A to Z Stain Removal Guide - Tips and Hacks

Your Ultimate Stain Removal Guide to Remove Blood Stains and More!

Being a mom requires a whole bunch of skills. However, no woman is born with all these skills pre-programmed! You err, you learn, and then you pass on the wisdom. One such skill women need to pick up, especially after they become mothers, is the skill of cleaning stains.

Children somehow always find a way of getting the unlikeliest of things onto the unlikeliest of surfaces. They have a knack for knocking things over, dropping things, and always getting their hands dirty… and somehow mommy’s clothes seem to be an ideal place to wipe their hands too!

Irrespective of how you got that stain, it is important to know the right way to clean it – if you want to prevent permanent damage! Here are some easy tips to remove common stains.

1. Pee

In a cup of water, mix one table spoon each of dishwashing liquid detergent and white vinegar. Use a cloth to dab this mixture on the stain. Work from the inside to the outside of the stain. Repeat till stain fades.

2. Poop

Poop stains can be tricky. Hold the stain face-down under a jet of cold water. Once all the poop has washed away, use a good detergent on the stain, preferably one containing enzymes. Wash the stain thoroughly, then rinse, and wash the garment as usual.

3. Baby Food

Soak the stained garment in an enzyme-containing detergent, for a minimum of 30 minutes. If the stain is old or has dried on the garment, soak it for 2-3 hours. Rinse with water, and wash garment again, in your regular way.

NOTE: An enzyme-containing detergent is one that contains enzymes in its formulation. Common enzymes include protease, amylase, pectinase, etc. The main purpose of these enzymes is to break down stains, and kill bacteria that cause odour and makes stains permanent. You can consult a nearby laundrette to find out good options of enzyme-containing detergents. Some can be used directly in the washing machine; others can be used to pre-treat the stain.

baby food stain

4. Diaper-rash cream

Creams in general tend to be greasy, so ordinary detergents are not efficient in removing a cream stain. Spray some rubbing alcohol on the stain to mobilise it, rub the fabric against itself, and spray in some more rubbing alcohol if required. Then hold the stain face-down under a jet of cold water.

5. Phlegm/Booger

Phlegm and booger stains too require an enzyme-containing detergent or stain-remover. Leave it on for about 15 to 20 minutes, rinse with cold water, and then wash the garment regularly.

NOTE: The same tips work for removing pet-stains.

Stain Removal Tips for Kitchen Stains

1. Coffee

The simple solution that works to remove coffee stains is to use dishwashing detergent, instead of laundry detergent. Soak the stain in about a litre of water, containing a mixture of half a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent (liquid), and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. After about 15-20 minutes, rinse the stain, and blot any residual stain with rubbing alcohol. Launder the garment.

NOTE: The same procedure works for medicinal syrups too (like antacids, cough syrups, etc.).

2. Wine

The procedure to remove wine-stains is lengthy, but effective.

  • Use a cotton cloth to dab excess wine. Whatever you do, do not rub the stain. Rubbing will set the stain in!
  • Stretch the fabric till it’s taut. A good idea is to stretch it over a big bowl or vessel, and secure with a rubber band. Or else, you may ask someone to hold it taut.
  • Sprinkle table salt on the stain. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Pour boiling water slowly over the salt, so that it strains through the fabric.
  • Wash the garment as you normally would.

If you are at a party and do not have access to above supplies (or the time), just sprinkle some salt on the stain, as quickly as you can, and then pour soda. Let the stain sit for a while, then dab with a paper towel.

If you were unsuccessful in the above attempt, or if your wine stain has dried for some reason, keep giving the stain a vodka-wash till it fades away. Alternatively, you may use shaving cream. Spray lavishly, dab with a spoon, and wash as usual.

3. Ketchup

Use a spoon or knife to remove excess ketchup. Do not apply force while doing this, as you may just drive the ketchup further deep inside the fabric. Hold fabric under a jet of cold water from the reverse side. Wash as soon as possible.

ketchup stain4. Gravy

Use a piece of white bread soaked in soda and dab the gravy stain. You can also sprinkle salt on the stain, and drain soda through it (the way you would to get rid of a wine stain).

