How to get stains out of clothes

Although modern detergents and washing powders/liquids are very effective, there are sometimes occasions when stubborn stains may not be removed by a standard wash. In some instances a hot wash or extended wash programme may do the job, but there's also a danger that the stain could be 'set'. 

Often the most effective way to tackle stains is by pre-soaking them. The faster you can do this the better. Simply soaking the item in water can be effective, but often you will need the assistance of a specialist stain removal product. There are stain removers that are dedicated to a particular stain, such as grass, ink or blood and these are usually in a liquid format that is applied directly to the stain. There are also general purpose stain removers, usually in powder format. They can usually be used in three ways:

  1. Made up into a paste as a spot treatment
  2. Dissolved in (usually) warm water as a pre-soak
  3. Added to the drawer or drum, in addition to your standard washing product as an in-wash treatment.


Pre-soaking is the safest form of stain removal

Tackling stains

In many cases you can do all three to ensure the stain is totally removed.

The advantage of pre-soaking over spot treatment, particularly with coloured garments is that even if there is slight fading, it will be overall and unnoticeable. Products that contain 'bleach' (usually sodium hypochlorate or hydrogen peroxide) are better suited to whites as they can fade coloured items quite dramatically or leave spots. Bleach can damage fabric fibres and can also harmful to the environment and aquatic life. Bleach should NEVER be mixed with other products and is not suitable for septic tanks.

A safer form of stain treatment is a product with 'oxygen bleach' - a combination of Soda Crystals and Sodium Percarbonate. Oxygen bleach brightens whites, doesn't affect fibres, is bio-degradable and can be used on coloured garments without leaving spots. 

It's always advisable to check garments for colour fastness, but if you have a noticeable stain anyway, it's usually worth trying an oxygen bleach based stain remover.