Did you spill a plate of pasta on your couch and got a glaring stain left behind? How about when you knock over a glass of wine over your carpet?
Stains are an everyday occurrence. You could be eating dinner and spill some of the sauce on your favorite blouse or shirt.
And although we encounter countless stains, they do not come off as quickly as they stick to the fabric. And if you leave them waiting to go to the laundry, you might have a more challenging time getting rid of the stains.
After talking to stain removal experts, we compiled the following list of ways to remove stains from almost anything.
Types of Stains
Before you learn about the various ways of removing stains from clothes, you need to understand the different types of colors on clothes and fabrics.
This is because different stains require different removal tactics for efficient and effective removal. Once you understand the type of stain you are dealing with, it becomes easier to choose the cleaning procedure.
Besides, applying the wrong technique could spread the stain or even ruin your fabric materials.
These different types of stains include:
Protein-based stains: These are stains from animal-based products. They include food items such as milk, cheese sauce, gelatin, and eggs.
Other protein-based stains come from urine, blood, vomit, and mud or white school glue.
Oil-based stains: As the name suggests, oil-based stains come from animal and plant oils. Other oils could be synthetic, like automotive oils.
Examples of such stains include stains you get from the kitchen when cooking bacon, handling mayonnaise or butter.
Gel-stains are also oil-based but thinner. The stains you get from deodorant, suntan oils, and lotions are also oil-based.
Tannin-based: Tannins are a common component that chips in the color of drinks. Therefore, you can get tannin-based stains from wine, beer, tea, coffee, cola drinks, and tomato or fruit juice.
Juice blended from real berries and felt-tip watercolor markers are also some sources of tannin-based stains.
Varnish Stains: These stains resemble oil-based stains but dry hard, while the oil stains do not.
Dye-based stains: Dye is a synthetic component derived from aniline. Usually, dye increases the contrast between surfaces and materials.
You can get dye stains from mustard, jelly, juice, inks, and felt-tip pen.
Combination: These types of stains contain more than one type of stains mentioned above.
The best method for removing such stains requires a close examination of the best removal tactics for each stain on the clothes.
What are some of the everyday products used to remove stains?
Messy kitchens can be a sign of delight, but you want to have spotless surfaces and aprons after cleaning. However, that ketchup stain on your upholstered kitchen seat or the grease on your oven is no sight to enjoy.
But, you do not have to worry too much about it, because these are stains you can remove with some typical products you can find in your kitchen. And if that doesn’t work, you can always call in a professional for some help.
Some of the most common products used in stain removal include:
Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
Not to be confused with washing soda, baking soda is a cheap yet effective alternative to stain removers at home. It is tough on the stain, gentle on your fabric, and a natural deodorizer.
Around the house, you can use it for multiple applications, including cleaning:
Smelly and stained food containers- containers used to store leftovers develop color stains over time. Sometimes, standard cleaning leaves a smell of residue. To remove the odor and stains, you can either wipe your plastic containers with bicarb or soak them in a warm bicarbonate solution.
Smelly fridges- your fridge should preserve foods, but it develops a foul smell that is hard to get rid of with water and soap with time. Being a natural deodorizer, bicarb eliminates the odor without affecting the nearby foods.
Vegetables- it is unsafe to clean your fruits and vegetables with soap. Instead, you can use bicarbonate to remove dirt and waxy coatings found on the surfaces of these foods.
Spotty kitchens- if you have spots on your kitchen counters, microwave, and sinks, you can use bicarbonate to clean them.
Grease- when cleaning greasy pots and pans, a drizzle of bicarb can go a long way in making your cleaning process fast and effective.
Cleaning sponges- even though they are used to clean utensils and surfaces, food residues and dirty water could cause your cleaning sponges to stink. You can soak them in a warm bicarbonate-water mixture before washing and hanging to dry to eliminate this foul smell.
