Laundry Stain Treatments: Tip Sheet

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Picture of Spray Bottle - Tipnut.com*Each point is a separate treatment, choose one method. Test a small hidden area first to make sure garment color or fibers won’t be damaged.

Bonus Freebie! Handy Chart To Frame: From Martha Stewart, this is a very handy guide to frame and hang in the laundry room, check at a glance how to treat a troublesome spot.

Blood

  • Apply hydrogen peroxide to the stain, cover with salt, then sit for several minutes. You should see the blood draw up from the garment. Remove salt once stain has lifted and launder as usual. Test a small, hidden area first to make sure the color won’t be bleached.
  • Try rinsing the stain area in cool water then sprinkle on meat tenderizer. Sit for a few minutes then launder as usual.
  • You could also use hydrogen peroxide plain, apply to area, sit for a few minutes then launder in cool water (first test a small hidden area to make sure the garment color won’t be bleached).
  • Make a batch of cold, salty water and soak garment overnight. General guideline is 1 TBS salt per 2 1/2 cups of water. Launder as usual.

Chocolate

  • Mix 4 TBS borax with 2 1/2 cups of warm water, soak garment in solution. After soaking, place stained area under cool running water, if stain doesn’t disappear, rub with a bar of laundry soap. Launder as usual.

Coffee

  • Same as chocolate stains, see above.

Grass

  • Before washing items with grass stains, try dabbing a generous amount of vinegar into the stain first. Launder as usual. This should help lift the stain right out.
  • Wet stain with water and cover with sugar. Leave for at least 1 hour then launder as usual.

Gum

Jane Dane from lavenderridgefarms.com sent in a great remedy she found to remove a wad of chewing gum that was hiding in a shirt pocket–not discovered until after the shirt was washed and dried (eek!)…

How To Remove Chewing Gum From Clothing

I found a really great solution that worked and was easy so I wanted to share this info with you and hope that you will pass it along.

The chewing gum was in a shirt pocket and had been washed and dried before I realized it was there. Most websites recommended using ice and then scraping it off. This one said pour boiling vinegar over the gum and it will make it dissolve.

I couldn’t believe it. It really worked! It also recommended following up with a laundry pretreatment like Shout. I did and you would never know that there had been sticky, gross chewing gum on the fabric.

Ink

Lipstick

  • Saturate a clean white cloth with household winger, rub lipstick stain lightly until it is removed.

Mildew

  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice on the spots then sprinkle with salt. Let dry in the sun. Launder as usual. Try this treatment for old stains, great for those vintage linens!

Mustard

  • Mix 1 TBS laundry detergent with 1/4 cup warm water. Soak stain overnight and launder as usual.
  • Apply a few drops of liquid dish detergent to stain, gently rub into stain and soak overnight, launder as usual.

Perspiration

  • Mix a solution of water and vinegar (60/40) then sponge onto stain areas. Launder as usual.
  • Mix a solution of 1 quart warm water with 4 TBS table salt, soak garment. Wash as usual.
  • See more tips on this page.

Ring Around The Collar

  • Try rubbing toothpaste along the stain before tossing in the washing machine. Careful on items that aren’t white, the toothpaste could cause discoloration.
  • Use 3 parts baking soda to 2 parts vinegar to make a paste, rub into stain and allow to set for 60 minutes, launder as usual (found on 10 Laundry Boosters Using Vinegar).

You could also dab toothpaste on white items that have hard to remove stains–it just might do the trick!

Rust Spots On Cloth Items

  • Try treating the stains with a 50/50 mixture of lemon juice and water. Let sit for about 30 minutes before washing.
  • Rub powdered Cream of Tartar into stain, then wash in hot soapy water. You can also boil garment in water mixed with Cream of Tartar (4 tsp Cream of Tartar per pint of water).

Rust stains on laundry can happen if your washing machine or dryer has a part that’s rusted. It can also be caused by hard water or if the clothing was accidentally washed with something metal that rusted in the wash.

