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How to remove stains

Kristin Chessman is a freelance writer, editor and mom from Southern California with a passion for travel, fashion, Disney, the beach, Italian food and all-things celebrity. Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinChessman.

How to... Remove stains

If you have a household full of kids and pets, chances are you’ve dealt with your fair share of stains. Ketchup, spaghetti sauce, grass, paint—you’ve seen it all. But are you treating your stains effectively, or making them worse? Read up on these easy tips for giving your worst stains the boot!

Little girl with donutStep 1: ID the stain

This step may sound simple, but with little ones, art projects, and food fights, it's not always obvious where the stain originated. It's important to figure out what kind of stain it is since they're all treated differently. If you don't correctly identify the stain and use the wrong product, you could cause additional damage to your garment. Nobody wants that!

Step 2: Know the fabric

Not only do you need to understand the stain, but it's also important to know the fabric. Be sure to follow the general washing directions on the stained clothes when treating the offensive spot. Most laundry stain removers aren't recommended for use on khaki or washable silk. Treating the stain properly won't make much a difference if you ruin the garment itself!

Step 3: Act fast

The fresher the stain, the easier the stain removal. So, do your best to treat stains as soon as possible. If the stain occurs on a non-washable fabric, hightail the garment to the dry cleaners immediately. For on-the-go stain treatment, keep a stain stick handy.

Step 4: Treat stains before washing

Now that you've identified your stain and fabric, it's time to treat it. For the most common stains like spaghetti sauce, coffee, grass, mustard, and red wine, use a laundry stain remover. Keep in mind that laundry stain removers may not work on rust, bleach stains, dried paint, or permanent ink. Remember to test the product in an inconspicuous area before applying to the actual stain. If the color changes, don't use the product. Carefully read the label of the laundry stain remover to find out how long you can leave the product on the stain, and if it's alright to let it dry on the garment. Now, you're ready to wash the treated clothing per the care instructions on its tag.

Step 5: Add in-wash stain remover

Now that you've treated the stains you can easily see, it's important to add in-wash stain remover with detergent for the stains you may miss. In-wash stain removers can remove your toughest stains directly in the wash. Talk about a perfect backup plan!

Step 6: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again

You may not always get the stain out on your first attempt. Be sure to check your stained garment before throwing it in the dryer. If it hasn't come out yet, repeat the treatment and wash again. Keep in mind that once the stained clothes are placed in the dryer, the stain will set.

What you saidTell us: How do you battle stains? Share your best tips by commenting below!

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