The good news: with one little trick, you can get your clothes much cleaner and make them last longer, too.

By Alicia Brunker
Updated February 12, 2018
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You form a pretty close bond with your favorite clothes. A go-to pair of white jeans comes out of hiding at Memorial Day each season, and, when winter rolls around, your favorite fuzzy sweater shields you from the cold. So when a spilled glass of red wine threatens to ruin an essential, you may be in a rush to wash it.

Here's the thing though: by hastily throwing a stained item into your washing machine without pre-treating you run the risk of ruining it, says Corinna Williams, who founded the hip laundry mat Celsious with her sister, Theresa Williams, in Brooklyn, New York.

“Not pre-treating laundry immediately after, say, the vinaigrette hits your white T-shirt can make it much harder to remove the stain once it has set,” she explains. “At that point, getting the stain out will require much harsher treatment, which will ultimately shorten your garment’s life cycle.”

That "harsher treatment" usually amounts to overusing bleach and detergent, which have the potential to ruin your clothing, adds Williams. To treat your stains right—and fast—the Williams sisters suggest the following:

  1. Blot the stain with a dry napkin to wick up the majority of the liquid.
  2. Use white vinegar to treat coffee, tea, and grass stains. Use a good non-chlorine bleach complex for wine and fruit discoloration. For makeup marks or discolored shirt collars, use a vegetable soap-based stain stick.
  3. Wash garment as usual.

Go ahead and order that glass of Cabernet while wearing all-white, it’s nothing a little spot treatment can’t fix.