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10 Rules for Stain Removal

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Stain removal is one of the most crucial parts of handling your family's laundry. These 10 rules are basic for any type of stain removal.

Specific questions? Just ask here.

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  • 1. Timing

    Take care of stains as soon as possible. Fresh stains are much easier to remove than those over 24 hours old.

    2. First things first

    For fresh stains, blot up any excess stain liquid with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry towl or a dark-colored cloth. You may make matters worse. Remove excess solids by gently scraping with a dull knife or metal spatula. With some solids, such as mud, removal may be easier after the stain has dried. Brush off the excess before the garment is submerged for washing.

    3. No soap

    Never rub a fresh stain with bar soap. Soap can set many stains.

    4. Check before washing

    If you do the laundry for the whole family, they may not have told you about a stain. Teach your family to tell you about stains or mark them with a clothespin. Always check before washing, many stains need pretreatment.

    5. Check again

    Stains slip by us all. But it helps to inspect wet laundry before drying. If a stain is still evident, do not place the garment in the dryer. The heat of the dryer makes the stain more permanent. Same principle applies to ironing - no heat should be added to stained areas.

    6. This is only a test - but be patient

    Before starting on the stain, test the stain removal agents on a seam or hidden area of the garment to be sure they do not affect the color or finish of the fabric.

    After you have tested the product, give it time to work. A quick treatment and straight into the washer probably isn't enough. Treat the stain and wait at least 5 minutes before washing. This gives the pretreater time to work.

    7. A gentle touch

    Avoid excessive rubbing unless the fabric is tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and damage the fabric. However, gentle to vigorous rubbing under running water helps remove dried food, blood or oil stains from shirts or jean-weight fabrics made of cotton or cotton blends.

    8. Separate and conquer

    Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can be redeposited on cleaner clothing during laundering if too little detergent is used, water temperature is too low, washing time is too long or the wash is overloaded. Never wash family clothes with pesticide-soiled clothes.

    9. Go for the cold

    Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. Hot water can set protein stains like milk, egg or blood.

    10. Except sometimes

    Use the water temperature recommended on stain removal products and detergents. Hot water should be between 120 and 140 degrees F, warm water between 85 and 105 degrees F and cold water between 65 and 75 degrees F. Water below 60 degrees is too cold for detergents to be helpful.
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