We all have our favorite foods but we'd rather remember them in our mind than try to figure out how to take stains out of our floors and clothes.  With the right methods and cleaners you can take even the hardest stains to remove out of nearly any surface or material.  There is no stain destined to have an armchair placed over it for eternity.  If you have patience and will, than no stain can stand against you.

Types of Stains

While there are many items that can cause a stain, each with their own particular chemical makeup, we can put them into some very general categories.  Thankfully, they all can be treated with similar techniques.

Greasy Stains: This group includes stains that are oil based or grease based.  As a rule of thumb, if the material could be used as a lubricant than it is a greasy stain.  Greasy stains are generally the most stubborn to remove as they resist wiping and scrubbing.

Non-Greasy Stains: These stains are, quite simply, the ones that would not be used a lubricant.  These would be things like spilled beverages, urine, and ink.  The major worry with these stains are that they are more likely to permanently dye cloth because of their nature.

Combination Stains: Not everything is one or the other.  In fact, many items around the house have attributes of both greasy and non-greasy.  If you take cream in your coffee or tea, than you have just created a combination stain.  Dropped your makeup on the carpet?  That's another combination.  While these do make for some of the hardest stains to remove it is nothing that can't be treated with the correct methods.

The First Steps of Stain Removal

The first thing you have to understand when you want to remove a stain is that you are against the clock.  While even the hardest stains to remove can be cleaned with patience and persistence, the sooner you attack the stain the better your odds will be.  Picture it in terms of washing dishes.  A plate covered in pasta sauce is much easier to clean as soon as you are done than five days later.

The first step in cleaning a stain is to remove as much of the material as possible before using any cleaners.  If it is a solid, than sweep it up.  If it is a liquid, than place a dry towel gently on the stain and let the liquid be soaked up by the towel.  The idea is that you want to be dealing with the smallest amount of actual staining material when you begin the cleaning process. 

Be gentle when treating a stain.  Our first instinct is usually to go hard on the stain.  Going back to the sauce covered plate as an example, we would scrub hard to remove the stubborn sauce.  However, this doesn't work with fabric and carpet.  The aggressive scrubbing only pushes the stain further into the fiber and make our job harder.  So take your time and be gentle.

When it comes to stains, heat is our enemy.  You may see commercials for a steam cleaner and think that hot water is best.  While steam cleaning can certainly clean a dirty carpet, it is a different matter for stains.  The two are not interchangeable. Rather than heat, use a rag soaked in cold water and gently scrub the stain starting from the center and drag to the outside.

Make That Stain Disappear

With the prep work finished now it's time to break out the cleaning solutions.  Greasy stains will likely need multiple applications with time to dry between each.  Non-greasy stains have a better chance of spreading if you rush the cleaning, so take your time.

If you decide to use a household cleaner like Resolve, it is very important that you try it on a part of the material that will not easily be seen.  While many cleaners handle the job just fine no one is certain exactly how a chemical agent will react to your personal rug or shirt.  Doing a test in a non-visible spot first lets you make sure you won't simply make the stain worse.  Follow the cleaning solution instructions very carefully and make note of what type of material you will be using it on.  You will find that the same cleaner may have different instructions for silk than it would for wool.

So no matter what gets tossed, dropped, thrown, or driven into your fabrics, the steps for how to take stains out is a basic but rigid routine.  Act fast, remove the excess staining substance, keep it cold, and follow directions on any cleaners you use.  Keeping that showroom spotlessness is doable by everyone.