FAQs on Common Laundry Stain Removal

There’s nothing worse than a beloved article of clothing with a stain. From grass to sauces to paint to “potty” messes, these ugly and dirty marks are a nuisance and, in some cases, a health hazard.

Don’t fear, though. We’ve developed a handy guide here for you to use to remove just about any stain life can throw at you! Check out the following tips.

Cosmetic / Personal Care Stains

How to Remove a Cosmetic or Makeup Stain
  1. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  2. Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  3. If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Deodorant Stain
  1. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  2. Use appropriate bleach.
  3. If fabric is discolored, try to restore it by treating fresh stains with ammonia or old stains with vinegar.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Nail Polish Stain
  1. Place stain face down on paper towels.
  2. Sponge with nail polish remover until stain disappears.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.
  4. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  5. Do not use nail polish remover on acetate or Arnel fabrics. Send them to a drycleaner.
How to Remove a Perfume Stain
  • Sponge promptly with cold water or soak in cold water.
  • Pretreat remaining stain.
  • Launder with appropriate bleach and hottest water safe for fabric.

Food Stains

How to Remove a Baby Formula Stain
  1. Soak in warm water.
  2. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  3. Use appropriate bleach.
  4. If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Chocolate Stain
  1. Sponge promptly with cold water or soak in cold water.
  2. Pretreat remaining stain.
  3. Launder with appropriate bleach and hottest water safe for fabric.
How to Remove an Egg Stain
  1. Scrape off excess with a dull knife.
  2. Soak in cold water.
  3. Pretreat remaining stain.
  4. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
  5. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove a Fruit or Fruit Juice Stain
  1. Sponge promptly with cold water or soak in cold water.
  2. Pretreat remaining stain.
  3. Launder with appropriate bleach and hottest water safe for fabric.
How to Remove a Gum Stain
  1. Rub stained area with ice.
  2. Remove excess gum carefully with a dull knife.
  3. Use a pretreat product.
  4. Rinse.
  5. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
How to Remove an Ice Cream Stain
  1. Soak in warm water.
  2. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  3. Use appropriate bleach.
  4. If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Ketchup Stain

It doesn’t matter what you call it: ketchup, catsup or a tomato product. The result is usually always the same, a stubborn stain. Here’s how to remove it!

  1. Scrape off excess with a dull knife.
  2. Soak in cold water.
  3. Pretreat remaining stain.
  4. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
  5. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove a Mayonnaise Stain
  • Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  • Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  • If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  • Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Milk or Cream Stain
  • Soak in warm water.
  • Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  • Use appropriate bleach.
  • If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  • Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Meat Juice or Gravy Stain
  1. Scrape off excess with a dull knife.
  2. Soak in cold water.
  3. Pretreat remaining stain.
  4. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
  5. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove a Mustard Stain
  • Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  • Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  • If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  • Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Salad Dressing Stain
  1. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  2. Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  3. If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.

Organic Stains

How to Remove a Blood Stain
  1. Soak in cold water.
  2. Pretreat remaining stain.
  3. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  4. Use appropriate bleach.
  5. If stain persists, soak in warm water with presoak product.
How to Remove a Stool Stain

Okay so we know that the word stool is the politically correct version of the lovely thing you’re looking to get out of your clothes. So regardless of it it’s stool, poop, poo, droppings, feces, crap or manure here’s how you can get rid of it from your clothes.

  1. Scrape to remove solids.
  2. Soak in warm water.
  3. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  4. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove a Urine Stain
  1. Scrape to remove solids.
  2. Soak in warm water.
  3. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  4. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove a Vomit Stain
  1. Scrape to remove solids.
  2. Soak in warm water.
  3. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  4. Use appropriate bleach.
  5. Scrape to remove solids.
  6. Soak in warm water.
  7. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  8. Use appropriate bleach.

