OUR EXTENSIVE GUIDE
Adhesive Tape, Chewing Gum, Rubber Cement - Harden surface with ice; scrape with a dull knife. Saturate with a pre-wash stain remover or cleaning fluid. Rinse, then launder.
Baby Formula Stains - Pre-treat or soak stain using a product containing enzymes (like ERA); soak for at least 30 minutes or several hours for aged stains. Launder normally.
Beverage Stains (coffee, tea, soft drinks, wine, alcoholic drinks) - Soak stain in cool water. Pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a paste of powder detergent and water. Launder with fabric safe bleach. Note: Older stains might respond better to pretreatment with an enzyme product (like ERA) before laundering.
Blood Stains - Soak freshly stained table linen in cold water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent into any remaining stain. Rinse, then launder. Dried stains should be pretreated or soaked in lukewarm water with a product containing enzymes, (like ERA) then laundered. Note: If stain remains, rewash, using a fabric safe bleach. The ServiceMaster's trick; use Hydrogen Peroxide.
Candle Wax - Harden with ice, then remove surface wax with a dull knife. Place wax stain between clean paper towels and press with a warm iron. Replace paper towels regularly to absorb more wax and to prevent transfer of the stain. Place stain face down on clean paper towels. Sponge remaining stain with a pre-wash stain remover and blot with paper towels. Let dry, then launder. Note: If any color remains, re-launder with a color safe bleach.
Catsup/Tomato Sauce Stains - Rinse in cold water, then soak in cool water with 1/4 cup detergent per gallon of water. Spray with a pre-wash product; launder with a fabric safe bleach.
Chewing Gum - Carefully peel or scrape off excess gum avoiding damaging carpet or fabric. Sponge with a small amount of dry-cleaning solvent. Blot. (Use small amounts to prevent any possible damage to sizings, backings, or stuffing materials. Do not use gasoline, lighter fluid or carbon tetrachloride). Mix one teaspoon of a neutral detergent (a mild detergent containing no alkalis or bleaches) with a cup of luke-warm water. Blot.
Chocolate Stains - Treat the stain with a pre-wash spray. If stain remains, re-launder with bleach.
Coffee, Tea Stains (plain or with sugar/sweetener) - Flush stain immediately with cool water if possible. If stain is dry, soak for 30 minutes in cool water. Rub the stain with detergent and launder with fabric safe bleach.
Coffee, Tea Stains (with cream only) - Rub with detergent, then launder in hottest water safe for that fabric (with bleach that is safe for that fabric). Pre-treat or soak older stains with an enzyme product, (like ERA), then launder.
Cosmetic Stains - Pre-treat with Stain Stick, pre-wash stain remover, liquid detergent, a mixture of detergent and water, or rub with bar soap. Work into dampened stain until outline of stain is gone, then rinse. If greasy stain remains, soak in an enzyme product (like ERA). Rinse and launder.
Crayon - Treat the same as candle wax, or rub dampened stain with bar soap. Launder with hottest water safe for that fabric. A complete washer load of clothes can be washed in hot water, using a laundry soap (not detergent) plus 1 cup baking soda. If colored stain remains, launder again, using chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric. Otherwise, pre-treat or soak in a product containing enzymes (like ERA), using hottest water safe for fabric, then launder.
Dairy Product Stains (milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, cheese, cream soup) - Pre-treat with stain stick, then launder.
Deodorants, Antiperspirant Stains - Treat 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.
Dye Transfer Stains (white fabric that has picked up bleeding dye from other fabric) - Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric. For colored fabrics and whites that cannot tolerate chlorine bleach, soak in an enzyme presoak product, (like Shout), then launder. Note: you can help prevent this type of stain by sorting your clothes properly before washing and removing wet clothing from washer immediately after cycle is completed.
Egg Stains - Pre-treat with an enzyme product (like ERA) for 30 minutes for new stain, or several hours for aged stains, then launder.
Fabric Softener Stains - Moisten stain and rub with bar soap. Rinse, then launder. If stain remains, sponge area with rubbing alcohol. Rinse thoroughly and re-launder.
