Knowing how to get stains out of clothes can mean the difference between wearing that favorite shirt 15 more times, or throwing it in the trash.
We’ve all been there. You’re wearing your favorite new shirt and feeling good about yourself when without warning, your hand quivers and you spill tomato soup all over yourself. Not only does it hurt (soup is hot!), not only is it embarrassing… but you may well have just ruined that nice new shirt.
But don’t panic just yet! There may yet be time to fight the stain and save your clothes, but it all depends on how you act next. Read on and we’ll look at how to get stains out of clothes quickly and efficiently.
Blot it as well as you can!
Step one is to blot. Blotting means dabbing a tissue or another item onto the clothing. This is different from wiping or drying. If you wipe the clothes with the tissue, then you’ll actually just spread the stain, encourage it to get set in and generally exacerbate the issue.
By blotting, you are holding the tissue against the surface and allowing the moisture to transfer into the tissue. This removes the substance without spreading it and it prevents it from dripping due to gravity.
Wash as soon as possible
The next thing to do is to take your shirt off immediately and start running it under hot water. Don’t give the spill time to dry or to get matted into the fabric of your clothing. If you run water through it right now, then you’ll dilute the soup/wine/gravy and help to remove much of it right away. Pinch the clothes so that only the affected area is under the tap though: you don’t want to unintentionally cause the water to run down the front of the item and thereby actually spread the stain.
Never rub a stain with hand soap either. Not only can this cause the stain to set in, but in some cases, the soap itself might be colored and this will add even more discoloration! You may use a little laundry detergent, however.
Now throw on another shirt and hop in your car with the damaged item. Keep it flat. You’re going to the laundromat!
How to wash the stain in a washer
At the laundromat, you’re going to wash your item in hot water. Many washers actually have a “stain removal setting.” Likewise, you might find stain removal products. Many of these are used by adding the liquid into the wash inside a small cap, but often the better option is to apply the stain removal product directly to the surface of the clothing where the stain is. Many people don’t realize you can do this – but it all ends up in the same place anyway!
This is one of the most important steps in getting stains out of clothes and it’s one that many people don’t realize!
Use the highest appropriate temperature
With the item in the washer and the stain remover applied directly to the surface of your clothing, set the temperature to the highest setting that is appropriate for that item of clothing – make sure to read the label first!
Another tip at this point is to empty the wash of all other items. If you put heavily stained clothes in with clothes that aren’t stained, then you risk spreading the problem (depending on the size of the stain)! Incubate that laundry!
Re-wash if necessary, but don’t dry the stain!
Inspect! When the item comes out of the wash, you need to inspect it thoroughly. You may find that the stain is still there, in which case, you should not put it in the dryer yet. Drying your clothes is a surefire way to set the stain in further.
You have two options. One is to try again. Another is to look for other stain removal treatments – some of which you can apply directly to the clothes as a spray before the wash. Test these on a hidden area of your clothing first (the inside at the bottom for instance) and if they don’t harm the fabric, try spraying them directly on the affected area.
Give this about ten minutes to work its magic. Once that’s done, pop it in the machine for another spin!
If your items still aren’t stain free, you could always try turning the temperature up even higher, adding a little bleach. But please be careful as these options can end up ruining your clothes.
Need more help?
Come down to The Great American Laundromat where our expert can wash, dry, and fold your laundry for you and follow best practices!