A to Z Stain Removal Guide for Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Removing stains from carpet
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Stains happen. That's just a fact of wearing clothes or having a carpet and using anything that drips, leaks or smears.

So to help you take care of those stains, here's a comprehensive list of stain makers from A to Z. Each link takes you to a step-by-step description of the products you'll need and how to remove that specific stain from washable fabrics, dry clean only fabrics, as well as, carpet and upholstery. While many stains are treated the same way, others require special steps or they can become permanent. Treating stains on upholstery and carpet takes a bit more skill than just tossing a shirt in the washer.

Not sure what caused the stain? There are ways to identify mystery stains and get you started. Take a few seconds and treat the stain-making culprit the right way to make sure that you'll wear your favorite shirt another day.

Stains A to D Stains E to L Stains M to R Stains S to Z
A E M S
Acne medicine Easter egg dye Make-up Saffron
Apple juice Egg Mango Salad dressing
Artichoke Eggplant Maple syrup Salt stains
Avocado F Margarine Self tanners
B Face cream Mascara Shoe polish
Baby food Feces Mayonnaise Shrimp and seafood
Baby formula Fingernail polish Metal button tarnish Skunk odor
Bacon Fish Mildew Smoke and soot
BBQ sauce Food coloring Milk Soft drinks
Beef and red meats Formula Mustard Sour cream
Beer Fried chicken Mud Soy sauce
Beet Frosting N Steak
Bird poop Fruit juice Nail polish Steak sauce
Blackberry G Nectarine Sticker glue
Blood Gasoline Nicotine Strawberry
Blueberry Glow stick O Sunscreen
Butter Grape juice Oil Super glue
C Grapefruit Ointment Sushi
Candle wax Grass stains Orange juice Sweet potato
Caramel Gravy Oyster T
Cat urine Grease P Tabasco sauce
Caviar Gum Paint - latex or oil Tar
Cement H Papaya Tea
Champagne Hair dye Paper dye transfer Tomato
Cheese sauce Hair spray Peach Toothpaste
Cherries Hamburger Peanut butter Tree sap
Chicken Hog odor Perfume odor U
Chocolate Honey Permanent marker Underarm stains
Cigarette odor Hot sauce Perspiration stains and odor Urine
Cigarette stains I Pesticides V
Coffee Ice cream Pet feces Vanilla extract
Corn Ink Pine resin Vaseline
Correction fluid Insect droppings Poison ivy Vitamin gel caps
Cottage cheese Iodine Pollen Vomit
Cranberry J Pork W
Cream cheese Jam and jelly Pudding Washable markers
Crayons Jello Pumpkin Watermelon
Curry Jewelry tarnish R White glue
D K Raspberry White wine
Deodorant stains Ketchup Red Wine Wood stain
Deodorant stripes Kiwi Red wine vinegar Worcestershire
Diaper stains Kool Aid Ring around the collar Y
Diesel fuel L Rubber cement Yellowing
Dip Lamb Rust Yogurt
Dog urine Lemon juice   Z
Duck Lime juice   Zucchini
Dye Lipstick    
  Liquid medicine    
  Liquor    
  Lotion    

Supplies to Keep on Hand

  • Oxygen bleach: Oxygen-based or all-fabric bleach is a gentle bleaching agent that removes stains, whitens and brightens laundry and is safe for use on almost all washable white and colored fabrics. Because of its chemical ingredients, it works more slowly than chlorine bleach, is less corrosive and damaging to fibers and is more environmentally friendly.
  • Enzyme-based stain remover: Natural or processed chemically, different enzymes target specific soils and the catalytic action breaks the soil into smaller molecules to be washed away. Look for a stain remover that contains these enzymes: protease - degrades protein based soils; amylase - degrades starch based or carbohydrate soils; cellulase - breaks down cotton fibers to release soils; lipase - degrades fat based soils; mannanase - degrades food-based stains; pectinase - degrades fruit-based stains.
  • Laundry soap bar: Fels Naptha, Zote or Ivory are pure soaps that work very well in cutting through body soil on collars and cuffs.
  • Dry cleaning solvent: A solvent is needed to lift oily stains from non-washable fabrics. Always use in a well-ventilated space and follow directions carefully.
  • Acetone: An essential product for removing fingernail polish.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Removes ink from fabrics and leather.
  • Chlorine bleach or laundry disinfectant: A disinfectant is required to kill most types of bacteria, viruses, and mold/mildew spores.
  • Soft-bristled brush: Use to work stain remover into fabrics.
  • White cotton cloths: Always use a white cloth or paper towel to blot away and treat stains to avoid accidental dye transfer during cleaning.

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