Household Item Stains

How to Remove an Unknown Stain
  1. Avoid using hot water right away.
  2. Pretreat the stain and soak in cold water.
  3. Launder in cold water with detergent.
  4. If stain is not removed, relaunder in warm water.
  5. If stain is still not removed, then launder in hot water.
How to Remove a Candle Wax Stain
  1. Rub with ice and carefully scrape off excess wax with a dull knife.
  2. Place between several layers of paper towels and press with a warm iron.
  3. To remove remaining stain, use a pretreat product.
  4. Rinse.
  5. If colored stain remains, launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  6. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove a Fabric Softener Stain
  • Rub the dampened stain with bar soap (such as Ivory*) and relaunder.
How to Remove a Grease Stain
  1. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  2. Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  3. If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Rust Stain
  1. Launder with a rust remover.
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  3. Do not use chlorine bleach as this will intensify the stain.
How to Remove a Shoe Polish Stain
  • Scrape off excess with a dull knife.
  • Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  • Use appropriate bleach.
  • If stain persists, sponge with one part alcohol and two parts water.
  • Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Smoke Stain
  1. Shake to remove loose particles.
  2. Sort by amount of soil to avoid transfer onto lighter soiled items.
  3. Use 1 cup water conditioner (Calgon, Axion, etc*), 1/2 cup non–chlorine bleach and recommended amount of detergent as directed on the package.
  4. Wash in warm or hot water.
  5. Relaunder until removed.
  6. Cotton items may require 4–5 washes.

Do not dry in a dryer between washes.

The above procedure can also be applied to soot stains.

How to Remove a Tar Stain
  1. Act quickly before stain is dry.
  2. Scrape excess from fabric with a dull knife.
  3. Place stain face down on paper towels.
  4. Sponge back of stain with a tar remover.
  5. Rinse thoroughly.
  6. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.

Arts & Crafts / School / Office Stains

How to Remove a Crayon Stain
  • Place stained surface down on a pad of paper towels.
  • Spray with WD-40* (available at hardware stores) and let stand for a few minutes.
  • Turn fabric and spray the other side, let stand.
  • Apply liquid hand dish washing detergent and work into stain until removed.
  • Use a paper towel to absorb the stain.
  • Hand wash the item in detergent thoroughly, making sure the WD-40 odor is removed.
  • Launder as usual.
How to Remove a Dye Transfer Stain

Dye transfer may be impossible to remove.

  • If clothes are still wet, immediately spray with Spray & Wash*.
  • Relaunder in warm water.
  • If items are dry, launder with chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  • If not safe, use non-chlorine bleach or a commercial color remover according to package directions.
How to Remove an Ink Stain – Ballpoint
  1. Sponge stain with rubbing alcohol, or spray with pretreat product or hair spray until wet looking.
  2. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  4. Use appropriate bleach.
How to Remove an Ink Stain – Felt Tip
  1. Rub household cleaner such as Fantastik or Mr. Clean* into stain.
  2. Rinse as many times as necessary to remove stain.
  3. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  4. Use appropriate bleach.
  5. May be impossible to remove.
How to Remove a Pencil Lead Stain
  • Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  • Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  • If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  • Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Water Based Paint Stain
  1. Rinse fabric in cool water to flush out paint while stains are still wet.
  2. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  3. Dried paint is very hard to remove. However, there are commercial products that may remove such stains.
  4. Follow package directions.

Outdoor / Natural Stains

How to Remove a Grass Stain
  • Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  • Use chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
  • If a grease stain remains, soak in warm water with a pretreat product.
  • Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Mildew Stain
  1. Pretreat stain and launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
  2. Use appropriate bleach.
  3. If stain remains, sponge with hydrogen peroxide (available at drugstores).
  4. Rinse thoroughly and relaunder.
How to Remove a Mud Stain
  1. Scrape off excess with a dull knife.
  2. Soak in cold water.
  3. Pretreat remaining stain.
  4. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
  5. Use appropriate bleach.