Out of the many things that can possibly ruin our day, getting a stain on one of our favorite button down shirts or best pair of khakis is definitely near the top of the list. It plays out the same way: Panicking, blotting the stain futilely and throwing it in the wash before finally realizing that our favorite garment is lost to us forever.
Or is it? Perhaps that stubborn berry stain doesn’t need to take up permanent residence on your new sport shirt or fancy work dress after all. With quick work, the right approach and these expert tips, you can successfully lift that tough stain from your beloved clothes and give them a second shot at life.
Note: Always read the garment care label first, and be sure to test stain removers in an inconspicuous spot!
- Get Out Red Wine Stains with Peroxide and Dawn Dish Soap
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: You’re in the kitchen, cooking dinner while wearing an adorable preppy dress to impress your date. You’re enjoying a nice Cab when—oops! You fumble your wine glass, spilling it over the sides and onto your carefully-chosen outfit.
You probably don’t need to be told that classic women’s clothing and red wine just don’t mix. The next time it happens—and trust us, there will be a next time—here is your game plan:
- Blot the stain. Act quickly by blotting the stain with a slightly damp paper towel. Try to soak up as much wine as you can.
- Don’t rub. Be careful not to rub the stain, only blot! Rubbing the stain can make it spread.
- Apply hydrogen peroxide and Dawn dish soap. Fill a plastic cup with two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part Dawn dish soap. Mix the solution together and coat the stain evenly.
- Be patient. Let the mixture sit for roughly an hour to work its magic.
- Launder normally. Launder your garment as you normally would and voila! Your dress should be as good as new.
It’s important to point out that this might not work for certain fabrics. But according to the experts, the peroxide-dish soap solution is still one of the best stain removal methods for red wine stains. Besides, what do you have to lose?
- Tackle Sweat Stains with White Vinegar
Killing weeds, cleaning microwaves, removing old stains: Is there anything white vinegar can’t do? This multi-talented ingredient is the MVP of natural stain removers, tackling everything from week-old stains to pet urine and the dreaded berry stains.
White vinegar is particularly effective for eliminating underarm sweat stains and odor. Simply pour white vinegar over the spot and use an old toothbrush to gently rub the stain. Wait five minutes for the vinegar to do its job and rinse with water.
If the garment is white, you can also use lemon juice to naturally bleach it. Otherwise, gently apply detergent to the area, launder as normal and your sweat stains should be a thing of the past.
- Pre-Treat Oil Stains with Cornstarch
Oil-based stains such as motor oil, grease and oil-based paints can often seem like a lost cause. As with most stains, the key is to act fast and use the right approach.
One of the best-kept secrets for removing oil-based stains is to pre-treat it with cornstarch. If you dropped an oily slice of pizza on your lap or spritzed perfume on your shirt collar by accident, here is what to do:
- Blot the stain. Use a cloth to blot as much of the stain as you can.
- Apply cornstarch. Sprinkle cornstarch on the stain and let it sit for an hour. The cornstarch should pull the oil out of the fabric.
- Check the stain. Before you launder your garment as usual, check to see of the stain is gone. Repeat the process if you need to. Heat will set the stain, so it’s important to make sure that you’ve managed to remove as much oil as possible.
- Wet the spot and apply dish soap. If the stain is stubborn, apply a little dish soap to the area and gently rub it into the stain. Let it sit for five minutes before rinsing.
- Launder on the hottest setting. Wash on the hottest temperature setting and air dry the garment.
- Use Alcohol and Bar Soap to Remove Ink Stains
So, you left a pen in your pocket on laundry day. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
Although ink stains are some of the toughest to remove, it’s not impossible. The secret is to use alcohol (no, not the kind you drink) and bar soap to pre-treat the stain.
Here’s what you’ll do: Blot up the ink stain as much as you can and dip a cotton ball into rubbing alcohol. Blot the spot with the cotton ball until the stain disappears.
Then, gently rub a white, antibacterial bar soap such as Dove onto the stain. The soap should lift the oils in the ink and finish the job. Rinse the garment, allow it to air dry and repeat the process if needed.
- Consider Bleach as a Last Resort
The pros know that bleach should never be the first line of attack on tough stains. Not only can bleach be hard on fabrics (you want your clothes to last a long time, don’t you?), it can also be a total disaster when used incorrectly.
However, you don’t need to write off bleach completely. The key to using bleach properly is to read the care label, dilute the bleach with the right amount of water and test on a hidden spot (like the inside seam) to check for any color change. If the color changes, it’s a no-go.
If you’re concerned about the harsh ingredients in bleach, there are always eco-friendly bleach alternatives you can try first. Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar are all powerful bleaching agents which can lift stains without the nasty chemicals.
Boosting Your Clothing’s Staying Power
Although stains are always a bummer, they don’t need to ruin your clothes forever. With these expert stain removal tips, you can eliminate those pesky stains from your favorite pieces and maximize their longevity. Just remember to always read the care label instructions and test your stain removal solution on a small area before tackling those tough stains.