How to Treat Clothing Stains

To get out tough and messy stains, learn what products and methods to use.

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Stain: Adhesive tape, chewing gum
Product: Prewash stain remover
Method: Rub the stained area with ice to harden the gummy residue; gently remove as much as possible with a dull knife. Saturate the stain with prewash stain remover. Rinse thoroughly before laundering.

Stain: Baby formula
Product: Enzyme-based laundry presoak
Method: Soak the stained item in a solution of enzyme-based presoak and water for 30 minutes to several hours.

Stain: Blood and bodily fluids
Product: Enzyme-based laundry presoak; chlorine, nonchlorine or oxygen bleach product; hydrogen peroxide (3 percent solution, sold in drugstores for wound care)
Method: Soak fresh stains in cold water for 30 minutes or until the blood is gone. For dried stains, presoak the garment in a solution of enzyme-based presoak and water, then launder. If the stain remains, launder the garment using nonchlorine bleach, chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach, as appropriate for the fabric type. To remove set stains on a colorfast garment, apply hydrogen peroxide to the stained area using an eyedropper. Reapply until the stain is dissolved, then rinse and launder the garment. [Note: as hydrogen peroxide is a bleach, test the garment for color-fastness first.]

Stain: Coffee, tea, soft drinks
Product: Prewash stain remover or liquid detergent; nonchlorine bleach
Method: Use prewash stain remover or liquid detergent; soak garments with fresh stains in cold water before laundering. For set-in stains, apply a prewash stain remover or liquid detergent; allow to stand for 15 minutes before laundering. Wash the garment using nonchlorine bleach where appropriate for the fabric type.

Stain: Candle wax, crayon marks
Product: Paper towels and iron; chlorine or nonchlorine bleach
Method: Apply ice to the stain to harden it, then remove as much wax as possible with a dull knife. Place the stained fabric between two layers of paper towels and iron with a warm iron to remove wax. Repeat with fresh paper towels until the wax is removed. Launder, using chlorine or nonchlorine bleach where appropriate for the fabric type.

Stain: Chocolate
Product: Enzyme-based laundry presoak
Method: Presoak in an enzyme-based laundry presoak before laundering as usual.

Stain: Dye transfer
Product: Color-remover laundry additive
Method: Use commercial color-remover laundry additives as directed to remove dye transfer stains from light-colored or dye-magnet fabrics, such as light-colored garments and synthetics.

Stain: Eggs
Product: Enzyme-based laundry presoak
Method: Presoak egg stains in an enzyme-based laundry presoak for 30 minutes to several hours. Launder as usual.

Stain: Fruit or fruit juices
Product: Prewash stain remover or liquid detergent; chlorine or nonchlorine bleach
Method: Soak fresh stains in cold water before laundering. For set-in stains, apply a prewash stain remover or liquid detergent directly to the stained area; allow to stand 15 minutes before laundering. Wash garment using chlorine or non-chlorine bleach where appropriate for fabric type.

Stain: Grass
Product: Enzyme-based laundry presoak
Method: Presoak grass-stained items in an enzyme-based laundry presoak for 30 minutes to several hours. Launder as usual.

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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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