Here’s How to Get 13 Types of Stains Out of All Your Clothes

7. Tomato-based stains

Tomato-based stains are challenging compared to other fruit stains because the sauces tomatoes are made with often include oil. So for tomato-based stains, reach for a good-quality dishwashing liquid that cuts grease (e.g., Dawn). Apply the liquid directly to the stain and gently scrub it with your fingers. Rinse and repeat as many times as necessary. If the stain remains after much of the oil has been broken down, try the fruit stain method.

8. Coffee stains

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Run cold water over the stain to remove as much of it as possible. Then cover the stain with enzymatic laundry detergent and use a soft-bristled brush to work the detergent into the fabric. Let it stand for five to 10 minutes, then launder as usual (without rinsing out the detergent) on the hottest setting possible for that fabric type.

9. Grass stains

Cover the stain in enzymatic laundry detergent or stain treater and gently rub the fabric together, then wash it as you normally would without removing the treatment. If the stain isn’t completely gone and the clothing is colorfast (you can test it in an inconspicuous area if you aren’t sure), you can treat it with diluted white vinegar and wash it again.

10. Mud stains

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Resist the urge to toss it straight into the wash or try to scrape or blot it up. First, allow the mud to dry, then gently scrape off any excess. Cover the stain with laundry detergent and a little water and rub the fabric together to create suds, then rinse and repeat as necessary. On colorfast fabrics, if the stain isn’t removed after the first attempt, you can treat it with a mix of equal parts vinegar and water, then wash it with an enzymatic laundry detergent.

11. Grease stains

As with tomato-based stains, it’s grease-fighting dishwashing liquid to the rescue with grease stains. Whether it’s cooking oil or motor oil, rinse the stain immediately with cold water, then rub the stain with the dishwashing liquid to help loosen the grease. Rinse it and repeat as necessary. Then gently rub an enzymatic laundry detergent (one with extra stain-fighting power if it’s motor oil) into the stain, covering the entire area (make sure you go all the way through the garment) and let it sit for five to 10 minutes or a little longer. Without rinsing out the laundry detergent, wash it as usual using the hottest setting that fabric can handle.

12. Ink stains

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Place a paper towel or scrap fabric under the stained area and saturate the stain with hairspray (yes, you read that right). Let it sit for a few seconds, then use a clean cloth to blot away the excess. Repeat as necessary, then wash the garment as usual with an enzymatic laundry detergent.

13. Combination stains

Combination stains are tricky because they have more than one stain type. Things like makeup, many foods (sauces, condiments, etc.) and ice cream (which could be both a dairy stain and have stains from fruits and oils) and the like can still be treated with the right approach.

Always start by treating any grease aspect of the stain first by rubbing the area with a grease-fighting dishwashing liquid and cold water to loosen the grease and rinsing. Then attack any protein stains (sticking with cold water at first to avoid “cooking” any dairy or eggs) with an enzymatic presoak followed by a wash at the highest temperature recommended for that fabric (with more enzymatic laundry detergent. Finally, you can treat pigment-based stains with a soak in a solution of oxygenized non-chlorine bleach and water. And if that doesn’t work, colorfast fabrics can be treated with a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water and washed again.

Next up: Tips for stain-removal based on fabric type


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