While we know prevention is better than a cure, there will be times – especially if you have kids – when you’ll be too late and a spill will have set into a stain. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common stains and ways you can shift them with everyday products you’re likely to already have at home.
Mud is best treated when it’s dry so allow to dry naturally before scraping or brushing away as much as possible. Be gentle in order to avoid pushing the dirt further into the fibres of whatever you are treating.
Add a drop or two of dishwashing liquid and rub gently with your fingers, before adding a few drops of water and rubbing again. If it’s possible to get to both sides of the fabric (for example, if it’s on clothing rather than a couch) then do both, before dabbing with a damp cloth and repeating the steps until you can’t remove any more. Wash the item according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and dry naturally.
Grass stains can be removed in a similar way to mud stains although you don’t need to wait for them to dry. Bleach will remove the chlorophyll from white fabric but it smells terrible, and is harsh to your skin and the environment. Instead, treat a grass stain as mud and, while it’s wet, spread the item flat in full sunshine and let the ultraviolet rays of the sun do their job as it dries. Be warned: this will also faded coloured fabrics.
Run wet blood stains under cold water. If possible, turn the fabric inside out and rinse that was too. Rub a few drops of laundry detergent that has enzymes in it (it will state this on the label) and leave to soak for an hour or two in cold water before washing as normal.
Dried blood is a lot harder to remove. Treat the stain from the side opposite side of the material to which it was received (e.g.: if you bled onto the inside of your clothing, treat it from the outside), so you don’t work the stain further into the fibres. Hold it under cold running water for a few minutes, then coat the stain with soap or washing liquid, and rub or scrub the material together. The more delicate the material the more gentle you will need to be in order not to cause the material not to stretch or pill.
If the wine has been spilt on furniture or carpet soak up as much as possible before pouring a layer of table salt over the affected area and let the salt pull the wine out. This works best if the spill is treated immediately, and you can use kitty litter instead of salt. If the spill wasn’t noticed straight away, pour soda water over the stain. You can also use salt and soda water together, first pouring salt on the spill, then pouring the soda water and leaving for several hours or overnight before sweeping away the salt.
Try treating dried red wine stains with a paste made from cream of tartar and water. Wet the stain with cold water (or soda water) then apply the paste and leave to sit for several minutes before rinsing and washing in cold water.
Let the wax dry then scrape away as much as possible. Small articles can even go in the freezer to harden the wax, and you can put a bag of ice or frozen peas if the wax is on furniture or carpet. If the surface is washable, like cotton or wool, put it between two pieces of brown paper or paper towels and press with a warm iron, moving and replacing the paper as it soaks up the wax so you don’t spread the stain. You can also pour boiling water through affected fabric to dissolve the wax and rinse it away.
Oil or Grease
Put some cardboard behind the stain. Sprinkle a generous amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) over the stain and scrub with an old toothbrush or nail brush. The powder will absorb the oil and you’ll end up with little clumps. You can do this several times, brushing off the old baking soda and replacing it with fresh. Once you’ve got as much oil out as you can put a few drops of washing up liquid on the marks and scrub gently before washing the item the normal way.
As weird as it sounds dried oil stains are easier to remove if they are refreshed so squirt stains with a little bit of WD-40, or dab with a little oil, then treat as above.
Golden Stain Removing Tips
- Treat quickly
- Never use heat, unless it’s oil or wax, to avoid setting the stain
- Work from the centre of the stain into the middle so you don’t make it bigger
- Do a patch test so you don’t damage your item further
- Be patient. It may take several goes to remove a stain completely, but this is better than damaging an item through vigorous scrubbing
- If you’re unsure, call in a professional!