Ten Stubborn Stains and How to Remove Them

Spilling something on your favourite top or finding an annoying stain in a prominent place on your clothing are both really annoying. A quick wipe with a damp cloth works wonders on some stains, but others are exceedingly annoying to remove. Stains can be a real pain, but in the majority of cases you can minimise the long-term damage by acting quickly. The following 10 culprits are all known for their stubbornness, but here are some practical tips on how to get them to vanish from sight, leaving your clothes looking like new!

  1. Red Wine – Often regarded as the number one nightmare stain, red wine can effectively be removed if you’re in the know and act quickly. First, put a handful of salt onto the stain – the idea is that it will absorb the colour, so watch to see if your salt turns a shade of pinky red. Next, immerse the garment in cold water and add biological detergent. Soak it overnight, or for as long as you can, then wash the item as normal.
  2. Beetroot – Delicious to eat, but a nightmare to remove, the purple stain of beetroot is a real eyesore. If possible, treat the stain as soon as it occurs by immersing the garment in a bowl of cold water. Dissolve a few squirts of washing up liquid in the water and rub the area gently with your fingers. If you do this straight away and it’s not too bad a stain, it can work wonders. However, if the stain doesn’t budge, try soaking it in warm water with some biological detergent.
    In the case of a beetroot stain being on clothes that are dry clean only, first dab the stain with a tiny amount of cold water. If that doesn’t work, take it to the dry cleaners and leave it to their expertise.
  3. Chewing gum – This pesky menace is a real pain when it comes to sticking to clothes. If you find yourself with a chewing gum nightmare, put some ice cubes in a small plastic bag and place it on the clothes where the gum is. If it’s practical (and you’re able to remove the said item of clothing) put the clothes into the freezer to harden the gum. Once the gum is hard, it should be easy to pick up and shouldn’t leave any stains.
  4. Grass – These tell-tale greeny brown stains are frequently found on children’s clothing and particularly show up on lighter coloured fabrics. When you find the stain, soak the clothing in warm water and add some biological detergent. Leave for a while and then check on the stain. If it hasn’t been properly removed, some people recommend using a dab of methylated spirits to remove the rest.
  5. Smashed pomegranate with juices flowing
  6. Fruit juice – It’s amazing what annoying stains a few drips of fruit juice can leave behind. As soon as you can, immerse the clothing in cold water and leave until the stain comes out. If it doesn’t all seem to go, then put it in warm water containing a drop of biological detergent. Finally, give the item a thorough wash.
  7. Beer – This one requires a little bit of maths. Get some distilled white vinegar and dissolve one part white vinegar with five parts of lukewarm water. When the mixture is fully dissolved, sponge it gently onto the affected area of the fabric, then rinse it off in cold water. Next, soak the item for a while in warm water and biological detergent, before rinsing off. Finally, wash the clothing thoroughly as normal. For items that are dry clean only, you can try using a tiny amount of the white vinegar mixture, but otherwise you’re best off taking it to be professionally dry cleaned.
  8. Hair dye – Do-it-yourself home hair dye kits can be great, but aren’t so thrilling if you accidentally drip any of the dye on your clothing. It’s really important you deal with this type of stain as soon as possible, as because it’s a dye, it does run the risk of leaving a permanent stain. So, soak the item immediately in cold water, rubbing the stain with a sponge soaked in washing up liquid. Ideally, this should remove the bulk of the stain, but if any remains are lingering behind, you can soak the clothing overnight in warm water containing biological detergent. Even though the stain may then be removed, wash the garment as normal.
  9. Nail varnish – Nail varnish can be a real pain to remove. Some people recommend using a non-oily nail varnish remover and applying it gently to the underside of the fabric, rather than directly on the stain itself. Be careful though, as it doesn’t suit all fabrics, so try and test it first by dabbing a tiny bit on the hem of the garment. Once you’ve applied the nail varnish remover, wash the item as normal. This won’t work on items that aren’t washable though, so take them to the dry cleaners.
  10. Blood – This is another stain that’s best treated as soon as possible, as it’s much harder to get out once the blood has dried. Put the item in a bowl of cold water, gently rubbing the stain with your fingers. Ideally you should see the water turning red as the stain comes out. Keep changing the water and keep gently rubbing the stain. Some people recommend adding a few sprinkles of salt into the water as well. Once the stain has fully disappeared, wash the item as normal.
  11. Sauce or KetchupMan eating hamburger with tomato sauce dripping – Sauces, such as tomato sauce, can linger for longer than you’d like if you don’t act quickly. First, dab off any excess sauce or ketchup, particularly if the stain has just occurred, then rinse the affected area under cold running water. Next, pour some washing-up liquid onto a sponge and soak the item in warm water, slowly dabbing at the spot with the sponge. If the stain is ultra pesky and won’t move, try dabbing it gently with methylated spirits. Finally, wash the item as normal.

By Rachel Newcombe
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(Related Categories: Stains, Repairing & Restoring)