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.
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.
Protein Based Stain Removal
To remove protein based stains, you'll need a detergent or stain remover with enzymes. Most liquid laundry detergents already contain enzymes. Oxygen color safe bleaches can be very effective on protein based stains as well. Be sure to avoid heat. Hot water, an iron, or a dryer will set protein stains, ruining any chance of saving the stained item. Make sure a stain has been completely removed before drying it.
Dye based stains include some inks, fruit, grass, Kool Aid, 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.
Dye Based Stain Removal
To best remove dye based stains, you need to get to them quickly. Dye based stains that are fresh can possibly be removed with just hot running water. If a stain has been sitting for awhile, it will probably be necessary to soak the stained area to fully remove the stain. Dye stains frequently need multiple treatments to fully remove the stain.
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.
Tannin Based Stain Removal
To remove fresh tannin based stains, run the stained area under cold water, followed by a regular wash cycle with the hottest water the fabric will safely tolerate. Set in tannin stains are a different story. These stains may require multiple treatments and soaking to remove the stains fully. Be sure to avoid any bar soaps or any other type of soap when dealing with a tannin stains. Soap will set a tannin stain permanently. Make detergents are used instead of soaps.
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.
Oil Based Stain Removal
Oil stains can be difficult to fully get rid of. Oil stains can reappear just when you think you've seen the last of them. To remove oil stains, you'll need hot water and detergent. Soak the stained area before washing in the hottest water the clothing will tolerate. Check the stained area before you dry it to make sure the stain is fully gone. When in doubt repeat the stain removal process.
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.
Combination Based Stain Removal
Combination based stains are two or more classes of stains that each have to be dealt with to fully remove a stain. Combination based stains most often have oil and dye components to be removed. The first step is to treat the oily part of the stain followed by the color portion of the stain. Combination stains may need repeat treatments, and since a dryer will set the stains, be sure to fully remove the stain before drying.