Clothing Stain Removal

Grease, lipstick, ballpoint pens, you name it! They all can make for some ugly stains on our favorite clothing items. Here are some tips and tricks for removing stains from clothing.

Ballpoint Ink

  • Put a piece of scrap fabric beneath the stained spot to blot any ink that may come through. Then spray the stain evenly with aerosol hair spray from four to six inches away. Blot the surface of the stained article after spraying. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times. Finally, give the garment a regular laundering.
  • Hairspray will also work to remove ballpoint ink stains from leather. Saturate the stain, let the spray dry and then brush lightly with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.
  • Another approach to removing ballpoint ink stains from leather is to coat them with petroleum jelly. You may need to leave the jelly on the stain for several days before wiping it off.


  • The first line of defense is to soak the soiled fabric in a solution of ½ teaspoon salt per 1 cup of cold water, rubbing as necessary until the stain has faded. Then wash as you normally would.
  • Older bloodstains call for an initial soaking in a solution of 2 tablespoons of ammonia per 1 gallon of cold water. Wash in cold water and dishwashing liquid to remove an vestiges of the stain left after the ammonia treatment.
  • If the bloodstain is on a large article, such as a blanket, that you don’t want to soak completely, make a paste of cornstarch and water and slather it dry, brush it off, and keep repeating until the stain disappears.

Food and Drink

  • For chocolate, scrub the stained area immediately with ammonia, then wash as  you normally would.
  • For egg stains, scrape off the excess with a dull knife, then soak the stain in cold water. Launder as you usually would. If the article requires dry cleaning, sponge the stain with cold water and take it to the dry cleaner right away.
  • Fresh coffee and tea called for the “hot waterfall” approach. First, stretch the stained part of the fabric over a bowl, as if you were putting a head on a drum, and secure it with a rubber band. Then pour boiling water over the stain from a height of two to three feet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Wash the article as you normally would, using a small amount of bleach if the fabric can tolerate it. The “hot waterfall” also works to loosen fruit and berry stains. It works with red wine if you first sprinkle a little salt on the stain.
  • After a wine spill, blot up as much of the wine as you can, then rinse with cool water or club soda. Sprinkle a little salt on the stain, and create a paste of salt and water. Then, if the fabric will stand it, pour boiling water through the stain with the cloth stretched over a bowl or bathtub. For tough stains, try blotting the stains with one of the following: ⅓ cup vinegar in ⅔ cup water; 2 tablespoons ammonia in 1 cup water; or alcohol, either straight or mixed with an equal amount of water. Rinse well and then launder as usual. In some cases, you may have to use an enzyme detergent to remove wine stains.
  • If spilled beer has dried onto clothing or tablecloths, mix a solution of equal parts vinegar and dish washing liquid, then sponge it onto the stain. Rinse with warm water and launder as usual.


  • Small spots of hardened candle wax can be removed from tablecloths by rubbing with a generous dollop of vegetable oil. Wipe off any excess oil, then launder as usual.
  • Another way to remove small amounts of wax hardened onto a tablecloth is to spread the affected area over a large bowl and secure it with rubber bands, then pour boiling water over the wax to melt it. Follow up by washing the tablecloth as usual.
  • For larger wax deposits on tablecloths, first scrape off the excess with a dull knife, then place the stained area between two paper towels and press with an iron on a low setting. Replace the paper towels as the wax is absorbed into them, then launder when the paper no longer absorbs wax. (If the fabric is one that's especially sensitive to heat, avoid burning it by holding the iron a couple of inches above the towels. You will still get enough heat to melt the wax.)

Mildew Stains

  •  To get rid of the black and gray stains caused by mildew, try moistening the stained area with lemon juice and salt, then drying the fabric in the sun. If this doesn't work, sponge the stain with hydrogen peroxide and sun-dry it. 
  • If you have a leather item stained with the powdery traces of surface mildew, wipe the affected area with a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water. When the leather is dry, treat it with a conditioner such as caster oil.


