How to Tackle 10 of the Toughest Stains
As cleaning professionals, we know a thing or two about stubborn stains. We put together a guide for tackling some common stains that will hopefully help you keep your most loved items pristine.
These tried-and-true tips will work when laundering normally won’t cut it.
Some General Guidelines
It’s always best to attack a stain as soon as possible; they’ll be easier to remove the fresher they are. If you can’t get to it right away, use stain remover on the stain and let it sit until you can treat it. And whatever you do, make sure you check every load of laundry for remaining traces of stains before drying because the heat of the dryer sets in stains.
When using stain-removing solutions, it’s smart to do a spot test on a small, inconspicuous part of the clothing, carpet, or furniture. Only proceed when you can be assured it doesn’t deteriorate or discolor the fabric.
Don’t forget to use elbow grease! Really stubborn stains sometimes require you to repeat the outlined steps. Also, these tips only apply to items that are washable at home. If the label says “dry clean only,” take heed!
And now, on to treating specific stubborn stains.
#1: The Spilled Red Wine Stain
When dealing with a wine stain on a non-washable item like a couch, it’s super important to blot – not rub – at stains. Use a clean, damp cloth to blot at the stain first. Then use a fresh cloth to apply white wine (really!) to the stain and blot again. If the stain persists, sprinkle baking soda on it and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then, brush away the baking soda with another fresh cloth.
If you spill red wine on something washable, cover the stain with salt, then stretch the fabric over a bowl or the sink and carefully pour boiling water over the stain from a height of about one foot. That should take the stain right out.
#2: The Mud Stain
Okay – there is one exception to the “tackle as soon as possible” rule, and that’s mud. With fresh mud, it’s best to let it dry so that you can gently scrape off any excess dirt particles before treating. You’ll need a solution of warm water and a little dish soap or a gentle detergent such as Woolite. Once you’ve brushed off any loose mud, apply the solution. Then, use a damp towel to remove the soap residue by blotting carefully and rinsing with cold water until the stain is gone.
#3: The Sweat Stain
Sweat stains will generally come out of clothing with the help of regular laundry room supplies. First, use a prewash stain remover and let it sit. Then, launder using the hottest water recommended for the fabric using an enzyme detergent (these usually have “Bio” in the name) plus a scoop of oxygen bleach (like OxyClean).
#4: The Coffee (or Tea) Stain
Coffee and tea stains require a little alchemy. Mix one cup of white vinegar and one cup of water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the stain then use a damp cloth to blot. Next, dab with a mixture of diluted ammonia (one tablespoon of clear ammonia in one cup of water). Finish up by blotting with a clean, damp cloth and then a dry cloth.
#5: The Grease Stain AKA The Pizza Stain
When dealing with grease, it’s best to sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch on the stain and let it sit overnight in a warm place. The powder should absorb the oil from the fabric. The next day, brush away with a dry cloth. Repeat until the stain comes out and then wash normally.
If possible, you can also dip the stain in a hot water and colorless dish soap solution for 30 minutes, then use a soft toothbrush to rub the stain in a circular motion. Finish by rinsing in hot water until the stain is visibly reduced, then wash as normal.
#6: The Grass Stain
Prewash stain remover works well on many grass stains, provided you use a clean toothbrush to work the stain. For the more stubborn stains, make your own stain paste from an enzyme detergent and water. Apply and let it sit in a warm place for about half an hour. If you can still see green, the trick is to use an eyedropper to carefully apply a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water to bleach on any remaining stain. Rinse with cold water, then stick it in the regular wash.
#7: The Blood Stain
The most important thing you can do to get rid of a blood stain is to immediately flush it with cold water (NEVER hot water – it sets in the stain!). Then dab the stain with an enzyme detergent and let it sit for about half an hour. Pull out the eye dropper and treat the area with diluted ammonia – about one cup to a tablespoon. Finally rinse and wash regularly.
#8: Permanent Marker Stain
Place a marker stain face down on clean paper towels, then dab rubbing alcohol – or hand sanitizer – onto the stain. The goal is to get the ink to transfer to the paper towel. Keep going until most of it has transferred, then rinse thoroughly before laundering.
The secret to marker stains that won’t come out lies in a product called Amodex. If the alcohol and paper towel trick doesn’t work, this will when you apply use a firm toothbrush in conjunction.
#9: The Ink Stain
First things first: stop the ink stain from spreading by walling off the stain with petroleum jelly.
Apply isopropyl alcohol with an eyedropper then dab with a cotton ball. Let it dry, then rinse with your trusty dish-soap and water solution.
#10: The Nail Polish Stain
Right after spilling nail polish on fabric, grab some paper towels to sop up the excess polish taking great care not to rub, just letting the paper towel soak it up. Acetate, or nail polish remover, works great on fabrics that are not vulnerable to flammable solvents. Not sure? Spot test a small hidden area of the fabric to make sure. Then, apply nail polish remover with a clean cloth rubbing carefully. If possible, place a clean towel underneath the fabric for this process.
What About Stains on Your Exterior Surfaces?
You may be wondering – what about the grease stains on my driveway, or the scuff marks on my sideboard? We may be biased, but we strongly believe that exterior stains are best left to professionals.
For one, professionals are able to get the job done more effectively due to years of experience and training on specific techniques. We know how to treat each surface with the care and methods needed. We also have access to newer, higher-grade equipment and cleaning solvents not available to consumers. Our unique cleaning solution, for example, is specifically designed to eliminate stains and kill mold, all while being eco-friendly and safe for people and pets.
Perhaps most importantly, tackling tough exterior stains can be dangerous for non-professionals. So many people injure themselves on a yearly basis with rented power washers, in fact, that the CDC has an entire page dedicated to the dangers.