How to Remove the Worst Clothing Stains

                                                                                                                                                         By Rick Shultz

Every one of us has been there at one time or another. You’re at a restaurant and somehow manage to spill part of your meal on your dress or pants. Or, you may have picked up a meal at the local drive-thru and when reaching through the window to pay, you accidentally turn a drink over and it spills it on the front of your shirt.

The first thing to do is not panic! Our experts know the best course of action you should take. They have the answers that will keep an accidental spill from ruining your outfit and the rest of your day.

We talked with some of today’s most knowledgeable clothing stain experts about their best solutions. Here is what they say you should do immediately after a stain-creating accident.

They all say that your top priority is to do everything you can to keep the stain from becoming “set”. Then, it’s permanent and nearly impossible to remove. Take a look and try these remedies for each of the different kinds of stains you encounter:


For Washables

Flush the stained area with cold (not hot) water to remove as much stain as possible. Treat the area with a small amount of liquid laundry detergent while working it into the fibers with a soft brush. Set the fabric off to the side for 10-15 minutes and then wash in cold water. 

If the stain has dried, soak it in warm water with a cleaning product that contains enzymes. Then, launder as usual in your washing machine with cold or warm water. 

For Non-washables

Flush with cold water to remove as much of the stain as possible. Apply a white vinegar and water solution to the stain and continue dabbing with the solution until the stain is gone. Then rinse with cold water.


For Washables

Pre-treat the item with a mixture of warm water and an enzyme product, or pre-wash with a stain remover and launder in warm water. If the stain remains, run the item through the washer again and use bleach labeled safe for the fabric.

For Non-Washables

Dilute a solution of white vinegar and water to the stain and flush with cold water until the stain is gone. Then, rinse with cold water.


Sponge the stained area with cool or cold water as soon as possible.

For Washables

Pre-treat the stained area with liquid laundry detergent or use a paste made from mixing laundry detergent with water. A pre-wash stain remover can also be used, but remember to test it first for color-fastness. Launder with chlorine bleach if it is labeled safe to use with the fabric or use color-safe bleach if not.

For Non-washables

Apply a solution of white vinegar and water to the fabric. Flush with cool water and repeat if the stain persists. Repeat the process until the stain is completely gone.


For Washables

Mix a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar and apply liberally to the stain with a sponge or clean cloth. Then, launder with regular soap and water. Repeat if necessary until the stain is gone.

For non-washables 
Same as for washables

Ink (Non-Permanent)

Blot the affected area with a dry, clean cloth or sponge as soon as possible. 

For Washables

Pre-treat with a stain remover or clear rubbing alcohol and lift the stain with a cotton swab until the ink is absorbed. Repeat if necessary. Rinse with cold water and then launder.

For Non-washables

Apply a mixture to the stain of 8 parts water, 1 part glycerin, and 1 part dishwashing detergent. Let stand for 30-60 minutes while continuing to add the solution to keep the area wet. Finally, rinse with cold water.


Blot the affected area with a dry, clean cloth or sponge as soon as possible. 

For Washables

Rub mineral oil into the stain and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Blot any excess stain away with a sponge or use a clean cloth. Mix 1 part ammonia with 2 parts water and use a clean sponge to soak up the stain.

For Non-washables

Same as with washables. However, some fabrics silk and wool can not be treated and the item must be dry cleaned.


For washables (latex-base)

Rinse in warm water as soon as possible while the paint is still wet. If it has dried, moisten a clean rag with warm water and use a laundry brush to scrub the paint out. Launder with warm water.

For washables (oil-base)

Check the label on the can and use a thinner or turpentine if recommended. Rinse and launder.

For Non-washables (latex-base)

Sponge with warm water and then blot using a solution of dishwashing soap and warm water. Launder as usual.

For washables (oil-base)

Blot any excess stain away and take the fabric to the dry cleaners.

Red Wine

Blot with a dry, clean cloth or sponge as soon as possible. 

For Washables

Cover the stain with table salt or baking soda to soak up the stain. Soak the item for at least an hour (preferably longer) with a mixture of cool water and oxygen bleach. Repeat if necessary until the stain is completely gone.

For Non-washables

Blot up any excess wine using a clean cloth. Apply a small amount of white vinegar to the stain and blot. Continue until the stain is gone. Flush with cold water and dry.


For washables

Apply a small amount of ammonia and rinse with cold water. For stains that have already set, dab with white vinegar and then rinse. Then, launder with hot water, wash with an enzyme product, or use color-safe bleach.

For Non-washables

Dab the stain with white vinegar until the stain disappears. Then, flush with cold water.

Tea or Coffee

(Same as grass)

We hope this brief article has helped you remove a particularly troublesome stain from your clothing. Always remember that heat will nearly always set a stain and make it permanent. Never run an item through your heated dryer unless the stain is gone.

It’s important to note that not every fix will work every single time. Don’t give up! If a particular remedy doesn’t completely work for you, keep trying. More than likely, the stain will go away completely with a little extra persuasion.