Did you know: Chlorine bleach will make the rust stains harder to remove or even permanent?

Wax
*First published on September 11, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization

  • Try freezing garment overnight (place in a plastic bag then toss in the freezer).
  • The next day chip off the frozen wax, as much of it as you can without damaging fabric fibers.
  • Then take a brown paper bag (a lunch bag size will do), open it up and lay it over the wax stain.
  • Take a hot iron and press on top of the brown paper, it will melt the wax and lift it onto the paper bag. You should probably wait for the garment to return to room temp before doing that.

If you have to ‘hot press’ a few times, make sure to move the bag each time so you’re only pressing a clean part of the bag. You don’t want to melt the wax back onto the garment.

Wine

  • Mix 1 1/4 cups of water and 2 tsp borax, apply over stain. Soak for 15 minutes, launder as usual.

Don’t Miss:

Timeless Wisdom

These tips were collected from vintage booklets dating from the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Timeless Wisdom collection is a feature on Tipnut where we take a look back at the methods used and advice given to tackle regular household tasks. These were the days when fancy gadgets and cleaning powders weren’t yet invented so they were quite creative with what they had.

Laundry Stain Removal

Laundry Stain Removal

  1. Wet ink stains may be removed by washing in milk or, better still, in buttermilk. Wash, changing the milk frequently.
  2. To remove iron mould or dry ink from white materials, steep the stained material in a hot solution of salts of lemon–one tablespoon of salts to one quart of boiling water; or simply place the stained part over a basin, cover the stain with salts, and pour the boiling water through. Repeat if necessary.
  3. Ink stains may be removed by covering the spot with lard. Let this stand for about twelve hours and wash the article in the regular way.
  4. To remove tea, coffee, or cocoa stains, use glycerine. A fresh stain can be removed by gentle rubbing; if the stain is old, soak in the glycerine for some time.
  5. Wine stains may be removed by holding the stained portion of the cloth in boiling milk.
  6. While a fruit stain is still moist, cover it with powdered starch. When dry, rinse the article in cold water and wash in the ordinary way.
  7. Fruit stains may be removed with a strong solution of borax, or the stain moistened with water, rubbed with borax, and boiling water poured through.
  8. Fruit and Rust stains: Apply lemon juice, salt and expose to sun.
  9. Grass stains: When fresh, can be removed by soaking in alcohol. If stain is old, rub with molasses and allow to stand several hours before washing.
  10. For grass stains use cold water and no soap. Alcohol may be used if the material is unwashable.
  11. Blood stains, if fresh, may be removed by washing in cold water. If hard and dry steep for a few hours in cold water, to which add a pinch of baking soda. Washing and bleaching will finish the process. Never put blood stains in hot water.
  12. Never put hot water on milk and cream stains. Wash them out in cold water, followed by soap and water. Rinse in clear water.
  13. Egg stains on washable fabrics may be removed by soaking the garment in cold water for a short time before washing with soap and water in the usual way.
  14. To remove paint from colored material, dip the stains in turpentine, rub, then dip in a little ammonia, rub and wash in warm water.
  15. Mildew on linen may be removed by dampening the marks, rubbing soap on them, and covering them with chalk scraped into a powder. Work this well in and then wash the linen in the ordinary way.
  16. Mildew stains may be removed by rubbing with a paste made by mixing two teaspoonfuls of water, one of powdered chalk, and two of soap powder. The spots should afterwards be well rinsed and dried out of doors in the sunlight. This has a bleaching effect on them.
  17. Mildew: Use a mixture of soft soap, powdered starch, half as much salt and the juice of a lemon. Apply to both sides of the fabric and expose to the sun.
  18. To remove grease from silk lay the silk on a table on top of a clean white cloth. Cover the spot thickly with powdered French chalk. On this lay a sheet of blotting paper and over that a moderately hot iron. If grease does not disappear at once, repeat process.
  19. Grease spots on suede shoes will disappear if they are rubbed with a clean rag dipped in glycerine.
  20. Rub sewing machine oil stains with lard, let stand for several hours, and then wash with cold water and soap.
  21. Table salt and cream of tartar, equal parts, will remove rust stains. Wet the spot and spread the mixture on thickly, then place the material in the sun.
  22. To remove rain spots from satin, felt and similar materials, use a soft ball of tissue paper. Rub the effected parts with a circular movement.
  23. To remove iodine stains from linens rub the stained area with a slice of lemon.
  24. Chocolate and Cocoa Stains: Use borax and cold water and bleach, if necessary.
  25. Scorch Marks: Dip a cloth in diluted peroxide and rub the scorched spot. Then iron over it and stain will disappear.

