11 Foolproof Stain Removers for Every Type of Spill
Don’t cry over spilled milk—just reach for the hydrogen peroxide. Or the cornstarch. When the inevitable (and dreaded) happens, look no further than your kitchen pantry for a foolproof stain remover that will save you time and time again. Scroll below for a few of our tried-and-true go-tos.
With your clothing or textile on a flat surface, sprinkle cornstarch liberally on the stain. Let it soak for one hour. Rub dish soap into the stain, with a toothbrush if possible. Then, wash the clothing or textile according to its care label and air-dry.
Tried and true, our favorite stain remover for red wine is Wine Away; it's as easy as saturating your fabric and letting it stand, and it doesn’t contain any chemicals or phosphates (it’s made from fruit and vegetable extracts).
If you don’t happen to have that on hand (usually the case), we recommend mixing two parts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and one part liquid dishwashing soap (such as Dawn). Using a spray bottle, spritz the mixture on the stain and let it sit, then blot it with a clean cloth until the stain is removed. Note that peroxide is a bleaching agent, so test colored fabrics on an inconspicuous spot for colorfastness before you begin.
To remove chocolate from fabric, begin by scraping off any excess chocolate from the material with a blade or other sharp object. If it’s melted, you can pop it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to get it to harden. Run cold water onto the back side of the fabric. Rub liquid detergent into the stain and let it sit for about five minutes. Soak the fabric in cold water for about 15 minutes, rubbing the fabric every five minutes or so to loosen the stain. Rinse thoroughly. Continue until the stain is removed and then wash the fabric per usual.
Surprisingly simple, one of the best ways to remove a coffee (or tea) stain is by pouring warm water directly through the fabric. While holding the stained item over the sink, pour warm (but not boiling) water directly over the stain for about 15 seconds. Then, apply a few drops of laundry detergent on both sides, rubbing it until it lathers. Continue to rinse the fabric with water until the detergent has dissolved and the stain has disappeared.
Appearing suddenly, a deodorant stain can definitely ruin your morning—or evening. Luckily, it’s super easy to remove. All you need to do is remove the foam shoulder pads of a dry cleaner hanger and rub it directly on the stain to rub out those streaks. No hangers around? Just crunch your pantyhouse into a ball and rub out the stains, or dab it with a bit of distilled white vinegar.
White wine stains tend to be subtle, but they are stains nonetheless. Luckily, they are remarkably easy to remove. Just sponge them with cool water, and if you are able to soak your garment or fabric, do so in cool water for about 30 minutes. Pre-treat the stain with a stain fighter before you wash, and it should be good to go!
Begin by scraping off all excess dirt (like chocolate)—if you have any super-tough stains, you can even have at it with a vacuum. Mix one part water with one part liquid laundry detergent and, using a bristle brush, brush the stain out in circular motions. Wash the fabric in cold water. If the stain is persistent, wash it in your washing machine with Oxiclean and a bleach alternative at a high temperature. Repeat as necessary.
If you treat them swiftly, grass stains can be easily removed. Just mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water and soak the stain. Dab it with a clean wet rag to wipe the stain clean. If it persists, soak it in a solution of water and liquid detergent for 30 minutes, then wash as usual.
Blood is a rare stain that requires a little trickery to remove. Just run it under cold water and scrub it, face down, using a bar of soap, while running the fabric under water. Rub the stain against itself for more friction, if necessary.
So you sweat. Congrats, you’re human! Now it’s time to get rid of those awful yellow marks on your clothing. Mix one part water with four parts dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle and spritz the area. Gently brush the saturated fabric using a toothbrush to break up the stain. Let it sit, and then wash it per usual. If that fails, Oxiclean is your next best bet.
Lipstick is probably the most fun stain you can have (besides chocolate), but nevertheless, it’s unfortunate. To say goodbye to it, spray it with hairspray and let it sit for a few minutes. With a dry white rag, wipe the spray off. Then, rinse in warm water. If you have no success, apply a prewash stain remover and rinse it, then apply a liquid detergent and rinse it in warm water.
What are your tried-and-true stain removal tricks? Let us know in the comments below.