Stain Removal Guide with Quick Reference Chart and Recipes
removal guide addresses how to remove red wine stains to coffee stain
everything in between. These are tried and trusted ways of removing
stains from clothes and laundry, carpets, even wood.
Marks can often be removed successfully from upholstry, carpets, wood
and clothes if you act fast before the stains have time to become
permanent. Always follow a few simple rules and keep some basic items
in your house that will form a personal stain removal kit. Everything
here can be bought at either your local supermarket or drug store.
We cannot emphasise this more. Whatever you decide to use on stains,
you need to act quickly. A soaked in or dried stain is much harder to
remove than a fresh or wet stain. This is the same for fabrics as well
as hard surfaces like wood. Worse still, some types of stains can never
be removed if left for too long. In these situations a chemical
reaction takes place whereby a chemical reaction due to sunlight, heat
or just time bonds the stain to the surface.
Stain Removal Guide to Success
successful in stain removal you need to know 2 things:
Caused the Stain?
With regards to the cause, you need to know this, because if you don't
you could end up treating the mark incorrectly only finding that you
have made the situation worse.
If you don't know what caused the stain you then need to determine
whether it is a greasy or non-greasy stain, or a combination of both.
There are 3 types of stains:
i) organic stains such as blood, milk and
milk products, body secretions,
including perspiration, egg, fats, meat and its products etc.
ii) vegetable stains such as grass,
fruits, mildew, oils and vegetables
iii) Inorganic stains from
acids, alkalis, dust, dye, ink, medicine, minerals,
mud, paint, paraffin,
tumeric, machine grease, or machine oil
- Soap, borax and ammonia are all alkalis
- Alkalis and acids when applied to each other's stains will
- There are also combination stains that have 2 different issues, which
need 2 or more treatments
Make sure that you know your fabric, that it is colorfast (see below),
and that by treatment the colors in the fabric won't fade,
bleed or the fabric won't stretch or shrink.
Some fabrics such as silk, taffeta, satins, rayons, crepes, gabardines
and velvets are all difficult to treat.
a Combination of Treatments
You may need to use several methods to
remove the marks
as one method may not always work.
Our Stain Removal Guide's Simple Rules
Act quickly to remove the
stain before it sets in.
Blot or wipe the spill.
Rubbing may damage the fabric which may leave permanent damage, even if
you manage to remove the stain.
A quick rinse with water will
help remove most stains on washable fabrics. For non-washable fabrics
and surfaces, sponge the area with water, wetting the items as little
as possible. Use cold or lukewarm water, never hot water, as sometimes
hot water can help set the stain.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions
for washing or cleaning. If in doubt, consult an expert.
Pre-treat stains on laundry
Always test the stain remover
on a hidden area of the item first, before treating the larger area
that needs attention.
Use the weakest solution
first to make sure that there is no damage to the item.
Air dry between efforts to
remove the stain. You can also use a hair dryer but only with the
setting on cool. No not place in the sun, near a woodstove, open fire,
or radiator. Do not iron until the stain has been removed completely.
Try heating some solutions
before increasing the concentration. Warming will often increase the
effectiveness of the stain remover. However, never heat solvents.
Work on damp fabric, except
for waxy stains. Keep washable fabrics moist, if possible, until you
are able to begin the treatment. However, do not keep moist for too
long, especially if you live in the tropics as your item can then
develop mold, which is extremely difficult to remove.
Anything that is valuable to you that has become marked or
damaged, such as Persian carpets and antique furniture should rather be
treated by a specialist.
Stain Removal from Clothes and Material and Equipment Needed
If you are going to keep a stain removal kit at home is should contain
medical droppers and small syringes
Keep all stain removal kits out of reach of children. There are other
removal agents which can make up your stain removal kit.
for Stain Removal
Cornstarch, cornmeal and
talc are just some absorbent materials that work well on fresh grease
stains. Apply the absorbent material to the grease spots and allow to
absorb the grease. Brush off and reapply. Repeat until there is no more
absorption. You may need to follow up with the treatment of a solvent.
for Stain Removal
Cotton cloths, sponges
and paper can all be used to absorb spilled liquid. Make sure that they
are applied to the fabric in such a way that they absorbs any excess
liquid rather than pressing the liquid into the fabric.
