Stain Removal Tips
First a few rules: No matter how strong your urge, do not rub a stain - pat only. Rubbing will push the stain further down into the fabric. Patting will move the stain into the rag or napkin you are patting with. Rubbing damp silk will damage the material.
Applying Water or Clear Soda Water? Either one will usually dilute a stain and make it easier to remove later.
If you have a surface stain (like spaghetti sauce), place the garment stain down on a towel or rag and pat the stain removal liquid (i.e. water or liquid detergent) from the backside so as to move the stain on to the towel. If you pat from the stained side you will push the stain further into the fabric. Some stains (such as coffee with cream and sugar) may have many different components all taking a different stain removal process, so be patient. Never machine dry a garment before removing the stains. They will be permanently set. The older the stain, the more difficult to it is to remove. Don't procrastinate - get it out as soon as possible. Oily type stains must be removed at once, as they will yellow with age.
Beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks, wine, alcoholic drinks, fruit juice) - rinse stain in cool water. Preferably before the stain dries. Pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover or a mild laundry detergent and white vinegar. If the stain is still there after laundering, try an enzyme detergent (like ERA) or go back to the first step. Presoak if possible.
Blood, egg, urine, vomit, feces or other animal type stains - scrape off any residue then soak freshly stained garment in cold water for 30 minutes and rinse. Gently rub detergent into any remaining stain. Rinse and then launder. If any stain remains or the stain is dry, soak in lukewarm water with an enzyme product (like ERA) and then launder.
Fruit, mustard, grass, tobacco or other plant type stains - rinse with cool water and treat with a milk detergent and white vinegar before washing or presoak in an enzyme product (like ERA) in the warmest water safe for the fabric. Then launder as usual. May need to repeat if stain is not completely gone.
Grease, motor oil, salad dressing, butter, cooking oil, cosmetics, crayon - light stains can be pretreated with a spray stain remove. Heavier stains require a mild laundry detergent mixed with household ammonia, or detergent mixed with a detergent booster. Launder in hottest water safe for the fabric. Remember pat only, no rubbing. Will have to repeat several times for heavy stains. Very heavy oil may require a solvent-based stain removal product - see candle wax below.
Perspiration - treat with pre-wash stain remover, or dampen stain and rub with bar soap. If the color of the fabric has changed slightly, apply ammonia to fresh stain or white vinegar to old stain, rinse. Launder in hottest water safe for that fabric. Stubborn stains may respond to pre-treating (soak) with an enzyme product, like ERA, and then launder using all-fabric bleach.
Candle wax, lipstick - gently lift off larger pieces. Treat with a solvent based stain removal product (K2R, Goof-Off). Again, pat from the backside into a cloth. Then wash in the hottest water safe for that fabric. Test colored items first.