How to remove the toughest stains

How to remove the toughest stains
How do you clean the toughest stains? Paint, blood, lipstick, grass and wax stains don't have to spell out death for your clothes! Here's how to tackle them.
How do you clean the toughest stains? Paint, blood, lipstick, grass and wax stains don't have to spell out death for your clothes! Here's how to tackle them.
See our guide to removing general stains and food and drink stains.

Water colour paint stains:
If they are recent, eliminate these stains by dabbing them with a cloth soaked in a mix of water and ammonia. If the stain is dry, dab it with a cloth soaked in petrol.
Mud stains: Let the mud dry and then brush it off. Clean up remaining traces with soapy water or lemon and water.
Fabric softener stains: Marseille soap is the most effective. Rinse and repeat as many times as needed, making sure the soap foams a lot.
Cigarette burns: Thick white cotton: get rid of the stain by placing a cloth soaked in oxygenated water on top. Rinse with bleach and then with tepid water. Wool and silk: rub with dry Marseille soap, let it react for several hours, then wash and rinse.
Cement stains: Dab the stain with a cloth soaked in white vinegar and rinse with a wet towel.
Shoe polish stains: Remove the excess with a spatula or a spoon, then remove the stain with white spirit.
Wax stains: Scrape off as much as possible with a spoon. Slowly pour boiling water on the stain. If the fabric is delicate, place kitchen roll on the stain and then press a hot iron over the top. Repeat until the melted wax is absorbed.
Glue stains: If the glue has already dried, removing these stains can be difficult. After scraping off the excess, dab with a cloth soaked in meths or a solvent recommended by the manufacturer. You can also try soaking the stain in white vinegar then dabbing it with a hot wet cloth.
Tranfer printing stains: Remove by soaking in hot white vinegar. Leave to react for a few minutes, scrub and wash.
Ink stains: Remove the stain by soaking it in milk. Lemon juice with added salt also removes ink stains. Use alcohol or bleach on white cotton. On coloured cotton, use a mixture of water and alcohol vinegar. Hairspray can also be very effective at diluting ink. Spray then dry immediately with a clean cloth. Repeat until the stain disappears.
Faeces: If you can't rinse the stain with warm water straight away, remove stains with ammonia or oxygenated water.
Bird droppings:Remove by dabbing with a cloth that’s been soaked in bleach or ammonia.
Felt-tip stains: White cotton: dab with a cloth soaked in soapy water, then soak the item in bleach. Coloured cotton: dab the stain with a cloth soaked in soapy water. Once the stain has been diluted dab with a cloth soaked in surgical spirit, or rub with a cloth soaked in warm milk or a juice of one lemon. Synthetic or artificial fibres: dab the stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar (except on acetate). Rinse and wash. Wool/satin: dab the stain with a cloth soaked in lemon juice until it disappears.
Highlighter stains: Soak the stained zone in milk, scrub and rinse.
Make-up stains: Never wet a make-up stain. Remove with mineral essence. Talc removes ring-shaped stains.
Foundation stains: Remove these stains by dabbing with a cloth soaked in ether. Repeat until the stain disappears, then wash with soapy water. You can also pour a little make-up remover on a tissue, scrub and hand wash with strong soap, rubbing gently.
Tar stains: Scrape off as much as possible with a spatula or a spoon, dab with a cloth soaked in lemon or white spirit and water, rinse and dry. Swimsuits: scrub the stain gently with sunflower oil, then wash.
Grass stains: Soak the stained zone with vinegar. Leave to react and rinse. If the stain does not disappear, dab with a cloth soaked in slightly diluted alcohol and rinse. Then wash again with soap and rinse again. On white cotton, rub the stain with a cloth soaked with lemon juice, then rinse. On delicate fabric, use meths or water mixed with ammonia.
Damp stains: Rub these with a paste made with 30g grated white soap, 30g starch, 15g fine salt and the juice of one lemon.
Mercurochrome stains: On cotton or linen, remove these stains with a cloth soaked in surgical spirit, rinse with bleach, then with clean water. On wool or silk, soak the stained item in a solution of two parts water and one part methylated spirits. On white fabric, soak in bleach. On coloured fabric, dab the stain with a cloth soaked in water and surgical spirit.
