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Stain Removal Guide

The General Rules for Removing Stains

Treat stains promptly. Fresh stains are easier to remove than old ones. If the stain is on a non-washable fabric, take it to the dry cleaner as soon as possible, and describe the nature of the stain and the fiber content of the garment.

Read and carefully follow package directions when using any stain removal product.

Always test stain removers on an inside seam or other hidden part of garment for color fastness. To test, apply product and let stand 2-5 minutes, then rinse. If color changes, do not use product on garment.

When using a bleach, do not try to bleach just one area of garment; bleach the entire garment to prevent uneven color removal.

When treating, place stained area face down on a clean paper towel or white cloth. Apply stain remover to the underside of the stain, forcing stain off the fabric surface instead of through it.

Never put chemical dry-cleaning solvents directly into washer.

Thoroughly rinse and air dry areas treated with dry-cleaning solvents before placing in washer, to avoid a fire.

Do not mix stain removal products together. Some mixtures, such as ammonia and chlorine bleach, can produce noxious fumes.

Always launder washable items after treating to remove residues of the stain and the stain remover.

Do not machine dry stained clothing before the stain is completely removed. The heat of the dryer can set the stain, making it permanent.

Have patience; it takes a little extra time and effort to remove some stains.

Remember, some stains cannot be removed.

Basic Definitions

Detergent - all-purpose synthetic detergent (liquid or powder). Use liquid detergent full strength; mix powder with water to form a paste when working into stain.

Dry-Cleaning Solvent - stain and spot removers available at grocery and hardware stores. A nonflammable type is safest to use.

Stain Stick - an enzyme-based cleaner available at grocery and discount stores. Most effective on food, grease, oil, protein, and dirt-based stains and can be used on any fabric and color. It can remain on fabric for up to one week.

Stains

Each stain may list several different removal methods to attempt

Adhesive Tape, Airplane Glue

Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label. Follow the General Rules for stain removal.

Rub ice on the area and carefully scrape off what you can with the dull side of a butter knife or a spoon.

Saturate the stain with a pretreatment stain remover. Wait a couple of minutes for the product to penetrate.

Rub with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder immediately.

For difficult stains, apply dry-cleaning fluid to the back of stain over absorbent paper towels. Let dry, rinse, and proceed per above. Read and carefully follow the instructions on the product label regarding use and handling.

Alcoholic Beverages

Pre-soak or sponge fresh stains immediately with cold water, then with cold water and glycerin. Rinse with vinegar for a few seconds if stain remains.

Launder with detergent in hottest water safe for the fabric. Do not use soap (bar, flake, or detergents containing natural soap), since soap could make stain permanent or at least more difficult to remove.

Soak tough stains for 30 minutes in 1 quart of warm water and 1 teaspoon of enzyme presoak product.

To remove old or set stains may require washing with bleach that is safe for the fabric. always check for colorfastness first.

If all the sugars are not removed a brown stain will appear when the fabric is heated in the dryer or is ironed, as the sugar is caramelized.

Asphalt, Tar

Rub the area with ice and carefully scrape with the dull edge of a butter knife.

Saturate the area with an aerosol pretreatment laundry stain remover, wait a few minutes to allow it to penetrate, then rub with a heavy duty liquid laundry detergent and launder immediately.

If the color stain remains, launder in chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or in all-fabric bleach. Always check for color fastness first.

For extra heavy stains, apply dry-cleaning fluid to the back of the stain over absorbent paper towels. Let it dry. Then, rinse and proceed as above. Read the product label and proceed carefully when using dry cleaning fluid.

Baby Stains (Food, Formula, Poop)

Scrape off whatever you can.

Fresh protein stains can often be removed by just soaking and agitating in cold water before washing. If hot water is used first, it can cook the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stain more difficult to remove.

Soak in cold water using a detergent or enzyme presoak product for about 30 minutes. Soak old stains for at least several hours.

Launder in warm (not hot) water, rinse, and inspect. If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash. (Never put a stained fabric in a dryer. The heat from the dryer can set the stain.)

If color stain remains, launder using chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or with all fabric bleach. However, if bleach is used, rewash to be sure all bleach has been removed because baby's skin is sensitive.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, adding one cup of white vinegar to each laundry load during the rinse cycle breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh. But, be sure you use WHITE vinegar.