*Some of the information above was previously published as individual Quick Tips. They’ve been moved here into one list for convenience. All bookmarks will automatically forward to this page.

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Published: November 24, 2008
Updated: February 8, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
26 Comments to “Laundry Stain Treatments: Tip Sheet”
  1. Karen Catri says:

    I am greatful for all of the wonderful ideas you have! Not just the laundry ones, but recipes and kitchen helps too. The reason I am writing is I’d like to know how (and if it’s at all possible) to get grease splatters out of clothes. I cook a lot but grease always seems to splatter on my shirt and I haven’t found anything that works yet! Thank you for reading, Karen

    • Kate says:

      My son worked at KFC and his shirts were always covered with grease. Spraying them with GooGone before washing them was the only thing I found that got the grease out.

    • karla says:

      I found that a can of regular Coca-Cola poured into the wash with the laundry detergent gets grease out every time. If you’re clothes look a little dingy when they come out, rewash with just laundry detergent. Hope that helps!

    • Colleen says:

      GOOP! It is very cheap. I think it is meant as a hand cleaner for mechanics. I have even used it on silk ties! My husband often has grease spatters on t-shirts or jeans. I rub a little of this in and launder. I almost always use cold water wash, so I do not even change that setting. If it is a grease stain, this works. And no odor.

  2. Judi says:

    Tip I received from a seamstress: If you prick your finger while sewing, getting blood on the garment, spit on the blood stain to remove it. If it’s your blood, your own saliva will remove it.

    • Carol says:

      Spit don’t think so . worked in hospital too many years . Blood is easily gotten out if you soak it in milk it’s the enzymes protein gets out protein carol

      • Joyce Marshall says:

        Actually spit DOES work as long as the spit comes from the same person as the blood and the blood is fresh. I’ve used this method many times. Of course it’s only usefull for small amounts of blood. I too worked in a hospital for many years. Joyce

  3. Sabrina says:

    I rubbed dawn dish liquid into a blood stain they used the sink sprayer to force the bubbles through after it soaked for 1/2 hour or so. Took the blood right out!

  4. Michelle says:

    The absolute BEST chocolate stain remover EVER is club soda! My mother-in-law told me about it, and I couldn’t believe it…the stain just disappeared with no rubbing at all. It works best on fresh stains, but it will work with fels-naptha laundry bar soap on set in stains too. Guess some “soda jerk” discovered this fix!

  5. Sue says:

    I accidently washed and dried a load of clothes that had a shimmmering peach chap sick type product in a pocket. All of my work scrubs and three of my husbands dress shirts are stained. Anybody know how to get this out? I tried to re-wash the load after treating individualy with oxy stain remover and it didn’t do a thing.

    • Katie says:

      GOO GONE!!! I have a bad habit of washing chapstick and gum with my clothes, never remember to check the pockets. Always works

  6. ds in east Texas says:

    RUST stains: I have been most successful removing rust stains on WHITE clothing using TOILET BOWL cleaner listed as a rust remover. Test first; then Saturate the spot, give it a few minutes or longer to work, scrub with an old toothbrush used for cleaning (rinse it afterwards) and rinse and dry, or wash in the laundry with other whites. Works like a charm.

