Updated 07 May 2013

The stains of our lives

It’s inevitable. Whether you’re the cleanest or most untidy guy on the planet, at some point you’re going to stain something. And that something will be expensive.

It’s inevitable. Whether you’re the cleanest or most untidy guy on the planet, at some point you’re going to stain something. And that something will be expensive. You’ll probably panic, and instantly call Mom for a solution.

Just relax. Most common stains are easily removed with the right combination of ingredients and technique. Before you know it, she’ll be asking you to get that red wine stain out of her favourite blouse.

Zapping the everyday stain

It’s the day of that big meeting, and a possible promotion. You’ve ironed your new shirt, pressed your pants and had your jacket dry-cleaned. After a shower, a shave and some breakfast, you’re ready.

The meeting goes well, but next time you look in the mirror, you see that you’ve been sweating like a pig, and your brand new shirt has huge deodorant stains under the arms.

  • Deodorant/antiperspirant stains You need white vinegar, a liquid detergent and an enzyme detergent. Soak the shirt in vinegar for about 30 minutes, then wash the shirt in the hottest possible water for the shirts material. Alternatively, let the deodorant dry, then rub some liquid detergent into the stain, then wash normally in enzyme detergent.

Playing with your kids or your dogs on the lawn can lead to huge grass stains on your elbows and knees, and can be a difficult stain to wash out normally. A game of rugby will also turn a perfectly white pair of T-shorts into camouflage ready soldier-wear.

  • Grass stains You need bleach, detergent, stain remover, methanol or ethanol and glycerine. Rub stain remover gently into the stain, and leave for five minutes, then wash normally in hot water using bleach (colour-safe if the piece of clothing isn’t white) and detergent. Alternatively, apply some methanol or ethanol to the stain, then remove it in warm soapy water. Make a mixture of one part glycerine to two parts water, and apply to the stain. Let it soak until the stain softens, then wash normally.

Pockets are great when it comes to the matter of on-body storage space. But sometimes a leaking pen can make your pocket look like a sanctuary for angry squid.

  • Ink stains You need detergent, hairspray, rubbing alcohol and a dry cloth. Gently apply rubbing alcohol to the stain, then rub in a good amount of detergent. Wash normally in warm water, and if the stain is still there, repeat the process until it’s removed. Alternatively, apply hairspray to the stain, and rub it in with a dry cloth. Wash normally in warm water, and repeat the process if the stain persists.

A big night out with a hot babe can often lead to more than just steam under the collar. Lipstick on your shirt or jacket can be difficult to get out in just one wash, and might not be something you want to advertise.

  • Lipstick stains You need rubbing alcohol, ammonia, stain remover and hairspray. The longer the stain is left on the cloth, the more stubborn it will become. Sponge the stain with either rubbing alcohol, ammonia, hairspray or stain remover, then hand-wash in warm water.

Accidents happen all the time. You could fall down stairs, cut yourself shaving or even get into a bar fight. The point is, blood is a difficult thing to get out of fabric, and is more common a stain than you may think.

  • Blood stains You need meat tenderiser (plain), ammonia and a paper towel. For fresh stain, soak the fabric in cool water for 30 minutes with half a teaspoon of ammonia. If it has set, thoroughly rub in the meat tenderiser, covering the stain completely, like a paste. Cover the paste and the stain with the towel, and leave over night, making sure it remains damp. Wash normally the next day, and repeat the process if necessary.

Food for thought

Coffee is a great way to kick-start the morning, but will also leave an ugly brown stain on your new chinos. You shouldn’t be spilling coffee on yourself, but hey, it happens.

  • Coffee stains You need peroxide and liquid bleach. Washing the garment while the stain is still wet will remove the stain, but you don’t always have instant access to a washing machine. Soak the stained area with liquid bleach, then wash normally. If the stain is on white fabric, mix one part peroxide to six parts water and gently work it into the stain, then wash normally in warm water.

Whether you’re frying bacon, or firing up that wok, cooking oil always finds a way to splatter onto your clothing. It’s a more difficult stain to deal with, but with some perseverance, it can done.

  • Cooking oil stains You need an iron, rubbing alcohol, baby powder, two paper towels and liquid detergent. Remove all excess oil, and dampen the stain with water. Apply liquid detergent, then wash in warm water. For more stubborn oil stains, position the stain in between two paper towels, and iron the stain. This will allow the towels to absorb the stain. If all else fails, cover the stain in baby powder and leave it over night. The powder will absorb all the oil, then wash normally.

The thrill of getting stuck into an ice cold fruit juice on a hot day is polar-opposite to the complete disdain felt when half the fruit juice ends up down ones shirt. It’s sticky and it stains, but it can be dealt with.

  • Fruit juice stains You need detergent, a bar of soap, and bleach. Soak the stain in cold water, then gently rub soap on the stain. Wash the garment normally with bleach (colour-safe for non-whites) and detergent in hot water.

What would chips be without ketchup, or a hotdog without mustard? Boring, that’s what. But what’s even more boring is dripping a fat clump of sauce all over your jacket as you tuck into some tasty junk-food. The cheaper the sauce, the harder it’ll stain, but worry not – help is at hand.

  • Sauces, mustards and ketchup stains You need detergent, stain remover and bleach. Soak the stain in colour-safe bleach before washing it in warm water and detergent. If the stain just won’t go away, apply stain-remover, and wash normally in warm water.

There’s nothing quite like a full cup of red wine after a long days work. It helps to calm the nerves, and relax the mind. But sometimes accidents happen, and a half full glass of wine is now a completely empty one, all over your brand-new Persian rug.

  • Wine stains You need white wine, soda water, glycerine and salt. If the stain is still wet, cover it in salt, and rinse it off in 5 minutes – don’t rub the salt in. If the stain is older, soak it in white wine to prevent it setting, and repeat the salting process. White wine is easier to take care of. For a fresh stain, absorb as much of the stain as possible with a cloth, then soak in soda water and wash normally. For a dried stain, mix two parts water to one part glycerine, soak the stain with this mixture, then wash normally.

General tips

  • Labels exist for a reason – and it’s not just to reflect your bank balance. Some materials have specific washing instructions, and if you don’t follow them, you could ruin the garment. Always check the inside labels before washing a delicate item of any kind.
  • If you haven’t spotted the stain right away, you could be in trouble. Tumble drying or ironing can permanently set the stain, so make sure to check all your clothing before washing.
  • Always wash in the hottest temperature allowed by the fabrics inner label.
  • If stains are stubborn, don’t give up – repeating the removal process will usually work.
  • According to the severity of the stain and the nature of the fabric, soak the area for as long as possible before washing.



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