How to Remove Tough Stains

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Have you ever spilled something and then wondered, “How am I going to clean this up?” Or, when your son or daughter comes home with grass stains and mud on a brand new pair of pants, have you said to yourself, “These pants are ruined.” Stains can be so frustrating. But don’t throw those pants away or worry that a stain can’t be cleaned up. Here are some tips to remove some of the more common stains that seem to occur.

  • Grass Stains: When the kids go out to play, it’s inevitable that grass stains will happen. But what’s the best way to get them out? Experts recommend soaking the affected area with a solution of two parts water and one part white vinegar for approximately 15 minutes. Then dab the stain with a clean white rag and launder with an enzyme-based detergent. (Enzyme-based detergents can help lift stains. One example of an enzyme-based laundry detergent is Arm & Hammer BioEnzyme Power.)
  • Red Wine Stains: If you spill some red wine, your immediate reaction might be to scrub it in order to remove it. But don’t do that. It can cause the stain to spread. If you catch the spill immediately, think about applying some salt, baking soda, or baking powder to it to help absorb the wine. Then apply some club soda with white vinegar and blot to get rid of it. If the wine is still there, an “Oxi” cleaner can help or a combination of 3 parts hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 part dishwashing liquid. You may need to let these sit for a while (up to one hour) before trying to clean the area.
  • Chocolate Stains: Chocolate is delicious, but if you’ve ever dropped it on your shirt, you know that it can be a difficult stain to remove. First, make sure you remove as much chocolate as you can. Then flush the back of the stain with club soda or cold water. You can then pretreat the stain with white vinegar and wash as normal. If the stain is still there, try treating with an enzyme-based detergent or “Oxi” cleaner.
  • Coffee Stains: Blot up as much excess coffee as possible. Then pretreat your clothes with a solution of ¼ quart warm water, ½ teaspoon dishwashing liquid, and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Rinse the area again and wash it as usual. 
  • Grease Stains: Grease spots are difficult but very common. With a grease stain, try covering the area with liquid dish detergent and rubbing it in. This will help break up the stain. Then rinse the area with water and white vinegar. Repeat if needed and then wash as normal. 
  • Ink Stains: Just about everyone has left a pen in their pocket at one time or another. And, if you’ve done this, you’ve probably wound up with an ink stain. Ink stains can be treated with rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or aerosol hairspray. Treat the area with one of these products and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Then blot with a clean white cloth and repeat as needed. Finally, throw in the laundry and wash.

The next time you find one of these stains, don’t throw away the item. Try these ideas to remove the stain. And, if you find that even these tricks aren’t working, bring it to your local dry cleaner. They’re the experts in tough stain removal and may be able to help.

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