Barbeque sauce on that new white t-shirt, ice cream dripped down the front of your sundress, and grass stains all over his jeans... what to do? Don't consign your clothes to the rag pile before you try these simple tips to get the spots, spatters and splotches out of the fabric!
Stain removal smarts
For all of your clothes
Ice cream and other dairy product stains
Fresh stains should be soaked and agitated in cold water before washing. If the stain has dried, scrape or brush off any crusted matter. Soak for up to several hours in cold water with a detergent or an enzyme presoak (which breaks down protein-based stains like egg, grass and blood so your detergent can work more effectively). Launder in warm water.
If the stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes and rewash. If a colored stain remains, launder with bleach safe for the fabric.
Fruit and fruit juice stains
Launder with detergent in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Do not use soap (bar, flake or detergents containing natural soap), since soap-based products could make the stain permanent. Soak tough stains for 30 minutes in one quart of warm water and one teaspoon of enzyme presoak product.
Removal of old or set stains may require washing with bleach that is safe for that particular fabric. If all the sugars are not removed, a brown stain will appear when the cloth is heated in the dryer or is ironed as the sugar is caramelized. This effect great for Crème Brûlée... not so wonderful for your favorite white blouse.
For stubborn stains, like grass, soak in a solution of cool water and a laundry product containing enzymes for at least 30 minutes (and several hours for aged stains). Don't use hot water, as it will coagulate the protein and make the stain more difficult to remove. If stains remain, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash. (Follow product instructions, and note that some laundry detergents already contain enzymes.)
After soaking, launder in warm water as usual.
Let mud stains dry. Brush to remove the soil. Soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse with water. Let stand for several minutes.
If the stain persists, sponge it with rubbing alcohol, then rinse with clear water and wash. You may also soak the stain for 30 minutes in an enzyme presoak, and can add chlorine bleach to the load of laundry if the label says it's safe for the fabric.
Barbeque sauce stains & other tomato-based sauce stains
Soak in cool water, 1/2 -teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse. If stain remains, pre-treat area with a pre-wash stains remover, liquid laundry detergent or a paste of powdered detergent and water. Then wash in warm water. Air dry.
If the stain remains, soak in an enzyme product for at least an hour or overnight. Some detergents contain enzymes. Launder in warm water. Do not use hot water, hot air drying or iron until the stain is gone as heat will set it.
More laundry tips