Moms know best—especially when it comes to fixing things like stained clothing.
Before beginning any treatment, be sure to place the stained area stain-side down on a paper towel to absorb any excess. You’ll also want to determine the answers to these questions before getting started:
Is the fabric white or colorfast?
- If yes, you can use regular bleach. If not, do NOT bleach!
Is the fabric/surface delicate?
- If yes, don't rub or scrub!
Is the item dry clean only?
- If yes, don't try to treat the stain yourself! Take it to a pro ASAP!
Has the stained area been previously treated with stain resistors?
- If yes, consult the manufacturer's directions before treating the stain.
Is there excess matter on the stained item?
- If yes, gently scrape it away with a table knife.
Treat the stained area with your favorite stain remover (or liquid laundry detergent also works well). Gently work the remover or detergent into the stained area, then soak in warm water for half an hour. Rinse. If you can still detect some stain, soak in a bleach solution for 15 more minutes.
2. Baby food
Add 1 quart warm water, 1 tablespoon ammonia, and 1 squirt liquid dish soap to a bucket. Dunk the item. From the reverse side of the stained area, gently rub and work the fabric with your fingers. Rinse in cool water. Soak for another 30 minutes in stain remover or liquid detergent.
Prepare a bucket of ice-cold water. Dunk the item and soak for 15 minutes. From the reverse side, rub the stained area with your fingers. If the stain isn’t completely gone, soak in stain remover for 30 minutes.
Soak a clean scrubbing sponge in rubbing alcohol. Rub the sponge across the reverse side of the stained area. Prepare a bucket with 1 quart cool water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 squirt liquid dish soap. Dunk the item and soak for 15 minutes. If the stain remains, soak in stain remover for an additional half hour.
Here, ketchup and mustard stains can be particularly stubborn. So pre-saturate the stained area with stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Then rinse and soak for another half-hour in a mixture of lukewarm water and all-fabric bleach. Rinse again. Where applicable, soak for an additional 15 minutes in a bleach solution.
6. Grass stains
Let the item soak overnight in stain remover. If the stain is not gone, repeat the stain remover soak for one more night.
Soak a clean sponge in rubbing alcohol and blot the stain directly. For stubborn stains, spray the stained area with Aqua-Net hairspray and work it in from the reverse side.
- Permanent marker: Rub stain remover or liquid detergent directly into stained area. Rinse in cool water, then soak for 30 minutes in a solution of water with all-fabric bleach.
For general makeup stains, soak a clean scrubbing sponge in rubbing alcohol. Rub gently across the stained area from the reverse side. Mix up 1 quart cool water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 squirt liquid dish soap. Soak the stained area for 15 minutes, then rinse. Then soak the stained area in stain remover for another 30 minutes.
- Mascara: For mascara stains, pre-treat the stained area with stain remover and gently work the stain with your fingertips. Then mix up a solution of warm water and a splash of all-fabric bleach and soak for 15 minutes. Rinse. Repeat as needed.
- Nail polish: Soak a clean scrubbing sponge in nail polish remover and work it into the stain from the reverse side. Repeat as needed until no polish remains.
9. Wine or juice
If you've spilled red wine or grape juice and you have white wine on hand, splash some white wine over the surface and gently work into the stained area. Otherwise, for any type of wine or juice, pour 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol into a shallow dish and add 1 tablespoon vinegar. Swirl and use a clean cloth to blot, blot, blot until the stain lifts completely away, then launder as usual.
10. Oil or grease
Treat the area with stain remover. You may want to wear gloves as you gently work the remover or detergent into the stained area. Rinse in hot water, then launder in hot water. Do not dry until you are sure the stain is gone.
Warm up your iron and press over the stained area to warm the wax (this makes it stick to the paper towel instead of your item!). Transfer the stain to another clean paper towel and repeat. Keep repeating until no more wax lifts away to the paper towel. Then use stain remover to treat the area. Soak for 30 minutes in stain cleaner, then run it through the washer on a normal wash cycle. Only use bleach for white or colorfast items.