How do I Remove Stains from Clothing?

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  • Written By: Deborah Ng
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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All of us, no matter how neat, have been in a situation where we've had to remove stains from our clothes. In most cases, stain removal is quite simple, though sometimes clothing requires professional care. What follows are some stain removal tips.

Many stains become permanent only because one hasn't acted quickly enough. Rather than allow the stain to become embedded in the fibers of our clothing, it's best to act immediately. If the garment can be easily removed without causing embarrassment, soak it in cold water to loosen the spot. If the garment can't be removed, wet a cloth with cold water and blot until you've removed as much of the stain as possible.

It's important to blot gently at the stain. By rubbing it you're only producing more damage to the fabric. This will also cause the stain to spread.

If the garment is still stained after blotting it with cold water, try using a mild dish washing liquid. Blot a little onto the stain with a cloth until it's lifted. Soap can be blotted up with a damp sponge. If you're in an area where you can actually mix up a solution of one part dish washing liquid to two parts water, this will make for easier blotting.


Club soda and even other "clear" sodas will also help to remove the stain. Pour it on a cloth and blot until the stain is lifted.

If you happen to have some vinegar handy, you can also use this to blot at the stain.

Cold water or any of the above remedies will help to remove the stain, or at least help it to fade away. After that you can launder the item of clothing as usual. If you try one of the above methods and the stain is still visible, you may want to pretreat with a laundry detergent or spot remover for a few hours before using the washing machine.

If you got to the stain early enough, it should come out of the washing machine good as new. If not, you may want to try pretreating again and throwing it in with your next batch of laundry. It's important to note that stained clothing should never be placed in the dryer or exposed to another form of heat such as an iron. The heat will cause the stain to set in permanently. If after a couple of washings the stain still exists, you should probably take the clothes to a dry cleaner for professional advice.

Stain removal isn't difficult. Just remember the three most important rules of stain fighting: act immediately, blot — don't rub, and never apply heat until the stain is removed. Soon, your little mishap will be only a distant memory.


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Post 19

I washed and spin dried a jersey together with a rag but the rag ran on the jersey. How can I remove this stain? I soaked it and it did not come out. What else can I do to remove it?

Post 18

How do you remove hair color stains from clothing, specifically from around the collar?

Post 17

There are some red stains on my chair upholstery. I tried cold water and vinegar, but still the stains are not gone. Can any one help me?

Post 16

For sweat stains, use white vinegar. Don't dilute it, just use it straight from the bottle. Either soak your clothes in it before you wash, or throw it in with your wash. The vinegar itself doesn't have to be any particular brand; it will all work.

Post 15

For stubborn stains try light, grass and fresh air, this has worked for me several times! Hang the item over a grassy area if possible in the lightest/sunniest spot you can find. Apparently the action of light on grass produces oxygen +++ which floats up and bleaches out the stain.

Depending on severity of stain it may take a few sessions before stain completely disappears. This worked for me yesterday on an old red wine stain, and I've previously had success with tomato sauce and even biro on a vinyl doll! No luck with mildew, though. If anyone finds the solution to that I'd be pleased to hear it, the only solution I've found so far is the bin!

Post 14

I washed a blue tee shirt with some other colored things. One of the shirts faded color onto that brand new blue shirt. What can I soak it in to get the stain out? It went through the whole wash and dry cycle, so the stain may be set. Any suggestions?

Post 13

The black spots are mold. I am looking for a solution. When I opened my ski clothes stored in the basement they had mold? Any suggestions?

Post 12

What's the answer to removing underarm stains caused by sweating? We have thrown many T-shirts away because of this.

Post 11

l have a white stain of nail polish on my black trouser. How can l remove it?

Post 10

We got spackle on our clothing after the painter had prepped our walls. How do we get it out?

Post 9

I dropped hot wax on a work shirt. I waited until it was hard and then got most of it off. There is still a mark that I cannot get rid of. Please help me.

Post 7

Dish soap removes most stains. I used palmolive oxy plus with oxygenated cleaning action. Scrub into stain with tooth brush or similar and let it sit for about 15 to 30 min. depending on the severity of the stain. Finally put into wash at highest temperature allowed for garment. This worked for me a week after the stain set in.

Post 6

how about grease stains? or the one that is put in the cars that is like grease? how can it be removed?

Post 5

How can I restore 'crusty shirt under-arms', caused by sweat stain?

Post 4

Re: mildew stains. I have the same problem with a tablecloth and my daughter says she thinks Milton works but I have not tried yet.

Post 3

I have a green stain on my polo shirt and was wondering how to get it out?

Post 2

Does anyone have any advice for removing mildew stains from a cotton (colored) towel (which remained wet on the lundry room floor for too long)? I have washed repeatedly and the small black spots remain..... Thanks in advance!

Post 1

If it is an ink stain, nothing beats hair spray for getting it out. I don't know how it works, but the hair spray seems to dissolve the ink better than anything else!

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