I spilled! Laundry stain removal 101

On the Cleaning Lady Blog we talk a lot about natural cleaning products (vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are the stars) but we haven’t actually covered how to quickly and effectively handle a laundry stain. Hot water or cold water? Apply soap or leave it alone? Here is a how-to on what to do when you spill on your favorite top. The most important thing is to move quickly!

  1. Blot up any excess liquid with a clean white cloth, paper, or other towels. Remove excess solids by gentle scraping or chipping with a dull knife or metal spatula. If the spill is a thick substance like mud, removal may be easier after the stain has dried. Excess can be brushed off before the clothing is submerged for washing.
  2. Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry towel or a dark-colored cloth. You may complicate the problem.
  3. Never rub a fresh stain with bar soap, as soap can actually set many stains.
  4. If the item is dryclean-able, take to the cleaners as soon as possible (within 24 to 48 hours).
  5. Do not try to treat suede, leather, or fur. Professional cleaners are needed for these items, and even some professionals do not offer this service.
  6. Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. Hot water can set protein stains such as milk, egg, or blood.
  7. Test stain removal agents on a seam or hidden area of the garment to be sure it does not affect the color or finish of the fabric before starting on the stain.
  8. Treat the stain prior to washing with detergent, a product like shout or Oxyclean, or your preference. Avoid excessive rubbing unless fabric is tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and damage the fiber, finish, or color.
  9. Do not iron or press stained fabrics. Heat will set most stains.
  10. Check laundry for stains before washing. Many stains need pretreatment.
  11. Inspect wet laundry before drying to be sure stain has been removed. If a stain is still evident, do not dryer dry. The heat of drying will tend to make the stain more permanent.
  12. Wash heavily soiled items separately. During laundering soil is broken into smaller particles and can be redeposited on cleaner clothing if insufficient detergent is used, water temperature is too low, washing time too long, or washer is overloaded with too many clothes.

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