Stain Removal FAQ
A SUMMARY OF STAIN REMOVAL TIPS - gathered 3/7/94,
updated 6/13/94 by Vivian
A stewardess told me this, and it works. Tea and coffee stains can be
removed with club soda. The trick is to use the soda to rinse out the stain
as soon as possible. I've used it once or twice and it seems to work very
I have a tried (many times) and true way of getting stains out gently. I
even use it on needlework (embroidery). Take two parts Ivory Snow (not
flakes) and one part Snowy Bleach (only this brand) and mix them in water--
enough water so that that the solution is quite soapy--exact proportions
aren't necessary. Soak the stained item. For a bad stain, you can soak it
up to two weeks. (I've heard that you can for longer than this, but two
weeks is the most I've done.) I have had this get out incredible stains
without changing the colors of the embroidery floss or fabric. It's MUCH
gentler than Clorox
All this stain talk reminded me of a juice stain removal tip - red juices
can be removed by soaking the garment in milk. Cotton will really soak it
up and a kids shirt might drink up 2 cups. I just let it soak overnight.
And from the voice of experience, don't just throw the milky garment into
your washer and forget it for a few days - it will remind you that it is
I use the pump hairspray all the time on ink. I just spray and throw it in
the washer. I've gotten out many stains that have been washed and dried
before I noticed them. Another hint quilters could use: meat tenderizer
will take out blood stains. Dampen the stain and rub on the tenderizer like
a paste. Let it stand awhile and wash in cold water. I won't put the stuff
on my food but I keep a jar in my laundry room. A product like Softscrub
with bleach is great on whites when you don't want to affect an adjoining
color but you have to be careful when you rinse it out. Boiling water will
usually get out any fruit or pop stain. Dry cleaning will remove most
pencil marks--but you'd want to be careful about what fabrics you have dry
cleaned. I buy lots of stuff second hand and I've gotten to be pretty good
at getting even old stains out.
Someone posted a recipe for removing stains (1 cup Clorox II and 1 cup
Cascade in hot water) but said it didn't get the ink stains out.
To remove ink stains, you can use a can of hairspray (not the pump, but the
can). Spray the hairspray on the fabric, rub together, and run under cold
water. Repeat as many times as necessary (or until you have to leave the
room because of the choking fumes). It really works best if the stain has
not been set by the dryer, but try it anyway.
(one of my mother's hints right along with vegetable oil helping to remove
The Tightwad Gazette offers the following recipe: Add one cup each of
powdered Cascade and Clorox II to five gallons of the hottest water to come
out of your faucet. Soak several articles overnight, and launder as usual.
I have endeared myself to my granddaughter as I was able to soak out a red
pop or something stain from her red and white polyester cheer- leading
outfit using this recipe. The article goes on to say that she does not use
this recipe for delicate fabrics, or fabrics that are not color-fast. It is
particularly good for removing food stains. I just soaked a bunch of old
table runners and doilies and they came out much whiter, but some old ink
stains remained. For what it's worth.
And white wine will take out red wine stains. (This one I didn't believe
until someone spilled red wine on a pale yellow linen tablecloth. I didn't
see the stain until the next day when I took the tablecloth out of the
washing machine where a helpful guest had put it, to check for stains
before washing it. I suspended the stained part over the sink, whipped the
white wine out of the fridge, poured some on the stain, and the stain just
I wanted to add my 2 cents about the wonderful uses of hairspray.
Some years ago, a pen made it through the wash with my husband's brand new
dress shirts. Out of desperation I sprayed the spots with a non- aerosol
hairspray. It worked! It also took two bottles to completely remove all the
stains from all the shirts but it worked. I didn't dry the shirts in
between for obvious reasons. When you soak the spots with spray you can
actually see the ink "bleed" as it dissolves.
Aside from this, hairspray also works wonders for stopping runs in
pantyhose and for killing spiders when nothing else is available.
Recently my husband got a lot of ball point ink on a white dress shirt. I
soaked it in alcohol. To keep the alcohol from evaporating too fast, I
sealed it in a plastic bowl with a tight lid. I let it soak over night, and
it all came out.
We had a *slight* mishap on our near white living room carpet which left
quite a bit of blood on the carpet. I found that hydrogen peroxide followed
by boiling water took the blood out without a problem, and there was no
problem with color change.
Melissa asked about removing pencil markings from a quilt top. Last night I
found the following "recipe" in my Oxmoor House "Best Loved Quilt Patterns"
3 oz. rubbing alcohol
1 oz. water
3 or 4 drops liquid dishwashing detergent
-- Place in squeeze bottle; shake well. Wet corner of a rough washcloth
w/solution and rub over markings. Wet a 2nd washcloth w/water and rub over
treated area to rinse. Let quilt air dry.
It said the lines will disappear when the quilt is dry, but a 2nd
application may be necessary.
I haven't used this solution personally, so I'd try it on a fabric scrap
before making any major commitments! Good luck Melissa!