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Removing Stains 101

Stains are inevitable in everyday life. We can’t do our best to avoid spills and splashes, but sometimes they just find a way to get to us. Common stains are easy to clean up if you know the right thing to do. Here are some of the conventional stains we may encounter everyday and how we can clean or remove them.

Before we go to specific stains, keep these general tips in mind: First, take action immediately, as the longer the stain sits, the harder it will be to remove it. Next, read washing labels carefully so you know you’re not further damaging the item. Also, soak the item for as long as you can and use the hottest temperature water possible. Finally, if your item is white linen or cotton, lemon juice will take care of most stains, but never use it on colors as it may damage them.

Mustard, Ketchup or Other Sauces

Use a color-safe beach and pre-treat the stain. Then, wash the item in hot or warm water. If the stain still remains, use stain remover and wash again.


Lipstick, depending on the ingredients and the material of the item can be cleaned with just regular washing in hot water. However, if the lipstick stain remains, use a stain remover, hairspray, or ammonia and then rinse it with warm water.


This is a tough one, and you’ll first need to apply some rubbing alcohol, then some detergent to the stain. Wash as you normally would, and it there’s still a stain do it again or try using hairspray by rubbing it in with a cloth before you wash it.

Grass Stains

Pretreat with a stain remover and use color-safe bleach or bleach and wash the item as you normally would. For more stubborn stains, you can use methanol or ethanol to treat the stain, wash it with warm water and soap, then soak the item in a solution of one part glycerin and two parts water for a few hours until the fabric softens.

Red Wine

Another tough one – this time, use salt or white wine to stop the stain from spreading and setting. Rinse it off with warm water after a few minutes. If the stain has already dried and set, you may still be able to rescue it with a mixture of one part glycerin and two parts of water. Rub it into the stain and wash as you normally would.


For fresh stains, dip the item in cold water, then scatter a small amount of ammonia on the stain. For stains which may have already set in, first wet it in warm water. Use unseasoned meat tenderizer and pour some over the stain, mixing it up with the damp cloth to form a paste-like substance. Use a paper towel to cover it overnight. The following day, use a solution of water and ammonia to wash off the paster and then wash as directed on the garment label.


Pretreat the stain with some liquid detergent before washing normally. For tougher stains, soak the item in white vinegar for up to half an hour before washing in the hottest water temperature (this may vary depending on the garment.)