Blood

Flush cold water through the stain and scrape off crusted material.

Pre-soak in cold or warm water at least 30 minutes. If stain remains, soak in lukewarm ammonia water (3 Tbs. per Gallon of water). Rinse. If stain remains, work in detergent and wash, using bleach safe for fabric.

Blood stains, if fresh, may be removed by washing in cold water. If hard and dry steep for a few hours in cold water, to which add a pinch of baking soda. Washing and bleaching will finish the process. Never put blood stains in hot water.

As an alternative:

Soak for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 quart of lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia. Use cool/lukewarm water. Heat can permanently set protein stains. Rub gently from the back to loosen stain.

Soak another 15 minutes in above mixture. Rinse. Soak in enzyme product for at least 30 minutes. Soaked aged stains for several hours. Launder.

If the blood stain is not completely removed by this process, wet the stain with hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia. Caution: Do not leave this mixture longer than 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

If blood stain has dried, pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a paste of granular laundry product and water. Launder using bleach safe for fabric.

Butter, Cooking Oils, Fats, Margarine, Mayonnaise, Vegetable Oil

Treat light stains with a pretreatment spray stain remover and wait a couple minutes for it to penetrate. Rub with a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder

If color stain remains, launder with chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or use an all-fabric bleach. Always test for colorfastness before using bleach.

Place heavy stains face down on clean paper towels. Apply dry cleaning fluid to the back of stain. Replace towels frequently. (Carefully read and follow instructions on the product package.) Let air dry; rinse. Launder in hottest water safe for the fabric.

Candle Wax

Use dull knife to scrape off as much wax as possible. Place fabric between two blotters or facial tissues and press with warm iron. Remove color stains with non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Wash with detergent in the hottest water safe for fabric.

As an alternative:

Harden wax by rubbing with ice. Remove surface wax by carefully scraping with the dull edge of a butter knife.

Sandwich the wax stain between folded paper towels and press with a warm (not hot) iron. Replace paper towels frequently to absorb more wax and to prevent transferring the stain. Continue as long as wax is being removed.

Place stain face down on clean paper towels. Sponge remaining stain with a pre-wash stain remover or dry-cleaning fluid; blot with paper towels. Let dry, then launder. Note: If any color remains, re-launder with a bleach that is safe for the fabric.

Chap Stick

Saturate the areas with a pretreatment aerosol stain remover.

Wait several minutes for product to penetrate. Rub with heavy duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately.

If color stain remains, launder in chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric, or in all fabric bleach. When using bleach always check an inside seam for colorfastness.

For extra heavy stains apply dry cleaning fluid to the back of the stain over white absorbent towels. Let dry, rinse and launder as above. (Carefully read and follow directions and cautions on dry cleaning fluid.)

Chewing Gum

Rub area with ice, then scrape off with dull blade. Sponge with dry cleaning solvent; allow to air dry. Wash in detergent and hottest water safe for fabric.

Egg white is said to remove chewing gum from anything. Rub the egg white on the gum and it will remove it from cloth, hair or hands without leaving a spot.

Peanut Butter will also remove chewing gum but it will likely leave another spot or stain to deal with.

Chewing gum may be removed from different materials by soaking them in turpentine.

Chocolate and Cocoa

Pre-soak stain in cold or warm water. Wash in hot water with detergent. Remove any grease stains with dry cleaning solvent. If color remains, sponge with hydrogen peroxide, wash again.

Treat the stain with a pre-wash spray or pre-treat with a product containing enzymes. Rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder.

If stain remains, re-launder with bleach that is safe for the fabric. If stain still remains, treat as a "Dye Stain."

Coffee

Sponge or soak with cold water as soon as possible. Wash using detergent and bleach safe for fabric. Remove cream grease stain with non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Wash again.

Saturate the stain with a pretreatment stain remover.

Rub the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent and launder in hottest water safe for the fabric.

Do not use soap (bar, flake, or detergents containing natural soap), since soap could make stain permanent or at least more difficult to remove.

If stain remains launder with bleach safe for the fabric.

To remove coffee, tea or cocoa stains, use glycerin. A fresh stain can be removed by gentle rubbing; if stain is old, soak in the glycerin for sometime.

