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Home / Fashion Tips

How to get rid of common clothes stains

Whether your favourite drink spilled on your shirt or your makeup rubbed off on you, stains are such an eye sore and can render your favourite garment unusable.

In order to effectively clear out a stain from any fabric, it is important to understand the type of stain as well as the fabric you wish to clean. The type of fabric will dictate the products you can use for stain removal.

Below are a few examples of stain types and tested methods of removing them from clothes.

1. Tea and wine stains

Tea contains tannins and Tannin stains are best removed using a laundry detergent. When cleansing rinse the stain in cold water first. Soak it in cold water and detergent for at least 30 minutes and then proceed to wash as you usually would.

Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, tea, coffee, real berry juices and washable ink also contain tannins and can be removed using the above method.

2. Sweat stains

White t-shirts and shirts are notorious for showing sweat stains particularly on the armpits. To remove sweat stains, you will need either white vinegar, dish detergent or baking soda.

Soak the stain in water. Prepare your stain removal solution by mixing one part water to one part white vinegar or dish detergent. Alternatively, you can mix three parts (tablespoons) baking soda to one part water to create a paste. Mix as much as you require to fully cover the stain.

Apply the above solution to the stain, ensure it’s a thick layer, and scrub with a nail brush or toothbrush. As you scrub, you can pour white vinegar over the stain carefully. This will further help to get rid of the stain. When you’re done, allow to sit for an hour and then wash in hot water, as per the fabric.

3. Oil-based stains

Oil-based stains include automotive oil, cooking oil, grease, butter, hair oil and lotion. To remove such stains, cover the stained area with dish detergent. Work the detergent into the fabric until it foams up. Rinse out the stained spot well and allow to air dry. Using artificial heat from a dryer or iron to dry the garment will set the stain into the fabric.

You can also use shampoo or bar soap to remove an oil-based stain.

4. Lipstick and foundation

If you wear makeup, you’re all too familiar with lipstick and foundation stains. To remove lipstick, apply a few drops of liquid dish soap to the stain and leave for 10 minutes. With a damp cloth, ensure its one that you don’t need to use in the future, gently start to rub off the lipstick. Be sure to turn the cloth around to avoid spreading the stain. Then wash the garment and if the stain isn’t completely gone, repeat the process.

Oil-based foundation stains are best removed using liquid dish soap. Make the stained area damp then apply the dish soap and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use a clean, dry cloth to blot out the area. Don’t rub as this will spread the stain. Rinse in cold water and if the stain is still there, blot out excess water and repeat the treatment.

5. Dye stains

These commonly occur from felt-tip pens, paint, juices and other bleeding garments. When cleaning, pre-treat the stain by rubbing a detergent directly into the stain then clean with warm water. Ensure to use a colour safe detergent for coloured garments. Maker pen stains can also be removed with isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) by gently rubbing then flushing with warm water.

5. Gravy and tomato sauce stains

These stains are known as combination stains since they are made up of more than one stain variety. Such stains should first be treated as oil stains. Follow this by applying a dry cleaning solvent such as into the spot using the spray or sponge method. Follow up by gently rubbing a heavy duty detergent prior to washing. For fast coloured clothes, chlorine bleach can be applied for tougher dye stains before washing.

Other examples of combination stains include cocoa, chocolate, tomato sauce, gravy, candle wax, crayon, shoe polish and resin. These too can be removed with the method above.

6. Chewing gum stains

Normally, chewing gum gets stuck on clothes accidentally and trying to remove it manually or through washing often worsens it. For fast coloured garments preheat in hot vinegar for a minute or three then gently remove the gum that loosens up. Repeat the vinegar preheating step until all the gum comes off. Proceed to launder or wash the garment using the hottest wash temperature designated.

When it comes to stain removal, the sooner you do it the better. Stains often get more fixed on the fabric the longer they stay on making it even harder to remove. Remember, unless necessary, hot water also makes stains more permanent so ensure you use cold water.

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