  7. kika says:

    Meat tenderizer works on blood. You can make a paste and put it on the blood stain. The enzymes break down the proteins. I usually use the hydrogen peroxide as a rinse and then follow with the meat tenderizer as a paste. After is sits for a while, I wash the item in cold water and it comes out perfect. I get bloody noses, a lot, so I know this works.

  8. Cherry says:

    I used to work at veterinary clinic & hydrogen peroxide worked great at getting out blood stains if you don’t wait too long to treat it.

  9. Hannah says:

    Any hint on darks, colors,and pastels?

  10. Kate says:

    URGENT HELP NEEDED!!!!

    COLOR RAN ALL OVER A WHITE SWEATER AND I NEED TO GET IT OUT!!

    PLEASE PLEASE ANY SUGGESTIONS LADIES?????

  11. Rose Ann Schwartz says:

    Carbona makes a COLOR RUN REMOVER but hard to find. RIT has a whitener that works on whites even where bleach won’t. I have used the RIT on my husband’s colorfast dress shirts to get out ball point ink!
    WHINK makes rust removers for colorfast clothes and a separate product for clothes that are not. Removes the rust stains while you watch!
    Hydrogen peroxide gets scortch marks out, too.
    For baby formula and many other stains, put double strength TIDE WITH BLEACH in washing machine, half fill with hot water, soak overnight. In the morning finish filling with water and run thru complete cycle, extra rinse if desired. Dry as usual. I used this method for clothes in my son’s children’s resale shop. Easy and made clothes like new!

  12. Debbie Buesch says:

    I accidently washed a dark maroon colored lipstick with a load of dark clothes. Of course everything went through washer and dryer before I caught it. My sweats, I’m not worried about, but some dress clothes need to be clean. I have written out several tips from the enternet but I would really like to find one that someone has actually used and found to be successful. I have been looking at the basket of clothes for 4 days now and something has to be done. I am scared to death I will just ruin the whole load. HELP!

  13. Donna Donnellan says:

    How can I get set in makeup on the hoodie on my sweatshirt, have tried soaking in bleach but didn’t take out the stain. One is white the other is pink! Brand new, hate to throw them away.

  14. Deb Fetzer says:

    What is the best way to remove hydrolic oil from shirts and pants?

    • susan chaffee says:

      try soaking overnight in dawn dish soap. pour it on thick, rub it into the fabric and let it soak in small amount of warm water overnight.

  15. susan chaffee says:

    I am trying to find the best way to remove a 3″ glob of axel greese from the beige felt head liner in my car. I don’t want to rub it or smear it around. I need some way of absorbing it and extracting it without spreading it any further.

  16. Barb Foor says:

    I am a quilter. I made a wall hanging for a friend and used one of the “disappearing pencils” on it and the pink color will NOT come out of the material. So much for disappering. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks for any help you can give me. The material if all cotton.

  17. Shannon says:

    As I was getting out my winter sweaters I noticed it smelled like mold and oh was I right! All of the sweaters have mold on them. Any suggestions???

  18. Pam Belk says:

    My home made Shout recipe:
    6 tablespoons baking soda
    2 cups warm water
    2/3 cup Dawn dish soap
    2/3 cup Ammonia

    place baking soda in a bowl
    add warm water and mix until baking soda is dissolved
    add Dawn and Ammonia and stir until well blended
    Pour all into a spray bottle using a funnel

    I make up several batches at one time

    This works GREAT on my son’s work clothes. They are diesel mechanics and this recepie takes out the oil, grease, and diesel fuel. It’s amazing and VERY inexpensive to make. Sometimes I use lemon scented ammonia or apple scented Dawn and it smells great.
    Enjoy:)

  19. cindy cook says:

    any ideas for getting the yellowish stains out of hubby’s seldom worn dress shirts? it’s from hanging in the closet forever


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