Removing stains from fabrics has always been a problem for homemakers to figure out. Over the years, there have been various stain-removing products, many of which remain on the market today. There are, however, ways to remove stains without using harsh chemicals, and the following ideas will help. Be sure to remember to test the stain treatment for colorfastness on an inconspicuous spot of the item to be treated before applying treatment solution.
Rust: (all fabrics respond well to the following treatment) In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon oxalic acid crystals (found at a drugstore) and 1 cup warm water. Moisten the area where the spot is located and let sit for 10 minutes. If the stain persists, apply again. If the rust is still there, use hot instead of warm water and repeat the initial process. If the stain still does not go away, try applying the mixture directly to the fabric (except for nylon) and add hot water as hot as the fabric will sustain. You can do this two times, and then you must rinse the fabric at least three times very thoroughly. Oxalic acid can weaken fibers if not completely rinsed out.
Egg: For washable fabrics, use a dull knife and scrape off the dried egg. Then soak the fabric in cool, never hot, water. Work in a detergent, sponging the stain. Rinse well. For non-washables, do not soak the fabric but sponge the stained area. Sponge with clear water to rinse.
Catsup, chili sauce: For all fabrics, sponge the stain as soon as possible with cool water. Set stains are difficult to remove. If the stain persists, you can work in a detergent. Then if the stain persists and the fabric is okay for bleach, the item can be further washed with detergent and bleach.
Beer, ale: For washable fabrics, wash the fabric in warm, soapy water and rinse well. For non-washables, rub the stain lightly with a soft cloth or sponge that has been made wet with warm soapy water and then thoroughly rung out. Rinse the stained area with a cloth or sponge rung out with clear water. Repeat these steps several times if necessary.
Berry and fruit stains: These stains can be difficult to remove, especially if left too long. Stretch the stained part of the fabric over a wide-mouth bowl set in the tub or sink. Carefully pour boiling water over the stained area from a height of 1 to 3 feet. For fabrics that can’t take boiling water, soak the stained area in cool water and detergent for 30 minutes and then work the detergent into the stained area. Sometimes a persistent berry stain will need to be bleached out but be sure the fabric is safe for bleach.
Gravy: With washable fabrics, the stain can first be soaked in cool, not hot water. Then it can be washed in warm water with detergent and thoroughly rinsed. Non-washable fabrics will need to be sponged with warm, not hot water and detergent and then sponged with clear water.
Coffee: For washable fabrics, soak the stain in cool water, rub in a detergent and wash. For non-washables, sponge the stain with cool water and detergent. Sponge out the detergent with cool, clear water.
Grass: Dilute rubbing alcohol with two parts water and sponge the stain. (Be sure to test for colorfastness). Stubborn stains can sometimes be removed; if safe for fabric, use chlorine bleach in the washing cycle.
Milk: For all fabrics, sponge with cool water, then work in a detergent. Launder fabric if possible or sponge with clear water until detergent is removed.
Mildew: must be treated in its early stages to be successful. Most non-washables will need to be taken to a dry cleaner. Washable fabrics should be laundered thoroughly and then laid to dry in the sun. If this doesn’t work and the fabric can be bleached, it can be laundered again with bleach and again dried in the sun.
Treating stains can be tricky. If the home remedies fail and you decide to use commercial stain removers, be sure to read the directions carefully. Remember that treating a stain as soon as possible after it occurs is the best way to a successful removal.