Black coffee on clean clothes. Red wine on white carpet. Grass, mud, and blood on your child’s T-ball jersey. *shudder* Just thinking about stains makes us cringe.
Stains are the worst. But just because stains are a part of your daily life doesn’t mean they have to ruin your day—or even your clothes and fabrics.
Have a stain you just can’t get out? Worried you may have to throw away your beloved shirt, dress, or…whatever?
Get rid of the stain, not your clothes, with our easy stain-removal guide!
How to avoid stains in the first place.
Let’s state the obvious first–the best way to get rid of stains is to never get them in the first place.
Easier said than done. Option A is to never leave your home, never go outside, and only drink water from a sippy cup like a two-year old…so Option A is obviously not an option.
Option B is to slow down, be more mindful, and pay better attention to ourselves and those around us. You’re less likely to spill a cup of Joe on your new blouse if you’re not answering emails and also texting your spouse. Option B is good advice for all of us, especially with the hectic pace of modern life.
That said, mistakes will always happen, so it’s a good idea to be ready when they do. Here are ways to remove the most common stains—and save your favorite clothes too!
The six most common stains—and how to get rid of them!
First, don’t panic, but don’t dawdle either. It’s important to take out the stain as soon as possible and do not put the clothes in the dryer until the stain is gone. If you dry in a stain, it’s there forever.
Coffee or Tea Stains
Coffee and tea are cumbersome because the hot temps “open up” the fabric’s fiber, allowing the tannins (naturally occurring vegetable dye) and added substances to more easily bond with the fabric. Whether it’s brewed at home or a $6.50 machiatto-whatever, don’t get bitter about coffee or tea stains; follow these tips instead.
- Coldwater Rinse: Remove the fabric and run it under cold water to stop the stain from penetrating deeper into the fabric.
- Opt. 1 – Vinegar Trick: Soak the stained cloth for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 quart lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon liquid detergent. Once the stain is gone, properly wash the clothes.
- Opt. 2 – Chlorine Bleach: Wash the stain with ¼ cup of oxygen or chlorine–free bleach and a gallon of water. Note: This doesn’t work on wool, silk, leather, spandex, or mohair.
Red Wine Stains
Red wine stains have a well-deserved reputation for being the worst, because grape skins are rich with tannins, a naturally occurring pigment that soaks into fibers and sets right away. Red wine may send a chill down your spine, but despite its rep, removing it is easier than you think.
- For Carpet Stains: Blot the stain with a paper towel and cover it with salt. As the salt will dry, it will soak up the wine stain.
- For Clothing Stains: Apply white vinegar to the stained area to neutralize the pigments in the stain. Afterwards, rub in liquid detergent. Lastly, wash it with hot water.
Coffee and red wine may get more attention, but grass stains are the toughest to remove. Blame the bright green chlorophyll. Sure, it’s important for plant life (and thus all life), but chlorophyll has a similar structure to most fabrics, so it bonds easily with most material, leaving behind a dry stain that’s difficult to remove. Difficult…but not impossible. But you have to act fast.
- Warm Water and All-Fabric Bleach: Mix a capful of fabric bleach in a bucket of warm water and soak the clothes in it. After an hour, take the clothes out of the water and rinse them well until the stains are removed.
- Isopropyl Alcohol: Soak the grass stain in isopropyl alchohol, but be careful–it can also discolor clothes. Test it on a smaller area by dabbing the spot with a sponge and then washing with water.
Sweat stains contain proteins that react with the aluminum in most deodorants, a mix that can discolor and weaken farbics. But it sounds worse than it is. Truth is, sweat stains are no sweat, and can be easily removed with the following materials.
- Lemon Juice: Scrub the stains with lemon juice and water and then wash the clothes.
- Table Salt: Dab the fabric with a sponge soaked in hot water and table salt and then wash the clothes.
- White Vinegar: Rub the affected area with white vinegar till the stain vanishes.
Mud or Dirt Stains
Dirt is tougher to remove than you may think. It’s dark, decomoposed organic matter that can cling to clothes easily. Mud is even worse, as the water pushes soil deeper into the fibers. Dirt and mud can make a mess, but cleaning them out doesn’t have to be a dirty job.
- Mud or dirt: Wait until the mud dries, then scrape off the dirt with a plastic knife or tootbrush. Be careful not to rub the dirt into the clothes. Put some liquid soap on the stain and gently rub it with a toothbrush in a circular motion. Repeat the motion untill the stain is gone and then wash the clothes.
First and foremost, if you or your someone you know is hurt, stop the bleeding before worrying about the stain. It goes without saying, but you are more important than your clothes. Good news though, you can save your clothes too! Blood can be tough to remove because it’s iron-rich (making it red), and is made up of red- and white-pigmented cells and plasma proteins that bind to clothing fibers. Whether it’s wet or dry, here’s how to remove blood stains.
- Wet Blood: Soak the stain in cold water ASAP to remove as much blood as you can. You can also scrub the stain with bar soap or sponge it with hydrogen peroxide (use sparingly, as this can remove color from the fabrics). Run it in the washer with liquid laundry detergent.
- Dry Blood: Pre-soak the garment in cold water and laundry detergent. If this doesn’t work, soak the garment for at least one hour in a mixture of 1-quart water, 1-teaspoon laundry detergent and 1 tablespoon ammonia.
Pro Tip – If you’re removing someone else’s blood from clothes (including your kids or spouse) stay safe from blood-borne pathogens: Use gloves, wear a mask, and cover any cuts or scrapes on your own skin.
The best way to remove a stain? Bring it to us!
Our stain-removal team is led by Cesar Bustamante, a.k.a. “The Stain Master,” and has been taking out the toughest stains for 30-plus years. Our expert team is constantly learning the latest stain-removal techniques and tricks, and has developed a time-proven process to gently remove difficult stains without doing damage to your clothes.
Find out more about our painstaking stain-removal process, see our pricing options, meet the team, and schedule your free pickup and delivery on our Stain Removal page!