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7 Laundry Stain Removal Tips For Families With Children

Every family with children needs to know something about laundry stain removal because kids equal stains. Of course, these rules are just as applicable to adults as well, because let's face it, we are actually all prone to stains.

7 laundry stain removal tips that can help you know what to do for any type of stain {on Household Management 101}
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Here are 7 tips, plus a bonus concept to keep in mind, for removing laundry stains.

Tip 1: The Sooner You Try Removing Laundry Stains The Better

7 laundry stain removal tips that can help you know what to do for any type of stain {on Household Management 101}
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The longer the stain sits, the more likely it is to be permanent. This can be a problem if you can't stop everything to do the laundry right away though.

If you can't actually try to get the stain out immediately then you can at least pretreat it with some pretreatment product that is safe for long exposures, such as a stain stick.

Be careful of pretreating by spraying a pretreatment spray because it makes the fabric damp and if it is not washed soon the cloth may mildew. In addition, some sprays are not safe for long term application, but are designed to be only on the cloth for a short time.

If your child does not tell you about the stain, and you just find it on your own you may need to add some additional steps to try to remove the laundry stain, such as presoaking the item overnight.

Again, if you presoak make sure that it will not harm the fabric first.

Tip 2: Regular Detergent Plus Hot Water Removes Lots Of Stains

One of the easiest laundry stain removal tips is just to wash the clothes as normal and many stains will come out without additional effort.

Laundry detergent really works wonders. Many detergents, for example, contain enzyme pretreatment products which remove food stains, oil and grease quite well.

The key is to use as hot of water as the garment can stand, because hot water cleans better than cold or warm water.

Using warm or hot water is obviously not as good for your energy bill as washing in cold, but if you consistently have clothes you have to throw out because they're ruined by stains you might want to consider washing in warm or hot water first and seeing how it goes. It might save you some cash in the long run from having to buy less stuff!

There is a caveat to this rule about use of hot water, at least before you pretreat the stain however -- see Tip 4 below.

If you really want to make sure most stains come out during the wash, just spray a bit of stain pretreatment product on the stained area right before you begin that load of laundry.

Tip 3: Create A Stain Removal Basket To Keep All Your Laundry Stain Removal Supplies In

Of course, there are stains that won't come out if they are just ignored, even if they are washed in hot water and laundry detergent. Therefore, you need to be armed with the right laundry stain removal supplies.

Although we all have favorite stain removal products there is not one single product that will remove every type of stain. Instead, you will need several different types of supplies.

The following list of what to include in your basket is probably a bit over inclusive, but includes many items you may find around the house or that you would use in regular laundering anyway:

  • Acetone (finger nail polish remover)
  • Ammonia
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Color bleach (also known as oxygen bleach)
  • Enzyme pretreatment sprays
  • Eye dropper
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft brush
  • Spot remover or other solvent
  • Spray bottles
  • White vinegar

Tip 4: Understanding What Types Of Stains Respond To Certain Treatments Is Key

There are several types of laundry stains, or combinations thereof:

  1. Protein stains (from animal and human sources)

    • Examples: milk, blood, egg, perspiration
    • Treatment recommendations: Presoak in cold or tepid water, with enzyme products and liquid laundry detergent. Then, launder with bleach that is safe with the garment.
    • Things to avoid: Do not soak protein stains in hot water because this cooks the stain into the fabric.
  2. Plant based stains (also known as tannin stains)

    • Examples: grass, coffee, tea, wine, juice
    • Treatment recommendations: Flush stain immediately if possible for all beverages. Then, for all presoak with enzyme product or spray with a prewash product, and then launder with bleach that is safe with the garment.
  3. Greasy stains

    • Examples: butter, oil
    • Treatment recommendations: Use a pretreatment spray or stick (or good old dish soap), then launder in hottest water that is safe for that fabric.
  4. Inorganic stains

    • Examples: rust, mineral deposits
    • Treatment recommendations: White vinegar or lemon juice (something acidic), or rust remover.
    • Things to avoid: Chlorine bleach, because it makes rust worse.
  5. Ink and markers

    • Examples: ballpoint ink, drawing ink, felt tip ink
    • Treatment recommendations: Use solvents, such as acetone, rubbing alcohol or spot remover, make sure to use an eye dropper to keep the stain from spreading, rinse, repeat if needed, and finally, launder.
    • Word of caution: Both drawing ink and felt tip ink usually cannot be removed.

Great Resource For Stain Removal

{A-Z} Stain Removal Guide: Over 100 pages of instructions

The tips above are helpful, but you may need detailed step by step instructions for removing specific types of stains.

If so, check out this A-Z Stain Removal Guide, for instructions for stain removal from avocado to zucchini. This is also my site, and I work hard to always provide the best information!

You can also get a free printable laundry stain removal chart if you sign up for Stain Removal 101's weekly newsletter, Out Darn Spot!, which gives stain removal and cleaning tips useful for families with kids.


Tip 5: If You Can't Bear To Ruin The Garment Test The Stain Treatment Product In A Hidden Area Of The Garment First

Remember that laundry stain removers are supposed to be tough on the stain, but they can also be tough on your clothes.

In fact, laundry stain removal methods are one of the easiest ways to ruin a garment.

Of course, sometimes you have nothing to lose anyway. If the clothing item is stained beyond wearing again as is, drastic measures can be used in the hopes of salvaging it.

It is always best to try the most conservative methods of laundry stain removal first, because more conservative methods are less likely to ruin your clothes.



Tip 6: Check For Stains Three Different Times During The Laundry Cycle

  1. You should check for laundry stains while gathering and sorting the laundry so you can pretreat immediately.
  2. You should check again right before you place the clothes in the washing machine because stains can sneak up on you, and you may have missed it the first time around.
  3. Finally, you should check one more time before you place the clothes in the dryer because once they are dried the heat will set any stains you missed or that didn't come out on the first try.

Tip 7: Stain Removal Safety - Never Mix Ammonia or White Vinegar With Chlorine Bleach

In the game of laundry stain removal, your motto might as well be, if you don't first succeed try try again.

However, an important word of warning is in order.

Under no circumstances should you mix chlorine bleach with either ammonia or white vinegar. Either combination can create hazardous fumes.

This means that if you treat something with ammonia, for example, and that does not work you must thoroughly remove all traces of the ammonia before trying chlorine bleach on the item.

This also means removing all traces of the product from the washing machine before the other is added, not just the clothing.

Bonus Concept To Remember: Some Stains Won't Come Out No Matter What

The best laundry stain removal tip to keep in mind is that you are never going to be able to get out every stain on every piece of fabric that moves through your family's laundry.

If you try your best and you ruin the garment or the stain does not come out, chalk it up to experience and move on.

Life is too short to worry too much about it.

Do You Have Your Own Stain Removal Tip?

I would love to hear what works for you.

Click here to tell your own stain removal tip and why it works for you and your family! The best tips may end up here on this site, or on the sister site, Stain Removal 101!

Tell Us Your Best Laundry Stain Removal Tip

Do you have a great tip to share about how to get stains out of your clothes? We are especially interested in how to get typical kids stains out of clothes, but since we can all spill we can all use some good advice from someone who has been there, done that.

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