How to Get Rid of Clothing Stains

Father and Son Working on Car getting Grease Stains on Clothing.

How to Remove Stains from Clothing.

Removing a Variety of Stains from Washable Clothing

Are you a thrifty DIYer looking for ways to remove stains from clothing? In this article, we’ll review some quick tips for removing clothing stains using items you most likely have in the house already.

Although, some stains are tougher than others to remove, all may not be lost. It’s worth it to try and remove the stain before tossing the item in the trash. At least that’s what I do!

Below are some of my stain removal solutions.

Removing Grease Stains from Clothing

A grease stain includes anything that makes a greasy spot on your clothing such as mayonnaise, grease splatters, oil, greasy food, etc. Greasy spots are a very common occurrence that can cause the demise of your clothing.

Here’s what you can do to get these types of greasy spots out:

Note: Put something like a doubled-up dish towel or piece of cardboard under the stain before blotting so the grease doesn’t transfer to a clean section of fabric. When blotting use absorbent material like a paper towel.

  1. Begin by blotting up as much of the grease/oil as possible.
  2. If it appears there is oil in the fabric but you’re not getting much up with the paper towel, generously sprinkle talcum powder, cornstarch or baking soda (whichever you have on hand) over the stain. Work it in with your fingers or a toothbrush. You will notice as the oil is lifting, the powder substance you are using will start to clump. Brush it off when you are finished.
  3. Now work in some liquid dish soap, again you can use a toothbrush. If you’re using the same toothbrush make sure you’ve cleaned it well. The dish soap will help dissolve the grease much like it does when you are using it to wash dishes. You don’t need to go crazy with dish soap, use your best judgement for the size stain you have.
  4. Rinse with hot water then launder as usual. Remember to check the garment before putting in the dryer.

If it’s a small fresh stain, dish soap may work on its own. Just put undiluted liquid dish washing soap on the stain and work in. Launder as usual.

Shampoo has also been successfully used on many different kinds of grease stains. It removes grease from your hair and can remove it from your clothing as well. The key is to try and use the treatment that is easiest for you. There is usually more than one option but you’ll find the ones that are right for you and your stain.

Using WD-40 to Rehydrate an Old Greasy Oil Stain

You’re probably thinking there is no way WD40 can be used as a stain remover? But it can be a miracle worker on grease, crayon and even removing lipstick stains from clothing. WD-40 works on most fabrics except silk.

Today, we’ll be using WD40 to rehydrate that old greasy oily stain. For this, I would place a piece of cardboard or even a dish (something that isn’t going to absorb quickly) behind the stain you’re working on.

  1. Spray the old stain with the WD40 and let sit for a few minutes. You will notice the WD40 has spread a little. Depending on the fabric you’re working on it may spread more than others. You can always spray WD40 in a cup first and use a cotton ball to blot over the old stain, this might give you better control on how much it spreads.
  2. Follow all steps above under Removing Grease Stains from Clothing.

Getting Ink Stains Out of Clothes

Getting out ink stains is possible, but before you even attempt it, you need to know what kind of pen left the mark. There are 3 common types of ink: water based, permanent ink (like a sharpie), or ballpoint pen.

Remember – before putting the item in the dryer, make sure the ink stain is completely gone or you risk it permanently staining the item.

Removing Water Based Ink Stain

If you have a water based ink stain, they are generally easier to remove than permanent ink because if you get to them in time, cleaning with water can do the trick.

Water based inks are usually found in ink stamps, calligraphy ink, highlighters, magic markers, many kids markers, and erasable ink.

  1. Place the stained section of clothing on a clean towel.
  2. Pour a little water over the stain.
  3. Blot the stain with a clean white towel or paper towel. Do not rub and risk spreading the ink.
  4. Repeating the steps above may remove the ink altogether.

If there is still some ink left, put a small amount of liquid laundry detergent on the ink stain and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes.

Wash the item using the hottest water it can stand.

Removing Permanent Ink/Ball Point Ink Stains

Permanent ink is harder to remove from clothing. This ink can be found in standard ink pens, permanent markers, ballpoint ink pens, and sharpies.

  1. Again, lay the ink stained portion of the garment on a towel then wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Blot the ink stain, don’t rub or you’ll spread the ink. Be sure to move to the other side of the swab as the ink is lifting. You may go through a few cotton swabs.
  3. Now dampen a clean piece of towel with plain water and blot the stain.
  4. Repeat above steps as necessary.

If you’ve got some stubborn ink, you might want to switch and try nail polish remover. Before doing this make sure to thoroughly rinse out the rubbing alcohol first.

Using Fels Naptha Bar Soap to Remove Mildew and Mold Stains from Clothing

This brown soap has been used for centuries for everything from washing clothes to washing the body. It also works surprisingly well at removing mold and mildew stains.

Mold and mildew can be hard to remove from fabric, so much so that most people don’t even try to remove it, they just move the clothes to the trash. But, if you’re up to it and want to attempt to salvage the item, then give this a try:

  • First, take the item outside and use a soft bristle brush to gently remove any mold/mildew as best you can.
  • You can use a bucket filled with water, a sink, the washer as it’s filling with water or whatever works best for the item you’re removing the stain from.
  • When the clothing item is wet, rub the Fels Naptha soap over the stained areas and work it into the stain and then launder as usual.
  • Depending on how much mold or mildew is on the garment, you may need to repeat the process of using the Fels Naptha soap and laundering. Just remember to check the garment before placing in the dryer.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are stain removers that are available on the grocery shelves that work on many different stains. These items are the items that are not usually thought of as being used to remove stains from clothes.