Having the right products is key to removing stains. Different types of stains need different treatments to be successfully eliminated. Every laundry room should have a stock of vinegar, bleach, ammonia, and detergent on hand for common stains, such as grease or salt. Other stains can be a bit trickier, but are possible to remove with the right product. Paint remover cleans up paint stains, prewash spot removers work on blood, and petroleum jelly can help break down ink. You can learn more about what stain-fighting products to keep in your arsenal here.
Knowing what treatments work best for different categories of stains will help you decide what course of action to take when you encounter a stain. Most stain removers are either acidic or basic, and many are toxic, so keep them well out of reach of children. Some stain fighters can also be mixed together to create a more powerful solution. Baking soda and vinegar, for example, form a bubbling, reactive solution perfect for attacking a grease stain.
Treating stains sounds pretty straightforward, but specific methods work better than others, and there are some things you should never do. As a general rule, the sooner you attempt to remove a stain, the easier it will be. Act quickly so the stain can't set in. Also be careful how you approach a stain. Many have a first instinct to vigorously rub, but that just drives the stain further in. Instead, blot the stain and follow specific removal instructions for the fabric and type of stain.
Coffee Stains: Next time you spill your cup of joe, don't sweat. Removing coffee stains is surprisingly simple. Just mix together water, vinegar, and dishwashing detergent, soak, and launder normally. Get more tips for removing coffee stains here.
Ink Stains: Ink stains look daunting, but can be removed with just one ingredient. Place the stain over a jar, then drip rubbing alcohol onto the soiled area. See exactly how it's done here.
Food Stains: Whether it's melted chocolate or a greasy burger, this guide to removing food stains will show you how to get your garments looking like new. You'll use common stain fighters such as vinegar, salt, and dish soap for these stains.
Blood Stains: Start dabbing at blood stains with a damp cloth as soon as you see one. Then, depending what type of fabric is stained, treat it with one of these tips.
Download and print this handy chart showing how to remove common varieties of stains from washable fabrics. Post a copy in your laundry room for quick reference.