Detergents and soaps
will help with greasy and non-greasy stain removal. Liquid soaps are
particularly useful as they are in a concentrated form and can be
easily worked into the dampened fabric and rinsed out.
If you get a deep seated stain you can still apply a detergent to the
area but you have to work the fabric correctly. Instead of rubbing the
material, and possibly spoiling it, hold the area between your thumbs
and bend the fabric backwards and forwards so that the fibres move
against one another. In this way the detergent will be able to
penetrate the stain and removal will be easier.
Solvents for Stain
Solvents are very useful
for getting rid of a number of difficult
stains, especially those that are both grease and non- grease-based.
Water is your best solvent for non-greasy marks. When you don't know
what has caused marks on your clothes, then rather use cold water and a
little liquid detergent. Using hot water could end up making the mark
However, for most stains water is not the best solvent for greasy
marks, or even rust as these need a chemical application that will bond
with the original stain to form another compound which is then easily
Solvents, other than water, have the ability to change the
color and look of your fabric during treatment, so great care is needed
when using. Only use small amounts.
Rubbing alcohol is used for stain removal from clothes as is benzine,
ether and carbon tetracholorine. Other than carbon tetrachloride, these
are all flammable chemicals that should be used with great care. As a
website the promotes more organic methods we suggest you look for
alternative methods that are less dangerous to your health.
One of the best natural solvents to use is eucalyptus oil.
This is perfect to get rid of grease stains; axle grease, grease from
dripping butter, and tar stains.
If you are still determined to use chemical solvents place the stain
and place a clean absorbent cloth or pad directly underneath. By
placing the stain downwards when you dab the area with the solvent you
will wash the stain away from the fabric rather than through the fabric.
Using light, brushing movements dab a small amount of solvent onto the
cloth and work the stain from the middle, towards the outer edges.
Working outwards helps prevent any rings from forming.
Avoid any hard rubbing that will damage the surface of the fabric and
sponge the outside of the spot regularly to prevent any rings or
definite edges or lines.
Change the pad or cloth used underneath the stain regularly so as to
prevent the stain from reentering the fabric once it has been washed
When using solvents do not use near open fires, gas pilot lights or any
other area that could be dangerous working with these flammable
chemicals. Work in a well-ventilated room, preferably even outside.
Keep all solvents away from children, and rinse off your skin if you
come directly into contact with them.
to Use Solvents on
Solvents can leave a
stain unless used with care. Most are flammable, and have harmful
fumes, so they should be used in a well-ventilated area. Carbon
tetrachloride is a solvent that isn't flammable and safer to use than
benzine, for example.
Firstly, scrape off any solid matter,
taking care not to damage the fabric or surface. Then, if possible,
turn over the item so that you can work from the back of the stain.
Put a pad of clean white cloth underneath
the stain to protect other surfaces. The pad will help to stop the
stain spreading and will absorb the solvent and loosened dirt.
Now soak another piece of cloth with the solvent and dab
it on the stain. Start from the outside and work
inwards. Do not flood with solvent, or the stain will spread.
Rinse off the solvent thoroughly with
water. If the item is washable wash as usual. Air non-washables
outdoors or in a well-ventilated room.
Although bleach is
probably one of the first things we reach for when
trying to treat stains, it is often not only removes the stain, but it
also damages the fabric at the same time.
To minimize the damage, don't use the bleach in metal bowls when
applying it to your fabric as metals increases the action of the bleach
and may increase the chance of damaging your clothes.
3 kinds of bleaches are recommended for stain removal:
Chlorine and hydrogen
peroxide usually remove the same stains and so
can be used interchangeably. Color removers are usually used when the
first two don't work.
