It’s summer, it’s warm, and we’re all wearing light coloured clothes to deflect the sun’s rays as far as possible from our skin and save ourselves from excessive sweating. But let’s be honest, one thing that is certain is that stains just love bright clothes. Whether it’s the melted chocolate ice cream on our new white blouse or the grass and dirt stains that we pick with a long maxi dress, it’s easy to get stained clothes in the summer. If you have small children, stains take on a whole new dimension, because children’s clothes are anything but clean, and the stains they manage to create are incredible.
Today we reveal what you should pay attention to when treating stains and how to remove most of the stains that happen to you every day, and preserve your clothes.
What are stains?
Stains are visible dirt that often cannot be removed with the first wash, but must be treated with specific stain removers. As it usually happens, the stains naturally appear in the most visible place, such as a white shirt, bedding, or our favorite dress. Fortunately, there are useful tips with whichhelp you to easily and effectively remove stains from your clothes, without additional damage to the fabric. Although most stains can be washed away in a first washing machine cycle, 3 and 6% of stains cannot be washed, and in this case, we have to resort to special stain removal methods.
What kind of stains are there and how to recognize them?
You know it’s a stain if, after one wash cycle, it is still visible on the fabric. In this case, it needs to be treated separately with a stain remover. The more accurately you identify the type of stain, the better you can apply the treatment process. Unfortunately, identifying the type of stain and its origin is not always as simple as it seems, but some guidelines can help us:
- Spot location
- Stain texture
- The color of the stain
- The smell of the stain
The location of the stain can tell us where the stain comes from, for example, the yellow edges under the armpits of the shirt indicate that it is a sweat stain. If we touch the stain, we will recognize its texture. Stains that are hard can be from blood or proteins, while, for example, oil stains remain soft. The color of a stain can give a lot of information about its origin and help in choosing a stain remover. Brownish-yellow stains can be caused, for example, by fruit, coffee, tea, mustard, etc., while, for example, blue stains are often caused by ink or ballpoint pen. The most important guide to the origin of the stain is provided by the smell.
What should be taken into account when removing stains?
Before you start treating the stain, the most important thing is to find information about the type of textile and the fibers from which the fabric is made, because that’s how we know how to approach the stain. The care symbols that are always found on the garment declaration can definitely help you with this and inform you whether or not you can use bleach and at what temperature you should process the garment. For example, white cotton is processed much differently than colored wool or silk and can be washed at a higher temperature, which could damage the silk fabric and shrink a woolen jumper to an unrecognizable size.
In case of doubt, we recommend that you carry out a test on the hem of the garment by applying the cleaning agent to this invisible piece of material and letting it work for a while. After you have rinsed and dried the product, you will notice whether there have been certain changes in color, and if not, you are sure that you can use the stain remover on the rest of the garment. A rule of thumb to follow is this: the darker the materials, the better and more delicate the weave, and the milder the stain remover should be.
Success in removing clothing stains is guaranteed by the correct treatment temperature and duration of application. Stains are harmless if cold or lukewarm water is used, but if you try to wash the stain with hot water, you may cause irreversible damage due to the reaction of the hot water with the material you are treating. Also, always be careful not to leave the stain remover on the fabric for too long, but follow the directions exactly to protect your clothes.
Unfortunately, not every stain can be removed. The older the stain is, the more often it is washed, and the hotter the water in which the stain is washed, the more it is fixed in the material and can no longer be removed! Sometimes, as a last resort, only stain patches remain.
Tips for effective stain removal
However, most stains can be removed by following simple first aid stain removal tips and using the correct stain remover. We divide the stains into 3 categories according to which we will choose the agent that will effectively wash the stain. These are:
- Food stains (stew, wine, fruit, coffee) can be treated with bleach
- Stains containing proteins (blood, egg, starch, also feces) are removed with means containing enzymes
- Stains containing fats and oils (baking fat, massage oil, lubricant, skin fat, etc.) are removed with agents containing surfactants or solvents
The most important tips we can give you regarding stain removal are:
- Remove the stained piece of laundry immediately and treat the stain with a cleaning agent
- If it is not possible to treat the stain immediately, try to remove it thoroughly with a clean tissue
- NEVER rub the stain, as rubbing can damage the fabric, and the stain will only penetrate deeper
- Wash the stain with water or a mild soap solution to remove the coarsest dirt
- NEVER use hot water as with some fabrics the heat can set the stain into the fabric
- Use cold or lukewarm water to treat stains
How to properly deal with stains of unknown origin
Often we cannot identify the stains because they are residues from already washed laundry or the stain consists of several different types of stains (eg: sauce or coffee with milk: they often consist of fat, proteins and substances that can be bleached). For this reason, there is an order in which we should use stain removers for the best results.
- Water – numerous stains can be easily washed off in plain, lukewarm water, and in case the stain is still there, we proceed with step 2
- Enzymes – mix a little detergent or salt for stains with cold or lukewarm water, dip the laundry in it or put the solution directly on the laundry. Leave it on for at least 20 minutes, preferably 2 hours, then rinse. If the stain is still there, try the next step.
- Degreaser – treat the stain according to the degreaser manufacturer’s instructions, let it work and then rinse. If the stain is still visible, try step 4
- Bleach – here you should pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions for use. After a minimum of 10 minutes of action time (even better 2 hours), rinse carefully. If the stain is still not gone, the next step may help
- Acid – some stains can only be removed with acid. It is often enough to drip citric acid or vinegar on the stain, let it work for a minimum of 10 minutes (even better for a minimum of 2 hours) and then rinse thoroughly.
After each treatment of the stain, the laundry must be thoroughly washed. A washing cycle in the washing machine is also recommended to neutralize any residues.
No matter what kind of stain it is, if you react in time, it is possible to remove just about any. In case you are not sure where the stain came from, try to apply the tips for removing unknown stains before you decide to get rid of the stained fabric forever, and when you know where the stain came from, try to react as quickly as possible. Today, there really are a huge number of specialized stain treatments that will save your clothes. At the end of the day, when you know how to approach the stain, they’re not so scary, so you can freely indulge yourself and not worry too much if you stain yourself with your favorite chocolate ice cream 🙂