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Out, Out, You Darn Stain

Updated on July 21, 2009
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Why Can't They Leave Us Alone?

We all have them. Those stains that have set in and won’t come out. They appear on our favorite shirts and every outfit of the adorably messy infant. What do we do then? Throw them away? Use those beautiful things as rags? Maybe not. There might be a few tricks up each of our sleeves to beat back the advance of the set in stain.

There are many possible solutions to getting out your old stains. Some are commercial and easily bought at your local supermarket. Others can be made up from ingredients right in your own kitchen. Since each stain and fabric is different, there is no one cure all for stains. Each one needs to be treated differently and much experimenting will be done. There is one common piece of wisdom to remember: the earlier you treat it the less aggressive the treatment needed. So let’s begin.

Possible Solutions

Solution #1 – Go into your kitchen. Pick up the dish soap or dishwashing detergent. Soak the garment in warm water. Place soap or detergent on stain and soak for a few more minutes. Use toothbrush and lightly scrub the stain. Rinse. Repeat if necessary. The soaking is important as it allows the chemicals to work their magic without our fussy interference. After they are allowed to go in and grab onto the stain, we can put in our part of the battle. Using a toothbrush encourages us to concentrate on the spot and get to the heart, or spot, of the matter. Rinsing lets the loosened guck leave your precious clothing.

Solution #2 – Combine one part vinegar and one part water. Soak garment. Rinse and repeat if necessary. This is a method used by our grandparents and worked pretty good for many a year. If you do your laundry by hand, put vinegar in your rinse water and let them soak. It works great and they dry softer on the line.

Solution #3 – If you have hard water, you might be getting yellow and orange stains on your clothes. Use a commercial product found in almost any store called “Iron Out”. It works great. We use it on our whites because our well water is heavy with iron.

Solution #4 Simple Green – an all-purpose cleaner that does great for removing stains. Test on a portion of the fabric before using it on the stain. The stain might become the least of your problems.

Solution #5 Lemon juice and water. Soak your garment in a mixture of one part lemon juice and one part water. Hang in the sun to dry. Many have sworn that this works. I admit that I have not tried it, but the numerous uses of lemon juice are astounding.

Solution #6Goo Gone. This is great for grease stains on your hands, on carpet, and on your clothes. Mechanics and contractors love it. Everyone I know that uses it says that it is versatile so I do not doubt that grease on our clothes has met its match.

Solution #7Oxiclean. Mix Oxiclean in warm water and soak garment. I’ve found some stains disappear instantly. Others take several tries.

Solution #8 – One part ammonia, one part dish soap, one part warm water. My mother has used this solution for over fifty years. She has tried commercial products and always returns to old faithful.


Try a few of these stain removal solutions. You might even find that you have to use a combination of them. As I said earlier, each stain and each fabric is different. The chemical makeup of each one determines what stain remover is the best for the job.

Good luck!


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    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      Good tips. Thanks for answering my request.

    • shawna.wilson profile image

      shawna.wilson 8 years ago from Arizona

      I use vinegar in my laundry pretty regularly, especially if I have an extra smelly load. A soak in vinegar and water takes the odor right out. Thanks for all the tips! I'll admit I try to spend as little as possible on my kids' clothes because they all just end up stained and ruined eventually. Hopefully some of these ideas will prolong the life of their clothes!

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 8 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      A lot of great advice. Thank you

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I like the vinegar tip, but I have never tried it.

    • Montana Farm Girl profile image

      Montana Farm Girl 8 years ago from Northwestern Montana

      Wow, GREAT hub!!!! My hubby is constantly dripping something on his t's!!!! I just bought him a "hooters" shirt and swore if he got a stain on it, I would never buy him a new shirt again!!! Well, he did!!!!! So it's back to garages sale and thrift store shirts for that bad boy!!!! I'm bookmarking your great hub so I can refer to it again and again !! :-)