How To Remove Stains (Blood, Ink, Red Wine, Rust, and Food) From Garments

Removing Stains

Most stains are best removed if treated before they are “set” into the garment in the laundering process. When stains appear on white garments, chlorine bleach is generally the go-to solution, but chlorine bleach is generally bad for fabrics—especially linen and silk—even if it is generally good for removing stains. Commercially available non-chlorine bleaches are another option. But there are less harsh and equally effective remedies for stain-removal. And when stains occur on colored garments, non-chlorine bleach remedies are generally required.

-Blood—even dried blood on white garments—is best removed by squirting hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain before the garment has been washed or saturated with water. A second application of hydrogen peroxide, along with gentle agitation of the stained area, may be required.

-Ink is best removed with isopropyl or ethyl alcohol (70% or 90%). Alcohol should be poured or squirted directly onto the ink. Thereafter, the ink-stained area should be gently agitated as additional alcohol is applied to the area. (Ink stains that have been laundered are significantly more difficult to remove).

-Red wine—even dried-on red wine—is best removed with isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. Alcohol should be poured or squirted directly onto the stain before water or any other solution, as recommended by “conventional wisdom” (such as club soda, white wine, or salt), is used in an attempt to remove the stain. Oftentimes, once in contact with alcohol, the stain will dissolve without agitation. When necessary, however, additional alcohol, assisted by gentle agitation of the stained portion of the garment, should be applied.

-Rust stains are traditionally removed with lime juice and salt; or with mild detergent with ammonia. Today, there are commercially available rust-removal products that are very effective.

-Most food-stains are best removed by soaking the stained garment for several hours is a washbasin containing a solution of hot water, transparent cider vinegar, and baking soda. Occasional agitation may be required. A paste consisting of transparent cider vinegar and baking soda may also be applied directly to the stain and allowed to “set” for at least 30 minutes, with occasional agitation, thereafter rinsing the garment in lukewarm water.

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