Pro Tips: How To Remove Stains

So you totally spilled spaghetti sauce all over your new white jeans, because hey, don’t we all have those days? But you’re still totally bummed out because those jeans are brand spanking new and spaghetti sauce has a cruel little history of being impossible to get out. Fortunately, we’ve got a little bit of guidance in this whole stain-removal realm, and we’re here to deliver it to you. Figure out what kind of stain it is.

Because getting chocolate out isn’t going to be the same as getting ketchup out. Make sure you pinpoint exactly what kind of stain it is, because you’d hate to start on a removal method that will actually help set the stain. Also, you should probably take note of what kind of material you’re working with. Getting a stain out of jeans is a way different method from getting one out of a chiffon top.

Read the label.

Kind of going hand-in-hand with the whole “determine the material” thing, you should look at the label on your clothes so you’re sure what kinds of cleansers you can use.

Nip it in the bud early on.

Try not to let the stain sit on your clothes for too long. As soon as humanly possible, get that stain treated and the garment in the washing machine. The earlier, the better.

Keep an arsenal in your laundry room.

Make sure you have all the essentials in your laundry room in case of disaster. Not only should you have a bottle of bleach, but you should probably keep a stain removal stick with you, too. Try to get different kinds of bleach, like one for whites and one for colored clothing. And the most important tool of all: hydrogen peroxide. This stuff will get out pretty much any stain (but remember to read the label and make sure your clothes can take that kind of chemical!)

Learn how to use these stain-removers.

You should probably learn how to navigate these stain-removers. For example, remember that you don’t just dump straight bleach into your load of laundry. If the stain is really that bad that you’re bleaching, you should do a very gentle soak for a little bit before sending your garment into the washing machine. Stain sticks, which are great for small stains, are kind of the same deal. Follow the directions and use those as a pre-treat.

Hydrogen peroxide is perfect for getting out stains, especially when you really can’t use bleach. Most notably, hydrogen peroxide is great for getting out blood in a pinch (so like, during that time of the month). Rinse the garment gently in warm water, and then apply a generous amount of hydrogen peroxide. If you see it start to fizz, that’s totally normal—it’s just the chemical reacting with the stain. Let it hang out there for about a half an hour, and then do a light rinse again and check on the stain. If it’s still there, repeat the process.

Check your clothes for stains before sending them into the dryer.

Putting a stained garment into the dryer will do one thing, and one thing only: cook the stain right into the fabric and you’ll never ever be able to get it out. After treating the stain and washing your garment, take a good look at it to see if you’ve removed the stain. If you can’t tell when the garment is wet, throw it on a drying rack and let it air dry (although this is still a little less ideal than catching the stain while it’s still wet).

Don’t be afraid to get outside consultations.

If you have a particularly precarious stain (like, oh let’s see, a melted red lipstick at the bottom of your Vera Bradley duffle bag?), it’s totally fine to ask people what to do. Phone your mom, sis, or best friend to ask her what she thinks will work, or check out Pinterest and YouTube. There are so many smart people out there who know what’s up with laundry, and they pretty openly share their secrets to help. Better safe than sorry when it comes to our clothing, am I right?