How to Remove Stains from Clothing

Written by Kimberley | 23/11/2016

So, you’re out at your favourite Italian restaurant eating Bolognese and its slips off your fork and all down your white shirt. These stains can be a nightmare to remove, however follow our simple guide to make cleaning easier.

The most important thing to prevent is it from setting. No matter what kind of stain you’re dealing with. Setting is the informal term for stains reacting with the material forming a chemical bond with the fabric. If it gets to this stage its effectively permanent.

  • Treat any stain immediately with water, if the proper solvent is available use this immediately. Types of solvent to use on fabrics are explained below.
  • Avoid pressure, apply solvent gently dab them onto the stained area and let them soak in rather than scrubbing frantically.
  • Avoid direct heat, applying heat to a garment will speed most types of stains bonding.
Removing Stains

Most common stains won’t be removed by water alone. It takes stain removal. Here are three basic steps towards effectively removing stains:

  1. Select the correct solvent.
  2. Use the appropriate method.
  3. Complete necessary after care.


Selecting the Correct Solvent

Picking the right solvent for your material requires you to know two things.

  1. What will dissolve the stain.
  2. What is safe to use on the material.

Using the wrong solvent can end up damaging your clothes worse than the original stain. Always check the label, it’s your go to guide in this case. If the label doesn’t provide any specific instructions, go by the type of fabric:

Wool: wool needs to be treated gently as is sensitive to heat. You can soak it, but needs to be laid flat as it dries to prevent distortion. Only use wool safe detergents and soak in lukewarm not hot water. Applying bleaches or acidic treatments will damage the wool permanently.

The most effective way to remove stains from wool is treat with water or a wool detergent as soon as possible, and then take the garment to the dry cleaner at the first opportunity.

Synthetics: rayon and polyester are both types of synthetic fabrics. These can be washed and scrubbed more harshly that cotton, however will be destroyed by oxidizing bleaches like hydrogen peroxide. Ideally its best to clean them with a standard laundry detergent, or for grease heavy stains use dish soap.

Cotton: the more robust of most materials, cotton can endure soaking, drying and heat. Although for most stains you want to avoid heat, warm water is fine but dry heat will set the stain. White cotton can be bleached easily, but is very hard on the fabric. If it is a must do use chlorine bleach and dilute them well. The best options for removing stains on cotton light acids like lemon juice or vinegar.

Silk: the most temperamental of these materials. You can treat stain on silk with water but rather than wetting the stained area only, rinse the whole garment thoroughly. If not a mark will be left around the stained area, nearly as bad as the original stain.

Whatever stain remover you decide to you we recommend you test it on an inside patch of the clothing. This ensures its doesn’t do anything to damage the silk.

At Mainline Menswear we have a great product to protect your trainers from stains, explore here.


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