How to Remove Stains and Spots

Basic Rules for Stain Removal

Once you understand the basic rules about treating stains and spots, you'll be able to deal with them more effectively -- no more wasting time trying to rinse away a stain with tap water when what it needs is to be treated with a stain-removal product. The following rules apply to almost every spot and stain. Rules number one and two are cardinal in treating every spot and stain across the board.

The Basic Stain Removal Rules

  1. The quicker, the better. The optimum time to treat a stain is within moments of its occurrence. The longer a stain sets, the more likely it is to become permanent.
  2. Identify or try to identify both the staining agent and the stained surface before you begin treatment. Both factors affect how you treat the stain. Cotton is treated differently than rayon or silk. Knowing what the stained surface is helps you choose the proper treatment technique and avoid damaging the surface.
  3. Remove as much as possible of the staining agent before treating with a stain-removal product. The less mayonnaise you have to deal with on the blouse front, the better; so scrape off as much as possible. Excess liquids can be blotted. (If there is enough liquid to form a puddle, spoon it out or remove it by dipping the corner of a clean, white cloth or paper towel into it and allowing the cloth to draw up the liquid.) If the staining agent is a solid, scrape off excess with a dull knife, spoon, or spatula. Powders can be shaken or brushed off. Be careful not to spread the stain when removing the excess staining material.
  4. Handle stained items gently. Rubbing, folding, wringing, or squeezing can cause the stain to penetrate more deeply and may damage delicate fibers.
  5. Avoid using heat. Don't use hot water on stains, don't dry stained articles with heat, and never iron stained fabrics. Heat can make a stain impossible to remove. (Heat, however, is used to remove wax from certain fibers.)
  6. Pretest any stain-removing agent. Even water may damage some surfaces, so always run a sample test on some inconspicuous spot-the seam allowance or under the hem of a garment, the part of the rug that's hidden under a table or chair, the part of the upholstery that faces the wall-to avoid costly mistakes.
  7. Follow directions to the letter. Read all the manufacturer's directions on the product container. If you make your own cleaning supplies, be sure you're using the proper ingredients and that you are using the cleaning agent exactly as described.
  8. Work from the center of the stain outward. Most stains are best treated with movements that are directed outward. Such movements help avoid leaving a ring around the cleaned area.

By using these proven cleanup methods specialized for the stain at hand, you can rest assured you are cleaning each individual stain safely and effectively.©Publications International, Ltd.