Emergency Stain Removal Tips

What When How Where Did I Get That Stain!

What to do When you Get a Stain When You’re Out and About?

Tips for Treating Stains on the Go

We don’t know when a spill is going to happen; they’re just about always unexpected. So having a little stain removal knowledge for these emergencies is necessary.

Things get spilled at the office, at the store, on a plane, holiday gatherings and in the car. When this happens we need to know how to work with the resources at hand.

Let’s take a look at what we can do, when these cleaning emergencies happen, to keep things stain free.

First Rule in Stain Removal, Act Fast!

The first thing that needs to happen with any emergency cleanup is to act as quickly as you can.

No matter if its clothing or carpets, the longer a spill or stain sits, the more time it has to set in, which can make it a permanent stain.

If you have kids, entertain frequently or fly the airways, you know how easy these things can happen.

Cleaning Up Liquid Spills

Find a clean, absorbent material; paper towel, napkin, toilet paper (if that’s all there is), cloth, etc. to blot up as much of the spill as you can. Don’t rub the stain or risk spreading the stain.

Cleaning Solid Spills

The first thing you need to do with a solid spill (mayonnaise, ketchup, chocolate sauce) is remove the excess. So using something with a dull edge; credit card, knife, spoon, thin piece of cardboard (like the back of a notepad), etc. lift first then blot.

Treating the Stain

After you’ve removed the excess and before the stain has had time to dry, you’ll need to use what you have at hand to keep the stain from setting in and becoming a permanent stain.


One thing that is almost always around is water. Dampen your absorbent material and blot again to remove as much of the stain as possible. If necessary, change the absorbent material to keep from spreading the stain.


Many food spills, red wine, soda pop etc. (once excess spill has been removed and blotted with water) can be treated with salt to keep the stain from setting in until you get home to treat and wash as usual.

Liberally sprinkle salt over the stain and let it sit about five minutes, then brush off or vacuum up depending on where the stain is. Blot with water again to remove any residual salt.

Club Soda

Just like water, club soda can be a on the go stain remedy. Seltzer water can also be used if there is no club soda available.

None of these on the go stain remedies are the end all in stain removal. These are short term things that can help a stain not to become permanent until you can either get home and wash the item or take it to the dry cleaner.

Emergency Stain Removal Kit

A stain removal kit is something you can keep in the house, office, and purse or in the car for those unexpected spills to keep stains from permanently setting in until you can further care for the item.

Some things you might have in your stain removal kit are:

  • Some type of absorbent material
  • Cotton swabs
  • Red wine stain removal kit
  • Alcohol wipes/wet wipes
  • Stain removal wipes or spray
  • Spot remover pen
  • Dry clean stain removal pen
  • Small container of hairspray

You can keep these items in a little plastic carry tote or something fun like an old (clean) medical travel kit (I found one in the antique store).

Stain Removal Help When you’re out and About

How many times have you been the recipient of an accidental stain and weren’t sure what to do. Below are some of the more common stains that happen.

Red Wine, Tomato Sauce, Coffee or Other Color Based Stains

This can also be juice stains and tea stains which are some of the most common.

  1. Blot with clean dry absorbent material.
  2. Using water or club soda, blot with a clean damp napkin, towel, etc.
  3. Cover the stain liberally with salt and gently press it into the stain and let sit as best you can for about five minutes.
  4. Brush off the salt and again blot with water or club soda to remove salt residue.

Oil Based Stains

These may consist of greasy burger juice, salad dressing, and other condiment spills.

  1. Blot up what you can with a napkin and or scrap then blot.
  2. Wet a clean section of napkin or whatever clean absorbent material you have with water and dab, dab, dab at the stain.
  3. With another clean napkin, paper towel, etc. wet with water and a dab of soap and gently blot the stain.
  4. Blot again with water to remove any soapy residue.

Lipstick Stain

How many times have you gotten lipstick on a shirt, skirt, pants, in your purse? Ugh right. If you’re out and about these steps can help until you can get home and treat or take the item to the dry cleaners.

  1. If necessary, with a dull edged item, gently remove what you can without spreading the lipstick.
  2. With a clean dry paper towel, napkin or cloth, carefully press to further remove as much as you can. Move to clean sections as needed.
  3. Take a clean alcohol wipe (many offices and restaurants will have these if you don’t) and press/blot the remaining color.
  4. You can also try using a liquid detergent such as Dawn (your office may have this) and press/blot/gently massage the stain or you can use a liquid hand soap. This can be more effective if you did blot with the isopropyl alcohol first.
  5. Blot with water (don’t use hot water) to remove any residue.

If you are at work and happen to have a change of clothes, you can follow steps 1 and 2 then place the shirt stain side down on a paper towel then dab with alcohol wipes to transfer some of the stain onto paper towel.

As soon as you can launder/take to dry cleaner, do not put in dryer until you know stain has been removed.

These are just a few of the ways to treat spills and stains while you’re on the go. Remember to always read labels and wash or take to the dry cleaners as soon as you can.