Out, damn'd spot! out, I say! - A guide to ridding your clothes of obstinate stains February 17, 2017 14:34

Stains - We have seem them all - Here is a list of some of Ruby&Sofia's go to stain removers

And there it is! How did it get there? More importantly, how will you get it out?

Stains, they show up out of nowhere, unannounced and refuse to leave.  What now?

Before you chuck that brand new worn once small mortgage payment clothing item in the bin, know there is hope, hope to save that most expensive garment for just pennies with items you may already have in your house.

The war on stains - patience is a virtue

Unless it is fresh and you are able to treat it immediately, most set in stains will require some patience and depending on the stain, you may require the patience of a saint.  For example, I had a white blouse with an origin unknown stain that I expected to react immediately to my stain treatment. It did not, even with my impatient rubbing it was not budging.  It did not even lighten and I was certain it would not come out and therefore assumed that the bin would be receiving a new clothing item.  I was leaving for the weekend and forgot that I had left the blouse sitting in the bowl of soapy water & stain removing agent, upon my return 3 days later, I pulled the top from the water and the stain was nowhere to be found, it had evaporated without a trace and from this unexpected lesson in patience, I realized that some stains just need time, not rubbing, to be coaxed out of the fabric.

What should I use to remove that stain?

I have many go to stain removers and also have washed many ‘dry clean only’ clothing items (tread carefully here, but I do find that the majority of dry clean only items can be washed by hand and air dried or rolled dry in a towel). One of the best and most economical general stain removers that I recommend is one that I buy from the 99c Store - Soilove –

This little Green bottle has removed a multitude of unknown stains from clothes and all for the cost of pennies, literally.  I have used it on Cotton, Cotton Blend, Silk, Polyester, Linen, Wool & Rayon, to name a few – I have only ever had one adverse reaction to Soilove, it lightened the dye on a silk blouse. It was minor and not immediately noticeable, but it did and so I am saying – other than this, Soilove has saved many clothing items and is always my first go to. When Solilove does not work, what next?

Bubbles of oxygen blow away stains 

Hydrogen Peroxide – something most of us already have in our medicine cabinet and is relatively inexpensive – again, I buy mine from the 99c store.

This little brown bottle, on its own or combined with other agents, has removed set in decade old blood stains, sweat stains & red wine stains from a myriad of fabrics.

Depending on the depth and age of the stain, you may have to use it several times and patience is a virtue when removing old blood stains, leaving the stained item soaking for several hours, and in most cases, HP will considerably lighten if not completely remove blood stains . 

With regard to yellow arm pit stains, in my experience, HP alone has little effect on yellow arm pit stains, but by combing it with a little ammonia I have been able to remove yellow pit stains from a silk dress! (Again, tread lightly here and make sure you are in a good ventilated area whenever combining any agents, wear gloves if at all possible or wash your hands immediately). But if the armpit stain is that bad, what do you have to lose by trying this method. To remove yellow pit stains, let the stain soak in a mix of 75/25 HP/Ammonia and a little warm water for several hours – I must admit, I was amazed.  The Armpit stain was not completely removed, but enough so that the dress was wearable without notice.

Stop whining about the wine stain

A mix of HP & Dawn Dishwashing Liquid has proven successful in removing red wine stains from carpets and clothing alike or combine Hydrogen Peroxide with Baking Soda and you can really see some red wine stain removing action occur by virtue of Oxygenation ( this method also works on other stains as well)

Spotty Whites

Please do not reach for the bleach! Depending on the fabric mix, you will most likely add yellowing to your already stained item.  Bleach works ok on 100% white cotton items, but does not always remove the stain.  And if the item is a blended cotton, bleach will only succeed in yellowing the item. If you have a white clothing item with a stain, try using White Vinegar.

Firstly, wash the item with a mild detergent and then let it sit in the bowl of soapy water. Raise the stained area so that it sits slightly proud out of the water and spray it with vinegar and let it sit.  Return to the bowl occasionally and repeat the spray process over the next several hours.  I was able to remove a set in curry stain from a lace pair of shorts using this method and some patience

And if you would like to hurry the process along, try adding some baking soda to the vinegar, make a paste and rub the mixture into the stain, let it sit and occasionally spray the area with more vinegar. If by Chance you did reach for the bleach and now have yellow bleach stains to contend with as well, spray the area with Vinegar and let it sit and you may just save the garment yet.

Oh no! Grease stains

Grease manages to find its way onto clothing even when you have not been near grease!  Set in grease is near impossible to remove, but I have had some success by using Dawn Dish washing Liquid and Hot water

Saturate the grease stain with the Dawn liquid, let it soak in and then spot run the hottest water the fabric can manage and this should break up the grease, lesser so if it is old or set in, but it is worth the effort. Either it will come out or it won’t

Borax is also a good choice for grease stains.  Combine it with Dawn to make a paste, rub into the stain and then add it to the hottest wash water the fabric can manage and let it soak.

Freshly stained and still wet

If you have a just made stain in the works, try covering it with salt. Salt has the ability to absorb the stain pulling it away from the fabric, cover, absorb, brush off then launder – baking soda is great for this same action on leather goods.

On double knit fabrics or heavier stains, make a mixture of salt & ammonia and dab onto the stain, let it sit for about 30 minutes and then wash the garment in the warmest wash the fabric will tolerate,

You can also use salt as an agitating agent to help rub out stains.  Combine the salt with the stain removing agent and rub as much as the fabric will tolerate without breaking the threads

Not so invisible Ink stains 

So you have an ink stain and you don’t even recall touching a pen – Fear not, Hairspray is not just for Hair.

I have removed the deepest darkest ink stains using hairspray & water. Soak the ink stain with hairspray, rinse with warm water and repeat until you don’t see any more ink in the rinse water – this method has saved many articles of clothing over many years

My clothes have a headache of stains

When you have a headache you reach for the aspirin, when you have a headache of a stain, reach for the aspirin.

 Aspirin is great at removing yellow armpit stains as long as they are not too old and too set. Take 5 or 6 crushed aspirin tablets and add them to a bowl of warm water and let the item soak overnight,  this should lighten if not remove those horrid yellow pit stains caused by your deodorant. You can also make a concentrated mix and rub the mix into the stain add some warm water and let sit for as long as possible without drying (add more water if need be) and then launder as instructed.  Aspirin is salicylic acid which is an agent that breaks up protein stains, so use this method on any protein based stain to help remove the stain

Not for the faint of heart

As with everything in life, choose wisely.  If you are unsure and/or it is a very expensive item, then your first port of call should be with a professional.  But, if you feel that you have nothing to loose or confident that the fabric can handle the process, then by all means, try and remove that stain yourself.