How to Remove Stains From Clothes

Updated on April 19, 2019
Chin chin profile image

My name is Chin chin. I am a mother of 5 children. I taught all of them how to read.

Image from Pixabay modified by Chin chin
Image from Pixabay modified by Chin chin

If you're a mom like me who takes care of laundry for your family members, then you may be faced with the same concerns as I am about removing stains on clothes. I have five children, and I find all sorts of stains on their clothes—ball-pen ink stains, lead pencil stains, juice stains, chocolate stains, etc. I've used some quick fixes, like using baby wipes or cotton with alcohol to remove the ball-pen ink stains, or simply washing the milk chocolate stains with cold water and a little rubbing.

Being able to keep clothes in wearable condition for a longer time helps reduce clothing costs, thus contributing to frugal living. In this artile, I would like to focus on tips on how to remove stains in clothes. I hope this will be helpful to you as the information I put into this is also an eye-opener for me.

Basic Tips on Doing Laundry and How to Remove Stains from Clothes

  1. Check the laundry for clothes with stains before washing. Most need pre-treatment or specific action to remove the stain (see below).
  2. Be sure to separate the white from the colored clothes to avoid color bleeding to stain the whites. Separate the lightly soiled from the heavily soiled clothes, too, to avoid the small particles of soil to be redeposited on cleaner clothes.
  3. Follow the clothes manufacturer label on how to wash the item i.e. dry clean only; do not bleach, etc.
  4. Remove stains immediately if possible because then they are easier to remove.
  5. Do not dryer dry or iron clothes with stain because the heat can set the stain into the fiber making it more difficult to remove, if not impossible.
  6. To avoid making the stain worse or damaging the fabric, avoid rubbing the fabric excessively. Also, don't use dark-colored cloth in rubbing the stain.
  7. Test stain removers and bleaches first on a seam or hidden area of the fabric to make sure that it will not further damage or affect the color of the fabric.

How to Remove Tomato Sauce Stain Using Lemon

6 Classification of Stains and How to Remove Them

Stains can be classified into 6 types: protein stains, tannin stains, oil-based stains, dye stains and also stains that are a combination of the different type of stains. Stains that go under each type is sorted in the table below.

(click column header to sort results)
Protein Stains  
Tannin Stains  
Oil-Based Stains  
Dye Stains  
Combination of Stains (A)  
Combination of Stains (B)  
Baby food, Baby formula
Alcoholic Beverages
Automotive oil
cherry, blueberry
ball-point ink
barbecue sauce
Milk and eggs
candle wax
tomato sauce or catsup
Berries (Strawberry, cranberry)
color bleeding in wash
face make-up
salad dressing
felt-tip pen
cocoa or chocolate
cooking fats and oils
eye make-up
fruit juice
hair oil
India ink
floor wax
hair spray
Cheese sauce
hand lotion, face creams
shoe polish
Ice Cream
petroleum jelly
tempera paint
tomato juice
White glue, paste
felt-tip water color pen

Different stains need different treatments to remove them properly from clothes. Here is a quick run through of how to remove each kind of stain.

To Remove Protein Stains i.e. blood stains, baby stain/poo

Soak and agitate the fabric in cold water with detergent. Never use hot water because the heat would cause the protein to coagulate between the fabric material. Then wash in warm water and rinse. You may have this process several times to completely remove the stain. Sometimes, bleach is necessary with colored stains like baby food (pureed carrot), baby feces, or strawberry gelatin. If the stain has dried, scrape or brush it off before soaking.

To Remove Tannin Stains i.e. coffee stains, juice stains, tea stains, tomato stains, red wine stains

Soak the cloth in hot water with detergent (NOT SOAP, it will make the stain more or less permanent). Additional bleaching may be necessary.

To Remove Oil-based Stains i.e. grease stain, baby oil stain

Use heavy-duty liquid detergent and apply directly on the stain. You may alternatively use a powdered detergent mixed with warm water to make a runny paste. Then, wash the cloth with hot water. Repeat to remove stain completely.

To Remove Dye Stains i.e. grass stains, felt-tip marker stain, mustard stain

Dye stains are very difficult to remove, if not impossible. First, apply to the stain heavy-duty liquid detergent then rinse. Second step is to soak it in dilute solution of all-fabric powdered bleach then rinse. If the stain is still there, use chlorine bleach for 15 minutes. Be sure to test the garment first for color fastness. If the stain is still there, it might not be possible to remove it completely. Bleaching it one more time will weaken the fabric.

