Stain Removal Techniques; Stains are a simple unavoidable fact of life.  No matter how careful you are something will spill or splash on your best clothes.  Whether it’s food related like a glass of red wine, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing or kids clothing with grass stains or craft stains or maybe hubbies clothing with grease or paint. 

Every stain reacts differently so it may take more than one attempt to rid that stain.  If your pre-treatment failed or you didn’t notice the stain before you put the clothes in the wash, don’t give up, there is hope.  There are some basic stain removal techniques that can be tried, but some stains may need a little more specific treatment. 

Please keep in mind that these techniques are suggestions only.  There is no guarantees that they will work, nor any guarantees against them not damaging the fabric they are being used on.  Washboard Coin Laundrys accept no responsibility for the results or consequences of following these instructions.

  1. Rub a little bit of liquid detergent directly onto the stain, leave it soak and run through wash. Some experts say that liquid dishwashing detergent can be used in the same way.
  2. Stain removal sprays like PREEN off the shelf at the supermarket can also the trick, just make sure you follow the instructions.
  3. Grease marks caused by salad dressings or cooking oils.  Rub a stick of white chalk into the stain to absorb the offending stain and run it through the wash.
  4. Another option may be to add baking soda to the wash and run the garment through again.
  5. Try rubbing corn starch directly into the stain and wash it again.
  6. Bleach is very harsh and often less effective than many stain removers, if this is a last resort use a diluted oxygen based bleach before trying the chlorine based bleaches.
  7. Older stubborn stains sometimes respond best to liquid glycerin.  Rub it in, let it soak and then launder again.

Avoid putting stained clothess in the dryer as the heat tends to set the stain permanently & discolour the fabric.





















Coffee or tea

Rinse fresh coffee stains in hot water. If you catch a stain quickly enough, this is a fast and effective way to get coffee or tea out of most heat tolerant, colourfast fabrics.  

If the stain is older, soak it in dishwashing liquid or treat it with a commercial spot remover. 

If the stain is old and set, try using borax.  Borax is an oxidizing agent that can sometimes break the links that holds old stains on fabric. Mix 2 tablespoons of borax into a cup of water and pour it on the stain.  Leave it in place for 10 minutes and then rinse. Wash the garment as you would normally.





















Put the effected piece of clothing in the freezer. If the gum spot is on your carpet, apply a few ice cubes to the spot, or use one of those cold pack products designed for portable coolers.  The gum should harden in around 15 minutes using either method.  After it hardens, scrape off as much gum as possible.  You can use a butter knife or any dull implement with a decent scraping edge.  Once most of the gum is gone, rub the spot gently with white vinegar to liquefy the residue.  Blot up the remainder.  After the gum is gone, clean the clothing or carpet as you would normally.




















Peanut Butter

Start with scraping the solid peanut butter off the fabric.  If the stain isn't too extensive, try scrubbing it gently with dishwashing liquid and then rinsing it in hot water (as hot as the fabric will tolerate).  When dealing with large or set in peanut butter stains, use dry cleaning solvent or a commercial spot remover.  Test an inconspicuous section of the material first, and follow the manufacturer's directions.





















Blot it up quickly to keep it from spreading.  Once you've blotted up most of the liquid, scrape up any lingering solid bits.  Mustard acts as a dye on fabric, so it's particularly tough to get out.  Your best bet is to pre-treat the stain with a commercial spot cleaner, and then soak the garment in colour safe bleach and cool water.  If that doesn't work, try treating it with dry cleaning solvent.




















Tomato Based Sauces

Never use hot water to treat tomato based stains.  If your first efforts don't get the spot out, don't place a stained, wet garment in your dryer, either.  Heat sets tomato stains permanently.  Sauces with a tomato base like marinara sauce, barbecue sauce, pizza sauce and salsa can all be treated the same way.  Soak the stain in cold water to which you've added 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.  Soak time is important, so let the mixture work for at least half an hour.  Rub the spot to help release any lingering discolouration. Rinse.  If the stain is still there but lighter, repeat the process above.  As long as you haven't applied heat, you still have a good chance of getting the stain out with continued effort.

If the stain is very noticeable, treat it with a commercial stain remover.  There are a number on the market.  Follow the manufacturer's directions for pre-soaking.

When all else fails, you can get more aggressive by using dry cleaning solution.  You can also try the DIY approach with WD-40, a spray lubricant you may have in your garage.  Test an inconspicuous section of the material first.  If you do try WD-40, make sure to remove any oily residue in cold, soapy water after application.



















Baby food

Scrape off as much of the stain as possible.  You'll have better luck getting the stain out if you catch it before it dries, too.  Pre-treat fabric with spot stain remover according to the manufacturer's directions.  If the stain has dried in place, this may require soaking it for a number of hours.  After soaking, wash fabric as you would normally, but don't put it in the dryer.  The heat may set any stain residue permanently.  Let the fabric air dry.  Repeat the process as needed. 