Crayon

For Crayon Brand specific products go to their website. This is the link to the crayon stain removal guide. http://crayola.com/canwehelp/staintips/stain.cfm

For general crayon stains:

Scrape with dull blade. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric with detergent and 1-2 cups of baking soda. If full load is crayon stained, take to cleaners or coin-operated dry cleaning machines.

For another option, here's what another source says:

Scrape excess crayon with the dull edge of a butter knife.

Wash in hot, soft water with soap, such as Ivory and 1/2 cup baking soda for 10 minutes.

If the stain remains, work soap paste into the stain. Wash 5 minutes. Rinse.

To remove any remaining color use bleach or color remover as safe for the fabric. Always test for color fastness.

Correction Fluid, White Out®

This is a real tough one, and may be permanent. It can penetrate into the fabric and when it dries, it coats the fibers in a harden "plaster." Unless there are instructions on the product label, you can try specific stain removal products available at the grocery or drug store, such as Carbona's "Stain Devils® or take the stain to your dry cleaner and tell them to treat it as a paint stain.

Cream, Cheese Sauce

Fresh stains should be soaked and agitated in cold water before washing.

If stain is dried, scrape or bush off any crusted matter and soak for up to several hours in cold water with a detergent or an enzyme presoak. Launder in warm water. Do not use hot water.

If stain remains soak an additional 30 minutes and rewash.

If color stain remains launder with bleach safe for the fabric. Always test for colorfastness first.

Dairy Products

Fresh stains should be soaked and agitated in cold water before washing. If stain is dried, scrape or bush off any crusted matter.

Soak for up to several hours in cold water with a detergent or an enzyme presoak.

Launder in warm (not hot) water. If stain remains soak an additional 30 minutes and rewash.

If color stain remains, launder with a bleach safe for the fabric. Always check for colorfastness first.

Deodorants

Sponge area with white vinegar. If stain remains, soak with denatured alcohol. Wash with detergent in hottest water safe for fabric.

Dinginess, Yellowing, Graying

There are several reasons why fabrics gray, yellow, and become dingy. These include not using the right amount of detergent (i.e., using too much or too little detergent), insufficient rinsing, and/or the wash water temperature is too low. To re-furbish clothing from these discolorations:

Wash with a permanent press cycle in hot water, use a cool-down rinse on permanent press and use one cup of water conditioner instead of detergent.

If the discoloration remains, either repeat this procedure or wash with the correct amount of detergent and either all-fabric bleach or chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric. (always check for colorfastness first.)

If the fabric is white, consider specialty products available in grocery or drug stores, such as Rit's "Whitener and Brightener" to whiten the fabric.

Always separate and wash your whites separate from colors. And, don't put heavily soil garments with lightly soiled items.

Also see "Yellowing" in this list.

Dye

If dye transfers from a non-colorfast item during washing, immediately bleach discolored items. Repeat as necessary before drying. On whites use color remover.
NOTE: Do not use color remover in washer, or around washer and dryer. It will damage the finish of them.

Do not machine dry stained clothing before the stain is completely removed. The heat of the dryer can set the stain, making it permanent.

Dye Stains, Dye Transfer

Dye stains (incl. mustard, etc.) can be very difficult to remove. Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

Soak the entire garment in a dilute solution of all-fabric powered bleach. Check the garment care label and check for color fastness first. And, be aware that during soaking all colors may be lightened.

If the stain remains and the garment is colorfast, soak the entire garment in a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. Again, test for colorfastness first.

Caution: Chlorine bleach may change the color of the garment or cause irreversible damage. Therefore, it is important to check for color fastness before using. If the stain does not come out within 15 minutes of bleaching, it cannot be removed by bleaching, and any further exposure to bleach will weaken the fabric.

Note: To check for color fastness to liquid chlorine bleach, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach with 1/4 cup of water. Use an eyedropper to put a drop of this solution on a hidden seam or pocket edge inside the garment. Let it stand two minute, then blot dry. If there is no color change it is safe to use the product. Powered bleaches have directions for doing colorfastness tests.

There are also a number of dye removers/strippers, such as one from Rit, which are available in drug and grocery stores. However, color removers will also take out fabric colors as well as the stain.

