballpoint Pen)

Sometimes a little carelessness can lead to a line of ink on your clothes, or even worse, an ink spill. While large stains may require professional help, smaller ink stains on clothes are easier to remove than most people think. Here’s what you need to do:

    1. Place paper towels under the fabric (enough to absorb a good amount of moisture).
    2. Saturate the stain with rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl) using a sponge.
    3. Blot the area with a clean white cloth and observe whether the stain is being transferred. Old ballpoint ink stains may not lift immediately; however, it’s advisable to keep trying for a few minutes before switching to another method.
    4. As an alternative, apply hairspray to the stain and repeatedly dab at it with a crumpled ball of paper towels. It may take a bit of time but hairspray is very effective in getting out ink stains from clothes.
    5. Rinse the area under cold running water and machine wash on a regular cycle.

4. Grease

Similar to how greasy utensils are cleaned, removing grease stains from clothes can be achieved with the help of a trusty dish detergent. For this, a grease-fighting cleaning product is definitely recommended for best results. With the right dish cleaner by your side, here’s how to remove grease stains from clothes:

    1. Hold the stain under cold running water; use your fingers to gently rinse off as much grease as possible.
    2. Apply a decent amount of liquid dish soap to the stain and work it in using a soft toothbrush. Gently scrub the area in circular motions for a few minutes.
    3. Rinse off the soap thoroughly under running water (avoid scrubbing here).
    4. If the stain has not vanished completely, treat it with an enzymatic stain remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
    5. Wash the clothing item on a hot cycle without rinsing off the stain remover beforehand. 

5. Sweat & Other Bodily Fluids

From sweat patches to vomit, these unsightly stains make you want to throw away even the most beloved piece of clothing you own! As disgusted as you may be by it, there’s no need to make any hasty decisions, especially when there is a perfectly simple solution to your problem! Use the steps below to remove sweat and other bodily fluid stains from your clothes:

    1. Dampen the stain with water and blot the area with paper towels; some parts of the stain will get lifted (especially if it is fresh).
    2. Spot clean the stain with oxygenated bleach (if it is suitable for the fabric in question). As an alternative, use a reliable enzymatic stain remover.
    3. Pour the product directly over the area and spread it evenly to cover the entire stain.
    4. Allow the cleaner to saturate the stain for 15 minutes before gently scrubbing with a damp (soft-bristled) toothbrush.
    5. Without rinsing the cleaner off, run the item through a hot water cycle.

6. Blood

When you get blood on your clothes, it certainly helps to act fast! Nevertheless, it’s possible to get dried blood stains out of clothing items with the right cleaning method and a little perseverance. To do this, follow the steps below:

    1. Soak the clothing item in cold water while using your finger to scrub away as much of the stain as possible (replace the water immediately if it turns pink). Do this for a few minutes to lighten the stain and move on to the next step.
    2. Rinse the entire piece of clothing and gently squeeze out some of the water (avoid squeezing or wringing delicate fabrics as they may lose shape).
    3. Pour liquid laundry detergent over the stain and surrounding area; allow it to saturate the stain for a minute.
    4. Rub the fabric together to remove whatever is left of the stain. Rinse and repeat if needed.
    5. Machine wash the clothing item on a regular cycle.

TIP:  Hydrogen peroxide is effective in removing dried blood stains from clothes, however, it can also fade some types of dyed fabrics; therefore, it is advisable to test the product on an inconspicuous area before using it on the stain.

7. Lipstick

If you thought getting out lipstick stains from clothes was impossible, think again! This stain removal process is tried and trued; however, if the fabric you are working with is wool, silk, or cashmere, it’s best you take it to the cleaners! For other, more durable clothing materials, use the steps below:

    1. Use a plastic spoon to gently scrape off the top layer of the lipstick stain (while it is fresh).
    2. Lay down a bunch of paper towels and place the stained area face down over them.
    3. Apply a powerful, grease-fighting dish soap product to the back of the fabric regardless of whether the stain has penetrated the material.
    4. Pour a small amount of water over the cleaner to dampen the material so that it saturates the stain. 
    5. Gently brush the back of the stain to work the cleaning agent into the fabric.
    6. Flip the item over and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the stain. Rinse the fabric and reapply dish soap as needed.
    7. Give it a final rinse and apply a non-chlorine bleach detergent over whatever is left of the stain.
    8. After 15 minutes, wash the clothing item on a regular cycle. Observe the affected area after the garment has dried, if the stain persists, repeat the entire process. 

8. Tea/Coffee 

It’s not difficult to get tea/coffee stains out of your clothes, however, there are some tricks to making the process easier, faster, and of course, more effective! For this, follow the simple steps below:

    1. Sprinkle baking soda over wet stains to absorb colour left by the beverage. Give the powder at least 5 minutes to work.
    2. Hold the stain face down and run cold water through the back of the fabric to push out as much colour (from the stain) as possible.
    3. After the baking soda has been rinsed out, use liquid dish detergent and a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the stain (in a circular motion).
    4. Rinse off and observe whether the stain has disappeared; if not, treat it with an enzymatic stain remover and toss in the wash for a regular cycle.

9. Mud/Grass

A little slip in a dirty place can leave you with some ugly mud/grass stains on your pants! Of course, if you have kids, their clothes are bound to end up with such outdoor stains every now and then. Therefore, it’s important to know how to remove mud or grass stains from clothes instead of giving up and throwing them away. Here’s what you need to do:

    1. Place the stained item on a flat surface, preferably under a running fan to allow the mud/grass to dry completely. Avoid washing or wetting the stain before it has had a chance to dry, otherwise, you run the risk of spreading it.
    2. Once dry, carefully scrape off debris using a plastic spoon or butterknife. 
    3. Place paper towels underneath the stained part of the fabric.
    4. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar; use this solution to saturate the stain and leave aside for 5 minutes. Avoid scrubbing at this point as the vinegar is merely meant to break down the stain during this time.
    5. Apply an enzymatic stain remover to the stain and wash the item on a regular cycle.
    6. If the stain persists, use diluted hydrogen peroxide to pretreat the stain before machine washing it.

NOTE: Always conduct a colourfastness test when using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide on clothing.

10. Collar Dirt 

(Caused by sweat, dead skin cells, etc)

It’s hard to keep the inner side of shirt collars clean when you spend several hours a day in them. A little sweat combined with dead skin cells can leave dirty, brown stains on your collar which do not come out in a regular wash. To get rid of collar stains, use the steps below:

    1. Choose a shampoo that is formulated to combat oily hair; pour it over the stained area and rub the fabric together. 
    2. Rinse the collar and repeat the process to really work the shampoo into the fabric. 
    3. After the second scrub, leave the item aside for 15 minutes.
    4. Next, soak the collar in warm water for another 15 minutes.
    5. Machine wash on a regular cycle using a non-chlorine bleach detergent.

As much as we enjoy taking short cuts, when it comes to getting out stains from your clothes, the odds of succeeding are 90% higher if you choose to follow the right cleaning methods!

Karen Saunders


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