Nothing can be more irritating than a guest spilling red wine on your favorite throw pillow, or discovering that your fountain pen leaked into your designer suit. But don’t panic. You can remove even the most stubborn stains with these simple tricks.
1. Don’t whine over wine
Red wine stains are often listed as the worst possible stain you could ever have. However, you can remove it if you act very quickly. Dash to the kitchen and grab big a handful of salt. Sprinkle a generous amount over the area. The salt will ‘pull’ the wine away, then absorb it. (You know it worked if the salt becomes pinkish.) Then, soak the stained item in cold water and detergent for at least 12 hours. Wring it dry, then wash as normal.
2. Get the gum out
Got chewing gum stains? Chill out. Literally. Place the clothes in the freezer. This will harden the gum so it’s easy to scrape off, and it won’t leave any sticky, icky stains.
3. Grass begone!
Any mother of young, active children will know how hard it is to remove grass stains. These are actually considered ‘dye stains’ and rank way up there with red wine as one of the hardest to remove. They’re particularly visible on light fabrics (which is probably why veteran moms tend to clothe their kids in denim).
However, grass stains can be removed with warm water and biological detergents. If that doesn’t work, try applying rubbing alcohol on the area (as long as the fabric isn’t silk or wool). The last resort: dilute 1 tablespoon of stain removing enzyme product in a quart of warm water, then soak the item. Rinse, wash again in hot water with fabric-safe bleach.
4. Shake off the Juice
Act quickly! Immerse the fabric in the hottest water possible, mixed with a bit of biological detergent. Don’t use bar soup, because that tends to ‘set’ the stain even more.
If you discover an old stain—say, a huge spot of grape juice stain on the sofa that the kids tried to hide by flipping the cushion over—your best bet is either chlorine bleach (check first if it’s safe for the fabric) or a trip to a professional dry cleaner’s.
5. Goodbye, hair dye!
All dyes have a risk for leaving permanent stains, because the colors were formulated to last as long as possible. Your best bet is to soak the item in cold water, rubbing it with soap, or soaking it overnight in warm water. But let this be a lesson: wear an old shirt the next time you do your henna treatment.
6. Beat the Blood
One of the easiest ways to get rid of blood stains is to rub the area with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide. It’ll still leave a slightly yellowish stain, but that’s easy to wash off.
If the stain is still fresh, place the item in warm, soapy water. Rub the stain gently with your fingers, replacing the water. Some say that adding salt will make the stain easier to remove.
7. Clean up the ketchup
Tomato sauces or ketchup can really ruin a shirt, especially if the stain ‘sets.’ Run to the sink as fast as you can and rinse the item under cold running water, before soaking it in a warm, soapy solution.
If the item is white you can also try using bleach or white vinegar. This trick can also be used on colorfast fabrics (if you’re not sure, check it on a small, hidden corner of the item.)
8. Mud in the rug
Most washing machines can get dirt out of clothes, but what do you do when the kids run in from the yard, leaving a trail of muddy footprints on your carpet?
First of all, it’s easier to clean mud when it’s dry. Just scrape it off with a dry brush, loosening the dirt, and then vacuum over the area several times. Try to get as much of the stain out as you possibly can. Then, get a wet rag and a spot cleaner. Pre-treat the area by spraying some stain treatment solution on the area and letting that ‘sit.’ Then, scrub off the remaining imprints. (Better yet, make the kids do this—it’ll teach them to think twice before running inside with their wet shoes!) Mild liquid detergent or white vinegar can also work on smaller stains.