If the stain just won't go away, try rubbing it with an alcohol based cleaner.  Sometimes even alcohol-based hand sanitizer will work.



















Red wine

Treat the stain immediately.  Keep the stain from spreading and doing any more damage.  Both baking soda and salt are great at soaking up wet stains like wine.  Apply either to the stain immediately.  Place a paper towel behind the stain to help absorb any excess liquid.  If it's a large stain, place salt on the paper before layering the fabric on top and adding another layer of salt.  Let the sodium do its work for 10 minutes, and then rinse it off with club soda.  Another option is to rinse the stain with equal parts dishwashing liquid and white vinegar after the salt application.



















As long as you haven't washed that chocolate smudge in hot water.  To keep the chocolate from saturating fabric fibres, turn the garment inside out and work from the back.  That way you'll be pushing the chocolate away from the fabric not into it.  Place the fabric stain side down on multiple layers of paper towels.  Combine a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, a half teaspoon of ammonia and a cup of cool water.  Blot, don’t rub the stain with the ammonia mixture using a soft, lint-free cloth.  The goal here is to transfer the chocolate to the paper, not mash it into the fabric. 

If blotting the stain with ammonia doesn't work, treat it with a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution.  Just pour the hydrogen peroxide on and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  After application, rinse the area thoroughly.  Hydrogen peroxide can remove dye from some dark fabrics, so test the fabric beforehand.


















Cooking Oils and Butter

Dishwashing liquid is a great first step.  Apply the detergent with a sponge or cloth and rub.  Then rinse.  When you're dealing with a thick, sturdy fabric, you can even scrub the spot with a soft brush like an old toothbrush.

If dishwashing liquid doesn't get the spot out completely, try rubbing it with an alcohol solution. Some spot cleaners use alcohol as a base, just check the product's ingredient list to make sure alcohol is a key player before buying one.  You can also try using hand sanitizer (which is mostly alcohol), or grab some rubbing alcohol from your medicine cabinet.

Wood cleaning solution designed for kitchen cabinets is good at lifting grease from just about anything, including fabric. Test an inconspicuous portion of the fabric for colourfastness first.  Soak the spot in wood cleaner for 10 minutes, and wash the garment as you would normally.  It may take a couple of treatments to get rid of the spot completely.


















Berry Juice

Treat berry stains with equal parts dishwashing liquid and white vinegar.  Rub the mixture on, and leave it in place for 15 minutes or so. Rinse it off with warm water, and launder the garment as you would normally.  You can repeat the process as needed.  If you're working with a white tablecloth, fabric bleach is a good option, too.


















Glue Stains

Use Acetone like found in nail polish remover can be effective in getting rid of glue blemishes.  Check that the garment is colourfast and machine washable as acetone can discolour the garment further


















Perspiration Stains

Sweat stains can be extremely difficult to remove.  If all you have done is wash the shirt or blouse with the rest of your washing you have given up too soon.  Do not use chlorine bleach as the chlorine can react with the proteins in the sweat and make the stain darker.

Firstly you need to determine if it is a sweat stain or an antiperspirant stain.  If it’s yellow and stiff it’s probably a sweat stain.  If It’s white and greasy it’s probably antiperspirant stain.  Remedies below are good for collar stains but may need to be strengthened for underarm stains.




















Detergent --One of the easiest ways to remove sweat stains is to use a liquid detergent formulated to treat protein-based stains that has something advertised along the lines of "oxygen cleaning power." Apply it undiluted to the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes before washing.
Lemon juice -- Before washing, combine equal parts lemon juice and water, and scrub until the stain is gone.
Vinegar -- Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 cup of water, and apply to the stain. Let it sit for 30 minutes before washing. (And don't even think of using any other vinegar type but white.)
Salt -- Add 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water, and sponge the solution into the stain until it's completely gone. Then wash.
Baking soda -- Combine 4 tablespoons of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water. Dab on the stain until it's gone, and then wash.
Ammonia -- Dilute ammonia with an equal amount of water, and pour onto the stain. You don't need to let it sit before washing, just toss it in.
Hydrogen peroxide -- Dilute hydrogen peroxide with an equal amount of water, apply to the stain, and let sit for 30 minutes before washing. Don't use hydrogen peroxide on colours, as it does have some bleaching qualities.



















Since you can throw some fairly heavy-duty cleaners at a sturdy fabric, you've got a good chance of getting the sweat stain out of a basic cotton shirt or dress.
Vinegar -- Just pour it, full-strength, right on the stain and let sit for about 30 minutes.
Hydrogen peroxide -- Same instructions as vinegar. And remember, do not use hydrogen peroxide on a coloured item.
Ammonia -- Apply it, full-strength, directly on the stain and gently rub it in. You don't need to let it sit before washing.
Baking soda paste -- Start with full-strength baking soda, and apply just enough water to create a paste. Work it into the stain using a toothbrush, and then let it dry for a couple of hours before washing.
Aspirin -- Dissolve two to three tablets in a half cup of water, apply it to the stain, and let it sit for several hours before washing.



