Fingernail Polish Stains - Try nail polish remover, but do not use on acetate or triacetate fabrics. Place stain face down on paper towels and flush with remover. Replace paper towels regularly. Repeat until stain disappears; rinse and launder. Some polishes may be impossible to remove.
Fruit Juice Stains - Try this first: simply boil some water in a kettle, spread out the stained item over the sink and pour a generous amount of the boiling water onto it and watch how it magically disappears. Or; soak fabric in cool water. Wash with fabric safe bleach.
Grass Stains - Pre-treat with stain stick or soak with an enzyme product (like ERA). If stain remains launder in hottest water safe for the fabric, with a fabric safe bleach.
Grease Stains (motor oil, animal fat, mayonnaise, salad dressing, butter, cooking oil and car grease) - Light stains can be pretreated with a spray stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a detergent booster. Launder in hottest water safe for the fabric.
Ink Stains - Ballpoint ink stains can be placed stain face down on white paper towels. Sponge with rubbing or denatured alcohol or rub detergent into stained area. Repeat if some stain remains. Rinse, then launder. Drawing ink usually cannot be removed. Try flushing with cold water until pigments are removed; rub liquid detergent into stain; rinse. Repeat process. Soak in warm sudsy water to which 1 to 4 tablespoons of household ammonia per quart of water have been added. Rinse thoroughly. Launder in hottest water safe for that fabric, with fabric safe bleach. Felt Tip or India Ink - Usually cannot be removed. Try pouring water through the stain before it dries, until pigments are removed. Allow to dry. If you notice some reduction in stain, sponge with dry-cleaning solvent. Allow to dry. Rub liquid household cleaner into stain. Rinse. Soak stain (possibly overnight) in warm water to which 1 to 4 tablespoons of household ammonia have been added. Rinse and repeat treatment if necessary; launder.
Iodine Stains - Rinse from back side of stain under cool, running water. Soak in solution of color remover, or sponge with a solution of sodium thiosulfate crystals (available at drug store). Rinse and launder.
Lipstick - Place face down on paper towels. Sponge area with dry-cleaning solvent, or use a pre-wash soil and stain remover. Replace towels frequently; rinse. Rub light-duty liquid detergent into stain until outline is removed; launder. Repeat treatment if needed.
Liquid Paper Stains - Sponge the stain with amyl acetate (banana oil). Air dry. Repeat treatment if necessary. Rub gently with detergent, then launder.
Mercurochrome Stains - Rinse out as much of the stain as possible under cool, running water. Soak for 30 minutes in a solution of 1/2 teaspoon ammonia per quart of water. Rinse; if stain remains, soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water and 1 tablespoon vinegar for one hour. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry. Launder with detergent and bleach. For delicate fabrics, apply alcohol and cover with pad moistened with alcohol. Change pads frequently until stain is removed. Rinse, then launder.
Mildew Stains - Launder stained items using chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric. Otherwise, soak in an all-fabric bleach and hot water, then launder. If some stain remains, sponge with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse and re-launder. Dry in sunlight. Badly mildewed fabrics may be damaged beyond repair.
Mud Stains - Let dry, then brush off as much mud as possible; or rinse under running water and let soak overnight. For light stains, pre-treat with a paste of dry detergent and water, liquid detergent, or a liquid detergent booster; launder. Pre-treat heavy stains by presoaking with a laundry detergent, a product containing enzymes (like ERA), or a container of water with 1/4 cup each of ammonia and liquid detergent; launder. Red clay can be rubbed with a paste of vinegar and table salt. Leave for 30 minutes. Launder with hottest water safe for that fabric and bleach. Repeat if needed.
Mustard Stains - Treat with a pre-wash stain remover, or dampen with water and rub with bar soap. Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric, or use an all-fabric bleach.
Paint Stains - Water-based paint, such as latex acrylic stains, should be rinsed in warm water while stain is still wet; launder. This stain usually cannot be removed after it dries. For oil-based paints, including varnish, use the solvent listed on the label as a thinner. If label information is unavailable, use turpentine. Rinse. Pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover, bar soap, or detergent. Rinse and launder.
Perfume Stains - Treat with pre-wash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent; rinse and launder.