Do not machine dry stained clothing before the stain is completely removed. The heat of the dryer can set the stain, making it permanent.

Egg

Scrape with dull blade. Pre-soak in cold or warm water for at least 30 minutes. Remove remaining with dry cleaning solvent. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric with detergent.

Egg stains on washable fabrics may be removed by soaking the garment in cold water for a short time before washing with soap and water in the usual way.

Epoxy Glue

Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment's label.

Epoxy type glues may be impossible to remove. You might try using dry cleaning solvent, which may cause the glue to swell so that it can be removed by scraping with the dull side of a butter knife. Read the product label and proceed carefully when using dry cleaning fluid.

Fabric Softener

Greasy looking stains can come from undiluted fabric softener and from dryer sheets.

Rub stained area with bar soap (Ivory) and launder as usual. Repeat as necessary.

Fruit and Fruit Juices

Sponge with cold water immediately. Pre-soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Wash with detergent and bleach safe for fabric.

While fruit stain is still moist, cover it with powdered starch. When dry, rinse the article and cold water and wash in the ordinary way.

Fruit stains may be removed with a strong solution of borax, or the stain moistened with water, rubbed with borax, and boiling water poured through.

For Cherry and Blueberry see "Dye Stains"

Launder with detergent in hottest water safe for the fabric. Do not use soap (bar, flake, or detergents containing natural soap), since soap could make stain permanent or at least more difficult to remove.

Soak tough stains for 30 minutes in 1 quart of warm water and 1 teaspoon of enzyme presoak product.

To remove old or set stains may require washing with bleach that is safe for the fabric.

If all the sugars are not removed a brown stain will appear when the fabric is heated in the dryer or is ironed, as the sugar is caramelized.

Glue

Sponge vinegar on spot saturating spot, let sit for 20 minutes. Scrape with dull knife. Sponge again, let sit then wash in hottest water safe for fabric.

Glue, White Glue, School Glue

Scrape off whatever you can.

Soak and agitate in cold water before washing. If hot water is used first, it can cook the glue, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stain more difficult to remove.

Soak in cold water using a detergent or enzyme presoak product for about 30 minutes. Soak old stains for at least several hours.

Launder in warm water, rinse, and inspect. Do not use hot water. If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash.

Never put a stained fabric in a dryer. The heat from the dryer can set the stain, making it permanent.

Grass

Pre-soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Rinse. Pre-treat with detergent. Wash using detergent, hot water and bleach safe for fabric. On acetate and colored fabrics, use 1 part of alcohol to 2 parts water.

For grass stains use cold water and no soap. Alcohol or ether may be used if the material is not washable.

If color stain remains, treat as a "Dye Stain."

Gravy

Saturate the stain with a pre-wash spray. Wait several minutes for product to penetrate. For tough stains rub with a heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder.

If stain remains, launder with bleach that is safe for the fabric. Always check for colorfastness first.

Grease

Sponge spot with a mixture of 1Tbs. Salt to 4 Tbs. rubbing alcohol. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric. If spot still remains, do not dry, use dry cleaning solvent and re-wash.

Grease spots generally may be removed with hot water and soap. If the stains have become fixed by long standing, the may be removed by chloroform, ether or naphtha. If any of these chemical are used, keep them at a safe distance from fire or artificial light.

To remove grease from silk, lay the silk on a table on top of a clean white cloth. cover the spot thickly with powdered French chalk. On this lay a sheet of blotting paper and over that a moderately hot iron. If the grease does not disappear at once, repeat process.

Grease, Hand Lotion, Oil Based Make-up, Ointment, Salve, Motor Oil

Saturate light stains with a pretreatment spray stain remover and wait several minutes for it to penetrate. Rub with a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder

If color stain remains, launder with chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or use an all-fabric bleach. Always test for colorfastness before using bleach.

Place heavy stains face down on folded paper towels. Apply dry cleaning fluid to the back of stain. Replace towels frequently. (Carefully read and follow instructions on the product package.) Let air dry; rinse. Launder in hottest water safe for the fabric.

If color stain remains, treat as a "Dye Stain."

Grease, Oil, Tar

Method 1: Use powder or chalk absorbents to remove as much grease as possible. Pre-treat with detergent or non-flammable dry cleaning solvent, or liquid shampoo. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric, using plenty of detergent.

