How to Remove Stains

How to remove stainsThis is your guide on how to remove stains. The easiest way to find out how to remove a specific stain is to refer to Stain Removal A-Z. But what if your particular stain isn’t listed? Here’s what to do:

1. Look for a similar stain. For example, stains caused by penne with tomato sauce are treated the same way as spaghetti-sauce stains. When looking for a similar stain, remember that stains are often categorized into Types of Stains. Once you find the type of stain you have, simply follow the techniques to remove stains of that type. Here are the types of stains.

  • Protein stains. This category includes baby food, baby formula, blood, cheese, cream, egg, feces, gelatin, ice cream, milk, mud, vomit, white glue, and urine.
  • Oil-based stains. This category includes automotive oil, bacon, butter, body oils (collar and cuff soil), cooking oil, hair oil, hand lotion, margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
  • Tannin stains. This category includes alcoholic beverages, some berries (cranberries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries), coffee, fruit juice, perfume, soft drinks, tea, and tomato juice.
  • Dye stains. This category includes blueberries, cherries, curry, food coloring, grass, hair dye, ink, iodine, Mercurochrome, and mustard.
  • Combination stains. This category includes coffee with cream, chocolate ice cream, cosmetics, crayons and shoe polish.

2. Check out the ingredients listed on the label of the product that caused the stain. Look for clues to removing stains. For example, many products contain dyes. If the dye is listed as “D&C” and followed by a color name and number, it is a dye that is safe only for drugs and cosmetics. Check out the techniques listed for Hair Dye Stain Removal.

3. Ask the manufacturer how to remove stains. You may be able to find the manufacturer’s phone number or website on the package. Or you can conduct an internet search by the product name. This will probably take you to the manufacturer’s website, where you will find information on how to contact them by e-mail and/or phone. The website may contain information for removing stains from their products.

4. Treat it as a mystery stain. If you’ve identified the stain but still have no clue what to do about it, this is a mystery stain!

The Stain with No Name

Remember the children’s game “Who Am I?” where you guessed an identity by asking questions that could be answered only by “yes” or “no”? Stains can play the “Who Am I?” game too. And why is it best to know what the stain is? Well, the “just treat them all the same” philosophy will work most of the time, but why run the risk of doing something that might set the stain permanently – or waste your time trying lots of alternatives? When the origin of a stain has you stumped, here are a few things to consider.

1. Check the location. Food stains tend to be on the front of a garment and are generally protein stains.
2. Search your memory. What were you doing when you last wore this garment? Or what did you serve your guests that was likely to spill on the carpet?
3. Scratch and sniff. Stains like alcohol, fruit juice, perfume, and motor oil have distinct odors.
4. Observe the color. This can be tricky. For example, rust stains can appear similar to tea or coffee stains, but treating them the wrong way may set them permanently. Other stains can get paler over time. And the benzyl peroxide that’s an ingredient in some cosmetics can cause color loss. That’s why it’s important to search your memory!

Treating Mystery Stains

If you still have no clue as to the origin of the stain then you need to use trial and error to remove stains. First, avoid washing unknown stains in hot water, which will set protein-based stains, such as egg or blood. Try the mildest method first, then escalate:

  • Soak in cold water, which just might remove a protein-based stain.
  • If that doesn’t work, pretreat by rubbing with liquid laundry detergent and then wash with warm or hot water.
  • If that doesn’t work, try spraying with a pretreatment product or blotting with dry-cleaning solvent.
  • Still no luck? Time for the bleaches, beginning with oxygen (all-fabric) bleach. Use a diluted chlorine bleach soak as a last resort.

Now you know how to remove stains, even those tricky, mysterious ones!

Related Articles:

Stain Removal Tips

Removing Stains: Tools & Techniques

Stain Removers A-Z

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