Stain-Fighting Strategies

How to tackle some of the most challenging stains on washable and nonwashable fabrics.

By Rory Evans
A squeeze bottle of ketchupRealSimple.com

Lipstick

Washables: Apply an oil solvent like Carbona and let dry, then remove residue. Treat with a liquid soap like Woolite and very little water. Rub to form suds, then rinse. Use an eyedropper and diluted ammonia to bleach any remaining color. Rinse with cool water.
Nonwashables: Same as for washables, but use diluted vinegar bleach instead of ammonia, which can corrode wool and silk.

Coffee

Washables: Stretch fabric over a bowl and, from a height of about one foot (gravity helps), pour boiling water from a kettle. Follow with an application of an oil solvent if the coffee had milk in it. If it had sugar, treat with glycerin or a combination solvent like Shout and let sit for 30 minutes. Finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Apply a gentle detergent like Woolite and very little water. Rub to form suds, then rinse. Use an eyedropper with diluted vinegar to bleach any remaining color. Rinse with cool water. If the coffee had milk in it, finish by applying an oil solvent.

Tea

Washables: Stretch fabric over a bowl and, from a height of about one foot, pour boiling water from a kettle. Next, use an eyedropper and diluted lemon juice to bleach any remaining color. Rinse with cool water.
Nonwashables: Use an eyedropper and diluted lemon juice to bleach the color. Thoroughly flush with cool water.

Red Wine

Washables: Cover the stain with salt, then stretch the fabric over a bowl and, from a height of about one foot, pour boiling water from a kettle.
Nonwashables: Apply an oil solvent like Carbona and let dry, then remove residue. Use an eyedropper and diluted vinegar to bleach any remaining color. Thoroughly flush with cool water.

Italian Salad Dressing 

Washables: Shake on talcum powder or cornstarch to sop up as much oil as possible. Pick or scrape off the excess and rinse with cool water. Next, apply a combination solvent like Shout and let sit for 15 minutes. Finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Shake on talcum powder or cornstarch to sop up as much oil as possible. Pick or scrape off the excess and let dry. Follow with an application of an oil solvent like Carbona. Let dry, then scrape or brush off any remaining residue.

Ketchup and Tomato Sauce

Washables: Apply a combination solvent like Shout. Use an eyedropper and diluted vinegar to bleach any remaining color. Finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Same as for washables, but instead of washing, thoroughly flush the spot with cool water.

Mustard

Washables: Use an eyedropper and diluted ammonia to bleach the color. Apply a combination solvent like Shout and let sit for 15 minutes. Finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Use an eyedropper and diluted ammonia to bleach the color. Apply a combination solvent and let sit for 15 minutes. Thoroughly flush the spot with cool water.

Ballpoint Ink

Washables: Put glycerin on the spot, then treat with a detergent like Woolite and very little water. Gently rub to form suds and rinse.
Nonwashables: Same as for washables, but instead of rinsing the suds, just dab water onto the area.

Grass

Washables: Treat the spot with a paste made from a powder digestant like Axion and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Use an eyedropper and diluted ammonia or vinegar to bleach any remaining color. Rinse with cool water. Finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Apply a combination solvent like Shout and let sit for 15 minutes. Use an eyedropper and diluted ammonia or vinegar to bleach any remaining color. Thoroughly flush the area with cool water.

Fresh Blood

Washables: Flush with cold water. Treat the spot with a paste made from a powder digestant like Axion and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Use an eyedropper and diluted ammonia to bleach the color. Rinse and finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Treat with cold water, then use an eyedropper and diluted vinegar to bleach the color. Thoroughly flush the area with cool water.

Dried Blood

Washables: Soak in cool salt water for several hours. Rinse thoroughly, then treat the spot with diluted ammonia to bleach the color. If the stain persists, apply a paste made from a powder digestant like Axion and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Finish with a regular wash cycle.
Nonwashables: Dampen the spot with cool salt water, then with plain water. Treat the spot with diluted vinegar to bleach the color. Thoroughly flush with cool water.
Read More About:Stain Removal

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