Whether it’s your shirt or your bedspread, and whether the stain’s the result of grass, food, grape juice or makeup, everyone struggles to keep their fabrics looking bright and clean. Regular laundering may get rid of some stains, but the majority will stay put unless you make an effort to treat them before they hit the dryer.
Here are some tips for general fabric stain removal.
- Simply soaking the fabric in water and detergent then hand washing will get out a lot of stains, and is often the best approach to take for something that’s been stained in several places. In the case of stains that remain anyway, you need to consider special stain treatments, both those you buy in the store and those you find at home.
- Steam cleaning often works great; buy a steam cleaning applicator and follow the directions, combining with a chemical stain remover. Wash as usual afterwards. You may also purchase stain removing kits in any grocery store, or make up your own using natural household substances such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Add a soft-bristled brush such as an old toothbrush, and you’ll be in business for very little money.
- Dry cleaning is always a viable option, as dry cleaners are experts at removing stains without damaging the fabric. This is the costly option, but if you’re dealing with expensive or especially delicate fabric you may find it worth your while.
- If there’s something solid causing the stain, such as grease or wax, then start out by scraping off the excess with a blunt edge. Blot on your stain remover and wash. Some stains may need to be scrubbed at using vinegar or ammonia. Apply some hydrogen peroxide, blot on some more stain remover, and wash again.
- Some effective stain fighting products include hydrogen peroxide (good for chocolate, mustard, catsup, blood, and rust); disinfectant solution (good for anything allergenic, such as mold and caterpillars); and rust remover. You may buy any of these at your local grocery store.
- Some traditional and still very effective stain fighters are vinegar and lemon juice, which both work because of their acidity. Acid breaks down the hold that a stain has on fibers. Baking soda is also amazingly effective, and salt is both abrasive and corrosive, and excellent help in scrubbing. A much stronger chemical which should be used as a last resort is ammonia. It will take out stains that have held up against everything else.
Always act as quickly as possible. The fresher a stain, the easier it will be to get out. If you dry or iron it, that will cause the stain to set, so whatever you do, be sure to treat it before you wash it, and don’t throw it in the dryer until you’re sure you’ve gotten it out. Also be sure to check the care label of any clothing to be sure that you won’t damage it with the chemicals you’re using.