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How to Quickly Remove 10 Common Stains From Clothes

Life can be unpredictable and sometimes messy - literally. An impromptu meal out, a visit to the park, or running for a bus can lead to getting stains on your clothing.

Before you abandon your clothes to the bin in frustration, read on for our top 10 stains and how you can easily remove them.

Always read the care label on your garment before trying any of the below methods.

Delicate fabrics may be dry clean only, in which case you should not attempt to remove the stain yourself. If you are worried, always test on a discreet area of your clothing before continuing.

1. Make-Up Stains

When applied to your face, makeup can make you feel fabulous. The same can't be said for when it is accidentally applied to your clothes or pillowcases!

The type of makeup stain that you're tackling will dictate which stain removing technique you should use.

Here are some tips for how to get make-up out of clothes:

  • Mascara and eyeliner - dab with washing-up liquid.
  • Lipstick - dab with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.
  • Nail varnish - freeze with an ice pack before using nail-varnish remover to dab the stain off.
  • Powder e.g. foundation - use a hairdryer to blow the powder away and dab with makeup remover.
  • Liquid e.g. fake tan - rub in shaving cream to remove the stain.

Check out our article and videos on removing makeup stains here!

2. Biro & Marker Stains

We all use pens on a daily basis so it's no surprise that sometimes we accidentally manage to get it on our clothes.

If, as adults, we manage to draw on ourselves, it should be no surprise that little ones can also get a little enthusiastic around marker pens and make a right mess of their clothes!

To get ink out of clothes, follow these steps:

  1. Apply a little rubbing alcohol, or alcohol-based hand gel, to a cotton pad.
  2. Dab at the stain to soak it- be careful not to rub the stain as this might spread it.
  3. Allow the garment to soak for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Wash on a hot wash with a bio laundry detergent.

Check out our article and videos on removing biro & marker stains here.

3. Mud Stains

If you have kids, you'll be no stranger to mud stains.

Our infamous British weather means muddy PE kit will be a common sight in the laundry basket. Don't worry if you've only just discovered a muddy top at the bottom of their school bag, letting the mud dry out is a good thing!

Here are some more tips for removing mud stains:

  1. Let the mud dry out and then remove as much as possible with an old toothbrush.
  2. Fill a container with lukewarm water and add a bio laundry detergent or stain remover.
  3. Submerge the stain in the container and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash the garments with a bio laundry detergent.
  5. Hang the garments outside to dry to benefit from the natural bleaching effect of the sun.

    If you have white clothes with mud on them, you'll find a slightly different method for removing mud here.

4. Blood Stains

Blood can be one of the most difficult stains to remove once it has been allowed to dry. For best results, it's important to tackle this stain as soon as possible.

As a protein-based stain, you need to tackle this with bio laundry detergent as it contains enzymes that can help break down the stain.

  1. If dry, scrape off as much as possible.
  2. Soak the blood stain in cold water and then apply a bio laundry detergent or pre-treatment stain remover.
  3. Rub the detergent or pre-treatment stain remover into the stain to get into the fibres of the garment.
  4. Wash the item on a cool cycle with bio laundry detergent.

    For two more methods for removing blood stains click here.

5. Paint

Even when you think you've taken enough precautions when decorating, paint can somehow find a way onto your clothing.

Sometimes, if you're unlucky enough, you'll end up brushing up against wet paint outside when it hasn't been properly labelled and taped off.

Here are some tips for getting paint out of clothes:

  1. As soon as possible, place the stain face-down on a piece of kitchen towel.
  2. Dab at the back of the stain with a cotton ball or rag that has been soaked in paint thinner or white spirits.
  3. Fill a small tub with hot water and mix in a pre-treatment stain remover.
  4. Submerge the garment in the mix and leave overnight.
  5. Wash at a hot temperature using a good laundry detergent.

Here are some more methods for removing paint from clothes.

6. Glue

As Christmas approaches, we are entering the season of all things crafty. This means craft boxes up and down the country will be raided for PVA glue and the stuff of nightmares; glitter glue!

Fortunately, with a little patience, your garments can be restored. 

Here's how you can get stubborn glue residue off clothes:

  1. If dry, scrape off as much as possible while still being gentle on the fabric. A bank card or dull knife is perfect for this job.
  2. Add a little washing up liquid or oxygen-based bleach, to a tub of cold water.
  3. Immerse the garment in the tub and leave overnight.
  4. Wash the garment on a cool cycle as a hot cycle may further set the remaining stain.

Check out our articles and videos for removing glue stains here.

7. Wax

As the winter nights draw in, candles are a lovely way to add some flickering cosiness to your home.

Unfortunately, your warm cosy vibe can be easily ruined if you accidentally get candle wax on your clothes, especially if it's heavily dyed.

Follow these 6 steps to remove wax from your clothes:

  1. Allow the wax to dry and then scrape the excess off with a bank card or dull knife.
  2. Place the stain, face down, on a piece of kitchen towel on an ironing board.
  3. Apply another piece of kitchen towel on the back and iron on a medium heat (without steam).
  4. The wax should melt and be absorbed by the paper towel - replace the paper towel as required.
  5. Use a pre-treatment stain remover on the stain if colured..
  6. Wash with a bio laundry detergent. Repeat steps if the stain persists.

For two more ways (and a video) check out our page for removing wax here.

8. Oil & Grease Stains

Oil and water are not best friends and they refuse to mix.

If you’ve ever seen a slick of oil on a puddle, you’ll see how to the oil floats completely separately from the water.

This reluctance to mix means that trying to clean oil stains with water alone is futile. The following steps can really help remove oil stains from your clothing.

  1. Cover the oil or grease stain with a blob of washing up liquid.
  2. Scrub the stain with an old toothbrush or nailbrush. Take care not to damage the garment.
  3. Rinse the stain in water and then apply a mix of one part vinegar to two parts water to the stain.
  4. Rinse with water again before washing with a good laundry detergent.
  5. Repeat steps if stains persist.

    For more methods of removing oil stains click here!

9. Sweat & BO Stains

Although the hot summer days seem far away now, you'll be familiar with the stubborn yellow marks in the armpit or collar area caused by sweat, bacteria, and deodorant build-up.

There are many ways to tackle sweat stains, but this method uses a common item found in the household.

  1. Crush two aspirins in a small amount of warm water to form an acidic solution.
  2. Soak the sweat stain the mixture for several hours.
  3. Wash the garment at 30 degrees and use a bio laundry detergent.

Check out our article and videos for  removing sweat and BO stains here.

10. Curry Stains

Curry spices such as turmeric and paprika may taste good, but they are notoriously difficult to remove from clothes.

The best thing you can do is treat curry stains quickly, but if they're already dry, don't lose hope.

Here's what you can do to remove curry stains:

  1. In a small tub, make a mix of 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar and add a couple of teaspoons of washing up liquid.
  2. Soak the garment in this mixture for half an hour.
  3. Wash the garment as usual and then dry outside to take advantage of the natural bleaching power of the sun.
  4. Repeat steps if stain persists.

    For two more methods for removing curry stains (and a video) check out this page.

...and finally

This is a great video for using 5 common household items (many of which we mentioned above) to get stains out of clothing.