With stain removal, there are two things to remember to be successful. First, pretreat the stain if you can. Fresh stains are much easier to remove than day-old stains. Second, not all stains are equal. Some will require a multistep approach. Let's examine 10 common culprits and how to treat them.
Note: Not all fabrics are the same. Make sure you read the suggested care instructions on the item before you use these stain-fighting methods.
Image: Marius Kallhardt via Flickr
Soak the stain in hot water to loosen up the grass. Then scrub with a mixture of 1 part dish soap and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. Launder the garment as usual after treatment.
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Allow the mud to completely dry first. Scrape off the dried mud, apply a generous amount of dish soap with a damp cloth, and wash like normal.
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If you are treating a fresh coffee stain, apply a mixture of 1 teaspoon of vinegar to 2 cups of water with a sponge. For an older, set-in stain, use a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
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How to remove lipstick stains will depend on the type of fabric. For washable fabric, apply dish soap to the area, but do not rub. Rubbing will spread the stain and make it worse. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. With a wet towel, gently dab the stain. Repeat if necessary. If the lipstick stain is on upholstery or a nonwashable fabric, spray a small amount of hair spray directly onto the fabric. Wait a few minutes for the hair spray to penetrate, then wipe off and blot dry with a towel. Repeat as necessary.
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If the wine stain is on a piece of clothing, sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the area to absorb as much of the stain as possible. Then rinse the reverse side of the stain with hot water, and wash immediately. For red wine stains on carpet or upholstery, blot the spill, and soak up as much wine as possible. Mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1 part dishwashing soap, and apply it to the spill. Dab with a sponge until the stain is removed (this may take a few attempts).
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Sprinkle baking soda on the stain to absorb excess oil. Rub dish soap on the stain, and let it soak for 10 minutes. Rinse the fabric in the hottest water possible for the garment. You can use the same method on furniture or carpet, but vacuum up the baking soda first, then rinse off the dish soap with a damp sponge or towel.
Image: Tim Sackton via Flickr
Remove excess chocolate from the affected area. Rinse the reverse side of the stain with cold water. Rub the stain with dish soap, and let it sit for a few minutes. Soak the stain for an additional 10 to 15 minutes in cold water.
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Apply white vinegar directly to the stain. If it is an oil-based sauce, then rub in some dish soap as well. Toss the garment into the wash. If the stain persists after washing, try hanging the garment outside in full, bright sun. Sunlight is an awesome, chemical-free, natural bleach.
Image: Daniel Case
Make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply a generous amount of the paste to the stain, let it sit for at least an hour, and then toss it into the wash. If the stains are still visible after washing, then try the sun-bleaching method.
Image: Sharyn Morrow via Flickr
For fresh bloodstains, rinse immediately with cold water. If that doesn't work, pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain. Take care to not let the foam spread outside the original stain area. Repeat if necessary. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove bloodstains from porous surfaces as well. If the stain is older or persistent, try soaking the garment in a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide.
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