Vinegar, lemon juice and ammonia also fall under this category.
Stain Removal Guide to
Other Includes in your Stain Removal Kit:
out stains, kill mildew and remove
certain dyes with bleach. Oxygen bleaches are safe for all fabrics. Use
chlorine bleaches on washable, colourfast fabrics.
Hydrogen pyroxide is a mild form of bleach
which, when diluted, can be used on silk and wool.
Borax, lemon juice, vinegar and ammonia
can also be used as bleaching agents.
Detergents are used on washable fabrics
and surfaces. On
delicate fabrics rather use soaps.
Prewash soil and stain removers are useful
stains. Use on washable fabrics before washing in the normal way.
Enzyme presoaks and bleaches are used to
remove protein-based stains such as grass stains and blood stains on
washable fabrics. Rinse well. Do not use on wool, silk, non-colorfast
or flame-resistant fabrics.
Solvents help to remove oil-based, or
combination stains. These include dry cleaning fluids, amyl acetate,
acetone, nail polish remover, paint remover and stripper. Never use
solvents with water and never put them in the washing machine. Acetone
dissolves some synthetics, so always do a sample test first.
Proprietary stain removers are designed to
remove specific stains such as felt tip pens, blood and rust. They are
available from most drug stores . Make sure that you follow the
Stain Removal Guide on
How to Test for Colorfastness
When you do a test
sample on your fabric you are trying to find out if the fabric is
colorfast. In otherwords, the fabric won't change in any way once you
treat it. So how do you do that?
First of all testing for colorfastness involves trying the remover on
an inconspicous spot, such as inside the hem of a your clothes or
curtains. Dab some of the stain remover on to the spot and then cover
with a clean white cloth. Press with a warm cloth. If the cloth shows
no trace of color, then the item is colorfast.
Homemade Stain Removal
The following recipe for
stains can be made at home with ingredients bought at your drug store.
This stain removing recipe will remove:
grease from carpets
clean men's suits
remove grease from woollen garments
old paint marks
safe for silk items
2 ounces ammonia
2 ounces white castille soap
1 ounce pure alcohol
1 ounce glycerine
1 ounce spirits of ether
2 1/4 quarts water
the soap and put it into 1 quart of water. Boil until dissolved. Heat
the balance of the water so that it is hot, and put into the pot with
the other ingredients.
Bottle the ingredients.
to stains on clothes, curtains and carpets diluted with water 50:50.
For really stubborn stains, and making sure that the items are
colorfast, you can apply the cleaning solution full strength.
Stain Removal Guide to
There are several
methods of removing blood stains. Never use hot water or soap as these
will both fix the stain.
Method 1: Take 2
teaspoons of glycerine mixed in a quart of cold water. Soak the item in
cold water until the stain turns brown. Then use soap and warm water.
Method 2: If
your item is colorfast then you can use hydrogen peroxide on the stain.
Rinse and wash as normal. Hydrogen peroxide will also remove blood from
wool, silk, linens and synthetics.
Method 3: Place
article in lukewarm salted water. Allow to soak followed by washing
with warm soapy water. Only once the blood stain has been removed
should you finish off by boiling the article.
Method 4: You
can also lift blood stains by adding a little ammonia to some lukewarm
water that you are soaking the items in. Use 1 tablespoon of ammonia to
1pint of warm water. This is for cottons and colorfast clothes, only.
Method 5: Put the article to soak at once
in cold salt water; then wash in warm soapy water and finish by boiling.
Method 6: First soak in cold water. Then soak in 1 liter
of warm water with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
Blood Stain Removal from Blankets: Apply
a paste made from raw starch and warm water. As soon as the blood
starts to discolor make a new application. You can also apply the paste
very thickly and then after it has dried, brush off. If you apply the
starch paste to both sides of the item, this works even better still.
