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How to get stains out of clothes: tips for removing grease, food, blood and ink

Stubborn grease stains and ink splatter ruining your favourite clothes? Not for much longer.

Updated

stained white clothing being put in washing machine to remove stain

There are so many different substances that can stain your clothes – from food and drink to ink and oil - but there are also a lot of fabric types too. Every fabric stain has a different remedy. That's why we've collected these handy stain removal tips - so you can learn everything from what takes out blood stains to how to clean polyester stains.

Wash clothes with a laundry detergent to fight fabric stains with minimal effort. You can even use these detergents as a pre-treatment - just check the clothing label and instructions on the pack first.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?

How to remove stains from clothes by different fabrics

The fabric your clothes are made from will affect how you remove a stain from it. Always check the care label for any special instructions (discover what wash symbols mean here) and try these common remedies.

How to remove stains from cotton

  • Cotton is a durable fabric, so you can use a number of techniques. 
  • Be cautious of the wash temperature as very hot temperatures can cause cotton to shrink. 
  • Read our guide on how to prevent cotton from shrinking for more advice on this.

How to remove stains from synthetics

  • There are many different types of synthetic fabric and generally they all are very durable.
  • Synthetic fabrics often respond well to detergents that contain enzymes - like Persil Bio.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach which can cause damage.
  • Check that any specific stain removers you are using are safe for synthetic use.

How to remove stains from wool

  • Many commercial stain removers will damage wool fibres. Read the instructions on the label and check before you wash.
  • Use a specific detergent designed for wool and then dry the garment flat to maintain its shape.
  • If necessary, take the garment to a professional for specialist stain treatment.

How to remove stains from silk

  • Use an appropriate detergent on silk - it's a very delicate material. 
  • Soak the whole garment to avoid water spotting.
  • Tough stains are better treated at the dry cleaners. 
  • For more advice on how to care for this delicate material, read our guide to washing silk at home.

How to clean stains out of polyester

  • Polyester is suitable for machine washing and is quite durable.
  • Turn knitted garments inside out to prevent damage from your washing machine drum.
  • If drying in a tumble dryer, choose a low setting as hot temperatures can lead to shrinkage over time.

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How to remove stains from clothes: by stain

Most of us run for the all-purpose stain remover as soon as disaster strikes - or pre-treat with our regular detergent. If this isn't possible, you can remove stains using everyday ingredients from your home; just try them on a small area first to check the results and avoid damage.

Removing chocolate stains with milk

  • First, remove any excess chocolate by putting the garment in the freezer.
  • Once cooled, scrape the hardened chocolate off.
Removing chocolate stains with milk
  • Run hot water down the back of the chocolate stain to melt it and push it through the fibres.
  • Rub washing-up detergent into the stain. 
  • Soak the garment in milk for 30 minutes to an hour.
removing blood stains with salt and cold water
  • Finish by washing as normal with your regular detergent.

Removing berry stains with ... lemon juice

  • Wash the berry stain as normal. 
  • Leave it out in direct sunlight for some time to benefit from the bleaching effect of the sun’s rays.
chocolate stains removal guide
  • If it’s a tough stain, rub lemon juice over the top or lay a slice of lemon on the stain.
  • Rinse, dry, and repeat if necessary.

Removing tomato stains with vinegar

  • Soak the tomato stain for 30 minutes in neat white vinegar (one to two tbsp).
remove oil stains from dishwasher liquid
  • Rinse, and then rub detergent directly into the stain before washing on a cool cycle.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Removing ink stains with hairspray

  • An ink stain can be tricky to remove. 
  • Soak the area in an alcohol-based product, like methylated spirits or hairspray.
removing tomato stains with vinegar
  • Dab at the stain with an absorbent cloth until it fades.
  • Then, wash as normal.

Removing oil stains with dishwashing liquid

  • Oil and grease stains can benefit from a squirt of dishwashing liquid or washing detergent.
  • Apply directly and rub in.
  • Wash clothes on a hot cycle afterwards and repeat if necessary.
  • Do not dry before the stain is fully removed.
  • If you need to know how to get fresh grease stains out of clothes, absorb excess moisture using cornflour first.

Removing blood stains with salt

  • Time is of the essence when learning how to remove blood stains from clothes: the sooner you can treat it, the better.
  • Create a paste with salt and cold water.
  • Rub directly onto the stain, ideally within 10-15 minutes of the stain occurring.
  • Rinse with cold water (not hot) and repeat as necessary.

There you have it, with these easy-to-follow tips stain removal should be a breeze!

Originally published