A stain is a chemical reaction between the staining agent and the fibers and finishes of a fabric. Because many different chemical reactions can be involved, depending on the staining agents and the fabric involved, no one method can remove all stains.
From the article Scientific Stain Removal
by Edward Willet
- First off, check the care label on a garment. If it says Dry-clean only, then do just that.
- Start off with mild natural products, and then only if they don't work should you move onto stronger products. For example, use vinegar (a mild bleach) before moving on to household bleach.
- Dab the stain rather than rubbing.
- Do not use a regular bar of soap to wash a stain, if you do not have detergent at hand use dish washing liquid... but try to ignore that bar of ordinary soap in the bathroom.
- Never rinse or wash a stained garment in hot water as this often sets the stains. Instead rinse with cold water. Blood and mud stains for instance will respond much better in cold water.
- For non oily stains, try rinsing out the stain with cold water from the back of the fabric under a tap to try and push the stain out of the fabric.
- If possible place the fabric with the stain down onto an absorbent fabric or some kitchen towel, then apply the stain removal method from the back of the fabric, that way you will avoid rubbing the spill deeper into the fibres.
- Prevent the stain from spreading by working from the outside of the stain inwards.
- Often you will need to scrape some of the spill off the fabric before treating what's left. Use the end of a piece of cardboard gently, and try not to push down on the fabric
- For mud on carpets (ugh, this one really gets me!), wait until it almost dries off and use the vacuum hose to pull the mud off the carpet - do not use a brush attachment or the mud will rub deeper into the fibres. Then treat the stains left behind accordingly.
- Vinegar is great for treating lots of stains (but not all, so check first!), but keep a spray bottle filled with white one part vinegar to two parts water near your washing machine. You can use it to treat sweat stains, grass stains and tea and coffee spills before items go in the washing machine.
- For those oil stains that have a habit of ruining our favourite sweaters in the kitchen, try blotting some cornflour on the spill. Hold an absorbent sheet of paper towel on the underside of the garment where the stain is then brush the cornflour off with a soft brush or cloth.
Here are some great articles to read about stain removal:
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