How to Remove Stains From Clothes

Discovering a stain can be frustrating, but with proper care, your favorite garments don't have to be ruined.

However, different stains often need different treatments, and knowing the right techniques can make all the difference.

If you’ve had an accident with grease, we have an entire post dedicated to how to remove grease stains from clothing. Or, read on to learn how to remove general stains from clothes, including oil stains, ink stains and more.

[H2] How to remove stains from clothing: top tips

The best way to remove stains from clothing depends on the clothing, fabric type, and type of stain. If you’re faced with a stained garment, here are some general guidelines to follow:

[H3] Identify the type of stain

Some stains, like fat, grease, or oil, will need to be treated completely differently from grass stains or sweat stains. Before you do anything, try to identify the type of stain – and the fabric of your garment – to understand how best to proceed.

[H3] Check garment care settings

Most clothing will contain care information on the label, which indicates how best to wash and treat it. If you’re concerned about using stain-removing products on your clothing, always spot-test an inconspicuous area first.

[H3] Tackle the stain as quickly as possible

No matter the type of stain, the sooner you treat it, the better chance you have of removing it. If you notice a stain while you’re out, dab at it immediately with a paper towel to remove any excess and stop it from seeping into the fabric or spreading further.

[H3] Never rub at a stain

It can be tempting to scrub at a stain to attempt to lift it. However, this could do more harm than good. You should always gently blot or dab at a stain rather than rub it, as rubbing it can cause the stain to spread. If you need to apply more pressure, always work from the outside in to reduce the chance of the stain spreading.

[H3] Check your cycle settings

Putting your washing machine on a cold or cool water setting is best for most stains, as heat can cause stains to set into the fabric.

[H3] Don’t tumble dry

Similarly, you should avoid putting stained garments in the tumble dryer, as the heat can cause the stain to set. For some items, such as white clothing, letting them dry in direct sunlight is best, as sunlight can help naturally bleach stains.

[H2] How to remove oil stains from clothes

Oil stains are similar to grease stains – they can be tricky to remove, especially if they ‘set in’. If you notice an oil stain on your clothing, you should:

  1. Act as quickly as possible.

As soon as you notice the stain, try to blot up as much excess oil as possible using a clean cloth, paper towel or tissue. This will limit the chance of it setting in or spreading further. Make sure to dab the stain gently rather than rubbing it, as this could spread the stain further.

As water and oil don’t mix well, you should avoid adding water to the stain until you have pre-treated it.

  1. Use a pre-treatment.

Before washing an oil-stained garment, apply a pre-treatment or stain remover. You can opt for a commercial stain remover for optimum results, or try DIY methods. Dish soap is great for cutting through grease and oil, while a paste solution of baking soda and water will also help absorb any excess oil. Leave your solution for a few minutes to allow it to fully penetrate the fabric (or according to the instructions if you’re using a commercial cleaner). 

  1. Wash the garment according to the care instructions.

After you’ve pre-treated the oil stain, you can put it through the wash as usual. For grease stains, wash the garment in the hottest setting possible for the fabric, double-checking the care instructions to ensure you don’t cause any further damage. 

  1. Repeat the process if needed.

Once the wash has finished, check the stain to see if it has been removed. If it hasn’t, you can repeat the pre-treatment and washing process.

  1. Allow the garment to air dry.

Drying a stained item of clothing in a tumble dryer can cause the stain to set due to the heat. If you’re dealing with a stained garment, always let it air dry.

How to remove dried oil stains from clothing

If you get oil on your clothes while you’re out, it’s likely to have dried by the time you get home. If you’re dealing with a dried-in oil stain, you’ll need to try to return it to a liquid state before you clean it.

To do this, you can add a small amount of hot water to the stain before pre-treating with dish soap, stain remover, or a baking soda and water solution. Then, wash the garment following the instructions above.

How to remove ink stains from clothes

Ink stains on clothing can be small but mighty. While they’re not the easiest to remove, there are some steps you can take to get your garments back to their best. To remove ink stains from clothing, we’d recommend:

  1. Blot any excess ink with a paper towel.

It’s best to do this as quickly as possible, as soon as you notice the stain and before it dries into the fabric. Never rub or scrub at the stain, as this can cause it to spread or set deeper into the fabric's fibres. Instead, blot and gently dab at the stain to lift as much ink as possible.

  1. Spot-test your clothing before cleaning

Rubbing alcohol is the best way to remove ink stains from clothing. However, we’d recommend spot-testing your clothing first to ensure it won’t cause further damage. Choose an inconspicuous area and apply a very small amount of rubbing alcohol. Leave it to sit for a few minutes before blotting it with a cloth or paper towel to check no colour dye lifts from the garment.

  1. Tackle ink stains with rubbing alcohol

You can treat an ink stain on clothing with a very small amount of rubbing alcohol. Hand sanitiser can also be used. Place a paper towel or cloth underneath the stain before applying alcohol to prevent it from transferring to the other side of the garment. Use a minimal amount of alcohol, and leave for a few minutes before blotting the stain with a paper towel or clean cloth.

  1. Pre-treat the stain with stain remover

 Once you’ve applied and blotted up the alcohol, you can apply a stain remover or pre-treatment to the stain. Follow the product instructions for the best results.

  1. Wash the garment

Finally, you can wash the garment according to its care instructions.

How to get a stain out of a white dress

Removing a stain from white clothing will depend on the type of stain and the fabric. However, there are some general tips for treating white clothing:

  • Use pre-treatment. If possible, find a pre-treatment or stain remover that is designed specifically for white clothing.
  • Natural bleaching agents can be used. Some pre-treatments for white clothing contain bleaching agents that will help lift stains. There are some natural alternatives, too, such as lemon juice. This can be applied directly to the stain, depending on the fabric type. Remember that you’ll need to take extra care with delicate fabrics such as silk, and always spot-test first if you have concerns. Leave the lemon juice to sit for a few minutes before washing. Another alternative is white vinegar. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, and apply to the stain before you put it through the wash.
  • Let white clothing dry naturally. Sunlight is great for naturally helping lift stains from white clothing, so hang white clothing up to dry in direct sunlight wherever possible.

 Armed with these tips, you can say goodbye to stains and hello to pristine clothing!

If you’re looking for a next-level clean, why not take a look at the Hoover washing collection? From washing machines to tumble dryers and washer-dryer combos, we have everything you need to keep your clothing looking its best for longer.