Blood Stain Removal from Silk or Cotton:
Apply starch to the fabric immediately. Allow to dry and then wash
Hot wax can be easily
removed by placing some ice cubes in a plastic bag. Hold it against the
wax until it becomes solid. Remove carefully by either peeling it off
the fabric by bending the fabric or by removing the wax with a sharp
Remove any further stains with a grease solvent.
The first thing you need
to do in order to clean a carpet is to vacuum the carpet thoroughly
before any other cleaning.
If you don't have a vacuum cleaner you can use cold, moist tea leaves.
Sprikle the tea leaves onto the carpet and then brush well into the
carpet with a straw broom.
Cleaning carpets can also be done by throwing salt all over the carpet
and then sweep with a brush. Then go over the whole surface with a damp
cloth using 1 tablespoon of turpentine to 1 quart of water. Remember to
brush with the way of the pile, not in circular motions.
You can also clean carpets by using soap flakes and warm water to which
a sprinkling of ammonia has been added. Have a bowl of the
soap mixture ready, along with a bowl of clean warm water. Work about 2
square feet at a time with a nail brush and clean carefully. Rinse with
a cloth wrung out in the clean water.
If you want to bring back the colors to a carpet that has faded, wipe
the carpet with a vinegar solution; a cupful of vinegar to a bowl of
Homemade Carpet Shampoo Recipe
Shave 2 oz laundry soap into 2 pints boiling water until dissolved. Add
to this 2 tablespoons ammonia and 1/2 ounce washing soda.
To use, take a little of the solution and add to a bowl of warm water.
Mix to make a lather. Rub gently into a small area of the
carpet with a small brush, rinsing each section as you go by
brushing with clean water. Blot dry with a soft, clean cloth.
The same treatment for
hot wax can be applied to chewing gum. Sometimes
it is better to apply the area with direct contact of the ice cube.
Remove any further stains with a grease solvent.
There is nothing worse
than an unfortunate coffee stain just as you are
hurrying off to work. However, don't despair as help is near.
Method 1: Take the garment and
stretch the stained part over a dish or pot and fasten down so that you
are able to pour absolutely boiling water on the stain from a height of
about 2-3 feet.
Repeat several times, if necessary. To prevent the place from having a
yellowish tinge sprinkle some powdered borax over the spot after the
stain is removed and then rinse out.
if milk was in the coffee soak the clothes in lukewarm water with 1/2
cup borax added to the water. If you treat a milk coffee stain with hot
water you will set the mark rather than remove it.
Method 2: Treat with a little glycerine
to the area.
The soak in a basin of lukewarm water to which 1/2 cup borax has been
added. Leave to soak and then launder as usual.
Method 3): For synthetics, colored
cottons, silk, linens and wool you can remove coffee stains using
Remove chocolate stains by
soaking clothes in soda water before washing as normal.
Method 2) If you have white cottons and
linens you can
use a small amount of household bleach that has been diluted and
applied carefully after checking for colorfastness. Just because it is
white doesn't mean to say that it won't turn yellow when bleach is
Method 3) Chocolate marks can be
removed from clothes that are made from colored cottons, wool, silk,
linens and synthetics by using hydrogen peroxide.
Egg stains need to be
treated quickly. Remove as much of the yolk as
possible with a knife. Do this carefully without damaging the fabric.
Soak clothes in cold water for an hour before laundering. Do
not use hot water on the egg stain. This will just help set the egg
into the clothes.
Stain Removal Guide:
Fruit stains, if treated
while wet will disappear if washed out quickly
with warm water. If they been allowed to dry on the
clothes they should be sponged or left to soak for a brief
time in tepid borax solution. Use 1 teaspoon of borax to a small cupful
of water. You can use this on any washable fabrics.
Another way of getting a set fruit stain to lift is to apply warm
glycerine, followed by sponging with warm water or a mild detergent.
The glycerine can be dropped on or applied with a clean brush. You can
also use glycerine on silk and coloured fabrics.
If you have fruit stains on clothes that are of a non-washable fabric,
a glycerine mark can be steamed out instead of being sponged out, or
can be sponged with a little methylated spirits.