5. Oil

The regular laundry detergent is usually formulated to tackle oil stains. However, it is important to dab a fresh oil stain with paper towels or tissue paper first, to soak up the excess oil.

6. Turmeric

Most kitchen stains are tough to get rid of because of the spices that are present in different foods – the biggest enemy being turmeric! Of all the different types of stains, every woman will agree to have lost to a turmeric stain at some point! The simple remedy for turmeric stains is methylated spirit. Place the stain face down on a wad of tissue paper, and spray some rubbing alcohol or methylated spirit on it from the back. The stain will turn red – DO NOT PANIC! This is normal. Keep spraying and watch as the stain turns red and begins to wash away. Once you start to get a clear coloured liquid, hold the stain under a jet of cold water. Then wash the garment with regular detergent.

Stain Removal Tips for Kids’ Stains

1. Glue

Glue stains are perhaps one of the easiest to remove. Simply scrape off the excess glue with a butter knife, and soak the garment in hot water (as hot as the fabric can endure without getting damaged).

2. Crayons

Baking soda can act as a good stain remover for crayon stains. Pre-treat before washing with detergent. Use hot water to rinse off.

3. Ink

These are the second most difficult types of stains. For any ink stain, it is important to pre-treat the stain before laundering the garment. Use a stain-remover. Alternatively, you can use denatured alcohol to remove the stain. Place the stain face down on a thick wad of paper towels. Pour denatured alcohol on the back of the stain, and let it seep into the paper towels wad. If the towels soak up, replace them. After the stain has faded, wash the fabric.

4. Shoe polish

Liquid shoe polish comes off easier than imagined. Simply wash the stain with a paste of detergent, use a brush from the reverse side, and rinse off. Launder regularly. For paste-shoe polish, scrape off as much as you can with a butter knife. Use a good stain-remover, followed by the steps for liquid shoe polish.

5. Mud

If the mud is dry or has caked, scrape off as much of it as possible. Use a good stain-remover to pre-treat the stain. Rinse and wash stain.

kid playing in mud

6. Sweat

Soak the garment in a small tub of warm water containing about 1-2 cups of white vinegar for 15 to 20 minutes. Prepare a paste using baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and salt. Remove the garment, gently squeeze it to get rid of excess water, and lay flat on a towel. Apply the paste and use your hands to rub it on the stain. Rinse, and launder garment as usual.

NOTE: Sweat stains garments because it reacts with deodorants and perfumes we wear; sweat by itself cannot stain a garment. The same procedure can be used to remove deodorant stains too.

Stain Removal Tips for Women’s Stains

1. Blood

For fresh stains, immediately soak the fabric in cold water. Do not use hot water, as it has an opposite effect, and sets the stain in deeper. For old or dried stains, use an enzyme-containing detergent or stain remover, followed by a normal wash.

2. Make-up Stains

All make-up products are heavily pigmented: nail paint, mascara, lipstick, kohl, etc. If you stain a fabric with a make-up item:

  • Place the stain face-down on a thick wad of paper towels.
  • On the back of the stain, apply nail-paint remover for nail paint stains. For lipstick stain removal, or other make-up items, use rubbing alcohol or a good stain remover.
  • Let it sit for a while. Then scrap the make-up off using a tooth-brush.
  • Rinse, and launder the garment.

lipstick stain

3. Hair colour/dye

The best remedy for a hair colour stain is chlorine bleach. 1 tablespoon of bleach in 4 cups of water will give you a strong enough solution to remove the stain. Simply soak the stain in the solution, leave it for 8-10 minutes, rinse, and launder the garment. The next best remedy is to use a hair spray – spray it on and dab with a paper towel. For a particularly nasty stain, leave it soaked in hair spray overnight. Re-apply some hair spray in the morning, and then dab with paper towel. Rinse and wash.

4. Wax

Hair removal wax stain is perhaps the only stain that you wait on for it to dry, before you try to remove it. Once the stain has dried, use ice to solidify the wax, then gently scrape it off with a butter knife. Residual stain can be removed using a dry-cleaning solvent.

