The Ultimate Stain Removal Guide

Stains got you down? Try these clever tips from Domestic CEO to get your clothes sparkling clean and smelling great.

Amanda Thomas
6-minute read
Episode #130

Easy DIY Stain Removal

I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not a fan of laundry - especially those annoying stubborn stains.

My maid service company in Phoenix, Arizona – Moxie Girl – offers laundry services to our clients. Although it's not my favorite part of the job, I decided that if we were going to do laundry, we had to do it right. As the years have gone by, we’ve compiled some surefire solutions to the worst stains.

And today, I want to share these laundry solutions with you.

So in the famous words of Lady Macbeth, "Out, damned spot! Out, I say!".

5 General Tips for Stain Removal

These 5 tips are a good first line of defense for all stains:

  1. If possible, always treat a stain immediately. The longer it sits, the more it sets in and becomes more difficult to remove.

  2. Always try a new method of stain removal in an inconspicuous area of the garment, in case it makes things worse.

  3. Don’t put stained clothes in the dryer or iron them. Always air dry until you are satisfied that the stain is gone. Sometimes the stain may appear to be gone when the item is still wet but then will reappear once dry. Heat sets the stain, so avoid the dryer until you are sure the stain is completely removed.

  4. If the piece of clothing is delicate or expensive, don’t chance it. Just take it straight to a dry cleaner that specializes in stain removal.

  5. Let any stain removers sit on the stain for 3-5 minutes unless specified otherwise.

8 Types of Stubborn Stains and How to Clean Them

Now, on to each individual stain that you may be facing at some point in the future:

  1. Armpit/sweat stains:  Almost everyone has to deal with this little problem, especially in summer. Here’s the solution to tackling these annoying armpit stains. Pre-soak excessively stained items in a mix of OxiClean and water. The soaking time depends on how long the stain has been there. The garment can be soaked overnight, repeating the process (without drying) until the stain disappears. Once the stains are gone, wash on a high-temperature setting. An alternative method to using OxiClean is to add two tablespoons of white vinegar and about a half cup of baking soda into about a gallon of water. Soak the sweat-stained clothes and once the stains are removed, wash according to the instructions on the label.

  2. Blood stains: Granted, this laundry stain doesn’t show up as often but when it does, it can be a bugger to remove. Did you know that simple hydrogen peroxide is the answer? Pour hydrogen peroxide on the stain and then cover it with table salt. That’s right! Just plain old salt. The salt will absorb the blood color after about 15-30 minutes. Then, just brush the salt off and wash the fabric in cold water. An alternative method is to just keep blotting the stain with a clean cloth that has been dampened with peroxide.

  3. Chocolate stains: I desperately try not to waste one morsel of chocolate on anything but my taste buds. However, children are notorious for getting melted chocolate all over themselves and their clothing. If the guilty stain happens to be melted chocolate, simply allow it to dry and harden (you can speed up this process by popping the piece of clothing into the freezer for a bit). Then scrape the chocolate off with a blunt knife. Next, apply full strength dish soap or laundry detergent directly to the spot and then wash as usual. I like to use Dawn dishwashing soap. If there is a little bit of oil in the chocolate, the Dawn breaks down the oil and removes that part of the stain as well.

  4. Tomato-based stains: Out of all the stains I’ve ever dealt with, a tomato stain is the worst. Ketchup, tomato sauce, or spaghetti sauce are the usual culprits. Here are a few different ways to handle this nasty red stain: Sponge the stain with cool water immediately. Next, rub with a lemon slice or sponge some lemon juice on the stain. Flush with water, blotting as much liquid as possible. Allow the garment to air dry completely. If any trace of stain still persists, try this next option: Pre-soak the garment in a solution of 1 quart warm water, ½ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Let the item soak for at least 15 minutes. Rinse with water and launder as soon as possible. The final method would be to blot hydrogen peroxide on the stain with a white cloth. As always, test in an inconspicuous portion of the clothing to make sure the peroxide doesn’t alter the color of the garment.


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