Take a mixture of liquid detergent and very hot water and pour it
through the clothes that have been stretched over a pot or the like to
allow the water to penetrate through the fibers. This should be done
for a height of 2-3 feet and
is made easier if the marks are first moistened with glycerine or
rubbed with borax.
Even old fruit stains can be loosen with a little
glycerine before treatment.
You can remove mulberry stains from hands
by rubbing the hands with the
Peach Stains can be removed by rubbing
glycerine over stain two or
three days before washing which will cause the stain to
Grape stains should be moistened with
vinegar and then given the
boiling water treatment. The im portant thing in stain removal is to
deal with the trouble as promptly as possible.
Stain Removal Guide:
stains on white fabric can be removed by using a paste
of cream of tartar and warm water. Grass stains on ecru, blue or other delicate colors can
be removed by using alcohol. Wipe the treated area with a
cloth moistened with a little water. Dry.
Grass stains and other vegetable stains
can be removed using molasses. Apply and leave for a while. Then rinse
off in cold water and wash in soap and warm water.
Removing grass stains from white cottons and linens: Use
Removing grass stains from synthetics, colored cottons,
silks, linens and wool: You can use either methylated
spirits or hydrogen peroxide.
Removing grass stains from white, unwashable material:
Sponge the area with pure alcohol or spirits of ether.
Heat, soap, alkalis and alcohol will all remove grease stains.
Put either cornstarch or
talcum powder directly on the grease spot.
This will help absorb as much grease as possible. After that, treat
with a solvent such as carbon tetrachloride, as per directions above.
For a machine oil stain on linen clean with gasoline followed by a
wash with white soap and cold water.
If you have old grease stains you want to lift, soften these with
turpentine before washing.
You can dissolve grease with a number of solvents such as eucalyptus
oil, carbon tetrachloride, tetrachloroethylene or hydrogen peroxide.
Cream Stain Removal Guide:
Ice cream is
particularly difficult to clean on clothes as this is a combination
stain made up of greasy milk, egg and sugar.
Ice cream marks must first be sponged with cool or tepid water to
remove the traces of the sugar and any other non-greasy
elements. Then you need to apply a grease solvent to eliminate the
greasy elements. Carbon tetrachloride is very useful here.
Stain Removal Guide:
removal from wooden furniture: Take equal parts of
methylated spirits and white vinegar. Rub the affected area. Dry off
and then polish as normal.
Stain Removal for Dry Ink:
Method 1) Soak the effected area with
lemon juice and then rub in some salt. Place in some sunshine. Rinse
and apply again until stain disapears.
Method 2) Dampen the affected area and rub
in a mixture of borax and salt. Place in sunshine, Rinse and apply
again until stain disappears.
Stain Removal for Ball Point Ink: Some
hairsprays will remove ball point ink. So
will methylated spirits. This is a mark that is difficult to
lift as there are a number of different formulas used in making
Stain Removal for Wet Ink: Soak the
affected area in sour milk, if possible, or if not, fresh
milk for 1 - 2 days. Change the milk as it becomes discolored. Clean in
cold water and
then wash as normal.
Stain Removal for Red Ink: Most red ink
marks can be re moved by using borax and water, or methyldted spirits.
Stain Removal for Fountain Pen Ink: Fountain
pen ink, if resistant to simpler methods, may respond to an application
of potassium per manganate and hydrogen peroxide.
Take a piece of soft, white
bread and rub on the lipstick stain. Repeat if necessary.
Mildew on clothes is
very difficult to lift. Tell, me! I know! I spent all of last week
trying to get mildew stains that had already gone through a wash cycle
and the tumble dryer before I noticed. Mildew is difficult to remove
too, because it is not a stain as such, but a vegetable fungus that
forms when clothes are wet and left in a warm, humid environment.
