Stain Removal Guide

If your fabrics and decorations are washable, the following reminders will help you get through stain removal with minimum frustration. Below are instructions for removing some of the more common stains. For best success, treat all stains within 24 hours. Older stains are more difficult to remove. Remember to check that all stain has been removed before ever drying in the dryer as the heat may set stains permanently.

Protein stains
ice cream 1. Soak in cold water to loosen protein.
chocolate milk (Hot water cooks the stain into the fibers.)
milk puddings and pies 2. Launder with regular detergent and warm water.

Tannin Stains
beer and alcoholic 1. Do not pre-treat with bar soap. (Soap sets
beverages, wine, tannin stains.)
berries, citrus 2. Launder with detergent and warm/hot water.
fruits/juices, cola and 3. If trace remains, soak in all-fabric bleach
soft drinks, coffee, tea solution for five minutes. (Or use all-fabric
(if it contains cream and bleach in wash if stain is not fresh.)
and sugar, treat as
combination stain.)

Oily stains
bacon fat 1. Spray with aerosol pre-treatment spray or rub butter with solvent or liquid detergent, then was
mayonnaise promptly in hot water with detergent.
salad dressing 2. An oily stain that sets more than a day in nylon,
or polyester or their blends will be hard to
remove.

Dye stains
felt tip pen 1. Wash with detergent and hot water; bleach,using
Koolaid the type that is safe for fabric. Follow bleach
mustard /bottle package directions. All fabric bleaches
usually can be used on colored fabrics. Liquid
chlorine bleach in dilute solution is more
powerful and effective for whites.
Combination stains

ball point 1. Treat protein portion of stain first.
chocolate 2. Treat oily portion of stain as for oily stains.
lipstick 3. Finally, bleach as for dye stains.
pine resin
turkey or other gravy

HARD-TO-REMOVE COMBINATION STAINS

Candle wax

1. Let harden; scrape off solid wax with dull knife.
2. Crack and remove as much residue as possible in dry state.
3. Pre-treat with aerosol pre-treatment spray or dry-cleaning solvent.
4. Scrub by hand using hot water and liquid laundry detergent.
5. If color remains, bleach as safe for fabric.
6. Launder. Repeat from 3 as needed.

Note: Many stain removal guides suggest ironing wax stains with absorbent paper towels to
transfer and absorb the wax. This forces the part of the stain that doesn’t transfer farther into
the yarns and fibers; it will leave an oily looking permanent spot.

Chewing gum

1. Apply ice to harden stain.
2. Scrape off excess with a dull knife.
3. Treat with pre-treatment aerosol spray or dry-cleaning solvent.
4. Scrub with heavy-duty liquid detergent.
5. Rinse in hot water, repeat from 3, as needed.
6. Launder.

Soot, smoke

1. If excess, shake off outdoors.
2. Launder in washer using heavy-duty detergent, water conditioner, and all fabric bleach.
3. Air dry; inspect for smoke odor.
4. Repeat as necessary.
5. Soot carbon particles get mechanically stuck between fibers; bleaching as a last resort may not help much.

Tips for spot treatment of stains on delicate fabrics

The aim is to confine the stain to as small a spot as possible. To do this you will need a supply of white paper towels or clean rags and one of these 3 things: a dry cleaning solvent, spot remover, or pre-treatment spray.

Follow these steps:

1. Pad the working surface with clean rags or towels that can be stained as you work.
2. Turn the stained area or spot on the garment face down over the padded surface.
3. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent.
4. Use the damp cloth to rub the stain from the wrong side. “Feather” the edges of the stain working from the outside edges toward the center to confine the stain to a small area.
5. As the stain transfers into the absorbent material underneath, move it to a different place so it has a clean spot to exit into.
6. Repeat this procedure until all traces of the stain are gone.
7. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.

Source: Jan Stone, Extension Textiles and Clothing Specialist, Iowa State University

For more information about the FCS Department
or the contents of this webpage please contact:

Tanica Bell
tbell@ag.tamu.edu
phone: (817) 884-1294
fax: (817) 884-1941

Comments are closed.