These DIY pre-treating stain solutions call for ingredients you probably already have at home—and they get rid of tough stains from mustard, lipstick, ink, and more!

By Real Simple
Updated May 25, 2018

The number one rule of stains is that they always happen at the most inconvenient times—when guests are over, you’re running to a meeting, or your mother-in-law stops by—so you need a stain remover for clothes and other fabrics that's quick and convenient. That's where these DIY pre-treating solutions come in. They call for ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, such as white vinegar, and they help speed up the stain removal process. So the next time an unexpected stain happens (whether it’s spaghetti sauce or lipstick), you’ll be ready! Just follow these quick pre-treatments immediately, and save the thorough wash for later. You’ll thank yourself later.

Mustard Stains

Wipe away excess, then soak the stain in a small bowl of white vinegar. Combine 10 ounces of clean water and 1 tablespoon clear dish soap, then apply the solution on the stain and let sit for 15 minutes. Once the majority of the stain disappears, run the shirt through a washing machine cycle. (Don’t put the shirt in the dryer until the stain is gone, as the heat can set it into the fabric).

Lipstick Stains

Talk about a stain remover for clothes that's so simple to do—it's just one step! Simply spritz the stain with hairspray and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe the spot with a damp cloth until the residue and stain disappear.

Ink Stains

For ballpoint pen stains, pour a tablespoon or full-fat milk onto the spot and let sit for 20 minutes. Rub the fabric together until the stain is gone, then toss it into the washing machine.

Tomato Sauce Stains

Wipe off any excess, then apply a solution of 10 ounces water and one tablespoon clear dish soap. Blot with a damp towel. If the stain doesn’t disappear, add a splash of white vinegar.

Candle Wax Stains

When a candle drips wax onto your placemats during a dinner party, rub an ice cube over the wax to freeze it quickly. Remove as much wax as possible with a plastic knife. Then, stretch the fabric over a bowl and pour boiling water onto the spot from about a foot above. The heat will melt the waxy residue away.