General Stain Removal
Stains may seem like the enemy, but rest assured there are some very basic strategies that can give you the edge on even the toughest stains. No matter what kind of stain you are dealing with, some very specific rules apply to what you do.
There are some specific categories of stains that need different types of treatment. Depending on what category your stains fall into, you may need to use different water temperatures, stain removers, and removal methods to make sure that every trace of the stain is removed.
Protein Based Stains
These stains include blood, dairy products, body soils, baby formula, mud, eggs,and baby food. Protein based stains will usually have some soiled areas that will need to be cleaned off with a spoon before attempting to treat them. Remember to avoid using hot water on these stains. Heat sets protein stains in fabric. Use cool water for washing and rinsing. Dried and old protein stains may need several rounds of treatment before they will be fully gone.
Dye Based Stains
Dye based stains include some inks, fruit, grass, Koolaid, and mustard. The trouble with dye based stains is in their strength and how rapidly they stain. To remove them, you’ll probably need to soak the stained area repeatedly if the stain has set. If you get to a dye stain quickly enough, it can be removed with water, if not you may need repeated treatments. Unlike protein based stains, dye stains are best removed with hot water.
Tannin Based Stains
Tannin based stains include tea, coffee, soft drinks, fruit juice, and wine. Tannin stains are actually one of the easiest fresh stains to remove. Simply running a stained area under cold water and then washing in a regular cycle with the hottest water safe for your fabric will remove most stains. Set in tannin based stains are not as easy to get rid of. These stains will frequently need more thorough treatment, but be sure to avoid bar soaps. Tannin stains will be enhanced and made permanent if a soap is used.
Oil based stains include margarine, butter, makeup, oil, mayonnaise, deodorant, gasoline, and ring around the collar and cuff stains. The problem with oil stains is that they tend to reappear just when you think you’ve seen the last of them. Oils grab onto the fibers in your clothing and they don’t like to let go. Oil stains also darken over time. To remove oil stains the key is letting a detergent soak into the stained area, and washing in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Double check that the stain has been removed before you place clothing in the dryer, and treat it again if your in doubt.
Combination Based Stains
Combination based stains include, crayons, gum, lipstick, chocolate, gravy, tomato based stains, and bbq sauce. There are tons of combination based stains. These stains take the best of two other groups and mix them together to make it hard for you to treat them. Usually the combination is dye or color and oil. Start by removing the oily part of the stain first and then remove the dye or color portion.
Tools For Stain Removal
After you know what type of stain you have, it’s important to use the right stain removers for the job. The best stain removers will make your job much easier and leave your clothes looking like they did before your stain emergency. If you get to a stain quickly, little more than water may be required. If a stain is set, you may need to use other stain removers to help the process.