Perspiration Stains - Treat with pre-wash stain remover, or dampen stain and rub with bar soap. If the color of the fabric has changed slightly, apply ammonia to fresh stain or white vinegar to old stain; rinse. Launder in hottest water safe for that fabric. Stubborn stains may respond to pre-treating with a product containing enzymes (like ERA), then launder using an all-fabric bleach.
Pine Resin - Sponge the stain with cleaning fluid; let air dry. Rub with detergent and launder as usual. If stains persist, apply a few drops of household ammonia. Air dry. Launder, using liquid laundry detergent.
Pollen Stains (tree or flower) - Sponge, then flush with dry-cleaning solvent. Let air dry. Rub gently with detergent. Launder as usual, using bleach that is safe for that fabric.
Rust Stains - Apply a commercial rust remover such as Rit Rust Remover. Follow manufacturer's instructions. Do not use chlorine bleach on rust.
Scorch - Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric. Otherwise, soak in an all-fabric bleach and hot water, then launder. Note: Badly scorched stains cannot be removed.
Shoe Polish Stains - Pre-treat liquid shoe polish with a paste of dry detergent and water; launder. Use a dull knife to scrape residue of paste shoe polish from the fabric. Pre-treat with a pre-wash stain remover or cleaning fluid; rinse. Rub detergent into dampened area. Launder with chlorine bleach, if safe for fabric, or an all-fabric bleach.
Tar - Act quickly before stain dries. Use a dull knife to scrape excess tar from the fabric. Place stain face down on paper towels. Sponge with cleaning fluid. Replace towels frequently for better absorption. Launder, using hottest water safe for that fabric.
Tobacco Stains - Moisten stain and rub with bar soap; rinse. Pre-treat with stain stick or soak in an enzyme solution (like ERA). Launder. Note: If stain remains, launder again using chlorine bleach, if safe for fabric, or use oxygen bleach.
Urine, Vomit, Mucous, or Feces Stains - Treat with pre-wash spray or pre-treat with a product containing enzymes (like ERA). Launder with chlorine bleach that is safe for fabric, or use an all-fabric bleach.
Yellowing of White Cottons or Linens - Fill washer with hot water. Add twice the detergent as normal. Place items in washer and agitate four minutes on regular cycle. Stop washer and soak clothes for 15 minutes. Restart washer and agitate 15 minutes. Complete the wash cycle. Repeat process if needed.
Yellowing of White Nylon - Soak fabric overnight in an enzyme presoak or oxygen bleach. Launder, using hot water and twice as much detergent as usual with an oxygen bleach.
BASIC STAIN REMOVAL SUPPLIES
Alcohol (denatured or rubbing)
Amyl acetate (banana oil)
Bar of Soap (without deodorant)
-- Nonchlorine, all-fabric
-- Hydrogen Peroxide
-- Commercial color remover
Crystal Salts, such as Epson Salt
Dry-cleaning solvent or spot Remover
-- Enzyme pre-soaks (ERA)
-- Enzyme-based stain sticks (Shout), (Spray 'n Wash)
-- Spray-type prewash soil / stain removers (Spray 'n Wash)
Rust Remover (Rit)
WARNING : Always read the label for fabric content washing instructions.
Treat stains properly. 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. Tell the dry cleaner the source of the stain.
Read and follow package directions when using any stain removal product. Always test stain removers on a napkin or other hidden part of the cloth for color fastness. To test, apply product and let stand 2-5 minutes, then rinse. If color changes, do not use product on fabric.
When using a bleach do not try to bleach just one area; bleach the entire tablecloth 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 going through it. Never put chemical dry-cleaning solvents directly into the washer.
Thoroughly rinse and air dry areas treated with dry-cleaning solvents before placing in washer, to avoid 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. Have patience; it takes a little extra time and effort to remove some stains.
You will find that sprinkling ordinary table salt on particularly greasy stains the instant they happen, can profoundly reduce the chances of the stain setting.Likewise, soaking soiled table linens in a mild salt-water mixture immediately after use, can brighten their appearance, and make machine washing more effective. Jeffrey Thein, Miami Beach, Florida.