To Remove Combination of Stains i.e. lipstick stain, crayon stain, ink stain, tomato catsup stain

This takes two steps to remove the stain. The first step is to remove the oily or waxy part of the stain. Stains listed under Combination of Stains (A) in the table above needs treatment or application with a dry cleaning solvent, next with heavy-duty liquid detergent and then washed in hot water. For stains listed under Combination of Stains (B), simply rub the stain with heavy-duty liquid detergent before washing.

The second step is to remove the dye part of the stain. To do this, bleach the garment using an all-fabric bleach. If this does not remove the stain, use liquid chlorine. Again, make sure that the fabric is colorfast.

Other Stains Requiring Extra Special Treatment

Removing Rust Stain from Clothing

The environment-friendly way to treat rust stain is to use lemon juice or calamansi juice and salt. Sprinkle some salt on the stain and then apply lemon juice or calamansi juice on it. Let it stand in the sun to dry. (Note this may cause discoloring as in bleaching the fabric). Then wash with detergent and rinse. Repeat if necessary.

Removing Bubble Gum Stain

Rub ice on the gum until it hardens. Scrape off the hardened gum. Rub the remaining stain with a cotton wet with oil. Then, wash in warm water and detergent. Repeat if necessary.

Removing Deodorant | Perspiration Stain

Apply liquid detergent directly on the part of the garment with perspiration or deodorant stain. Let stand for 15-30 minutes then wash in warm water and detergent. Don't allow the build-up of aluminum or zinc salts as this may be impossible to remove.

Removing Mildew Stain

Shake or brush off any sight of mildew outdoors. Then, apply heavy-duty liquid detergent on the darkest stains. Wash in hot water. If the stain remains, bleach as necessary.

Removing Lead Pencil Stain

Use a pencil eraser to remove the stain without rubbing too hard. Then, wash with liquid detergent and rinse in warm water.

That's it for all the tips on how to remove stain from your clothes.

© 2011 Chin chin


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    • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

      Chin chin 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      @Tamarajo, I'm glad you found it handy. It is difficult to remember everything. Good to print it. God bless.

    • Tamarajo profile image


      8 years ago

      This will come in handy. Im going to print it and hang it in the laundry room otherwise I won't remember what goes with what stain.

      Very informative article.

    • mathira profile image


      8 years ago from chennai

      very useful tips.

    • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

      Chin chin 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Angelladywriter. I have no experience removing hairdye from clothes but here's a page where it talks about how to do it - Hope it helps.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Do you have any suggestions for removal of a stain from hair dye. I got some in a nice pair of pants. I hate to get rid of them now. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 

      8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      thanks for the tips, its very useful, I really don't like washing clothes specially with stubborn stains but this tips will make it a little easier.

    • deenahere profile image


      8 years ago from India

      Useful hub. Thanks for Sharing

    • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

      Chin chin 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      @reese, Oh, I am so glad that you dropped by. Thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      bookmarked this hub of your chin...

      very helpful!

    • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

      Chin chin 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      @homesteadbound, Thanks for the tips, I haven't tried those two. I have read in my research that if you are going to use chemical products on the fabric, you still have to test it first because some type of fabrics (especially the synthetic ones) may react with it and be damaged.

      Have a nice day.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I can share two great tips for you. With ink like that in a ball point pen, if you spray with hairspray and wash with cold water, it comes out.

      And blood can be removed by repeatedly pouring a small amount of peroxide on blood, letting it fizz, rinse with cold water and repeat until the blood is gone. Do this before washing.

      Great hub for removing stains. I am bookmarking it!

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 

      8 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Wow. What a useful table! Thanks.

    • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

      Chin chin 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Mathair, have you seen the video on how to remove tomato sauce stain using lemon? I think spaghetti sauce stain can be removed in the same way. Thanks for reading.

    • mathair profile image


      8 years ago from Ireland

      I always find that my kids ruin their clothes with Spaghetti sauce. I can never wash it out. This makes the meal a very jumpy affair involving paper towels, cloths etc!! Now I have some tips.

    • NarayanKrishna profile image


      8 years ago from The country of Mount Everest

      Very useful hub.


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