Mould stains: If the stain is fresh, remove the excess with a spoon. Dab the stain with a cloth soaked in soapy water and then with another cloth soaked in water and ammonia. If the stain is very incrusted, try removing it with a cloth soaked in lemon juice.
Nicotine stains: Surgical spirit is the most effective stain remover.
Carbon paper stains: An ammonia-soaked cloth usually helps get rid of these stains.
Modelling clay stains: Rub the fabric to remove most of the stain, then cover with kitchen roll and press a hot iron all over the stain so that the paper absorbs it. If marks remain, rub them with slightly damp Marseille soap. Leave for an hour, then machine wash.
Paint stains: Remove the excess with a spoon and use a paint solvent. More rebellious stains can be removed with products used for ovens. Leave it in for 15 minutes and dry. Don’t forget to protect your hands: wear rubber gloves.
Plaster stains: Remove the paster by delicately scraping then by dabbing the stain with a cloth that’s been soaked in vinegar.
Pollen stains: Use a cloth soaked in meths.
Resin stains: Remove with an iron by placing a cloth soaked in a mix of equal parts water and oxygenated water and passing a hot iron over the stain.
Lipstick stains: Use a cloth soaked in ether or butter before washing. Non-oily make-up remover also works.
Rust stains: Pour the juice of one lemon mixed with salt on the stain, rub, then pour some washing powder diluted in a little water onto the stain, rub again then rinse. If the stain persists, use a rust removal product from the supermarket.
Burn stains: Rub a raw onion over the stain, wash by hand and rinse. On white cotton, rub the yellow parts with a white cloth soaked in a mix of cold water and oxygenated water. Rinse.
Bloodstains: A bloodstain is easily removed with cold water or oxygenated water. On dark fabric, eye serum gives good results. Don’t foget to wash and rinse the item afterwards. You can also use a mix of water, cornflour (or flour or talc). On older stains, use water with soda crystals added to it and don’t forget to rinse. Oxygenated water also gives good results. On silk, dab with a cloth soaked in meths.
Soot stains: Don’t wash these stains immediately. Sprinkle talc over the stain and then brush it off before washing.
Biro stains: On white cotton, lemon juice works miracles. On wool or cotton, dab the stain with a cloth soaked in acetone, surgical spirit, meths or lemon juice. On other fabrics, very hot milk is efficient, as well as a mix of equal parts meths and vinegar.
Felt tip stains: These stains are removed with a cloth that’s been soaked in surgical spirit. Wash and rinse. You can also vaporise these stains with hairspray, and when the ink starts to run, rinse thoroughly. On synthetic fibres, use a white cloth soaked in white vinegar. Wash with soap and then rinse.
Dye stains: Remove hair dye stains by dabbing with a cloth soaked in a solution of hot water and 5% sodium dithionite. Rinse and dry. On your skin, remove dye stains by rubbing them with a damp cloth sprinkled with cold cigarette ash!
Sweat stains: Yellow perspiration stains can be removed with a cloth soaked in water mixed with ammonia or white vinegar. If the item is white, use a cloth soaked in oxygenated water. On delicate fabric, dab with a cloth soaked in diluted lemon juice. Leave to dry, then wash. If the clothing is discloured by perspiration, you need to soak it quickly in a bath of water and white vinegar alcohol (half and half).
Deodorant stains: If the deodorant forms a crust, remove it by covering with kitchen roll and pressing with a hot iron. The paper will absorb it.
Tipp-Ex stains: Scrape off the dry stain, then wet the stain with essence of turpentine. Wash the fabric with water mixed with detergent and a small spoonful of ammonia. Tipp-Ex also dissolves when dabbed with a cloth soaked in alcohol.
Urine stains: Rinse quickly with warm water. If not, ammonia at 28% or oxygenated water will get rid of these stains. On wool, use water mixed with white vinegar.
Nail varnish stains: Do not use solvants. Remove these stains with acetone.
Vomit stains: Rinse quickly with warm water. If the stain is dry, remove it with 28% ammonia or with a cloth soaked in oxygenated water. On wool, water mixed with alcohol vinegar is best.
Published by Sarah Horrocks
15 May 2008
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