Use these tips to for safe and efficient stain removal from clothes, and you won't have to worry about discarding a favorite outfit because of an unsightly spot.  While there are all kinds of products and circumstances that can cause a garment to get stained, the most common causes are deodorants, blood, dairy products, grass and mud, or tomato-based products. Here are step-by-step instructions for the best strain removal tips for each one of these:

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Washing clothes to remove the stains
Credit: Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924) under public domain via Wikimedia Commons,

Deodorant Stain Removal

Follow these steps for an effective stain remover for clothes stained with deodorants and antiperspirants:

  1. Make a paste of ammonia and a color safe bleach such as Clorox 2.
  2. Use an old toothbrush to gently rub the prepared paste into the stained areas.
  3. Leave the paste on the garment for about 30 minutes.
  4. Wash the garment by the manufacturer's care instructions for water temperature, type of detergent, and bleach (if applicable).

If the garment does not have the manufacturer's label, use the hottest water that is safe for the type of fabric from which the garment is made.

Some commonly used fabrics and the proper wash water temperatures are:

  • Cool water is best for delicate fabrics, lightweight fabrics, light-colored garments, or items stained with dairy products or blood.
  • Warm water is best for synthetic fabrics and dark-colored clothing.
  • Hot water is best for cottons and cotton blends.  

Stain Removal - Blood

Removing blood stains from fabrics can be tricky but it is not impossible if the stained garment is treated promptly. Here's what to do:

  1. If the clothing item is small, hold it underneath a stream of cold water and flush out as much of the blood as possible.
  2. For larger garments, prepare a tub or sink full of cold water and immerse the item. Rinse and repeat several times to remove as much of the stain as you can.
  3. Soak for about 20 to 30 minutes in cold water containing detergent. Spot treat any remaining stains with a dab of detergent applied directly on the stain.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Wash as directed by the manufacturer.


Dairy Products Stain Removal From Clothes


Milk, ice cream and even yogurt can cause stains if not treated promptly. For best stain removal results, follow these tips:

  1. Using a damp cloth, sponge the stain immediately.
  2. Apply the prewash soil and stain remover of choice.
  3. Rinse the item well with cold water.
  4. Wash the item by following the manufacturer's care instructions.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

For stubborn stains, apply a few drops of a liquid detergent directly onto the stain and rub gently into the fabric. You can also make a paste of a powdered laundry detergent and a little water and rub onto the stained area.

Stain Removal Tips for Grass Stains

Grass stains are probably one of the main pet peeves and challenges for homemakers. Remove those pesky marks like this:

Use an enzyme presoak applied directly to the stain or rub an enzyme-based detergent and water to make a paste. Rub onto the stain area and let sit for about 20 minutes.

Launder with detergent and the hottest water that is safe for the fabric (see above for laundry water temperature recommendations). Use regular or colorsafe bleach if appropriate.

Mud Stain Removal Guide

Most kids find it hard to enjoy their outdoor play without getting a few grass stains along the way, and they are just as likely to come inside with a few mud stains as well. Banish those muddy spots in a hurry by using these tricks:

  1. Brush off the dried mud.
  2. Rinse the garment in a sink filled with cold water or underneath a stream of cold water.
  3. Make a paste of your favorite commercial or homemade laundry detergent and water.
  4. Rub on stains; let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Wash the garment as you normally would.

Removing Tomato Based Product Stains

Just like blood stains, while stains from tomato based products such as catsup or spaghetti sauce are hard to remove, they are not impossible. The key is immediate intervention and treatment, and you can usually save a piece of clothing or other articles from being permanently damaged by a stain that cannot be removed. Here's your plan of attack:

  1. Using cold water and a soft cloth or sponge, remove as much of the stain from the surface of the article as possible.
  2. Apply your favorite brand of prewash wash soil and stain remover, or make a paste of detergent and water and rub it into the stain.
  3. Launder following your normal procedure for the item.

For tough stains, treat as above but do not wash the item following the treatment. Instead, presoak it in warm water and detergent for 30 minutes. Rinse well, and then launder as normal.

Basic Stain Removal Tips

Generally speaking, the quicker you can treat stained clothing, the better. Carrying individually packaged spot treatment products can be a lifesaver as you can slip away to the restroom or somewhere private and discreetly handle a stain. However, the next best step if you don't have a stain removal product right at hand is to treat the piece of clothing as soon as you can.

Always read the manufacturer's care labels on clothing and follow them exactly, but if there are no care instructions on your garment, err on the side of caution and follow the stain removal tips here or on the package label of your laundry products of choice.

Again, just speaking in general terms, it's usually better not to use the dryer to dry stained clothing until you have tried your stain removal process. Heat can set stains into fabric permanently, which means your garment may be ruined.

When handled promptly and properly, stain removal from clothes is a simple task. Use the stain removal tips above to treat the various kinds of clothing stains appropriately and prevent damage to your valuable garments.