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How to Remove Stains from Clothes: A Laundry Stain Removal Guide

From food and drink to grease and make-up – read on to find out how to remove all manner of stains in this comprehensive guide to laundry stain removal.

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how to get stains out of clothes

Reading time: 5 minutes

There are so many different substances that can stain your clothes – from food and drink to ink, lipstick, and oil. Every stain has a different remedy, and the material of your garment will have an impact on how you clean it. So, what do you do when you get a stain on your favourite jacket, dress, or shirt?

For the ultimate laundry stain removal guide ­– read on!

Washing clothes with a laundry detergent like will help you fight stains with minimal effort! For tough stains, pre-treat the mark with the detergent and remember to always check the care label on the item before cleaning.

A Stain Guide for Pre-Treating Different Fabrics

When treating a stain, you need to think about the fabric of your garment – whether it’s cotton, synthetic, wool, or silk. This will have an impact on how you remove a stain. Before doing anything, check the garment’s care label for any instructions; then follow these simple stain guidelines.

How to Remove Stains from Cotton

  • Cotton is a durable fabric, so you can use a number of techniques to remove stains from cotton garments without worrying about damaging the fabric.

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How to Remove Stains from Synthetics

  • There are many different types of synthetic fabric, and generally they all are durable, so you can be quite firm when you work on the stain.

  • Often synthetic fabrics will respond well to regular detergents that contain enzymes, but harsh chemicals like bleach are not a good idea.

  • Check that any specific stain removers you are using are safe for synthetic use.

How to Remove Stains from Wool

  • Many commercial stain removers will damage wool fibres, so make sure to read the instructions on the label.

  • Dry the garment flat to maintain shape.

  • If necessary, take the garment to a professional for specialist stain treatment.

How to Remove Stains from Silk

  • Even though you might be treating a small stain, it’s important to soak the whole garment to avoid water spotting.

  • Silk is incredibly delicate, so tough stains are better treated at the dry cleaners.

Home Remedies for Removing Common Stains

Let’s face it, most of us run for the all-purpose stain remover as soon as disaster strikes. But ingredients you can find at home can help remove stains, too. Always remember to try out these methods on inconspicuous areas of your garment first to make sure that there is no discolouration or damage. You can also always take your garment to a specialist for advice.

Removing Chocolate Stains with Milk

  • First, remove any excess chocolate by putting the garment in the freezer and then scraping the hardened chocolate off.

  • Then, run hot water down the back of the chocolate stain to melt it and push it through to the front.

Person pouring liquid on clothes to remove the stains
  • Rub washing up detergent into the stain and then soak the garment in milk for 30 minutes to an hour.

  • Wash as normal and repeat if necessary.

Removing Berry Stains with Lemon Juice

  • Wash the berry stain as normal and leave it out in direct sunlight for some time to benefit from the bleaching effect of the sun’s rays.

  • If it’s a tough stain, rub lemon juice over the top, or lay a slice of lemon on the stain.

  • Rinse, dry and repeat if necessary.

Removing Tomato Stains with Vinegar

  • Soak the tomato stain for 30 minutes in neat white vinegar.

  • Rinse, and then rub detergent directly into the stain before washing on a cool cycle.

  • Repeat as necessary.

Removing Ink Stains with Hairspray

  • An ink stain can be tricky to remove. Soaking the area in an alcohol-based product, like methylated spirits or hairspray, will be the best solution in this case.

  • Dab at the stain with an absorbent cloth until it fades.

  • Then, wash as normal.

Removing Oil Stains with Dishwashing Liquid

  • Oil and any form of greasy stain can benefit from a squirt of dishwashing liquid or washing detergent applied directly and rubbed in.

  • Wash on a hot cycle, and repeat if necessary.

Removing Blood Stains with Salt

  • Time is of the essence with blood stains – the sooner you can treat it, the better the outcome.

  • Create a paste with salt and cold water.

  • Rub this paste directly onto the stain, ideally within 10-15 minutes of the stain occurring.

  • Rinse with cold water (not hot) and repeat as necessary.

There you have it! With this stain removal guide, getting your clothes clean and spotless will be quick and easy!

  • It’s always best to tackle stains as quickly as possible.

  • Be sure to read the care label on your garment to determine which type of stain removal method to use.

  • Good quality detergents like Breeze or Surf are recommended to get your clothes looking good as new again.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on laundry stain removal

Does cinnamon stain clothes?

Cinnamon powder can absolutely stain your clothes. In fact, it is a popular natural solution on Pinterest for changing the colour of fabrics and giving them a vintage look. If you accidentally get cinnamon powder on your clothes, it's recommended to act quickly before it sets in.

Why is it important to remove stains on garments/fabrics?

Stains on clothes are never a good look, not to mention they're contradictory to good hygiene. Dirty clothes are a breeding ground for bacteria and bad odors. It's essential to act quickly when you get a stain on your garment, since it's a lot easier to remove before it sets in. Taking good care of your clothes and keeping them in top condition helps them last too.

When is the best time to remove stains?

The golden rule of stain removal is to act quickly. The longer you wait, the more the stain will penetrate the fabric, making the task of removing it even more challenging. In fact, some stains like blood are nearly impossible to get rid of once they set in.

What should I do about a toothpaste stain on clothes?

Toothpaste stains tend to easily come off in a washing machine, and the enzymes in your laundry detergent should take care of them. If you're dealing with a dry clean only fabric, it is best to gently remove any excess toothpaste with a spoon and bring your item to the dry cleaners for professional stain removal.

Originally published