Method 2: Rub spot with lard and sponge with a non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Wash in hottest water and detergent safe for fabric.

Gum

Gum may be very difficult to remove if it has been in the dryer.

Hold ice on the gum to harden it.

Crack or scrape off what you can using the dull side of a butter knife.

Spray with an aerosol pretreatment product, and let stand for five minutes.

Rub with heavy duty liquid detergent. Launder.

Repeat, if necessary.

Ink (Solvent Soluble)

With ink you generally need to act fast to have a chance. Also, the heat in the dryer can set the stain.

First, sponge the area around the stain with denatured alcohol. Then apply the alcohol directly on the stain.

Next, place the stain face down on clean white, paper towels. Apply alcohol to the back of the stain. Replace towels frequently. Continue until no further ink is removed. Then rinse thoroughly.

Rub with heavy duty liquid detergent and launder in hottest water safe for fabric, with bleach safe for fabric. Always check for color fastness first.

Instead of alcohol, you could use dry cleaning solvent, such as Carbona, Energine, Goddard's. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on the product label. These products are toxic. Also, first try a hidden inside seam to be sure any garment color won't be affected.

Some inks on white fabric may be removed with a dye stripper. You should be able to find this in areas where package dyes are sold. For stains on colored fabrics, check for dye stability in a hidden area before using.

Also, be aware that these products will affect any colors on the fabric.

Ink - Ball Point Pen

Pour denatured alcohol through stain. Rub in petroleum jelly. Sponge with non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Soak in detergent solution. Wash with detergent and bleach safe for fabric.

As alternative, try spraying the ink mark with aerosol hair spray, then wash. Do not dry the garment if the stain is still present as the heat from the dryer can make the stain permanent.

Ink - Fountain Pen

Run cold water through stain until no more color will come out. Rub in lemon juice and detergent. Let stand 5 minutes.

Wet ink stains may be removed by washing in milk or better still, buttermilk. Wash, changing the milk frequently.

Dry ink stains can be removed from white material by steeping the stained material in a hot solution of salts of lemon--one tbsp. of salts to one quart of boiling water; or simply place the stained part over a basin, cover the stain with salts and pour the boiling water through. Repeat if necessary.

Ink stains may be removed by covering the spot with lard. Let this stand for about twelve hours and wash the article in the regular way.

Soak ink stains in sour milk. If a dark stain remains, rinse in a weak solution of chloride of lime.

Ink stains on the fingers can be removed by brushing with a soft nail brush dipped first in pure vinegar and then in salt.

Ink - Permanent

Permanent inks are almost impossible to remove.

To have any chance you need to treat immediately. The first step is to force water through the stain before it dries to remove excess ink. Allow to dry.

Sponge the stain with dry cleaning solvent (read and follow the directions carefully, it is toxic). Allow the fabric to dry. Rub a liquid detergent into the stain. Rinse.

Soak the stain in warm water to which 1 to 4 tablespoons of household ammonia have been added.

Rinse and repeat if stain is lessoning. Launder.

Some inks on white fabric may be removed with a dye stripper. Follow package instructions. For stains on colored fabrics, check for dye fastness in a hidden are before using. Also, be aware that these products will affect all colors on the fabric.

For additional tips, see "Markers"

Iodine

To remove iodine stains from linens, rub the stained area with a slice of lemon.

To remove an iodine stain from cotton or linen, cover with a soft paste of mustard mixed with water and let stand for a few hours. Every trace of iodine will be removed.

Leather - Stains on Leather

Do not attempt to treat stains on leather yourself. Take leather to a professional dry cleaner for their opinion. Also, be advised that some changes in the color and "look" of the leather will almost always occur in the cleaning process. This is because there are often differences in the skins used, differences in colorfastness, loss of oils in the cleaning, and other factors related to the nature of the leather.

Lipstick

Loosen stain with a non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Rub detergent in until stain outline is gone. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric.

Place the stain face down on folded paper towels. Sponge area with dry-cleaning solvent. Replace towels frequently; let dry; rinse.

Rub with a heavy-duty liquid detergent and launder.

Repeat treatment if needed using an all-fabric bleach, because it is less damaging to colors and fabric.

