How To Remove Even The Trickiest Stains

Stains_1Designed by Ly Ngo.
Stains are real mood killers. There you are happily scarfing down an eggs Benedict at brunch or brushing your teeth last minute to race out for a meeting, and bam! A dribble or splatter strikes — right onto that pristine peplum. But, even if you're the type to have a stain-fighting pen in every pocket, sometimes a situation is so dire you simply have to change clothes and deal with the spot later. What then?
We went straight to the experts at The Laundress, founders Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, for the bottom-line rule on how to remove any extra-tricky splotch. It turns out, you don't have to immediately strip in a restaurant bathroom to save that favorite silk shirt. (Wish we knew that a week ago. Awkward.) And, even better news, an item's rarely unsalvageable. Of course, the longer you wait, the more elbow grease you're going to need to put into the fix. We asked them to address six sticky situations we often find ourselves in: smears of chocolate, mustard, grease, blood, and toothpaste. (It's not just us,right?) And, they told us it's as easy as knowing what temperatures to use for what fabrics — and a few other hard-and-fast rules. Read on; their guide gives us all full license to eat (and live) with gusto.
Stains_5Designed by Ly Ngo.
Water: Hot (cold for wool and silk)
Process: Apply a highly concentrated pretreat solution directly to the stain and allow the item to soak in hot water in a wash basin or sink, the longer the better (even overnight).
With any stain, it's important to consider how long it's been there and what the clothing item is made of. No two stains should be treated exactly the same. Maybe you've gotten a piece back from the dry cleaner and the mark is still there — that's because they have a one-process-fits-all strategy. And, some spots require multiple treatments.
Water: Hot (cold for wool and silk)
Process: Apply a highly concentrated pretreat solution directly to the stain and allow the item to soak in hot water in a wash basin or sink, the longer the better (even overnight).
The treatment here is the same as chocolate. Since mustard comes from a seed, the stain comes from a natural dye. Really anything that naturally has color (blueberries especially) is going to be a pain to get out. According to Lindsay and Gwen, it's all about repeating the process as many times as it takes. The hotter the water, the faster it works. They recommend even turning the kettle on and pouring boiled water directly onto the fabric.
Stains_2Designed by Ly Ngo.
Water: Cold
Process: Apply the stain remover to the spot and sprinkle with an oxygenated bleach. Gently work the “paste” into the fabric (this can even be done with a toothbrush). Allow item to soak overnight and then launder as normal.
Since blood has protein in its chemical makeup, cold water is the best way to be sure the stain doesn't set. You'll probably need to repeat the process for this kind of mark.
Stains_3Designed by Ly Ngo.
Water: Hot
Process: Use a highly concentrated pretreat solution and allow the item to soak in hot water in a wash basin or sink, the longer the better — even overnight.
If Gwen and Lindsey were giving out dirt awards, bike grease and rust would take home the title of trickiest stains. Grease gets into fibers and acts like tar: all sticky and dirty at the same time. It needs a lot of agitation.
Water: Hot (cold for wool and silk)
Process: For stubborn, set-in stains, like those yellow underarm marks, apply the stain remover and sprinkle with an oxygenated bleach gently working the “paste” into the fabric (this can even be done with a toothbrush).
The method of pouring hot water directly from a kettle works great with sweat stains. The reason underarm discoloration is so tricky is that your sweat mixes with the chemicals in deodorant to create a new stain. Basically, it's double trouble. For particularly old spots, add a capful of bleach alternative to the soaking basin.
Stains_4Designed by Ly Ngo.
Water: Tepid to cool
Process: Pretreat with a stain solution or bar directly onto the stain and let soak overnight. For wool and silk, soak for no more than 30 minutes.
If any of these tricks of the trade don't work, do what the Laundresses say: Rinse and repeat!

More from Home

While Hermione's life outside of Hogwarts didn't get nearly enough screentime in the Harry Potter movies, it's getting the credit it deserves on the ...
If you, like many people, would do just about anything to own a former Leonardo DiCaprio residence, you have a second chance. It's entirely possible that...
What comes to mind when you think of Japan? Is it the fashion of Harajuku or the electric chaos of Akihabara? Maybe the quiet of a mountain retreat in the ...
Rest assured: Stains are not always your fault. Sure, you experience a clumsy moment from time to time, but you also can’t control the actions of others, ...
It's safe to say that a home — especially in New York City — will be one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make in a lifetime. But let's be real here: ...
Lady Gaga is known for her unique, eccentric, and sometimes downright insane sense of style. So it makes total sense that she would purchase a mansion ...
Take a peek at any design-forward apartment, and we dare you not to spot at least one Ikea item. Like classic wardrobe staples, there are certain pieces ...
(Paid Content) August is a turning point. It might still be peak summer, but all the summer Fridays in the world are not enough to keep our fall fantasies ...
Lighting candles is a great way to relax. The luxurious scent, the small burst of warmth, and the dim light all come together to help you unwind. But can...
A change of season means a change of style. It's the perfect time to update your wardrobe with the newest fall trends and freshen up your home with some ...
If you've rented an apartment, chances are you've had a kitchen like redditor ElizaB's, which she described as "yellow and sticky and ALWAYS dirty." Not ...
Time to celebrate, little spoons: There's a chair that will literally cradle you. A student in Moscow delivered the design for our dream lounge chair. ...
Though Ikea offers stylish home furnishings for insanely affordable prices, a visit to the store can be a true test for any relationship. The hordes of ...
In 1998, not too long after the release of Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio put his well-earned Jack Dawson money toward a beach home in Malibu. According to ...