Start by looking at the type of fabric.  Acetate and rayon are pretty delicate, while nylon, polyester and Spandex are relatively sturdy. For the not-so-delicate fabrics, you'll wash as you usually do with the addition of an enzyme pre-treatment. Enzyme pre-wash products contain protease, which breaks down proteins.  You can find products that are used just for the pre-soak purpose, or you can grab a liquid detergent that says it contains enzymes. In either case, pre-treat according to the instructions on the container.

For bras composed of extra-delicate fibres. Wet the stain with water, sponge on a wet spotter a mixture of water, glycerin and dishwasher detergent and apply a couple of drops of ammonia to the stain.  This concoction should absorb the stain so it washes away when you rinse it out. The trick here is to really pull it out.  After saturating the stain itself, soak an absorbent pad (or a good paper towel) in the solution and let it sit on the stain, keeping the pad and the fabric moist until the stain is completely drawn into the pad.



















Acrylic paint

Blot up or scrape off the excess paint.  Rinse the spot in running water to flush out as much paint as possible. Treat the spot with equal parts dishwashing liquid and warm water. Apply the mixture with a cotton cloth or sponge, and blot or scrub the spot away.  Pre-treat the spot with commercial stain remover, and then wash the garment as you would normally.

If the mild dish detergent solution above doesn't do the trick, apply a few drops of rubbing alcohol to a damp cloth and try removing the paint residue that way.  If the alcohol works somewhat but still leaves a paint outline or specks behind, substitute a toothbrush for the damp cloth and scrub a little harder. (Note: This can damage or distort delicate fabrics like knits, so be careful.)

If all else fails, heavy duty commercial paint and stain removers like Goof Off may remove the stain. When using one of these products, read the manufacturer's directions carefully and be sure to perform a spot test. Strong solvents may undermine some synthetic fabrics or change the tint or density of brightly coloured fabrics.


















Oil based paints

Stains are easier to remove before they've dried, so act fast.  Blot up the stain with an old towel or cotton cloth to keep it from spreading.  Read the back of the can for what solvent is required for clean-up, such as turpentine or thinners.  Pour a generous amount of the solvent onto the garment, turn the garment inside out and blot the stain with cotton buds or paper towel.  Once the stain is gone, wash the solvent saturated area in the bucket of soapy water to remove as much solvent residue as possible.  Wash and dry it as normal.  Be mindful though that chemicals such as these may damage the fabric and then you may have to delegate the clothing to an around the house piece or to the rag bag.


















How to remove grease stains

Cover the entire grease spot with liquid dish detergent.  Colourless detergent is preferred.  If using coloured detergent, be sure to dilute it or the detergent may stain the clothing.  Gently work detergent into the grease.  You will instantly see it dissolve.  The newer dish detergents have special properties that allow them to absorb grease.  If the stain has set, you may want to use a brush to work it up and out of the fibres.

















How to remove grass stains

Rubbing alcohol or methylated spirits or white spirits can be a quick no wash treatment for a grass stain, though such stain treatments can ‘bleed’ the colours of the fabric, so it’s worth trying using a 50/50 alcohol and water solution first before moving on to straight alcohol.

If the clothing is white and can be bleached, using a chlorine bleach solution on the stain will work. Just be sure not to use too much bleach or you'll damage the garment.

Soaking the stain in a solution of water and detergent is great, then wash the garment as usual, but don’t put the item in the clothes dryer until you’ve checked the stain has definitely gone.

When trying to eliminate grass stains, don't use ammonia, degreaser or alkaline detergents because they may permanently set the stain.















Removing Tobacco odours

The smell of tobacco will come out of most fabrics in a normal wash, but some fabrics that are sensitive to washing like wool will lock in the odour.  To remove tobacco odours from wool clothing, run hot water into the bathtub and add 2 cups white vinegar.  Then hang the garment on the shower rod and close the bathroom door.  The vinegar in the rising steam will remove the smell of smoke without damaging the fabric.















Environmentally Friendly

Green products.  Choose laundry products that are promoted as biodegradable, green or environmentally friendly.  Don't stop there, though.  Look for products that are made with plant-based ingredients, and avoid products that contain chlorine bleach or artificial fragrances.  Whenever possible, look for product endorsements from environmental organizations you trust.
You might also consider using a few simple homemade options in the laundry.  White vinegar makes an effective water softener.  Lemon juice is a mild fabric bleach, and you can make a simple and effective laundry detergent using baking soda, borax and a few other common ingredients.

Wear your clothes more than once. You may change your clothes every day, but that doesn't mean
you have to wash all of your garments after a single wearing.  It's a good bet that many of the outer garments you throw in the laundry through habit aren't dirty at all.  They may just need a few minutes in the dryer to get creases or wrinkles out.

Wash full loads. It saves water, energy and time.

Pay attention to the amount of detergent you use. Too much detergent reduces a washer's efficiency and dumps more pollutants into local ecosystems.  Always read and follow the directions on your detergent box.