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Your Guide to Stain Removal

There are simply some stains that seem impossible to get out, or to remove entirely from clothing, or any other household item that is associated with the interior or exterior of a home.

With that in mind, there are easy and practical ways to remove stains without rushing to a dry cleaner, calling in a cleaning service or using harsh chemically laden stain removal products. So, just what kind of stain removal combinations should a person use to remove stains from a variety of items?

Surprisingly, there are a number of stain removal solutions right under your sink or in your kitchen cupboard, pantry or laundry room. Just take a look, and you'll be surprised at what you find that can probably be of help in removing those stains.

Armpit Stains

Nobody likes to think about armpit stains on clothes, especially on special shirts, tops and blouses, or even everyday items like t-shirts that can really show dried perspiration stains and white residue from deodorants and anti-antiperspirants. If you want to know how to remove armpit stains, here are some quick and likely handy combinations to do just that.

  • Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with about a 1/4 cup of warm water. Create a paste and spread it over the stain. Let the mixture absorb and carefully rub it into the stain. Allow it to remain on the garment for at least a half hour to an hour. Rinse and machine wash.
  • Soaking stained underarm fabric areas in tepid water and white vinegar
  • Making another type of paste with baking soda and vinegar, which can be left to soak into the fabric for a little less than a half hour, then rinsed and laundered.

Blood Stains

Removing blood stains can be tricky, as removal should happen fairly quickly, as once it is absorbed and dries, blood can be difficult to remove. So, if you want to know how to remove blood stains, there are several ways to do it.

  • Sponge with a limited amount of very cold water as soon as possible. Then tap the area with a dampened cloth, and finally blot dry with a clean dry cloth. Continue in this order until little if any blood remains.
  • Dealing with blood stains can also be a problem with white clothing, and a stain remover for white clothes is important to have on hand whether for removing blood or other stains. White clothing stains can be removed with:
    • a vinegar and warm water solution
    • a mixture of lemon juice, salt and water  
    • the use of hot water for machine washing if the fabric can withstand it
    • oxygen based boosters or baking soda

Thicker and Synthetic Fabric Combinations

If you are dealing with blood stains on area rugs, carpeting or furniture fabric, you may wish to use different materials to keep them color safe. A safer alternative is a combination of a tablespoon of dish soap and about two cups of cold water. Lightly dab at the stain until it diminishes. Repeat the process if necessary. Finally tap or sponge the area with cold water and blot it dry with a clean cloth. Also, any soap product that contains enzyme fighting power can be effective with blood stain removal.

Mustard and Ketchup Stains

Most anyone knows that mustard stain removal as well as ketchup removal can be a real challenge. What is the best way to deal with either one?

  • White Vinegar is a catch-all for so many stains, and mustard stains are no exception. Simply take dish detergent, about 1/2 teaspoon, add a couple of drops of vinegar and mix it together with a 1/2 cup of water. Let the mixture soak into the stain and then rinse it out with hot water. Machine wash once the stain has been removed.
  • Rubbing alcohol and dish soap make another good combination for removing mustard stains. Combine several squirts of dish detergent along with a small portion of rubbing alcohol. Place the mixture on the stain and let it soak in for about 8-10 minutes. Don't allow it to dry. Rinse the area with hot water and machine wash.
  • Ketchup is that other condiment, which if it causes a stain should be taken care of quickly. The first thing to do is wipe away as much ketchup as possible from the area and then get the clothing item to a sink and faucet. Turn the stained item inside out and run or spray cold water trough the stain from the back of the garment.
  • Another solution is to treat the stained area with liquid laundry soap and allow it to set for a few minutes. Again, apply the soap through the back side of the garment. Rinse the soap out and then blot the stain with white vinegar. Rinse again. Repeat the same steps until the stain is removed. Finally, machine wash the garment.

Other Stains

There are other culprits that can create hard to remove stains. They include coffee, tea, red wine, fruit juices, oil related products and makeup. There are remedies that work to alleviate these stains that include:

  • Using white chalk to absorb oily stains
  • Using white wine, salt, club soda, milk or even kitty litter for combating red wine stains
  • Running cold water through the back of fabric stained by coffee, or using liquid laundry soap or liquid dish detergent to remove coffee stains
  • Spraying tea stains with a mixture of vinegar and water
  • Soaking fruit juice stained clothing in white vinegar combined with dish soap or using lemon juice on juice stains and allowing the clothing item to dry in the sun
  • Using a grease fighting liquid detergent soap when removing foundation, mascara, blush, lipstick and eyeliner products from clothing
  • Hairspray can also be used to remove foundation and liquid lipsticks and glosses from garments.

Just remember that not every stain is going to be alleviated with more simple "at home" solutions, particularly if a clothing item is specifically marked as dry clean only, is susceptible to spotting or fading or simply cannot be washed. In any of these situations, it is better to err on the side of caution rather than ruin a clothing item.