If stain remains, treat as a "Dye Stain."

Make-up Water Based

Launder with detergent in hottest water safe for the fabric. Do not use soap (bar, flake, or detergents containing natural soap), since soap could make stain permanent or at least more difficult to remove.

Soak tough stains for 30 minutes in 1 quart of warm water and 1 teaspoon of enzyme presoak product.

To remove old or set stains may require washing with bleach that is safe for the fabric. Always check for colorfastness first.

If color stain remains, treat as a "Dye Stain."

Markers

This is from the Crayon website:

Materials

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach for colored clothing (Clorox 2® or Biz®)
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton ball
  • Procedure
    Rinse stain from the fabric with cold water until no more color is being removed. Place fabric on paper towels and saturate with alcohol using a cotton ball to blot the stain. Replace the paper towels as often as needed. Wash in hot water with laundry detergent and bleach and rinse in warm water.
  • Meat Juices

    Scrape with dull blade. Pre-soak in cold or warm water for 30 minutes. Wash with detergent and bleach safe for fabric.

    Mildew

    Mildew is a growing organism that must have warmth, darkness, and moisture to survive. Mildew actually eats cellulose fiber and can also attack manufactured fibers, causing permanent damage and weakening of fibers and fabrics.

    To treat mildew first carefully brush or shake off mildewed area.

    Pre-treat as soon as possible with detergent. Wash. If any stain remains, sponge with lemon juice and salt. Dry in sun. Wash, using hottest water, detergent and bleach safe for fabric.

    Badly mildewed fabric may be damaged beyond repair. Old stains may respond to flushing with dry cleaning fluid, i.e., Carbona, Energine, Goddard's (Carefully read and follow the instructions on the product label).

    Mildew stains may be removed by rubbing with a paste made by mixing two tsp. of water, one of powdered chalk and two of soap powder. The spots should afterwards be well rinsed and dried out of doors in the sunlight. This has a bleaching effect on them.

    Soak mildew stains for several hours in a weak solution of chloride of lime; afterwards rinse in cold water.

    Milk, Cream, Ice Cream

    Pre-soak in cold or warm water for 30 minutes. Wash. Sponge any grease spots with non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Wash again.

    Never put hot water on milk and cream stains. Wash them out in cold water, followed by soap and water. Rinse in clear water.

    Mud

    Scrape off whatever you can.

    Soak and agitate in water before washing to further remove material.

    Soak tough stains using a detergent or enzyme presoak product for about 30 minutes. Soak old stains for at least several hours.

    Launder normally, rinse, and inspect. If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash.

    Mud with a high iron content (red mud) may leave permanent stains, regardless of treatment.

    Nail Polish

    Sponge with polish remover or banana oil. Wash. If stain remains, sponge with denatured alcohol to which a few drops of ammonia have been added. Wash again. Do not use polish remover on acetate or triacetate fabrics.

    For stains from nail polish, apply nail polish remover to the back of the stain while laying the fabric on white absorbent towels. Replace towels frequently.

    Then rinse and launder.

    Never use nail polish remover on acetate, triacetate or modacrylic, as they will dissolve. Take these fabrics to the dry cleaner.

    Odors

    Most odors should be removed by normal laundering.

    For stubborn odors place calcium carbonate crystals, activated charcoal, or soda in an open container and store with clothes in the closet, or sprinkle the clothes with soda, let stand, and then vacuum.

    Although a little odd, for really persistent odors, try placing a thin layer of kitty litter on the clothing and let it stay for a couple of days. Then vacuum. It works!

    Paint - Oil Base

    Sponge stains with turpentine, cleaning fluid or paint remover. Pre-treat and wash in hot water. For old stains, sponge with banana oil and then with non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Wash again.

    To remove paint from colored material, dip the stains in turpentine, rub, then dip in a little ammonia, rub and wash in warm water.

    To remove wet paint from white material wash the stain with soap and water and boil with a small amount of paraffin in the water. Dry paint on white material can easily be removed by steeping the stain in turpentine. Rub well and wash in the ordinary way.

    Act fast and blot, don't rub. Rubbing forces the stain deeper into the fabric.