Although the shirt did not come out absolutely free from mildew in the
end, it did look a lot different after the days of treatment, and
follow up washes using my homemade laundry soap detergent
which I recommend everyone to make. Not only does it cost me a third of
the price of normal washing powder, because it contains borax as part
of the ingredients, it also helps to get out certain stains, mildew
being one of them.
I used method 1 but I did leave the shirt to soap for 3 days. Each day
washing out with some soap and trying again with the borax.
I have subsequently found other ways of removing mildew, which I haven't needed to try, but I like the last method.
Method 1: Soak mildew area in some warm
water and borax.
1/2 cup to a basin of water will do. Launder as usual. If you add borax
to your washing cycle, then you will find that over time, the mildew
will eventually fade.
Method 2: Soak clothes in full strength
lemon juice for a few hours. Lemon juice is a mild bleach that will
lift mildew that hasn't been there too long.
Method 3: Mildew on clothes can be
treated with white vinegar. Soak for a few hours and then launder.
Method 4: Remove mildew from
clothes by spreading a paste of lemon juice and starch over the spot
and place in the sunshine to dry. Rinse off in cold water.
Mix equal parts of soft soap with powdered starch, half as much salt
and some lemon juice. Brush on both sides of the fabric and leave out
in the sun until the mildew fades.
Stain Removal Guide:
Mud stains can be
difficult to remove, especially when red soil is
involved. If you have mud on carpets allow the mud to dry and then
vacuum the area thoroughly. Treat the area with a mild detergent,
blotting as you go. Do not oversoak the carpet.
Method 1: Mud stains on clothes can be
removed by treating the area with slices of raw potato. Rub the potato,
flesh-side down on the mud. Launder as usual.
Stain Removal Guide
Blot the area with an absorbent
cloth. Treat the pet stain with equal parts of water and vinegar. The
vinegar will help neutralize the smell of urine, but if you have cats,
they will continue to spray in this area, even with the vinegar. This
becomes a very hard cycle to break.
Stain Removal Guide:
If you get red wine
stains on carpets blot the carpet immediately with
an absorbent cloth. Then apply some plain water to the area, again
trying to blot the carpet to remove excess water and wine. Sprinkle
thickly with table salt. Leave for 15 minutes and then vacuum.
If marks still remain, treat the area with an ammonia solution and some
If you burn
clothes with an iron too badly, you will have damaged the fibers and
will have to throw the item away. However, if an item has only been
lightly scorched you can save the garment.
Method 1: Lightly press over the area
using a cloth
that has been dampened with
Method 2: Boil in milk and turpentine to
which soap has been added and dry
Method 3: Apply a thick paste
made of ordinary
starch mixed with just enough water to make it stick well. Let it dry
and then wash out thoroughly.
Repeat if necessary.
Method 4: For a scorch stain on linen,
rub with a
fresh-cut brown onion and soak in cold water afterwards.
Stain Removal Guide
have rust on clothes you can remove these marks by boiling the garments
in water and cream of tartar. Take 1 pint water and add 1 teaspoon
cream of tartar.
Method 2: You can also use salt and lemon
juice. Apply to area and then place in direct sunlight to dry.
First try washing with warm water and some liquid detergent.
Brown stains may remain. These should be treated with
hydrogen peroxide, or simply exposing to strong sunlight.
Method 1: For
removing urine from white cottons and sheets you can use a weak ammonia
solution. Soak for a few hours and then launder as usual.
Method 2: You can also use white vinegar,
or lemon juice and rinse out with an ammonia solution. Launder as usual.
Method 1: If
you have wood stains caused by heated dishes make a thin paste made
from olive-oil and salt. Spread it over the marked place and
leave for an hour or more, then rub off with a soft cloth.
Method 2: White rings on wood caused by spilling alcohol on the wood
and from glasses can be removed by using a mixture of toothpaste and
time to time for new updates to our homesteading website or get our
latest news via our free monthly homesteading newsletter. Sign up
below. There is
always new information being added, almost on a daily basis, just for
you! We hope to see you again!