It's Murphy's Law: If something can spill, drip, ooze, or run, it will do so all over your lucky shirt or favorite jeans. No matter what they are, the trick to keeping them from sticking is quick action - before the stain du jour begins to dry.
For most fabrics, this means blotting up the excess or rinsing the stain with cold water. Don't rub - that just spreads the stain and grinds it deeper into the fabric.
Thanks to modern laundry detergent, keeping your favorite clothes blemish free is easier than ever. When mixed with water, powdered detergents are especially effective at loosening ground-in dirt before washing so it can be carried away during the machine wash.
Liquid detergents can help make oil, grease and food stains disappear. Prewash stain removers (available as sprays, sticks and liquids) are effective on most fibers.
Either chlorine or oxygen bleach (also known as "color safe") in the wash cycle can help your detergent remove tough stains.
But only chlorine bleach kills bacteria and viruses and whitens clothes. It can be used for laundering all fabrics except silk, wool, spandex, mohair and non colorfast fabrics.
When pretreating, allow your stain-busting product to sit for a minute or up to a week, depending on the product. Save time by keeping a stain stick or spray near the hamper, and dabbing or spritzing it on stained clothes.
Put them in the hamper and forget about them; then wash as usual following the label directions.
You may want to get the whole family involved i the stain-busting effort: Have them red-flag stains and spots by clipping a clothespin to a chocolate smudge or by tying grass-stained jeans in a loose knot before dumping them into the clothes hamper.
Unfortunately, we're not always near a washing machine when disaster strikes. Not to worry: Some remedies can work on even set-in spots and stains. Pretreating works best on small spots and fresh stains. But for old stains and protein stains, presoaking is the key.
Here are 9 laundry stain removal tips for some of the most common washday stains you're likely to encounter.
Rub the gummy spot with ice to harden it. Scrape away as much of the gum as possible with a dull knife. Saturate what remains with a pre-wash stain remover or your favorite laundry detergent (undiluted). Rinse, and wash as usual.
Rinse or pre-soak the garment in cold water, then wash in cold water with your usual detergent. Warm or hot water will set the stain.
Don't use chlorine bleach - it can make the stain even worse, cold water or not.
Sponge a coffee stain with, or soak in, cold water. Apply a
pre-treating product on the stain. Wash as usual and air dry; repeat if
Pre-treat cosmetics stains with a pre-wash stain remover or a liquid detergent. Wash the garment in the water temperature recommended for the fabric.
Scrape off surface crayon wax with a dull knife. Soak the fabric in a product containing enzymes or oxygen bleach in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Launder using the hottest water the shirt or pants fabric can withstand.
Pre-soak or pre-wash the grass-stained clothes in warm water in a bucket or your washing machine, with a detergent containing enzymes. Launder as usual with chlorine bleach if it's safe for the fabric. If not, use oxygen bleach instead.
Douse a mildewed clothing item with chlorine bleach diluted with water. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes, then launder as recommended. For mildewed leather, brush on an antiseptic mouthwash.
Use a pre-wash stain remover; if the stains are old, apply white vinegar undiluted. Rinse, then launder using oxygen bleach in the hottest water that's safe for the fabric.
Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the stain removal products and laundry supplies you need to keep your clothes looking their best.