How to: Tackle Stains & Spills on Clothing

how to remove stains from clothing

Nothing is quite as annoying as accidentally spilling something down the front of your favourite shirt or jumper. Your whole day suddenly feels gloomier, but little accidents like this don’t have to ruin an otherwise lovely afternoon!

There are easy tips & tricks you can use, leveraging common household items, to help remove pesky spills and stains from your casual clothing.

However, it’s important to remember – if an item of clothing is ‘dry clean only’, which you can figure out by checking the care label, it’s safest to leave the stain alone and send it in to a professional dry cleaner.

But for your everyday clothing, you can use our concise ‘How To’ guide below to learn the best tips on how to deal with stains & spills from coffee, red wine & oil.

Coffee Stains

Coffee: it’s happiness in a cup. So how could such a wonderful beverage betray you by leaving such obvious blemishes?

cup of coffee
Unless, of course, it has ruined your favourite jumper

If you’ve ever dribbled some coffee down the front of your blouse or on your trousers, you know the immediate displeasure that wells up inside you. Now, you must either salvage the stained item as best you can or change into an entirely new outfit. Either way, it puts a damper on your day.

However, there are some simple ways to combat coffee stains that could come in handy.

1. If the stain is recent, get to a sink as quickly as possible. Remove the affected garment and run the back of the stain under cold water for 10 or so minutes – or at least until you don’t see any remaining coffee in the water. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to grab some laundry detergent.

2. Using laundry detergent (or dish soap if you’re desperate), rub a small amount into the stained area and let it sit for a few minutes. While the item is still wet, run it under cold water again to see if the addition of detergent has helped lift the stain.

3. If it’s an old coffee stain you’re dealing with, after you’ve added the small amount of detergent, you’ll need to let it soak in cold water for about 20 minutes, checking in every few minutes to gently massage the fabric with your fingers to loosen the stain.

If the stain still remains or you’d rather not risk the stain setting in with your own meddling, it’s always safest to send a coffee-stained item in for dry cleaning. This is especially true for delicate fabrics where rubbing and soaking could damage the fabric.

Wine Stains

Spilling red wine on your clothing can be as irritating to deal with as it is to remove. The dark, glaring colour of a red wine stain makes it nearly impossible to ignore.

And ignoring it is the worst thing you can do!

red wine stains

To try and remove a fresh red wine stain, you can:

1. Use club soda to pour over the stained area, letting the liquid bubble up and soak into the fabric. Continue by adding small amounts of club soda to the affected area until the colour of the red wine begins to fade.

Once the stain has faded considerably, let the item air dry. Be advised: if you want to use this method, make sure you’re not using flavoured club soda, as the dyes and sugars could worsen the stain.

2. Use salt to soak up the red wine before it can permeate the fabric. If the stain is fresh (roughly less then 2 minutes since spillage), spread a thick coating of salt over the stain and let it sit for about 50-60 minutes. Afterwards, you should be able to brush off the salt, which has absorbed the red wine.

3. Alternatively, if you’re a cat owner, you can sprinkle some kitty litter over the stain. This method works like that of the salt, but since kitty litter already contains absorbent chemicals, it can soak up even more liquid.

Within about 2 minutes of the spill, sprinkle the litter over the stain and push it down gently. Let it sit for a few minutes before removing the litter.

Pro tip: you have to act more swiftly with natural fabrics, as they absorb stains quicker than synthetic fabrics.

Oil Stains

Oil is a tricky stain to treat, as it can feel hopeless when you first see it on your clothing.

oil stain

Though it’s usually safest to let a professional dry cleaner handle, if the stain has affected an item of everyday clothing, such as a t-shirt or pair of jeans, there are some methods you can utilise to help remove the stain.

1. Gently blot the oil stain with something soft & absorbent – such as a paper towel or tissue, but be sure not to rub the stain, as that will cause it to set into the fabric.

2. Using dish soap & hot water, dampen the affected area and massage the soap unto the stain – ideally with a toothbrush you no longer use. Applying soft, circular motions, rub the soap into the stain.

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve adequately tended to the oil splotch, run it under hot water again to remove the excess soap. If the stain is no longer visible, you can then wash your item normally on the highest heat setting it can take. Afterwards, let it air dry.

3. Remember, never place an item of clothing into the dryer unless you’re sure the oil stain has been completely removed. The heat from the dryer can cause the stain to permanently set into the fabric, making it impossible to remove later.

At the end of the day, spills and stains don’t have to be a death sentence for your clothing. There are quick & easy ways to treat everyday clothing that have undergone unfortunate accidents which don’t require too much time or effort on your part.

But ultimately, the safest avenue is always to send your clothing in for dry cleaning.

Though perhaps the pricier option, dry cleaners employ professionals who have years of experience dealing with stains of every shape & size.

Remember: When in doubt, send it out.

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