How to get old stains out of clothes

Don’t throw your stained clothes away! Read our guide for how to get old stains out of clothes instead.

Updated 7 June 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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Key steps

  • Use glycerine to remove old curry stains.

  • Use hydrogen peroxide to remove old wine stains.

  • Use rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser or hairspray to remove old ink stains.

  • For added stain removal power and to add brightness to your fabrics, add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.

The first thing you read about removing stains is that you need to tackle them as quickly as possible, but what about removing stains from clothes that have been dried and stains set-in? Here we’ll show you how to get old stains out of clothes from three of the most common causes: curry, wine and ink. If your old stain is grease or oil-based, check out our other article on how to get old grease stains out of clothes.

While we can show you how to deal with stains that have set into your clothes, the best course of action to deal with stains is immediately to remove them.

Old curry stain removal: a step-by-step method

Indian food is one of the UK’s best-loved cuisines, but the highly pigmented ingredients can leave your clothes with stubborn stains. If you’ve found the tell-tale signs of a long-past curry night on your clothing, here’s what to do.

What you need:

  • Glycerine

  • Water

  • Detergent

  • Hydrogen peroxide

Old curry stain removal steps:

  1. 1

    Start by rubbing a small amount of glycerine into the stain. This can be done with your finger tips.

  2. 2

    Leave the glycerine to soak into the stain for 3-5 minutes.

  3. 3

    Rinse the area using cold water.

  4. 4

    Pop your clothing into the wash, using a normal cycle and good quality detergent such as Persil.

  5. 5

    If you can still see the stain after washing, soak the stained area in a mix of one-part hydrogen peroxide to nine-parts water.

  6. 6

    Leave to soak for half an hour.

  7. 7

    Rinse under cold water.

  8. 8

    Wash the clothing again, check over and leave to air dry.

How to remove old red wine stains: 7 easy steps

With these 7 steps we’ll show you how to remove old wine stains from clothes!

What you need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Washing-up liquid

  • Soft cloth

  • Water

Steps to remove wine stains:

  1. 1

    Create a homemade cleaning mixture of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and washing-up liquid.

  2. 2

    Using a soft cloth, rub the mixture into the stained area.

  3. 3

    Leave the mix to soak for half an hour.

  4. 4

    Using warm (not hot) water, rinse the area where you have treated the stain.

  5. 5

    Leave the stained area to soak in hot water for a further half an hour.

  6. 6

    Using cold wash cycle, wash your clothing in the washing machine.

  7. 7

    Check your clothing over and leave to air dry.

How to remove old ink stains from clothes: a simple guide to ink stain removal

Ever chucked a work shirt into tumble dryer, only to find that you had a pen stain lingering on the sleeve? Don’t toss it out yet: we’ve got some easy steps for how to get pen ink out of clothes after drying.

What you need:

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitiser, rubbing alcohol or hairspray

  • Cotton balls

  • Detergent

  • Baking soda

Ink removal steps:

  1. 1

    Apply the alcohol-based hand sanitiser, rubbing alcohol or hairspray directly to the stain.

  2. 2

    Ensure that the stain is fully saturated.

  3. 3

    Blot (never rub!) the stain with a cotton ball to remove as much as possible of the stain.

  4. 4

    Put your clothing into the washing machine.

    • Wash on a normal cycle.

    • Use a good quality detergent such as Persil.

    • Add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash to brighten whites and assist in the stain removal process.

    • Check the care label and wash your clothes on the hottest temperature recommended for your clothing.

  5. 5

    Check your clothes before drying. Repeat the above steps if there are still signs of the stain. You can also check out our guide on removing biro from clothes for more tips.

With this simple guide you now know how to get stains out of clothes after drying, whether they are caused by curry, wine or ink.

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