A-Z Stain Removal Guide

Adhesive Tape

Sponge washable non-synthetic fabrics with meths.  Soak glass jars in hot water, then wipe with meths.  Getting label residue of plastic is more difficult, as some glue removers also damage plasitc.  Try eucalyptus oil or diluted meths.  Or you can laboriously pluck off the residue using another peice of sticky tape.

Beer

Soak in a solution of 3 parts cool water / 1 part white vinegar.

Blood

Soak for several hours in a solution of 1 Tsp salt / 600 ml water, then rinse and soak in a solution of 1 part ammonia / 5 parts water.

Candlewax

Scrape away as much as possible.  Place stain between layers of absorbent paper and press with a warm iron, changing the paper as it becomes soiled.  Sponge residue with meths.

Chewing gum

Freeze with ice and break off as much as possible.  Treat the residue with turps and wasd in hot soapy water.

Coffee / tea

Soak in warm water with a squirt of dishwashing detergent.  Lubricate old stains first with glycerine.

Correction fluid

Sponge with meths.  If that doesn’t work try nail polish remover.

Crayon

Treat as for candlewax

Deodorants / antiperspirants

Sponge or soak in a solution of 1 Tbsp ammonia / 1 cup warm water with a squirt of dishwashing detergent.  Treat residue traces with turps.

Egg

Use an enzyme based laundry detergent on washables.  For non-washables, dry with a paper towel, the lighly sponge with a solution of 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar / 3 tsp dishwashing detergent / 1 cup warm water.

Fats & oils

Sprinkle with talc, leave for 30 minutes then scoop off.  Lubricate older stains with mechanics hand-cleaner or glycerine, then sponge with dishwashing detergent and warm water.  Treat residual stains with turps.

Food dye

Rinse immediatelly with large quantities of lukewarm water.  Treat with equal parts meths and ammonia.

Fruit / fruit juice

Sponge or soak in warm water with a squirt of dishwashing detergent.  Treat residual stains with meths.

Glue

Soak cellulose-based glue in cold water with a squirt of dishwashing detergent.  Meths works on PVA.  Other glues may only respond to nail polish remover: spot test first.

Grass

Sponge with meths, dry, then soak in water with a squirt of dishwashing detergent.

Hair spray

Sponge with meths.

Ink (ballpoint pen)

Sponge with meths, then rinse thoroughly in cold water.  Repeat as necessary.

Ink (liquid and marker)

Remove excess with absorbent paper.  Sponge or dip in a solution of equal parts meths and ammonia (spot test on coloured fabrics first).  Rinse in warm water.

Lipstick / makeup

Treat with meths, then soak in a solution of 5 parts dishwashing detergent / 1 part ammonia.  Rinse thoroughly.

Mildew / mould

Treat white cotton or linen with a mixture of 1 Tbspn chlorine bleach / 1 L warm soapy water.  On coloured fabrics dilure bleach even more, and be prepared for some fading.

Milk / cream / icecream

Soak in warm water and dishwashing detergent.  Treat residual fat stains with turps.

Motor oil

Scrape away as much as possible and sponge with turps.  For washable fabrics rub glycerine into the stain.  Rinse under a hot tap, then soak in water with dishwashing detergent.

Nail polish

Treat non-synthetic fabrics with nail polish remover: spot test first.  Treat any residual marks with meths.

Paint (oil-based)

Scrape of as much as possible and sponge residue with turps.  If paint has dried, soften with glycerine first.

Paint (water-based and latex)

Wash away fresh paint with cold water.  Remove residue with meths.  Once dry these paints are virtually impossible to remove.

Perfume

Apply glycerine, then soak in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.

Perspiration

Sponge with a solution of 1 part ammonia / 5 parts water, then rinse.  Follow up by soaking in a solution of 1 part white vinegar / 3 parts water.

