Getting rid of stubborn stains is essential for parents, and no matter how careful you are, sooner or later you’re going to encounter a clothing stain that a regular wash cycle can’t get out. Thankfully, there are a number of unconventional tactics for tackling tough stains using common household items, even for notoriously tough grime like grease or ink. Before you toss out that expensive shirt, try one of the stain solutions below.
Anyone who has had to deal with a serious grease stain knows that regular laundry detergent doesn’t do a very good job of getting them out. Fortunately, there’s an answer, and it’s something that you probably already have at home: dishwashing liquid. The same properties that let dish soap remove grease from your pots and pans also let it do the same to your clothes. Just put the stained garment in a bucket of hot water, squirt in a liberal amount of dish soap, and let it soak overnight before putting it in the washing machine as usual.
The best way to get rid of grass stains is to soak the clothing in undiluted white vinegar for half an hour. The acidity of vinegar makes it an excellent choice for breaking down tough stains, even when regular detergent fails. After soaking the clothes, put it in the wash. If the stain persists, treat it with vinegar again, and avoid the temptation to put it in the dryer, since that might make the stain set and become much trickier to get out.
Though it may sound strange, one of the best ways to deal with ink stains is to spray it with an aerosol-based hairspray. If the stain is only on one layer of clothing, such as the front of a shirt, it is advisable to put a piece of paper towel underneath that layer to make sure the ink doesn’t run and create a secondary stain. Simply spray the stain with a generous amount of hairspray, then blot it with a paper towel or cotton ball. You may have to repeat this process a few times, but as long as the stain hasn’t set, it should eventually clear up.
To clean away unsightly sweat stains on your favorite shirts, crush up a few aspirin tablets and mix them with a bit of water to make a thick paste. Rub the paste on the stain, let it dry completely, then wash the garment as you normally would. It’s important to use aspirin rather than other pain relievers, since it contains a form of salicylic acid that helps to break down stains.
Because blood stains involve proteins, one of the best ways to break them down is to soak the affected area in hydrogen peroxide, which can be purchased in the first aid section of any drug store. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide does degrade over time, so if you have an old bottle lying around, make sure it’s still strong enough to fight stains by pouring a bit of it in a cup–if there’s no fizz, it’s time to buy a new bottle.
One big mistake that people commonly make with stained clothing is washing it and putting it in the dryer before making sure the stain is gone. The heat from the dryer causes the stain to set into the fibers of the clothing, making them much more difficult to get out, even with heavy-duty cleaning solutions. One of the best ways to deal with set-in stains is to create a paste out of baking soda and vinegar, which will create a strong fizzing reaction–be sure to mix it in a bowl instead of a bottle or closed container. Once the fizzing stops, rub the paste on the stain and let it sit for at least half an hour before putting it in the wash.
There are many stains that regular laundry detergent simply can’t handle, but that doesn’t mean that your clothing is a lost cause. Treating the stain early on is the most important factor, but even most old, set stains can be tackled with the right techniques.