Pet beds- to get rid of the smell in your pet’s bed, a sprinkle of bicarbonate can help
Musty corners- if there are regions in your home that seem to be constantly damp, sprinkle some bicarbonate and wait for a few minutes before vacuuming.
Crayons- kids color anywhere and if these crayons find their way to the walls, scrub the wall slightly using a sponge sprinkled with bicarb and watch the color disappear.
Laundry- bicarbonate is used to add to the vibrancy of your laundry. When used together with liquid detergent, the bicarb balances the pH of your detergent, which helps protect your clothes from fading.
Mildew- when cleaning mildew stains in your bathroom, detergent and bleach are not effective. However, scrubbing the floors, sinks, and curtains with bicarb leaves a gleaming surface and a new look to your bathroom.
Oil spills- when you notice an oil stain in your garage, then get your brush and bicarb. Sprinkle a little over the stain, wait for a few minutes, then scrub with a wet brush to reveal a cleaner floor.
BBQ grills- if you are preparing for a barbecue party with your friends and notice the overstayed grease on your grills, get a pack of baking soda and watch as wonders happen.
Dull cutlery- if you want to polish your spoons, forks, knives, or chopsticks by getting rid of the tarnish, baking soda is perfect for the job. Find a lint-free cloth, make your bicarb mix (using one-part water and three-part baking soda), and clean your utensils without scratching them.
Jewelry- you can also use bicarbonate to remove a dully tarnish on your silver jewelry.
Vinegar is pretty much an unbeatable stain removal household item. With a bit of white vinegar and elbow grease, you can remove some of the toughest stains on your clothes.
Some of the common stains you can handle with vinegar around the house include:
Ink stains- a small amount of vinegar combine with hand spray can remove ink from your clothes. Just cover the spot with hand spray, dub over with vinegar, and watch the stain fade away.
Grass stains- soaking your grass-stained cloth in undiluted vinegar for at least 30 minutes before washing removes the color. However, if the stain persists, use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, the two powerhouses of household stain removal.
Mustard stains- if you were eating a hotdog, and mustard happened to get on your white shirt, apply undiluted white vinegar on the stain. Then, soak before cleaning it with laundry detergent. If you still notice the spot, you can repeat the process before hanging your clothes to dry.
Bloodstains- dealing with blood stains is time conscious. So, the faster you deal with them, the easier they are to remove from your clothes. When you get a bloodstain on your clothes, pour vinegar on the part and soak for 15 minutes. Finish by rinsing with clean, cold water.
Sweat stains- no one likes yellow armpits. So, if you want to remove the sweat stains on your underarms, pour a generous amount of vinegar on the part and scrub using coarse salt before rinsing and hanging to dry.
Crayon stains- if you have color marks from crayons, use a soft brush and vinegar to rub the stains before washing the clothes in the washer.
Vomit stains- to remove any stains from vomit, rinse the clothes in cool water before soaking in vinegar. After 5 minutes, scrub the cloth and rinse before hanging to dry. If the stain fails to come off, soak in vinegar for a little longer before washing and drying.
Rust stains- rust stains are easy to clean with vinegar. You only need to dip a cotton ball in vinegar, dab the stain and rub with salt. Then, place the cloth in direct sunlight and wait for it to fade.
Mildew stains- mildew stains form when you leave wet clothes unaired for a long time. Maybe you forgot to hang your towels after taking a shower, or the shower curtain has mildew spots. To remove such stains, mix equal parts of water and vinegar before soaking your clothes in the mixture and add some salt. Soak for a few minutes, then wash as usual and dry.
Coffee stains- to get rid of coffee or tea stains, mix one part vinegar with two parts water and soak the clothes before hanging them outside under the sun to dry.
Tomato stains- use undiluted vinegar to saturate the stained spot and wait for a few minutes before washing as usual.
Lemons are not only good for making lemonade or marinating your food. They are also some of the most affordable yet effective household items you can use for stain removal.
