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Foolproof Stain Removal Tricks for Every Kind of Stain

Foolproof Stain Removal Tricks for Every Kind of Stain

I think that every one of us has experienced that sinking feeling when we realise that we’ve landed in or spilled something that will undoubtedly leave a stain. Whether that’s red wine on a tablecloth, grass streaks on knees, or a smear of mustard, ketchup, chili, and sauerkraut on your shirt from the filth-dog you bought for lunch, there’s a deep resignation at the fact that that stain’s never going to come out.

There are a few tricks to getting out stubborn stains, but remember that the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to get out. If you forget about the stain for a few weeks, or put the clothing item through the wash without specifically treating the spot, it’ll be a lot harder to get rid of. One thing to remember: whenever you try to get a stain out, always blot it (press at it) gently—never, ever rub at it to get it out. If you do, you’ll just grind the stain deep into the cloth fibres and it’ll be there forever.

Grass Stains

grass image

    Did you manage to turn your knees green while working in the garden? Or did your kid decide to slide down a hill on their face? Either way, you’ll have to get those green streaks out of your clothes as soon as possible. Grass one of the more difficult stains to contend with, but it’s not impossible to get it out.

    Never use ammonia to remove a grass stain, as it’ll just set the stain instead and make it permanent. Rubbing alcohol is a far better choice, as it’ll help to dissolve the chlorophyll’s lovely green pigment. If you’re using rubbing alcohol (aka isopropyl), daub it into the stain full-strength, let it air-dry, rinse it with alcohol, and repeat. Then work some liquid dish detergent into the stain and launder the piece as you usually do. Repeate the process as needed until the stain’s out.

    You can also use regular white vinegar in lieu of rubbing alcohol, but it may not work as effectively.

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    Red Wine Stains

    red wine stain

      As soon as you spill wine, flush it with water or club soda, blot out as much as possible and then douse a bunch of salt on the stain: the salt crystals will soak up the wine, thus removing the worst of the staining properties. Launder the item as usual as soon as possible.

      If you’re dealing with an older wine stain—like, on a shirt or dress that you tossed into a corner and forgot about—stretch the fabric over a bowl and pour boiling water through the stain. It should loosen things up enough to remove the stain particles, and then launder it as usual.

      Blood Stains

      blood stain

        Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of a nosebleed, or an unexpected early period, blood is always difficult to get out of clothing.

        For fresh blood stains, blot the item with a cold, wet washcloth, rinse it thoroughly with cold water, and then let it soak in a very cold saltwater bath for several hours. If that doesn’t get the stain out, you can treat it with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, then rinse with cold water again, and put it through a laundry cycle as usual.

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        For old, dry blood stains, use the peroxide technique first—you can even repeat it a couple of times if necessary. Milk also seems to do a lot of good on older blood stains; just be sure to immerse the entire stain in milk and let that steep for a couple of hours before throwing it in the laundry.

        *Note: when dealing with blood stains, do not throw the item into the dryer until the stain is out, or it’ll set permanently.

        Oil Stains

        oil stain

          Engine grease, cooking oil… regardless of what kind of oil you’re dealing with, this is one of the most difficult stains to get rid of. Grease tends to burrow its way into fabric fibres, and it’s difficult to coax it out of there once it’s comfortable. If you can catch the stain when it’s fresh, you have a greater chance of removing it, so act quickly if/when this happens.

          If you get a little bit of oil onto your clothes, blot the spots with paper towel or tissue to get as much out as possible, and then grab a stick of chalk if there’s one nearby. The chalk needs to be white—the kind that’s used for blackboards—and you’ll use it in strong strokes working from the center of the stain outward. Be sure to cover every last bit of the stain, and then launder the item as quickly as possible. If there’s no chalk within easy reach, you can do the same trick with a bit of dish detergent as well: the liquid kind, not the powder that’s used in dishwashing machines.

          In a pinch, you can also use talc/baby powder or baking soda in lieu of chalk or detergent, but they won’t work as well.

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          Coffee/Tea Stains

          coffee stain

            The tannins in coffee and tea make rather spectacular stains if you don’t catch spills immediately. If you manage to douse yourself in coffee (or leave a ring on your favourite tablecloth), blot out as much liquid as you can and run the stain under cold water immediately afterward, then put the item to soak in cold water for a few hours. If the stain hasn’t lifted sufficiently, you can sponge it gently with detergent, soak it again, and then wash it as you usually do.

            *Note: if your coffee had cream in it, then it’s a combination stain—cream has a fair bit of oil in it, so you’re going to have to deal with things on two levels. First you’ll blot out as much liquid as possible, do the liquid detergent bit, and after sponging that away, hit it with chalk. Repeat if necessary.

            Deodorant Stains

            deodorant

              If you use deodorant or antiperspirant, you’ve likely had to deal with those charming white stains around the armpits of some of your clothes. Strangely enough, rubbing those stains with dryer sheets seems to lift them out really well. Of course, the dryer sheet trick only really works for fresh stains; for older ones, soak them overnight in a 2:1 solution of white vinegar : water, and then launder as usual.

              If you’re dealing with yellowish underarm stains on white clothing, make a thick paste of baking soda and water and spread that all over the stain. Let it sink in and dry overnight, and then pour full-strength white vinegar over it in the morning. That should foam up gorgeously to remove most of the stain, and you can then rub a bit of laundry detergent into the area and wash as usual. You can repeat the baking soda step a couple of times until the stain’s completely gone.

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              *Note: the baking soda trick also works for “ring around the collar” on men’s light-coloured dress shirts.

              Lipstick Stains

              lipstick stains

                Another fabulous combination stain, lipstick is a tricky beast to get rid of. Ideally, you’ll want to wipe it away with one of those wet wipes people use on babies’ backsides, but if you don’t have one of those handy, you can use a washcloth dipped in rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol.

                Urine Stains

                urine stains

                  If you’re dealing with stubborn pee-stains, hopefully it’s because the puppy you’re house-training has had a couple of slip ups, and not that your housemate came home completely hammered and mistook your closet for the ‘loo.

                  If you come across a urine patch while it’s still wet, blot up as much as possible with a clean cloth or a handful of paper towels. Hey, use a ShamWow if you have one—those things are genius.

                  More…

                  stain removal infographic

                    Infographic by Partselect

                    More by this author

                    Catherine Winter

                    Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

                    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

                    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

                    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

                    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

                    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

                    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

                    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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                    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

                    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

                    The result: no more mental stress.

                    2. Unplug

                    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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                    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

                    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

                    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

                    3. Easy on the Caffeine

                    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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                    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

                    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

                    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

                    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

                    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
                    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
                    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

                    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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                    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

                    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

                    The result: mental stress will be gone!

                    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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                    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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