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DIY Stain Removal Guide - Just Open Up your Pantry

Updated on March 3, 2013

There is nothing more frustrating than a stain. They may be small and harmless or large and mean. No matter what size, they are all capable of rendering a garment unwearable. Needless to say they will cost you money and time trying to remove them or replace them. But what can you do? Most people throw caution to the wind and toss the garment in the washer and hope for the best. What you may not know is that there are super heroes of laundry lurking in your home that will combat these stains and cost you penny's versus dollars.

Who are these heroes you ask? I will get to that later. First you must agree to follow the cardinal rules of laundry and stain removal.

The Cardinal Rules of Stain Fighting

  1. I, state your name, will never rub a stain while trying in vain to remove it. This taunting will only aggravate the problem stain and encourage it to stay longer and thus resist my attempts to thwart it.

  2. I will always enact the non-confrontational method of lightly dabbing and gently blotting the stain. No harsh rubbing or agitating.

  3. I will act fast and treat the stain quickly. I will test the fabric first for colorfastness.

  4. I will never wash the stained garment before I treat the stain and I will never attempt to wash the item that bears the Dry-clean only label.

Photo by Camila Zanon
Photo by Camila Zanon | Source

Baby Wipes

The first hero I would like you to meet is one that is present in any home with small children. Baby wipes are extremely versatile. Although most of us see them in their disguised form as little wash clothes for baby butts we often overlook them for more toxic stain removal methods.

BEST USE: One of the most vicious stains in the world of laundry is the dreaded lipstick stain. A single baby wipe can thwart a smudge of almost any brand of lipstick. Just gently blot in small circular motion so it doesn't spread. Additional uses include removing permanent marker from children's skin. Gentle and effective.

White Vinegar

Vinegar is the most useful and reveared of all household superheroes. Buy it by the gallon because this product is the most versatile of all cleaning items. Books, hubs and articles have been written to sing its 101 uses. As far as laundry goes, the white knight dons his cloak to dissolved the most common and distinguishable villain - The Grass Stain.

BEST USE: Whether its football, soccer or baseball season you want this guy in the stands waiting to save the day. Grass stains can leave anyone scratching their heads thinking, (Why won't this dang thing come out?!" The simple reason is that grass stains are the same as dyes. The grass has pigments which bond with natural fibers like cement and set fast.

But this is no match for Vinegar. Combine 1/3 cup of white vinegar with 2/3 cup of water and use a clean wash cloth to blot the solution on. Rinse and repeat until the stain is mostly gone. It can then be tossed into the washing machine.

Note: Remember never to use ammonia or a degreaser or an alkaline detergent because they will set the stain.

Table Salt

The oldest of all the stain fighting heroes, salt is more known for making food delicious that fighting it. There is no end to the wonderful things salt can do. From making bland food yummy to exfoliating heals, salt is the hero of all heroes. It also taste good on watermelon.

BEST USE: One thing many people do not know is that Salt is also extremely effective at fighting the arch enemy of all textiles - Red Wine. Red wine has a way of always overstaying its welcome. Especially on a white table cloth. But a glass of beaujolais is no match for salt.

To remove wine spilled on a tablecloth or clothing, blot as much of the liquid up as possible, Do not press too hard because it can spread out making the stain larger. Immediately pour table salt on wine spot. It will soak up the wine. Then soak in ice water and blot again until stain is gone. This really works! We used this on an antique Baptismal gown with excellent results.

Rubbing Alcohol

This humble little fellow disguised in a plain brown bottle is probably the most useful of all stain remover heroes in terms of importance. Alcohol has been praised for cleaning wounds, sanitising earrings, relaxing sore muscles and de-greasing hard surfaces. It certainly comes to the rescue of many who are in need.

BEST USE: Yet, nothing screams Help! like a giant ball point pen ink stain on the pocket of a white shirt and rubbing alcohol is there to do the job for pennies. To remove an ink stain place garment on clean white towel or fabric. Use a cotton ball soaked lightly in rubbing alcohol to carefully dab the stain all over. As the stain begins to come up and saturate the cotton use a new cotton ball with fresh alcohol until no more ink will come up. The rinse the garment and apply detergent on top of stain and let set for 5-10 minutes to soak in. Wash in hot water.

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Hydrgen Peroxide

By appearance, hydrogen peroxide could be rubbing alcohol's kissing cousin. Same brown bottle, same inexpensive price tag, and a myriad of uses in and around the home. Many of us remember the fizzing effect as mom dabbed a skinned elbow with peroxide to disinfect it or there are some who remember trying to recreate Heather Locklear's highlights without going to the salon. Well beyond those two uses hydrogen peroxide has been busy as a produce disinfectant, a hand sanitiser, mouth cleanser and tooth whitener. But the true calling of this little wall flower is its ability to banish blood and other stains from clothes.

BEST USE: Blood stains, as well and coffee and tea stains are by-far the worst stains to get out of clothing. They render a garment useless and this is both costly and frustrating. Before there was Oxy-Clean, mom and grandma reached for the hydrogen peroxide to get the blood stains out.

Apply the Hydrogen Peroxide by blotting and dabbing. Pour a cap full at a time allowing it to fizz up on the stain each time. When it no longer fizzes, gently rub the rest of the stain away with a wash cloth. Voila. A little miracle worker in a bottle.


Submit a Comment

  • LA Elsen profile imageAUTHOR

    LA Elsen 

    5 years ago from Chicago, IL

    Thanks Whowas, I know I have found a thousand uses for those wipes. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Great little article this and full of very useful tips and ideas. I had never thought of using baby wipes in the way you describe - and although my children are now in their teens, we seem always to have some still around the house as they are so useful for so many other things. I take them on long journeys, too as a quick emergency freshen up when a proper visit to the bathroom isn't always possible!

    Useful article, thanks!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    5 years ago

    I am learning something new today. Table salt is not one I would have thought to use in removing stains. Great post and so useful.


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