    Try using a thinner recommended for the paint. Usually turpentine or alcohol will work as solvents. However, test an inside seam for color fastness or the potential for other damage first. Spot treat the stained areas until the paint is softened and can be flushed away by agitating in a solution of water and a heavy-duty liquid detergent.

    Launder immediately.

    Paint - Water Base

    Scrape off paint with dull blade. Wash with detergent in water as hot as is safe for fabric.

    Act fast, and blot and never rub a stain. Rubbing forces the stain deeper into the fabric.

    Soak in cold water.

    Saturate the area with an aerosol pretreatment laundry stain remover. Wait a couple of minutes to allow it to penetrate. Rub with a heavy duty liquid laundry detergent and then launder immediately in hottest water safe for the fabric.

    If the color remains, launder in chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric or in oxygen bleach (Always read and follow the care instructions on the garment label with respect to the use of bleach, and check for color fastness. Bleach should not be used on items containing spandex).

    For extra heavy stains, apply dry-cleaning fluid to the back of the stain over white, absorbent paper towels. Let it dry. Then, rinse and proceed as above. Always read the label and proceed carefully when using dry cleaning fluid.

    Paint Spots

    Scrape dried paint with dull blade. Sponge with several applications of equal parts ammonia and turpentine. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric.

    Pencil Marks

    Use a soft eraser to remove what excess lead you can. But, be careful so you do not damage or stretch the fabric.

    Spray the stain with a pretreatment product.

    Rub the area with a heavy-duty liquid detergent. Rinse and launder.

    There are also commercial pencil mark removers available in some quilt supply stores.

    Perspiration

    Sponge fresh stain with ammonia; old stain with vinegar. Pre-soak in cold or warm water. Rinse. Wash in hottest water safe for fabric. If fabric is yellowed, use bleach. If stain still remains, dampen and sprinkle with meat tenderizer, or pepsin. Let stand 1 hour. Brush off and wash. For persistent odor, sponge with colorless mouthwash.

    Fresh perspiration is acid. Use a solution of alkaline to remove. Baking soda is alkaline. Old perspiration stains are alkaline. Use a milk solution of white vinegar to remove.

    Perspiration, Deodorant

    Deodorant, if allowed to stay in fabric, will eventually stain and weaken the fabric. Aluminum chlorides in antiperspirants will also weaken the fabric under the arms. Controlled use of antiperspirants and frequent washings immediately after wear can minimize this type of damage. Wearing an undershirt or perspiration pads, can also keep stains off your shirts or blouses. Also, consider experimenting with different anti-antiperspirants/deodorants.

    These types of stains can be difficult to remove. And, the build-up of aluminum chloride or zinc salts may be impossible to remove. Old stains are more difficult to treat because they have been set, particularly from being heated in the dryer.

    Rub light stains with a liquid detergent and then launder.

    Pre-treat heavy stains with a pre-wash stain remover. Allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes.

    Launder using an all-fabric bleach.

    If fabric has discolored, you might try treating fresh stains with ammonia and old stains with WHITE vinegar.

    Pine Resin, Sap from Christmas Tree, Wreaths, etc.

    Saturate the area with a pretreatment stain remover. Wait several minutes for the product to penetrate. Rub the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately.

    Rub with detergent paste and launder as usual.

    For extra heavy stains lay the stain face down on folded absorbent paper towels and apply dry cleaning fluid to the back of the stain. Let dry, rinse, and proceed as above.

    If color stain remains, treat as a "Dye Stain."

    Rust

    Removing rust stains can be difficult. Rust stains cannot be removed in normal laundering. Do not use chlorine bleach, chlorine bleach will make the stains permanent. Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

    Small stains may be removed with a few drops of a commercial rust remover, or by repeated applications of lemon juice and salt on the stain. Do not let dry between applications.

    Rinse thoroughly and launder with a liquid laundry detergent and oxygen bleach, following directions.

    If safe for fabric, boil in solution of 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar per pint of water. Rinse thoroughly.

    Severe rust staining may be removed with a commercial rust remover, such as Rover or Whink. Follow package instructions. But rust removers that contain hydrofluoric acid are extremely toxic, can burn the skin, and will damage the porcelain finish on appliances and sinks.

    To date, we have always been pleased with the performance of Whink and have never seen any fabric damage or discoloration on regular machine washable fabrics. Use with caution on delicate fabrics as we have no personal experience regarding this product on delicate fabrics. 

