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Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks

How to Clean Summer Stains

May 26, 2017


Along with the sunshine, warm temperatures and (slightly) relaxed pace we also greet a set of summer stains along with the summer solstice. Not all stains can be treated the same way so don’t reach for the stain stick unless you know what’s in your stain.  Here’s a rundown on how to handle the TOP 10 summer stains PLUS a printable guide to put in your laundry room so you have the information at your fingertips. Our guide on how to clean summer stains should be required reading 🙂



Ketchup – If the ketchup has dried, brush off as much as you can with a stiff brush.  Soak the stain in warm water for 30 minutes. Then, using a bar of Ivory soap, work the soap into the stain with a toothbrush. Continue to work the soap into the fabric until you can no longer see the stain.

Mustard -Dampen the stain with warm water and then apply a liquid laundry detergent on the area. Leave undisturbed overnight and rinse in the morning. If the stain does not come out, repeat the process or try a stain remover. You can also put the stain in the laundry with some oxygen bleach to see if that will remove the stain.

Dirt – Start by soaking the stain in cool water with a small amount of dish soap and some distilled white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will break up the stain and the grease cutting properties in the dish soap will work to loosen the stain from the fabric. Use a toothbrush to separate the stain from the fabric with gentle brushing. Rinse and repeat this process if necessary.


Pizza Sauce – First dampen the area by patting gently with a wet cloth. (Don’t pour water over the stain as it will bleed into the surrounding fibers.) Place a few drops of liquid automatic dish detergent (the type used in the dishwasher) directly on the stain and rub it in with an ice cube.  If there is a stain left after rinsing, blot with a rag soaked with distilled white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will cut through the stain and loosen it from the fibers. Use a toothbrush to continue to try to remove the stain from the fibers. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.

Iced coffee – Run cool water through the back of the clothing to flush the stain out through the front. Flush fabric for 5 minutes. If the stain is still visible, spray the area with club soda and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. If the stain persists, dissolve some powdered oxygen bleach in warm water and spray it over the area. Use a stiff brush to work the oxygen bleach into the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse. Let the entire piece of clothing air dry. Another cleaning tip: if the stain is still visible, apply real lemon juice to the stain and set the piece of clothing in the sun. The natural bleach in the lemon will work with the sunshine to bleach the stain away.

Grass – Grass stains are removed by pre-treating the stain with a stain remover.  Dampen the area with cool water to start and then apply the pre-treatment to the stain. Let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes before putting the clothing in the laundry. Do not put the item in the dryer. Instead let it air dry and check to see if the stain is gone. If not, repeat the process above.

Oil – Oily stains can be removed with rubbing alcohol and a basic bar of soap. Start by applying the rubbing alcohol directly to the dry fabric. Work the alcohol in with your fingers or a washcloth. Once it’s worked into the fabric, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  The alcohol will work to break down the oil.  Next take a basic bar of WHITE soap and work the soap into the stain. Add a few drops of water to create a lather.  Rinse the area with warm, not hot water. Let the item air dry and check to see if the stain is gone. Repeat this process until the stain disappears.

Chocolate Ice cream – Scrape off as much of the ice cream as possible. Blot the area to remove any excess chocolate stain. Do not rub the area or you will push the stain further into the fabric. Flush the stain out of the clothing by running warm water through it from back to front.  Once most of the stain is removed add a few drops of laundry detergent to the spot and work it into the stain with your fingers.  Let the detergent sit for 10-15 minutes and then rinse the detergent from the spot. Let the item air dry to see if any of the stain remains. If so, repeat the process above.


Sunscreen – Remove as much of the sunscreen as possible from the area with a knife or spoon.  Sprinkle the area with corn starch to absorb the oil in the sunscreen.  Let the corn starch sit for 30 minutes and then brush it off of the fabric.  Use a cotton ball or Q-tip and apply rubbing alcohol to the stain. Let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Then use a few drops of dish soap and work it into the stain. Flush the area with warm water from the back of the fabric and let it air dry.  Repeat the process if any of the stain is still visible.

Sangria – Immediately after a spill, spray the stain with club soda and cover the area with salt. The salt will start to absorb the wine. Once the guests are gone brush off the salt and dab the area until the cloth comes away clean. Then treat the area with hydrogen peroxide. Be patient – it takes the hydrogen peroxide awhile to work, but you will see the stain disappear before your eyes.  Alternatively, soak the fabric in warm (not hot) water and hydrogen peroxide until the stain is gone. Air dry the item to make sure the stain is completely gone. Repeat this stain removal procedure until the stain is entirely gone.

Hopefully having these cleaning tips will help you enjoy the season as much as possible. Because it’s a time to collect memories, not summer stains!


If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out How to Clean the Gas Grill.


For more info on Leslie Reichert, visit

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