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5 Stain Removal Laundry Mistakes You're Probably Making, spilled red wine
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If red stains are set into your sofa and chocolate stains have destroyed your favorite blouse, it may be time to step up your stain removal game. Besides knowing the right stain fighters for each type of stain, there are also some common mistakes to avoid. Little missteps—even something as simple as rinsing with the wrong temperature water—could be the difference between saving your favorite dress and never being able to wear it again. To keep your clothing looking brand new for as long as possible, here are some stain removal laundry mistakes to keep in mind. The next time salad dressing drips onto your button-down, you'll know exactly what to do (and not do)!

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1 Not acting fast enough.

Rule #1 for most type of stains: treat it ASAP. For most stains, it's helpful to start treating the stain while it's still wet, before it has a chance to bond with the fibers. This is especially true for red wine spills, coffee drips, and olive oil stains. If possible, you'll want to at least rinse most stains as quickly as possible, even if you have to wait until you get home to throw it in the washing machine. Taking five minutes to rinse the stain now and apply some dishwashing liquid could save you an hour of scrubbing later.

A couple exceptions: When dealing with candle drips or mud, it's best to let the wax or mud dry before treating the stains.

2 Not rinsing with the right temperature water.

While warm water may be more effective when dealing with mud or oil stains, only cold water should be used on blood stains. To make sure you're choosing the right temperature water, consult this chart.

3 Putting the garment in the dryer too soon.

Never put a stained garment into the dryer until the stain has been fully removed. If you treat a stain, run it through the washer, and the stain is still visible, go ahead and repeat the process instead of tossing it into the dryer. Otherwise, the dry heat could permanently set the stain into the fabric. Basically, the dryer is the "point of no return" for stain removal.

4 Not using a test spot first.

Before you start spraying a new stain remover directly onto the stain, it's a smart idea to do a small test patch first in an inconspicuous spot. That way, you can be be sure the solution won't end up accidentally bleaching the fabric.

5 Rubbing the stain.

While there are some exceptions to this rule, in general, you want to avoid rubbing a stain, or you could end up embedding the stain in the fabric. A dabbing or blotting motion is best.

And remember: treat the stain from the outside edges in, so you don't inadvertently make the stain bigger.