Tuesday Tips: removing stubborn stains


We’ve had a few emails come in lately requesting a Tips post on how to get rid of stains, and while none of us consider ourselves to be stain removal experts, we thought it would be a fun post to encourage readers to share their tips and tricks (so please do share!).

What I’ve learned is that it’s really important to treat the stain (even small ones) before you attempt to wash it in the machine, and that the sooner you treat it, the better luck you’ll have at removing the stain. Here are some other tips that quickly come to mind:

  • Soak stains as soon as you can.
  • Dish soap works well on grease stains like butter or oil, and then it’s best to wash with the warmest water that’s safe for the fabric after you’ve let the soap soak into the clothes.
  • Ice cold water is best on blood stains (and again, try to soak as quickly as possible).
  • If stains don’t come out in the wash, don’t put clothes in the dryer (that will set the stain and it will never come out after that). I usually hang-dry clothes that were stained, just to be sure the stain is out completely when dry.
  • Hanging washed clothes to dry in direct sunlight helps to naturally bleach stains (especially fruit and berry stains).
  • Lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar are natural stain removal agents that have been used for years and years.
  • According to my mum, white wine is great at removing red wine stains (who knew?!).
  • When Easton was a baby we spent a week in Paris with my family. My mom and I went to the supermarket to ask for a small container of laundry soap to hand wash some clothes and the lady handed us a bar of basic Marseilles soap and told us to wet the clothes and scrub with the bar of soap. I was skeptical, but I tried it out and it worked SO WELL. It’s a perfect laundry soap to travel with because it’s not a liquid, and it really works! (Esther and Emilie both keep a bar of Marseilles soap in their laundry rooms for this reason.)
  • For sticky stuff like chewing gum or silly putty, you can stick the clothes directly into the freezer and then pull the sticky stuff off the clothes once it’s frozen.
  • For very stubborn stains you can, of course, use a chemical stain remover like Vanish or Oxi Clean (though we usually try to avoid these harsh cleaners because they’re not good for the environment or your clothes).

I think that’s it, but again I’m really excited to see what other tips you all have up your sleeves, so please share!


p.s. Photo above is of the sink in the laundry room of my old house. Oh how I miss that laundry room! : )


Comments (12)

September 29, 2015

Thank you!
What a great post. I’ m allways happy for new tricks to treat stains.
My favorite is a bar of ox-gall soap ( which you can get in every drugstore in Germany). It really works wonders on fruit and berry stains ( like strawberries) and chocolate ice-cream. Just soak the stain for a few mins and then rinse it with cold water. If the stain’ s not removed soak it again for a while and throw it directly into the washing machine.
xxx Diana

Esther in Amsterdam
September 29, 2015

Ox-gall soap is big here in the Netherlands as well!! A very old-fashioned, natural stain remover! 🙂

September 29, 2015

I use ox gall soap for almost every stain, it works so well.

September 29, 2015

For my children’s white shorts, nothing works like soaking in vanish with boiling water from the kettle (followed by normal wash).

September 29, 2015

Yes I am a big believer in doing it ASAP. My kids and husband are used to having to take off their tshirt sat the table!! I make a paste of dish washing detergent salt and bicarbonate soda and it works every time!! For berries in summer I love pouring boiling water straight from the kettle into the stain – works brilliantlu !!

September 29, 2015

Do you know? That’s the first thing I thought of when I read this, oh, the sink 🙁 Boo!!

September 29, 2015

Another staple in my laundry-drawer ( wish I had such a beautiful room – would make doing laundry much more pleasant) :pure alcohol. It’s great to remove ballpen and markers. Just dab on the spot ( that’s where the refreshment towels from airplanes come in handy 😉) and rinse with water.

September 29, 2015

Seconding Anna’s comment above regarding boiling water and berries. And Fels naptha bars (US only perhaps?) scrubbed on grass stains and dirt as soon as possible works wonders.

September 29, 2015

what a wonderful idea of removing stain from kitchen … Thanks for sharing your views..

September 29, 2015

One awesome old trick my mum swears by, and so do is: after washing if there’s still some stain left, hang on the washing line and leave outside overnight, this seems to work particularly well if you have a frosty night!

September 30, 2015

Thanks for the tips! I have found that white vinegar is a wonderful stain removed for most things – including carpets! xxx

September 30, 2015

Salt added to water is amazing at removing blood from clothes. Always soak stains with cold water, and keep changing the cold water again and again till the stains removed once placed in the washing machine it is cooler in, for the reason a cold pre-wash can save clothes from unspotted stains.

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