Rust

Spread over a bowl of boiling water and sprinkle with lemon juice.  After a few minutes rinse well and repeat.  Boil stubborn stains in a solution of 4 Tbsp white vinegar / 600 ml water.  Rinse well. (Not suitable for wool, silk or acrylic)

Scorch Marks

Light marks can often be removed by immediatelly washing in warm soapy water, rinsing and drying in the sun.

Shoe polish / cleaners

Sponge with dishwashing detergent, then soak in warm soapy water.  On non-washables, or for stubborn marks, sponge with a solution of equal parts meths and ammonia, and rinse well.

Sunscreen

Absorb excess with tissues, then sponge with meths.

Tar / bitumen

Scrape of as much as possible. Sponge with turps to soften.  Rub vaseline into stain, leave for 30 minutes, then wash with soapy water.

Tea-stained cups

Whiten pottery stained by tea or coffee by soaking it for an hour in a solution of 1 tsp cholorine bleach / 1 cup water.  Alternatively, rub with damp salt.

Tomato sauce

Sponge with dishwashing detergent, then rinse.  Treat residue with meths.

Urine

Soak in a solution of 1 part ammonia / 5 parts water, followed by a solution of 1 part white vinegar /  3 parts water.  Or use a nappy soaker.

Varnish

Sponge with turps or nail polish remover.

Wine (Red)

Flush with lots of cold water, the pour salt on the stain, and let it stand for an hour.  Scrape off the salt and rinse thoroughly.

Your Own Stain Removal Kit

Keep these supplies on hand for common stains:

  • Paper towels, an absorbent cloth and powder such as talcum or cornflour.
  • A pre-wash laundry soaker.
  • Ammonia, eg Handy Andy.
  • A mild acid:  white vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar.
  • A chlorine bleach.
  • A lubrication agent, eg Vaseline.
  • An alcohol based solvent, eg meths.
  • One type of fat / oil solvent, such as white spirits, turps, or kerosene.

Topline Tailors accepts no responsibility for any damage caused by using the garment care tips on this page.

Remove Stains the Old-Fashioned Way

1) Make old-fashioned soap
Mix 4 cups soap flakes, 1 cup methylated spirits, 50ml eucalyptus oil and 1 cup boiling water.  Stir till clear and pour into moulds.  Leave to set for a couple of weeks, then wrap in wax paper.

2) Use the soap to remove the stain
Dampen stain, rub with soap and leave about 30 minutes before washing.

Topline Tailors accepts no responsibility for any damage caused by using the garment care tips on this page.

Golden Rules for Garment Care

Here are some golden rules for caring for your garments:

  • Identify a stain before trying to treat it.
  • Identify the fabric.  Wool, silk, synthetics, and non-colourfast garments can be damaged by some chemicals, eg, bleach, ammonia, meths and white spirits.  Never use acetone or amyl acetate (nail polish remover) on synthetics – it can melt them!
  • Act quickly, before the stain sets.
  • If in doubt about a treatment, test on an inconspicuous spot first.
  • Take expensive or delicate garments to a drycleaner.
  • If you don’t know what caused the stain, sponge with neat dishwashing detergent and then rinse.  If the stain persists, sponge with a solution of equal parts meths and ammonia.
  • Soften old stains with glycerine or petroleum jelly (Vaseline).  Rub the lubricant into the wrong side of the fabric, leave for an hour then rinse with warm water.
  • Use light brushing or dabbing motions.  Never rub a stain.
  • Hot water can set a stain.  Rinse with cold water unless otherwise directed.
  • When treating a stain with meths, turps, kerosene, white spirits or acetone, stay well away from naked flames or burning cigarettes, keep the area well ventilated, and avoid breathing the fumes.
  • Don’t use meths, turps, white spirits or acetone on painted surfaces or plastic benchtops.
  • Don’t use dishwashing detergent on unvarnished wood.
  • Many stain removal chemicals are poisonous and flammable.  Keep them away from children.

Topline Tailors accepts no responsibility for any damage caused by using the garment care tips on this page.