4 Common Clothing Stains and How to Remove Them

Tough Laundry Stains Removed by Vinegar

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 5 mins
  • Total Time: 2 mins - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

While commercial cleaners promise to remove all sorts of clothing stains, you might not always have them on hand. That's where common household products come into play. They often can remove stains from clothes just as well as the commercial cleaners and at a fraction of the cost. Here's how to get stains out with vinegar, baking soda, and other household products.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Small bowl
  • Toothbrush
  • Rag/towel
  • Cardboard

Materials

  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol

Instructions

How to Remove Oil and Grease Stains

Oil stain in fabric

Getty Images

Oil and grease stains are tricky to remove, but certainly not impossible. In fact, there are several ways to remove oil stains from your clothes. Sometimes simply rubbing laundry detergent and water into the stain before throwing it in the wash will do the trick. However, if your stain is a little more stubborn, try a combination of dish soap and vinegar.

  1. Blot the Stain

    If your stain occurred recently, blot as much as possible with a dry paper towel. When it comes to grease and oil stains, the sooner you can tackle them, the better.

  2. Add Dish Soap

    Next, lay your garment on a flat surface and add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the stain. Rub in the soap with your fingers until the stain is completely coated.

  3. Scrub in Baking Soda

    Sprinkle a little baking soda over the top of your soaped-up stain and scrub the baking soda into the fabric using an old toothbrush. The combination of dish soap and baking soda should form a paste. Once you’ve scrubbed for a minute or so, let the mix sit for one hour.

  4. Rinse and Wash

    Finally, rinse out the dish soap and baking soda and toss your item in the washing machine. Make sure the stain is completely gone before you move the garment to the dryer.

Sweat Stains

sweat stain on a shirt

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

It's tempting to pitch a shirt or blouse when you discover sweat stains, but there's no need to be so hasty. Odds are you have a jug or bottle of white vinegar in your kitchen cabinet, and that's all you should need to rid your clothes of these unsightly blemishes.

  1. Mix Vinegar and Water

    To rid your clothes of sweat stains, start by mixing vinegar and water in a small bowl. One quarter cup of vinegar with one cup of water should do.

  2. Drench Stain in Vinegar and Water Mixture

    Next, pour your vinegar and water over the stain or submerge it in the mixture. Either way, make sure the stain is fully coated, then allow it to soak for 30 minutes.

  3. Rinse and Wash

    Once you've let the mix work its magic, rinse the area with water. If the stain is gone, you can move the article of clothing into the washer. However, make sure it has completely disappeared before you move your garment to the dryer.

Tip

If vinegar doesn't do the trick, try a mixture of baking soda and water or hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to test in a discreet area before applying this mixture directly to the stain!

Grass Stains

vinegar next to grass and stains
The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Soccer moms, this section is for you! Grass stains can be common among active kiddos (and adults), and it can be challenging to rid your clothes of these persistent eyesores. Fortunately, a little extra time and effort can pay off in spades.

Before you bust out the household cleaners, try rubbing the stain with a tough laundry detergent or stain remover. Let the detergent sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and check to see how much of the stain remains. If you're still seeing green, follow the steps below.

  1. Soak the Stain

    Pour a cup or two of white vinegar in a small bowl, then submerge the stain in the vinegar. Allow the stain to sit and soak for 30 minutes.

  2. Rinse Thoroughly

    Rinse out the vinegar and see how much, if any, of the grass stain remains. At this point, your garment should be spotless. If so, launder as usual. If not, move onto the final step below.

  3. Try Baking Soda and Water (Optional)

    If the grass stains you're working with are older and particularly pesky, try creating a paste with baking soda and water, then scrub it into the stain with a toothbrush. Let the paste sit and work into the garment for 15 minutes or so, then wash as usual.

Ink Stains

ink stain on fabric

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

If you've ever swiped the sleeve of your blouse or button-up with a pen, you already know this stain can be a pain to remove. Not to worry—for your average ball-point pen stain, start by scrubbing a little liquid laundry detergent into the area and letting it sit for a few minutes. Rinse out the detergent with warm water and reevaluate.

If your ink stain is a little more stubborn, grab some rubbing alcohol and follow the steps below.

Warning

Before you use rubbing alcohol to treat an ink stain, test it in a discreet area of the garment to make sure it doesn't alter the color or damage the fabric.

  1. Grab Some Cardboard

    Before you start, place a piece of cardboard or a rag underneath the stained portion of your garment. The ink will seep through, so the cardboard/rag will catch the ink and rubbing alcohol.

  2. Blot the Stain

    Next, use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot rubbing alcohol onto the stain. The goal here is to gradually dilute the ink and pull it from the fabric.

  3. Rinse and Wash (or Repeat)

    After you've treated the stain with rubbing alcohol, rinse the garment thoroughly. It may take some time to rid the fabric of alcohol completely, and if notice the ink stain hanging on, repeat the process again.

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