Cleaning up stains is never as simple as just chucking it in the wash and hoping for the best. Stains are a fact of life with kids – whether it’s crayons on walls, wine spilled on the carpet or biro blobs on white shirts. Removing stains is a complex science, with everything from home remedies to manufactured products promising to save the day. Kidspot has come to the rescue to help with choices, tools and advice to remove stains from all types of fabrics and surfaces.
Stain removal tip #1: Know your clothing
Is it your stained clothing dry clean only, or hand-washable? Certain fabrics can be destroyed by the intended stain treatment. For example, silk and wool will be ruined by chlorine bleach. You’ll also want to know what temperature washable items should be washed at, so that you’re not using a hot wash on an item that can only be washed in cold water.
Dry clean only items should be taken to the dry cleaners as soon as you can, preferably within 24-48 hours. Provide as much information as you can about the stain, and what steps, if any, you took to remove the stain. Dry cleaners have an impressive arsenal of solvents that cater to the type of fabric and stain to help maximise removal. Giving them all the information you can will help save your garment.
Stain removal tip #2: Get to know your stain
To treat a stain efficiently on washable clothing, it’s important to know where your stain falls in the different stain categories. Stains can be placed into five categories:
- Combination stains
Stain removal tip #3: Learning about protein based stains
These tend to be organic in composition. Egg, blood, mucous, urine, cheese, milk, and baby formula fall into this category.rotein-based stains such as blood, sweat, and other body fluids can be set by heat, so NEVER use hot water on them. These need to be initially rinsed out with mild soap, shampoo or dish liquid in cold water. If the stain looks as if it’s come out after this initial treatment, throw it in the wash as usual, to finish it off.
Protein stains are easiest to remove when fresh by soaking in cold water-you can put in your washer and agitate in cold water only to help break up the stains. If the stains are old, scrape the material off the clothing if caked on, and then soak in cold water. Protein stains that have a strong colour (think beetroot or berries) may need an over the counter bleach product to remove the stain.
Stain removal tip #4: Learning about tannin stains
This category includes coffee, tea, beer, wines, tomato juice and washable inks. Treat these by rubbing in a liquid detergent soap, and wash in hot water. Never use bar soap on a tannin stain, as it can set the stain and make it impossible to remove. Dry cleaners use an acidic cleanser to break down a tannin stain, typically mixing distilled water, glycerin and acetic acid to make a tannin remover. They then use steam and “light mechanical action” to brush away the stain, hoping not to destroy the fabric or colour.
Stain removal tip #5: Learning about oil-based stains
These are a lot like tannin stains in that they are best removed with a detergent soap and hot water. Oil-based stains include such culprits as butter, mayonnaise, hand and face cream, or greasy cuffs or collars. You’ll rub a heavy-duty detergent directly into the stain (you can also use a pre-treatment stain remover) and wash in hot water.
Stain removal tip #6: Learning about dye stains
Welcome to one of the most difficult stains to remove, even when fresh. Blueberries, mustard, inks and strong paints are the usual culprits. They require a mixture of detergent soap and bleach that’s safe for the garment to remove them. If you have a coloured fabric, use a colour-safe bleach. Rub in and wash in hot water.
Stain removal tip #7: Learning about combination stains
The usual suspects here include ball point pen, candle wax, lipstick, hairspray, chocolate and tomato sauce, to name a few. These stains require two steps to remove them, since they usually contain an oily part and a dye part. You’ll want to rub the stain first with a dry-cleaning solvent, then after use a detergent soap. Wash in hot water, repeat until the stain is removed.
Stain removal tip #8: The power of cornflour
The best thing for removing a fat or oil-based stains is to rub cornflour into the stain , let it sit for at least 20 minutes, and then brush it off with a dry washcloth or soft dry brush. You may need to repeat the treatment several times to fully remove the fat. It works especially well on silk and wool. So well, in fact, that further washing (or dry cleaning) is not needed. You can even speed up the process by placing a paper towel above and below the treated spot, and going over the area with a hot steam iron. This can be repeated several times as well, until the stain is gone.