Some typical applications include;
Grease and rust stains- lemon erases spots on stained clothes. Combine some lemon juice and cream of tartar and rub it over the stained area. Wait for 30 minutes before rinsing off the mixture. However, while lemon is good on cotton and polyester, it can bleach delicate fabrics like silk.
Grout stains- if you notice a mysterious stain on your clothes or furniture, pour a little lemon juice over the area, scrub using a soft brush, or a toothbrush, wait for 30 minutes before rinsing or wiping with a damp cloth.
Cleaning stained plastics- if you notice your cutting board has color residue from your foods and fruits or the plastic food containers you use in your fridge have stains, use lemon juice to whiten these surfaces. Cut and rub the lemon on the surface, soak for about 15 minutes before cleaning with dish soap and water.
Whitening utensils- if your plates and cups have dark stains from holding coffee, tea, or sauces, then lemon juice will help. Pour lemon juice on the stained surface, allow it to sit for several minutes before rinsing. Alternatively, soak a dishcloth in lemon juice and use it to scrub the stained surface.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a standard household product used to disinfect surfaces and remove stains. However, it can also bleach and damages colored cloths and fabrics.
But when used on white surfaces and clothes, hydrogen peroxide can be used as an inexpensive alternative to stain removers.
Some of the typical applications include:
Removing grout stains- you need to dry the grout and spray hydrogen peroxide on. Let the grout sit for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
Toilet bowl stains- if you are out of toilet cleaner or need to remove watermarks on your sinks or toilet bowl, use half a cup of hydrogen peroxide. Pour it into the stained area, leave for 20 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing or flushing the toilet.
Grass stains- if you have a grass stain on your clothes, and want to use hydrogen peroxide, make sure to test it on a smaller area before soaking your cloth in the mixture. After the spot test on your fabric, mix hydrogen peroxide with ammonia and rub it on the grass stain. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before washing it as usual.
Also, you can substitute your regular bleach with when cleaning white clothes in your washing machine.
How to remove common stains from fabrics
Stains are a common occurrence in the house. Whether you cut your finger when chopping onions and got your dishcloth stained with blood or knocked over some red wine over your carpet, you encounter countless stains in your home.
We have mentioned above some methods to remove some common stains. Below are further tips on how to handle everyday stains around the house:
a. Remove red wine stains
Now and then, we accidentally knock over drinks, and the spills flow everywhere. If this happens with red wine, the stains can be stubborn and need special techniques to remove.
Due to the high porosity of fabrics, wine stains tend to stick and soak deeper with time. The chromogens found in the red pigments and tannins found in wine can cause stubborn stains.
When dealing with wine stains:
- Do not wait too long as the wine sinks and settles fast
- Do not apply dry heat as it can create a permanent stain
- Do not scrub the stain to avoid further spreading
- Use a dry material that will lift the stain from the fabric
- Do not use white wine to counter the red wine stain as it is not effective
- Use hot water to blot the stain or milk
Once you have set your spot, apply club soda or vinegar to the area to break up the molecules of the wine, which makes blotting easier.
Next, find yourself some hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing liquid to clean the stain. Use three-part hydrogen peroxide and one-part dishwashing liquid to soak the stain for about 20 minutes before washing the spot.
When cleaning your clothes:
- Always pull the cloth tight before attempting to remove the stain to avoid spreading the color pigment
- Use hot water when dealing with fresh stains, and hydrogen peroxide on dried stains
- If you are handling white cloths, you might want to bleach it as it is a more straightforward solution
- Use table salt to soak up any wine, and if not available, use dry powder
- Never scrub the stain; instead, blot the stain when cleaning
- Pull the fabric taught and use salt to soak up any wine
- Use club soda and vinegar to blot the stain
- Finally, clean the stain with the dishwasher soap and hydrogen peroxide mixture.
b. Removing blood stains from fabrics
Blood can easily get on your clothes, mattress, and sheets, especially if you are on your period. However, do not worry because blood stains are not a big deal. Below are some effective methods to remove blood stains on your fabrics:
You can use a lightweight cloth soaked in cold water to remove fresh blood stains
If you are dealing with dried stains, try using some blood removal products like oxygenated bleaches and enzymatic cleaners to ghost those ugly blotches.