How to Remove Stains from Furniture and Upholstery

The biggest disadvantage of getting a stain on your furniture or upholstery is that you cannot possibly just pick it up and dip it in a bucket of water! How every woman wishes she could…!

However, there are ways to get rid of such stains too.

  1. For most stains, the same procedure that works for garment stains will work for upholstery and furniture.
  1. The key point to remember while working with furniture and upholstery is to take care to not spread the stain further or set it in deeper while working to remove it. So avoid applying force of any kind, rubbing, etc.
  1. Prevention is the best approach towards furniture and upholstery stains. Use coasters for drinks, table mats while dining, bed covers for bed-sheets, covers for the sofa, etc.
  1. Do not ever directly use hot water to remove stains from furniture or upholstery, without first fading the stain using cold water – not only could you risk damaging the surface, you might even set the stain in deeper. Give the stain several ‘washes’ with cold water, and if the stain is still quite stubborn, then use hot water.

upholstery stain

Things to Remember While Working Stains

Every woman must be equipped with the following ‘stain removal tools’ before getting down to business! Make sure you always have the following things readily available at home.

  • A butter knife or a blunt knife
  • Stain remover (there are different kinds available in the market; pick up at least one good degreaser, one oxygen-based stain remover, and one all-purpose stain remover)
  • A toothbrush (this will be gentler on the fabric, and will effectively remove stain rather than rubbing it in, as compared to a regular brush)
  • Ice cubes
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lots and lots of tissue paper/paper towels
  • Nail-paint remover
  • Soda

While these supplies are important, you need to use the correct ones for the correct stains. So, here are some common stain removal tips to avoid committing fatal mistakes while working on removing a stain.

  1. Do not overuse the stain remover.
  2. Bleach is not always the best option (nor is it the only option available). Bleaching can wear fabric thin, damage the fibres and cause a tear, or leave a nasty decoloured patch on the fabric. You’ve been warned!
  3. Baking soda plus vinegar as an all-purpose stain remover is a bad idea! Really, it doesn’t work on everything. So don’t use it as your go-to stain remover. Invest in buying the appropriate ingredients mentioned above.
  4. Always read the label of the garment – they usually have washing care instructions on them.
  5. Never rub the stain – it just sets it further in.
  6. Never use soap directly on a fresh stain without first using a stain-remover, or at least rinsing with water.
  7. If you do not know how to clean a particular stain, the safest step to take is to hold the stain face-down under a jet of cold water, and gently get the staining substance off the surface. If done quickly, this step usually prevents stains from setting in permanently.
  8. Never use hair-spray on an ink-stain – unless you want to make it permanent!

WATCH: 5 Stain Removal Mistakes You Should Steer Clear Of

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xudnaqkMOX0]

Key Takeaway: According to Carolyn Forte of the Good Housekeeping Institute, these are the worst stain removal mistakes that you should never make!

  • Allowing your stain to dry
  • NOT using a pad or a bunch of paper towels underneath the stain
  • Thinking soda is better than water for every stain (it’s not)
  • NOT using hot water because it will set the stain in (it actually works to remove greasy, oily stains better than cold water)
  • Putting a stained garment in the dryer without removing the complete stain

How to Mask a Stain

While the first thing you need to do when you get a stain is to try and remove it, sometimes you might have to put it off until a later time – for example, if you are getting late for office or a party, or if you are outdoors and do not have the proper cleaning supplies at hand. Here are a few go-to tips to help you effectively hide a stain!

  1. Wear a scarf or jacket to mask a stain.
  2. For white clothes, use talcum powder to mask the stain.
  3. Stitch a patch onto a permanent stain.
  4. Consider tie-and-dye to aesthetically mask the stain.
  5. Wear a brooch.
  6. Use fabric pens to turn your stain into a design.
  7. Use iron-on appliques to cover up the patch. You can then use a fabric pen to draw a design on it. You can also try a printed iron-on applique that already has a good design/pattern.

So there’s your basic guide to stain removal. Equip yourself and your friends with this knowledge, so you can kick back, relax, and let your children be children!

Previous article «
Next article »