Aug 11, 2020

Cleaning

The Most Common Fabric Stains & How to Remove Them

Red wine, grease, ink and grass stains are no match for these stain removal tips from the cleaning experts at Rümi!

Close-up of laundry pouring out of a dryer. Hands hold a pair of jeans with an obvious stain on them.

The stain specialists at Rümi share some of the most common fabric stains and some tips on how to remove them.

Oh no! Why, you may have asked yourself, did you bring an open mug of coffee into the car, again? Now your white shirt is wearing this morning’s double-foam, extra-hot latte. But fear not. The stain specialists at Rümi share the basic supplies you’ll need handy to treat the most common clothing stains as well as specific tips on tackling common garment mishaps.

The 4 stain removal items everyone needs

  1. Dish Detergent or Laundry Bar Soap — These are affordable, easy-to-find stain fighters that have long shelf lives and work in an array of messy situations. Good for grease, grass, sweat and many of the other domestic dirty jobs.
  2. Enzyme-Based Liquid Laundry Detergent — Many of the most common liquid laundry detergents contain enzymes. Sometimes a tough stain just needs a concentrated shot of detergent and enzymes to really target the issue. Caution: do not use enzyme-based products on silk or wool.
  3. Oxygen-Based Cleaning Products (i.e. oxy product) — These work well when it comes to treating your whites and removing coloured stains.
  4. Household & Pantry Items — Rubbing alcohol, salt and mechanic’s waterless hand cleaner without pumice can often come to the rescue.

The top 7 types of everyday stains you can definitely remove

  1. Red Wine  
    a. Rinse under cool water. Place paper towels or light coloured rags underneath the stained area of the fabric and blot with more paper towels.
    b. Mix oxy product in water and soak the stained fabric for 1-2 hours or according to directions. This may remove some colour from a coloured piece of fabric such as a table cloth.
    c. Rinse and repeat if needed
  2. Ink (ballpoint pen)
    a. Place ink side down on white paper towels.
    b. Saturate a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and hold on back side of the stain.
    c. Work bar soap, such as Sunlight bar soap, and water or liquid dish soap into the stain. Rinse and repeat if needed.
  3. Grease
    a. Work mechanic’s waterless hand cleaner into the stain for several minutes.
    b. Rinse and wash out hand cleaner with laundry bar soap or dish detergent.
    c. Allow garment to air dry to determine if stain is gone. Repeat this process; often it might take a few attempts to lift a grease stain. Sweat
  4. Sweat
    a. Rub the stain with mechanic’s waterless hand cleaner for several minutes. Rub gently if fabric is delicate.
    b. Rinse and wash out hand cleaner with bar soap or dish detergent. Repeat as needed.
    These stains are very hard to get out so prevention is best: every time you wash a garment you are likely to get a build-up, treat the area (underarm, neck line) as a preventative measure.
  5. Blood
    Rinse the fabric under lots of cold water. Then follow one of these:
    - Make a paste of salt and water and rub into stain for 3-4 minutes. Rinse well.
    - Make a strong salt solution of 1 cup salt in 2 litres of water. Soak garment for 30 minutes or more, rubbing the stain several times. Rinse well.
    - Make a paste of unseasoned meat tenderizer and water. Work into stain and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse well. Do NOT use meat tenderizer on silk, wool or leather.
  6. Tea/Coffee
    a. For fresh stains, pour boiling water through stain, if temperature is safe for fabric and colour.
    b. Mix oxy product in water and soak garment or stained area for 1-2 hours or according to the directions. Caution: this may remove some colour from the fabric.
  7. Grass
    a. Remove stuck on grass and dirt.
    b. Make a paste of powdered oxy product and water. Rub into stain and let sit 15 minutes.
    c. Rinse. If any stain remains, rub in concentrated laundry detergent with enzymes or a paste of water and unseasoned meat tenderizer. Let sit 15 minutes.
    d. Rinse and repeat if needed.

The deeper the stain the harder it can be to remove, so don’t be afraid to repeat any of these treatments

The 3 commandments of stain removal

  1. Act Quickly — do not wait when it comes to treating a new stain. The longer it sits, the more it sets. You need to deal with it as quickly as possible, because the less time those particles and colours have to set in, the easier they will be to remove.
  2. Don’t Rub — rubbing a stain in an attempt to remove it will only work the unwanted particles deeper into the fabric. This ends up making removal that much more difficult. Moisten the trouble area and dab it, then use the stain removal tools and techniques listed below.
  3. Avoid the Dryer — do not, we repeat, do not put your garment in the dryer until the stain has been completely removed. Adding heat to the mix pretty much ensures a permanent stain. If you still see any sign of the stain after treating the area and letting it dry, that just means it’s time for another round of cleaning. Line-dry or lay the garment out until it’s completely dry and you can confirm the stain has been removed.

The 6 most important tips to remember

  1. Always read the stain removal product’s instructions before you use it. Also, make sure you carefully read the care label on a stained garment before attempting a deep clean.
  2. Don’t assume all fabrics release stains in the same way. The stain removal procedure that worked like a charm on your prized Hawaiian shirt might do some serious damage to your vintage Bermuda shorts. Again, read the label’s care instructions.
  3. Test out a new cleaning product or treatment method on a part of the garment that’s not up front and centre. Pick an inconspicuous area and test things out to see if they work or will just create a bigger problem than the stain itself. We want you to save yourself a few tears should that product/method not be what’s best for your garment.
  4. After you’ve tested the product on a small part of the garment and it’s time for the main event, make sure you only use the stain removal product on the stained area.
  5. Protect any work surfaces you're using with a light-coloured cloth. Darker colours might begin to bleed through your garment and cause you an even bigger problem than the one you began with in the first place.
  6. Once the stain has been completely removed, it’s safe to wash the garment according to the instructions outlined on the care label.

There you have it. The ins, outs, ups and downs of stain removal. It’s a tricky science, but go forward knowing that quick action and close attention are key when it comes to removing and protecting against large, unsightly stains.

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