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Your Guide to Stain Free Clothes

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You do not have to throw your new T-shirt away because that stubborn ice cream or ink spot again. In this article, we will show you the most effective steps to get over the most popular stains and the science behind it.

It is very important to note that there is no one technique or one magical product that can remove every stain ,but if you have the right information and supplies, then removing spots and splatters is going to be more easy and straightforward.

Before we start, you should keep in mind these golden rules:

  1. The sooner you act the better. If you were at home, then start removing the stain right away. If you were out the moment a stain has happened, then use outdoor stain removal like sprays, stain pens or wipes if you have one in your purse. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to wet the stain using water or ice cube from your drink. Afterwards, when you get back home try to remove the stain immediately.
  2. Before drying the laundry, make sure that the stain has gone off the washed item while it is still wet, because the heat from the drying process (sun or dryer) could make the stain permanent. If it is still visible, try to remove it again with the same or another technique then wash again.
  3. When you use a product to treat a stain, you should work starting the edges of the spot toward the center, not the other way around. Because rubbing toward outside the spot may spread the stain even more.
  4. If the stain is on a light color garment, don’t use any darker cloth to rub it.

Now let’s look at the main types of stains:

  • Dye stains:

Dyes and pigments found naturally in fruits and vegetables and it’s apply to tea, coffee and ink. This type is the easiest one to remove if they treated immediately; otherwise, they will set in the fabric and will be hard to come off. You should avoid using natural soap products on this type because it can make them even worse.

  • Protein stains:

Caused by organic compounds such as blood, vomit, sweat and eggs. Some protein stains have very long molecules and must be broken apart into shorter “chains” before the stain can be properly removed. Use alkaline stain-removal solutions or enzyme presoak products to break the protein down. Also, be aware not to use hot water since high temperature will coagulate the protein and make the stain more difficult to remove.

  • Combination stains:

They are a combination of the other types of stains like sauces (ketchup, barbecue, hot sauce) or makeup (lipstick, eye shadows, foundation). Scrape off any excess then try to remove the stain. In this case, you may follow more than one method, for example for a sauce spot, you should first get rid of the grease, and then you can work on the dye stain.

We will introduce the most effective methods to remove popular stains in this chart:

Stain How to Remove
Fruits and vegetables

(juice, jam)

This is a dye stain, so don’t use natural soap products. Spray the area with diluted dish-washing solution to remove any traces of sugar, and then put some drops of white vinegar on the spot directly to remove dye, pre-soak in enzyme solution for 30 minutes then launder. If any traces of sugar remain on fabric, it will caramelize into a brown spot after heat drying or ironing.
Ice cream and other dairy product This is a protein stain. First scrape off any dried matter, and then soak in cold water with enzyme solution or dish-washing solution for couple of hours to break proteins, launder. If a colored stain remains, launder with bleach safe for the fabric.
Grease

(oil, butter, mayonnaise)

Treat with dry solvent (such as mineral spirits or acetone) in good ventilated room. Using an eyedropper, put some drops of rubbing alcohol on the stain, let dry. Spray with diluted dishwashing soap; soak in enzyme presoak product before laundering.
Protein

(eggs, blood, vomit)

Spray the area with diluted dishwashing-soap solution, let stand for some time and wash. If it is still visible, soak in enzyme detergent then launder.
Grass This is a combination stain (chlorophyll dye and protein). Treat with dry solvent (such as mineral spirits or acetone) in good ventilated room, dry with cloth and try to get as much dye as you can, then soak in cold water with enzyme solution or dish washing solution for couple of hours to break proteins, then launder.
Mud This is a protein stain. First scrape off any dried matter, and then soak in cold water with dish-washing-soap and white vinegar for 15 minutes, and then rinse. If a stain still visible, try rubbing alcohol and a sponge, rinse and launder. You can per-soak in enzyme solution if you need to.
SAUCES

(tomato, ketchup, barbecue)

This is a combination stain. First scrape off any sauce, and then soak in cold water with dish-washing-soap and white vinegar for 15 minutes, and then rinse. If a stain still visible, Try a paste made of enzyme detergent and water, launder.
Tea and Coffee This is dye stain, but if milk, cream or creamer was added to the coffee or tea, then it is a combination stain. To remove dye put some drops of white vinegar, then spray with diluted dish washing-soap to remove any traces of sugar or milk if any and launder with enzyme detergent. You can try baking soda and water solution instead of white vinegar.
Wax and gum Use an ice cube or put the garment in the freezer to make the wax or gum more solid and try to remove as much matter as you can of the fabric. Remove any residue with mineral spirits or acetone, rinse with rubbing alcohol, let dry, treat with enzyme detergent and launder.
Ink (water based) Ink base test: saturate one side of cotton swap with water and the other with alcohol, test on the ink spot, if the water side is more effective, then it is a water-based ink.

Spray with diluted dish-washing-soap, rinse with cold water and launder.

Note: some types of ink are (permanent) and maybe impossible to get rid of.

Ink (Oil based) Ink base test: saturate one side of cotton swap with water and the other with alcohol, test on the ink spot, if the alcohol side is more effective, then it is an oil-based ink.

Treat with dry solvent (such as mineral spirits or acetone) in good ventilated room. You can also treat with hairspray or glycerin, put a piece of cloth under the treated area to absorb the ink, launder with enzyme detergent.

 

Resources:

http://www.sheknows.com/home-and-gardening/articles/8153/stain-removal-smarts-how-to-get-stains-out-of-your-clothes

http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf3/stain_removal_basics.pdf

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