How to Get the Most Common Types of Stains Out of Your Clothes


Stains getting you down? Are you tired of ruining your favorite clothing with a single mishap or, worse, putting on some of your favorite clothes, only to discover that there’s a stain you hadn’t expected? Fortunately, you can fix up your clothes and keep them looking their best, often removing even tough stains with these simple tips.

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10. Dye Stains

That new pair of blue jeans looked so good that you couldn’t wait long enough to wash them before you wore them–and now, you’re paying the price in the form of other blue clothing. Worse, you might have washed the wrong items together, leaving your favorite clothing stained a bright new hue.

There’s still hope!

Drop your affected clothing into the washer filled with cool water and oxygenized nonchlorine bleach. Soak for at least eight hours, then wash normally. Is the clothing back to normal? If not, repeat. After a couple of washes, it will probably look its best again. In the future, remember to wash heavily dyed clothing before wearing and wash your darker clothes with stain catchers to avoid stains.

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9. Dairy Stains

Milk dropped on your shirt. Hot cheese from your pizza hit your lap. Perhaps you’re breastfeeding, and your own milk soaked through your shirt. Because of the protein in dairy products, you’re now dealing with a tough stain you desperately need to get out. The good news is, it’s not impossible! First, take on that stain as soon as possible to help prevent it from setting. Try this:

Step one: Remove any solid parts of the stain: flake off the cheese, or the hard milk, or the gross solid remnants.

Step two: Soak for 5-30 minutes in an enzyme presoak.

Step three: Check the garment. Still stained? Try a wash with a bleach product safe for the color of your clothing.

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8. Blood Stains

From nosebleeds to that time of the month, bloodstains happen. Fortunately, you can get blood out of your favorite fabrics.

First, rinse the blood away in cool water. Use your fingers to rub out as much of the stain as possible. As the water turns pink, rinse and repeat until the water remains clear and you’ve gotten as much of the stain out as you can.

Next, use an enzymatic stain remover.

Finally, if that fails, try hydrogen peroxide. Before using peroxide, however, spot test it on a part of your clothing that won’t be seen: peroxide can cause discoloration and staining of its own in some fabrics, and you may permanently stain the garment in the process.

Note: if you have a delicate item that gets blood on it, take it straight to a dry cleaner. As much as you would like to get that stain out at home, you may end up ruining the item–and that’s the last thing you want!

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7. Red Wine stains

Ugh. It was a great night–right up until that spill. Luckily, you can get red wine stains out of many fabrics. First, cover with salt–it will absorb the wine. (You can even see it working, since the salt will begin to turn pink.) Next, soak in cold water with an enzymatic laundry detergent for several hours. Check the stain: if it’s still severe, rinse the garment out and start over. Finally, wash normally!

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6. Coffee stains

Head straight to the sink and run cold water over your coffee-stained item. Use a small amount of detergent and lather with a soft-bristle brush, then use the brush to scrub out as much of the stain as possible. Wash the garment on the hottest setting that is practical for that fabric (be sure to check to avoid shrinking!) and check for the stain before drying.

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5. Berries stains

Berry stains are often even worse than blood stains when the time comes to get them out–but don’t despair! First, pull the fabric tight and run boiling hot water over every part of the stain. Allow it to dry, then soak in vinegar for a few hours. Vinegar will help dissolve the berries and get your garment back to looking new!

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4. Mud stains

Mud all over your favorite clothes? Start by allowing the mud to dry, no matter how tempted you are to just get them clean as fast as possible. Then, flake the dried mud off of the affected clothing. Remove as much of it as you can. Once you’ve revealed the actual stain, cover the stain with laundry detergent and a little water. Rub the sides of the fabric together to help scrub out the mess, then wash as normal. Check it when it comes out of the washer. Still stained? Try using vinegar and water, mixed in equal parts, to get your clothing back to normal.

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3. Ink stains

When it comes to ink, a common item in your bathroom cabinet can be a lifesafer: hairspray! Put an old rag or towel behind the back of the stain to prevent it from bleeding onto your counter or other clothing, then cover with hairspray. Use a clean cloth to blot as much of the stain as possible, then repeat until your clean cloth does not come away with more ink. Finally, wash the garment as usual.

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2. Pet Urine Stains

Ugh: pet urine. Even after you wash the clothing, it often still seems to smell. If you’re struggling to get rid of odors, wash the item on very hot. Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash to help reduce the smell. Still struggling? Try soaking in a solution with two cups of white vinegar, then washing as normal. This simple strategy can help save your clothing and other fabrics from even older, set-in urine smells.

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1. Lipstick stains

For lipstick, adding oil is your best bet: cover the stain with peanut butter, petroleum jelly, or vegetable oil. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub the oil away and wash the garment normally. Make sure to remove the oily substance from your fabric!

Handling stains on your favorite clothing may be a headache, but it doesn’t have to be catastrophic. With these strategies, you can do a better job of keeping your clothing looking its best, rather than leaving stains behind you.