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Your guide to clean, stain-free laundry every time

Do your clothes get stained faster than you can say “pass the ketchup?” You have a good washing machine. You use name brand detergent. So what’s the problem? Read this article, treat your stains, then throw those cute new white jeans in the wash with confidence!

Woman doing laundry

Photo credit: diego cervo / iStock / 360 / Getty images

I’ve heard it’s a good idea to “pre-treat” stains, but I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know what that means. Please explain.

Basically, pre-treating simply means you can’t just throw your clothes into the wash. You need to apply something to the stain first to help release the stain from the clothing fibers. Stain sticks, wipes, pens and sprays are all popular ways to pre-treat a stain. You can also apply detergent and rub fabric together or use a soft brush to help release the stain. If none of these are available, soak the stain with plain water.

Learn more about common stains and how to treat them >>

Help! I spilled red wine on my new white shirt. What should I do?

Relax. A little Shiraz on the shirt doesn’t mean it’s ruined. Grab a clean dry cloth and gently blot the excess liquid. Next, pour white vinegar over the stain, saturating it completely. Let the clothing sit for at least 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water and treat with a pre-wash cleaner (soaking longer if necessary). Once the stain has lightened, launder as usual. Do not dry until stain has been removed.

Find out how to remove other food and beverage stains here >>

Uh-oh! My daughter just “decorated” my jeans with Crayola markers. Is there any way to remove the ink?

First, plunge your jeans into an ice-water bath and give them time to soak. If soaking doesn’t remove the marker, try hand sanitizer. Squirt some sanitizer onto a soft cloth and gently rub on the stain in a circular motion. Work slowly, repeating with clean parts of the cloth and taking care not to spread the ink or marker to other parts of the clothing. After the stain is completely removed, spray with stain remover and wash as usual.

Learn how to remove marker from carpet, walls and floors here >>

I discovered a giant wad of bubble gum on my son’s baseball pants. How do I get it off? Peanut butter?

First, step away from the jar of Skippy. The peanut butter trick works to remove gum from hair, but to get that Big League Chew off your little slugger’s pants, all you’ll need is a piece of ice! Place one ice cube under the bubble gum stain and one on top. As the ice melts, the gum will freeze. Be patient — this could take up to 30 minutes. When the gum is frozen, use the flat side of a butter knife to scrape off the frozen chunk of gum and any extra bits. If there’s any remaining gum or discoloration, use a spot cleaner or gently rub with regular clothing detergent and wash as usual.

Check out our “insider mom” stain removal tips >>

Quick tip:

The momosphere is buzzing about the new miracle stain fighter that’s made by mixing one part blue Dawn dishwashing liquid with two parts hydrogen peroxide. It’s said to banish everything from spit up stains to the dreaded red dirt from the baseball fields.

More stain fighting tips:

7 Stubborn stains and how to remove them
How to remove stains
How to get blood stains out of washable fabric

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