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.
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.
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.
Pre-treat or pre-wash chocolate-stained clothes in warm water with a cleaning product that contains enzymes.
Wash as usual. (If it's on upholstery - here's how to remove it.)
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.