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Treating Common Springtime Stains

Battling stains can be very expensive if you don’t take the proper steps to remove them. It’s not the stain removal that’s expensive, but the damage done to the clothing if it’s not done properly. Using the wrong product to remove a stain can do damage to the fabric and also set the stain. Here are a few things to do when trying to remove a stain.

Try to remember what the stain might be. Knowing the source of the stain makes removing it much easier.  Try to figure out if it’s an oil-based stain, a milk-based stain or possibly a blood stain.  One stain remover does NOT work for all stains.

Have the right things on hand to battle the stain.  There are five things that are the basics for stain removal: corn starch, rubbing alcohol, club soda, an enzyme-based stain remover, and hydrogen peroxide. Make sure you have these items in quantity so you are ready for any stain.

Corn starch is used to absorb much of the liquid or oil that is left on the fabric. It works extremely well on oily stains. Just sprinkle some corn starch on the area, rub it in completely, let it sit for a while and then brush it off with a stiff toothbrush. The corn starch will absorb whatever is in the fabric and carry it away when it’s brushed off.

Club soda is great for pre-soaking stains. No matter what you’ve spilled, you can just dab some club soda on the area and it will work to lift the stain. You can put a small spray bottle in your purse or glove compartment and be ready to battle a spill. There is no proven chemical reason why club soda works so well since it’s just water infused with carbon dioxide and a small amount of salt, but for some reason it really does work.

Enzyme-based stain removers are perfect for stains from grass, blood or chocolate. Enzymes are proteins or bacteria that actually break down stains by digesting them. They work as long as the stain is moist and then become dormant when the fabric dries.

Hydrogen peroxide is a diluted acid that works great on red stains such as red wine or blood.  Nurses have known this for years.  After a day at work, all they do is spray their uniforms with hydrogen peroxide and the blood stains totally disappear.

A few other things to remember about stain removal.

  • Never try to remove a stain by spraying it with a stain remover and then throwing it into a washing machine. It is much better to pretreat the stain before washing, rinse it with cool water and let it air dry. The heat of the hot water in the washing machine may actually set the stain before it can be removed.
  • Never put your clothing in the dryer until you are completely sure the stain has been removed. Placing the item in a hot dryer can set the stain.
  • Continue to treat, rinse and air dry the piece of clothing until the stain is removed. It takes patience but almost any stain can be removed if you keep repeating the treatment.

For more information from DIY green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, visit

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