    Soak in lemon juice and salt or oxalic solution (3 Tbs. oxalic acid to 1 Pt. warm water.)

    Table salt and cream of tarter, equal parts, will remove rust stains. Wet the spot and spread the mixture on thickly, then place the material in the sun.

    Scorch Marks

    Scorching permanently damages the fabric. The heat burns and weakens the fibers, and can also melt manufactured fibers, such as polyester. If the damage is slight you might be able to improve the look. Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

    Gently brush the area to remove charring.

    If the garment is washable, rub liquid detergent into scorched area. Launder.

    If stain remains, bleach with an all-fabric bleach. Before using bleach test an area for color fastness; directions are on the bleach package.

    Smoke, Soot

    Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

    Shake off excess soot outdoors.

    Launder in washing machine using a heavy-duty phosphate-based detergent or heavy-duty liquid as recommended by manufacturer, one cup of water conditioner, and 1/2 cup of all-fabric bleach. Use water setting appropriate for the fabric. Air dry.

    Inspect for smoke odor. Repeat as necessary. Three or four washes may be needed for cottons and cotton blends.

    Soft Drinks

    Sponge immediately with cold water and alcohol. Heat and detergent may set stain.

    Tea

    Sponge with cold water as soon as possible. Wash using detergent and bleach safe for fabric.

    Tomato Based Stains

    Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

    Saturate the area with pretreatment laundry stain remover. Wait a couple of minutes for the product to penetrate the stain. For stubborn stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately.

    If color stain remains, soak the entire garment in a dilute solution of all-fabric powered bleach. Be aware that all the colors may lighten.

    If the stain persists, and the garment is white or colorfast, soak in a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. But, be sure to read the garment label regarding the use of bleach. Bleach can damage some dyes and prints, and bleaching damage is irreversible. And, if the stain is not removed in 15 minutes, it cannot be removed by bleaching and further bleaching will only weaken the fabric.

    Caution - Since bleaches can alter the color of a fabric as well as the stain, bleach the whole garment and do not try to bleach just the spot (again, be sure bleaching is permitted).

    For heavy stains, apply dry-cleaning fluid to back of stain over absorbent white paper towels. (Check product label for instructions and follow carefully.) Let dry; rinse. Proceed as above.

    Urine, Vomit

    Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

    Scrape off whatever you can.

    Fresh protein stains can often be removed by just soaking and agitating in cold water before washing. If hot water is used first, it can cook the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stain more difficult to remove.

    Soak in cold water using a detergent or enzyme presoak product for about 30 minutes. Soak old stains for at least several hours.

    Launder in warm (not hot) water, rinse, and inspect. If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash. (Never put a stained fabric in a dryer. The heat from the dryer can set the stain.)

    If color stain remains, launder using chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or with all fabric bleach. Always check for colorfastness first.

    Water Stains

    Water stains on washable fabrics should be removed during normal laundering. For dry cleanable draperies, consult a professional cleaner. Water marks on drapes are water soluble and can not be removed by dry cleaning solvents.

    Wine

    Wine stains may be removed by holding the stained portion of the cloth in boiling milk.

    Yellowing

    Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label.

    Some fabrics which are white or pastel colored contain optical brighteners or fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) which were applied during manufacturing. These agents can decompose when exposed to light and atmospheric conditions, or prolonged storage conditions. In some cases the entire fabric becomes dingy or develops a yellow cast. In other cases the yellowing develops only where exposed to light. The FWAs can also be damaged by the use of chlorine bleach.

    Unfortunately, once the FWAs are damaged, the whitening agents can't be reapplied to the fabric.

    All fabric bleach or the use of specialty products available in grocery or drug stores, such as Rit's "Whitener and Brightener" may help. Carefully read and follow the instructions on the product label, and check for colorfastness first.

    Also see "Dinginess, Yellowing, Graying," in this list.

     

     

    Contact us at: Librarian@clothingdictionary.com Please let us know of any lingerie or clothing names, terms, and phrases that we have missed.  We also want any special laundry hints and your tricks for dealing with difficult stains.  We are trying to make this Lingerie Dictionary a complete as possible and your suggestions are always welcome.