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Stain Removal Guide

This guide explains the quickest and most effective ways to remove almost any stain from almost any surface. For best results remember that to beat stains, you should treat them as soon as they happen, before they have time to set.

Before we start, there are a few things you should know, such as the 8 basic techniques of stains removal and the 3 basic types of stains - Greasy stains, Non-Greasy stains, and Combination Stains.

In order to identify the type of stain, you need to know the difference between the 3 types of stains.



Did you ever drop the buttered popcorn bucket on your lap in the movies, or inadvertently hit the dipstick on your sleeve while checking the oil in your car? Well these are greasy stains. Sometimes a greasy stain can be removed during laundering. The stain should be pretreated with liquid laundry detergent by gently rubbing it in. If the fabric is nonwashable, the stain should be spotted with a dry-cleaning solution. The removal may take several attempts but the fabric should be allowed to completely dry between attempts.

Greasy stains can also be removed from nonwashable fabrics by using an absorbent, such as cornmeal, cornstarch, French chalk, or fuller's earth (mineral clay available at most chemists). Dust the area with the absorbent. When it appears to be caked and dry, brush or shake off the absorbent.

Absorbents are easy to use and will not harm fabrics. However dry cleaning chemicals, detergents, and bleach can damage fabrics. Always pre-test an inconspicuous area before using.


A non greasy stain is easy to acquire and not impossible to remove. Non greasy stains include fruit juice, coffee, tea, ink, and also food colouring. .

If you are treating a non-greasy stain on a washable fabric, the first thing to do is sponge the stain with cool water as soon as possible. If this doesn't work, soak the fabric in cool water from 1/2 hour to overnight. If some of the stain is still present gently rub liquid detergent into the stain and rinse with cool water. As a last resort, bleach can be used only after reading the manufacturer's label and pre-testing an inconspicuous area. If the stain has been ironed or is old, it may be impossible to get out.

If the stain does not come out after sponging it with cool water, a flushing method should be used. Place an absorbent pad under the stain and flush the stain with water by using an eye dropper or spray bottle. Liquid detergent can also be applied if needed. If the stain is new, this method should remove the stain entirely. The spot can be rubbed with alcohol after it is rinsed to remove detergent residue and to speed drying. (CAUTION: If you're treating acetate, acrylic, modacrylic, rayon, triacetate, or vinyl, be sure to dilute the alcohol with water, 1 part alcohol to 2 parts water.


Combination stains can be double the trouble. Coffee with cream, salad dressing, lipstick contain both greasy and nongreasy stains. Getting rid of combination stains is a two step process. First get rid of the non - greasy stain, using the above methods, and then remove the greasy stain.


There are eight basic techniques for stain removal: brushing, flushing, freezing, pre-soaking, pre-treating, scraping, sponging, and tamping. Using the right technique along with the proper solutions will ease the removal of the stain.

  • BRUSHINGBrushing is the first step used for removal of dry stains, ( i. e. mud). The fabric should be stretched out on a smooth surface and using a small stiff brush, brush the residue onto a sheet of paper.

  • FLUSHING Flushing is used to remove loosened residue and stain removing solutions from the fabrics. It is important if you are flushing on nonwashable materials, to control the spread of water through the garment. This is accomplished by applying water with an eye dropper or spray bottle trigger which allows for direct placement of minimal amounts of water. Begin applying water, an absorbent pad is to be placed under the spot. This pad should be changed before the water and stains fills it up. If the fabric is washable, the article should be rinsed with warm water after flushing is completed.

  • FREEZING Freezing is used to remove candle wax, chewing gum, and other gooey substances. Hold an ice cube against the stain until it is frozen. If the surface is nonwashable, place the ice cube in a plastic bag to avoid the area from becoming wet. After the stain has become solidified, it can be gently lifted or scraped off the surface.

  • PRESOAKING Garments that have become yellowed, grayed, or heavily soiled should be presoaked in a solution for no longer than 30 minutes. Items that are not colourfast should only be pre-soak very briefly. Bleach, laundry detergent, or an enzyme pre-soak can be used, however, do not use bleach and an enzyme together. Items should be rinsed thoroughly before laundering to remove any pre-soak solution left on them.

  • PRETREATING Oily, greasy stains should be pre-treated with a spray of liquid laundry detergent, stain removing spray, bar soap, or pre-treating paste made from powdered detergent. The solution should be rubbed into the fabric and then laundered as normal.

  • SCRAPING Solid material should be scraped away with a dull knife, spoon, or spatula before applying stain remover. Short strokes should be applied, without pressing too hard, across the surface of the stain.

  • SPONGING If possible, put an absorbent pad under the stain before starting. Using a sponge or pad, apply the stain removing solution and sponge the stain gently using light strokes working inward toward the center. As either pad becomes stained, it should be changed. If working on acetate, rayon or triacetate, rings can appear from sponging. The sponge or pad should be barely wet and the fabric should be touched lightly. Allow to thoroughly dry and do not iron or dry with heat.

  • TAMPING To remove stains from durable, tightly woven fabrics, tamping should be done with a soft-bristle brush. The stained article is place on a hard surface without a pad, and the stain is lightly rapped with the bristles until the stain is removed. This method should only be used when directed as tamping could damage fabrics.


  • Do it right 1st time
  • The quicker the better: it is best to treat a stain as soon as it appears. The longer it sets, the more likely the stain will be permanent .
  • Know what you are cleaning: identify both the stain and the surface it is on. Both will have an affect on how you treat the stain. Clean it off before you clean it: remove as much of the stain as possible before you begin to the stain removal process.
  • Be gentle rubbing, folding, wringing, and squeezing cause stains to penetrate more deeply and may damage delicate fabrics.
  • Keep it cool: avoid using hot water, high heat in dryers, and irons on stains. The heat makes some stains almost impossible to remove.
  • Pretest stain removers: even water can damage some fabrics, always test any cleaner you plan to use on an inconspicuous place before using.
  • Follow directions: read the manufacturer's labels and the directions on product containers.
  • Work from the edges into the center: by working from the edges toward the center, you will not spread the stain or leave a ring.