7 Simple Solutions for Tough Stains

No need to cry over spilled ink or coffee! Just try these laundering strategies to save your favourite garment from spills, sweat stains, mildew, and more.

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Writing with pen in notebook
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1. My Pen Stained My Pocket

How many shirts have been ruined by leaking pens? You can’t hear it, and you can’t smell it. But you sure can see it—that horrifying blue or black ink stain at the base of your shirt pocket. Can you rescue the shirt? Yes, with the help of rubbing alcohol. Put three paper towels, one on top of the other and folded in half, on a flat surface, such as a kitchen counter. Put the shirt pocket over the paper towels and pour rubbing alcohol onto the ink-just enough to cover the area. The paper towels will absorb the alcohol and draw the ink away from the fabric. Replace the paper towels when they become saturated. Repeat the process after about two minutes. The alcohol will loosen up the ink. Rinse by pouring water on the stained area, again changing the paper towels. If there is still a slight ink stain, apply nail polish remover (acetone) to a cloth and rub it on the stained shirt. Rinse with water; then presoak with a stain remover such as Shout and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes before laundering.

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Coffee stain on dress shirt
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2. I Spilled Coffee On My Shirt

Use cold water, and then pre-treat. If you drink your coffee black, the stain will be easier to remove than if you put milk in it, because the protein in milk works against you. Either way you take your coffee, however, the solution is the same: Hold the garment under a faucet, stain side down, and run cold water through it for a couple of minutes. Next, rub laundry detergent or a prewash product into the stain and let it stand for five minutes. Then launder as usual.

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Smelly socks
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3. My Favourite Garment Has a Mildew Stain

You tossed your soaked sweatshirt into the trunk of your car and promptly forgot it. When you finally pulled it out again, the sweatshirt had developed a mildew stain. If the shirt is white and all cotton, and the stain is relatively new, you’re in luck. Mix 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of chlorine bleach with 1⁄3 cup of water and pour it on the stain. Then launder. The bleach should kill the spores that caused the mildew. For coloured clothing and items made of synthetic fabrics, washing with an all-fabric bleach should do the trick. Remember, however, that the older a mildew stain is, the more difficult it will be to remove. Be sure to treat mildew stains as soon as possible.

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Sweat stain solutions
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4. The Underarms of My Shirt are Stained

Your favourite clothes are being ruined by what appear to be sweat stains, which can show up as a yellow blotch. You can tell whether it’s actually caused by perspiration by feeling the fabric. Sweat may stain, but it will leave the cloth feeling normal. Stains from antiperspirant will feel either oily or stiff. For cotton and linen, launder the garment with chlorine bleach, according to the package directions. Use oxygen (all-fabric) bleach on synthetic fabric. These methods should work whether the stain is caused by antiperspirant or sweat. Take a silk or wool garment to a dry cleaner.

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Lipstick mark on men's shirt
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5. My Lipstick Has Left Its Mark

Lipstick can easily stain clothing. Removing it is tricky because not all lipsticks are made of the same ingredients. First, try rubbing a lipstick stain with liquid detergent before laundering. If that doesn’t work and the clothing is white, you can use acetone-based nail polish remover to remove the spot. Acetone can harm coloured clothing, so be careful. And even with white items, test it on an inconspicuous spot before you go after the lipstick stain.

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Mother and daughter playing in the grass
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6. I’ve Got Grass Stains on My Pants

Grass stains can mar a perfectly good pair of pants in an instant. The sooner you treat such stains, the better. Rub laundry detergent on the fabric; then rinse with hot water. If that doesn’t remove the stain, rub more detergent on the stain and wash the garment, adding an enzyme laundry product, such as Amaze or Spray ‘n Wash In-Wash Laundry Stain Remover, that will help remove the protein in the stain.

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Stack of collar shirts
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7. There’s a Ring Around My Collar

The insides of shirt collars pick up oil and dirt from our skin, which leave a dirty ring on the cloth. Shampoo is the solution. Put a little bit of shampoo on the collar and gently rub it in with an old toothbrush. Then wash as usual.

Originally Published in Easy Fixes for Everyday Things

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