Fabric Finds: Ideas for Removing Your Toughest Stains

Reader Contribution by Brooke Chaplan
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If you get ugly stains on clothing, carpeting or upholstered furniture, you need to understand the correct way to clean the various fabrics. Attempting to remove stains from certain fabrics with the wrong methods can make the discoloration worse, or completely ruin the item. Create a written list of the best methods to remove stains, from different fabrics, and keep it in your home’s laundry room for fast access. You should also keep the cleaning supplies and tools needed to remove stains, immediately, on hand.

Cotton or Polyester

When you spill a beverage or food on a shirt or slacks, do not rub at the debris with a paper or cloth napkin. Use a dabbing motion instead, while continually turning the napkin to a clean section. As soon as possible, you should remove the garment and rinse it in cold water to remove more of the stain. Smear a small amount of your usual laundry detergent on the stain and allow it to soak for 20 minutes. If the stain does not disappear completely, repeat the soaking process several times. For ink stains on clothing caused by ballpoint pens, you can dissolve the stain with hair spray before washing the garment.

Wool or Wool-Blend

Removing stains from wool and wool-blend fabrics can be more difficult because this fiber frequently requires dry-cleaning rather than washing in water. This means if you want to remove a stain with liquid, you must test an inconspicuous area such as an inside seam first. Do not place a wool item in water unless the fabric care directions say it is safe, but do avoid rubbing at the debris because it will become more embedded in the fibers. You should have a specialized wool cleansing detergent in the laundry room, and by sprinkling a small amount on a cloth, you can dab at the stain to remove the debris. This technique is appropriate for wool carpets, clothing and other household items.

Pretreat Upholstered Furniture

One of the best things you can do for many items is find ways to prevent stains. When shopping in a furniture store, like The Dump, for new upholstered couches or chairs, make sure to look for items that have pretreated fabrics, or ask about having anti-stain fabric treatments applied by technicians before delivery. A stain-resistant spray on upholstered surfaces helps repel liquids and solids to prevent unattractive discoloration as well.

With the right techniques and prevention you can avoid ugly stains on everything from your couch to your favorite sweater. Make sure you pay attention to the fabrics and use the right methods to get out your next spill!

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.