Use hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice to remove older set-in bloodstains. However, be careful when using these products in dark colors because they have a bleaching effect.
Use salt or a saline solution- if you are out of the house and have salt and water, then a mixture of the two can work wonders to remove blood stains on your clothes.
Baking soda- this stain removal powerhouse works wonders on bloodstains. Just soak the cloth in a baking soda-water mixture for at least 30 minutes before washing the fabric as usual.
Meat tenderizer- if you are dealing with an older stain that already set in, using unseasoned meat tenderizer powder mixed with water can remove the stain in 30 minutes.
- When handling blood stains on your mattress, you want to avoid soaking it in any liquid because it takes excessively long to dry. Instead, use the solvent of choice to blot the stippled area until you notice the stain disappearing before leaving to dry.
C. Removing underarm stains
One of the effective quick fixes for removing stains from the underarm of your clothes is spraying the stained area with white vinegar and letting it sit for about 15 minutes before washing.
Other methods include:
Using baking soda- mix equal parts baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water. Rub the mixture on the stain and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush and washing as usual with warm water and laundry detergent.
Oxygen bleach method- you need to mix equal parts of oxygen bleach and household ammonia in a plastic bowl. Rub the mixture on the yellow stain, and let it soak in for about 10 minutes before washing with laundry detergent.
Using white vinegar- pretreat the cloth in a one-to-one white vinegar-water mixture before scrubbing with a soft-bristle brush. Next, soak the fabric in a bucket of water mixed with one cup of distilled white vinegar for 30 minutes before washing.
d. Removing oil stains around the house
Oil stains can range from the oil spill in your driveway to the grease on your clothes.
When removing oil-based stains from your fabric, you can use:
- Dishwashing detergent- the soap removes grease stains on your pots and plates. But, you can use it to remove grease stains on your clothes. Just lay your cloth flat, place a towel or cardboard under the cloth, apply a small amount of dish detergent, and gently rub. Once you soak the spot for 5 minutes, clean as instructed.
- Using baking soda- spread out your piece of cloth, sprinkle some baking soda, let soak for 10 minutes, then scrape off the baking soda. Next, wash the fabric with hot water and repeat the process until you see the stain disappear.
- Using Aloe Vera gel- you will need to soak the cloth in hot water and then rub the aloe gel on the fabric in a circular motion. Finish by washing the fabric in warm water and hanging it to dry.
- Using cornstarch- put a small amount of cornstarch on the stain and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Brush off the mixture and wash in cold settings before hanging under the sun.
e. Removing ink and permanent marker stains
When removing ink from leather surfaces;
- Use a cotton ball to moisten the spot with rubbing alcohol. Always make sure you perform a spot test before applying the alcohol to your stain
- Rub the stain in a circular motion. DO NOT scrub as you could tear the leather
- Once the ink disappears, finish by applying leather conditioner to the affected area
You can also use an eraser. However, NEVER use hairspray on leather.
Sharpies, on the other hand, are some intimidating stains. When working with leather, you can remove permanent marker stains using:
White vinegar- rub a cotton ball soaked in vinegar on the affected areas. Let it soak for about 5 minutes before blotting
WD-40- spray a small amount of WD-40 on a paper towel before rubbing the stained spot in a circular motion.
On cotton-based fabrics, you can use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to remove such stains.
Encountering stains is not a matter of life and death. However, having spotless clothes, furniture and utensils are nice. So, when facing tough stains, do not hesitate to try out the methods mentioned above. And if these fail, you can always contact a professional for help.