  • Scrub a grease stain with a lather of laundry detergent and water. Distilled water works best for this since “soft” water cuts grease better than water having a high mineral content.


  • To help remove grass stains from garments, work liquid laundry detergent into the stained area, rinse, then launder as usual.
  • Saturate grass stains on cotton with rubbing alcohol, let stand for 10 minutes, and launder as usual.


  • Rub peanut butter on the lipstick stained area. Before the peanut butter dries, wash the fabric with warm water and dish washing liquid.
  • Use vegetable oil, shortening, or petroleum jelly. Cover the stain with the oil, let it sit for five to ten minutes, and then wash with warm, soapy water. Make sure to remove all the oil, or you'll have a different stain to deal with.



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for blood stains, before the

for blood stains, before the first wash i pour peroxide on them. it bubbles up and i let it sit then rise with cold water. you can do this a few times until the stain is almost completely gone. then wash.

Blood - Do nothing except

Blood - Do nothing except soak in cow's milk. The Enzyme in the Milk Digests the enzymes in the blood. Don't know why.... but it always works.

If your water is city water, the bleach used to purify the water will set the blood stain in. I've also used Plain old Seltzer Water to get blood out of a freshly stained white t-shirt or hankie. DON'T use Tonic water!!

As a nurse we discovered that

As a nurse we discovered that to remove blood from fabric is to apply hydrogen really works!

On color fabrics it won't

On color fabrics it won't remove the color?

My hands and fingernails are

My hands and fingernails are stained from yardwork. How can I remove the stains?

I always use a cap full of

I always use a cap full of bleach in a half filled kitchen sink and scrub a few think sthe bleach whitens your fingernails, and gives them a french manicure look. Rinse real well and use a good hand lotion afterwords.

Wyllow, and use a nail brush

Wyllow, and use a nail brush while hands are under the bleach water

I use those little hotel

I use those little hotel bottles of shampoo to remove oil or grease from clothing. It pulls the oils out of our hair, and I have found by making a paste with baking soda and shampoo, and covering stain, and launder as usual. This works most times, it worked on my fast-food uniforms from way back when I was in college.

Don't forget about dawn dish

Don't forget about dawn dish detergent, it removes heavy grease on pots and pans it works a wonder on clothes, my boys like using their shirts for napkins

What is the best way to get

What is the best way to get rid of yellow perspiration stains

I believe the best way is to

I believe the best way is to saturate the stained area with lemon juice & let sit in the sun for a few hours.

Sometimes the stain is from

Sometimes the stain is from anti-perspirant, which creates a waxy build-up on your t-shirts.

on many stains(tomatoe sauce,

on many stains(tomatoe sauce, red wine, blood, etc) I use peroxide followed by toothpaste scrubbed in with a toothbrush. 99% of the time, the stain does not stand a snowball's chance in the desert of remaining on the clothing.

Peroxide definitely gets out

Peroxide definitely gets out blood stains. Never tried following with toothpaste as another reader suggested but I apply peroxide and let it soak in then scrub with a brush on inside of clothing and outside. Eventually it will be gone. The sooner you start working on the stain, the better. Good luck

How do I get gum out of a

How do I get gum out of a sweater? Thanks

To get gum out of a sweater

To get gum out of a sweater or clothes, apply ice to hardened gum. Crack or scrape off excess. Spray with pretreatment aerosol product. Rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Rinse with hot water. Repeat if necessary. Launder.

Ice cubs have been known to

Ice cubs have been known to remove gum from fabrics.

A grease spots on fabrics are

A grease spots on fabrics are best removed by sprinkling talc power on greased spots. Do not rub , wash or press before putting on the powder. Put on a think layer of talc powder and let it stay
for a while . The powder will absorb the grease. Do not rub the powder into the grease spot. After letting sit for a while brush powder off repeat if needed. If you iron or wash the spot before putting on the talc the grease will not come out.

I have known talc powder to remove grease spots in minutes. It is wise to always have talc powder with you at all times. Any talc powder will do.

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