How to Remove Every Type of Stain
A good stain-removing spray is priceless, but some tough stains need special treatment. In our comprehensive guide, top cleaning experts share how to remove just about any spot.
Coffee is so dark and pigmented that it can even stain your teeth. But the good news is that it’s water-soluble, so it’s often easier to remove than protein- or oil-based stains. Try separating an egg, beating the yolk, and dabbing it into the coffee stain for a minute before rinsing. Check out these other simple ways to remove coffee stains.
Skinned knees, bloody noses, shaving nicks. You can get unexpected blood stains out of your favorite fabrics, but it’s key to do it as soon as possible—dried blood can leave a permanent mark. You probably already have some of the best blood removers, such as white vinegar, in your cupboard already. Soak the stain for five to ten minutes, then dab the blood away. Find out more about how to remove blood stains.
Oily, sticky wax can be tricky to get out. Need to know to remove stains from candle wax? It’s doable with a few careful steps, say the experts at the American Cleaning Institute. Their time-tested method: First, scrape away as much of the wax as you can, using something hard and smooth like a spoon or credit card. Second, warm up your iron and put the stained fabric between two dry, clean paper towels. Press the area with the warm iron. As the wax melts and soaks into the towels, switch them with clean ones and repeat. Lastly, put the fabric stain-side-down on a cloth or paper towel and pat with your favorite stain remover. If the fabric is white, launder with regular bleach; if it’s colored, use a color-safe oxygen bleach.
Grease and oil
Anyone who’s dripped salad dressing on their favorite shirt knows how tough it can be to get oily spots out of clothes. The key to removing them is to first soak up as much of the grease as you can with a powder such as baby powder, baking soda, or cornstarch. Find the instructions on how to remove grease stains.
First, make a simple cleaning solution by adding a tablespoon of dish soap to two cups of warm water, recommends Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid and an expert in how to remove stains. Scrape off as much chocolate as you can, then dab the stain remover on with a cloth or toothbrush. Rinse the cloth or brush after each dab, then dip it back into the soapy water and dab again.
Soak up the moisture with a dry cloth or paper towel. If the stain is still there, repeat the dabbing until it disappears or no more chocolate is coming up. Then wash the fabric in the hottest water that’s safe for the material, suggests the American Cleaning Institute. Didn’t come out? Launder again, this time with bleach.
Softball and soccer games are great—until falling on the field ruins expensive jeans or athletic wear! The best way to attack stubborn grass stains is with a stain remover that contains enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions, meaning other ingredients in the stain remover will work harder and faster. For grass stains, the housekeeping experts at Real Simple specifically recommend the stain remover Shout, which contains the enzyme subtilisin in addition to two strong cleaning agents.
Crayons are sticky and oily like candle wax, and you should treat these stains in the same way: Scrape away as much of the crayon as you can, put the fabric between paper towels, and press with a warm iron—switching out the paper towels—to melt the waxy residue away. Place material stain-side-down on a dry cloth and pat with a stain remover, then launder with a fabric-safe bleach.
Whether your child “accidentally” wrote on your sleeve or a pen leaked into a pocket, we’ve got a few effective options for getting it out, from a homemade paste to good-old rubbing alcohol. Start with this: Apply plain white toothpaste to the pen mark, then rub vigorously with fabric to lift the stain away. Get the details on how to remove ink stains.
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For something waxy or oily like lipstick or eyeliner, the makeup experts at Glamour recommend dipping a cotton pad in rubbing alcohol, then dabbing it on the stain. For lightly pigmented spots, try blotting with a makeup remover wipe. If that doesn’t work, the American Cleaning Institute recommends pre-treating with a paste made with powdered laundry detergent or a “cleaning booster” like OxiClean, then laundering.
Act fast! Once water-based paint is dry, it won’t come off, according to the American Cleaning Institute’s guide on how to remove stains. If you get to it while it’s still wet, simply rinse the paint out under warm water, then wash as usual. For oil-based varnish and paints, dab the spot with paint thinner or turpentine, then rinse, treat with a stain remover, and launder.