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Stain removal guide

While many stains can be removed if treated quickly - not all stains can be removed. Pre-existing stains that have been washed and machined dryed, for example, cannot be removed. On expensive items the best solution is to take it to a dry cleaner as soon as possible. Tell them what stain it is and they will treat accordingly.

 

Please note:

  • Before using a stain removal treatment, always test on an inconspicuous piece of fabric to ensure that the stain remover will not damage the fabric. To test, apply product as indicated and let stand for approximately 5 minutes before rinsing clean. If any colour change occurs do not use the treatment.

  • For safety reasons, do not mix products together unless otherwise advised. Many household chemicals can produce poisonous fumes.

  • Some stains may require several treatments before results are achieved.

  • Never tumble dry stained items as this will embed the stain into the fabric fibres.

  • To minimise damage to stained fabrics do not tumble dry or apply heat to the fabric until treated with a suitable stain remover.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Select the appropriate letter or scroll through the list to find what you are looking for.

A

 

Alcohol

New stains - Pre-soak or sponge fresh immediately with cold water. Rinse with vinegar for a few seconds if stain remains.

Existing stains - Soak in hot water with added presoak agent for 30 minutes.

 

Asphalt or Tar

New stain - Apply an ice cube to the surface and then carefully scrape with a dull knife. Spray with presoak treatment and allow to sit for a few minutes before washing.

Old stain - Apply an ice cube to the surface and then carefully scrape with a dull knife. Spray with presoak treatment and allow to sit for a few minutes before washing.

 

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B

 

Baby Food

New stain - Use a dull knife to scrape off any food or formula. Soak in prewash for an hour and wash in cold water.

Old stain - Use a dull knife to scrape off any food or formula. Soak in prewash and cold water overnight.

 

Blood

New stain - Flush immediately with cold water and then soak for one hour. If stain remains, add half a teaspoon of baking soda and soak for another hour.

Old stain - Mix up a paste of hydrogen peroxide and salt and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water. Repeat if necessary.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

 

Butter and Fats, Margarine, Mayonnaise, Vegetable Oil

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

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C

 

 

Candle Wax

New stain - Rub with an ice cube and then use dull knife to scrape off as much wax as possible. Place the stained fabric between two sheets of paper towel and lightly press with a with warm iron. Remove and replace paper towels and repeat as required until no more wax is pulled from the fabric. Presoak in hot water and washing powder for 30 minutes.

Old stain - Rub with an ice cube and then use dull knife to scrape off as much wax as possible. Place the stained fabric between two sheets of paper towel and lightly press with a with warm iron. Remove and replace paper towels and repeat as required until no more wax is pulled from the fabric. Presoak in hot water and washing powder for 30 minutes.

 

Chewing Gum

New stain - Rub with an ice cube and then scrape off with dull knife. For difficult stain, spray on WD-40, rinse in warm water and washing powder and wash as normal.

Old stain - Rub with an ice cube and then scrape off with dull knife. For difficult stain, spray on WD-40, rinse in warm water and washing powder and wash as normal.

 

Chocolate and Cocoa

New stain - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Coffee

New stain - Immediately pour hot water on the stain. Mix up a paste of borax and water and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. Repeat if necessary.

Old stain - Mix up a paste of borax and water and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. Repeat if necessary.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

Crayon

New stain - Rub with an ice cube and then scrape off with dull knife. For difficult stain, spray on WD-40, rinse in warm water and washing powder and wash as normal.

Old stain - Rub with an ice cube and then scrape off with dull knife. For difficult stain, spray on WD-40, rinse in warm water and washing powder and wash as normal.

 

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D

 

Dairy Products

New stain - Presoak in cold water and washing powder for an hour before washing as usual.

Old stain - Spray with prewash according to instructions and wash as usual.

 

Deodorants

New stain - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Dye

New stain - Flush immediately with cold water and then soak for one hour. If stain remains, add half a teaspoon of baking soda and soak for another hour.

Old stain - Mix up a paste of hydrogen peroxide and salt and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water. Repeat if necessary.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

 

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E

 

Egg

New stain - Presoak in cold water and washing powder for an hour before washing as usual.

Old stain - Spray with prewash according to instructions and wash as usual.

 

Epoxy Glue

New stain - Use an eco-friendly paint stripper (plascon removall) to break down the glue so that it can be scraped off. Wash as usual.

Old stain - Use an eco-friendly paint stripper (plascon removall) to break down the glue so that it can be scraped off. Wash as usual.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

 

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F

 

Fruit and Fruit Juices

New stain - Presoak in cold water and washing powder for an hour before washing as usual.

Old stain - Spray with prewash according to instructions and wash as usual.

 

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G

 

 

Glue

New stain - Rub with an ice cube and then use dull knife to scrape off as much glue as possible. Presoak in cold water and prewash washing powder for 30 minutes.

Old stain - Rub with an ice cube and then use dull knife to scrape off as much glue as possible. Presoak in cold water and prewash washing powder overnight.

 

Glue - superglue

New stain - Dissolve with acetone (nail polish remover) and wash a usual.

Old stain - Dissolve with acetone (nail polish remover) and wash a usual.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

 

Grass

New stains - Treat with warm water and white spirit vinegar or warm water and rubbing alcohol.

Old stain - Mix up a paste of hydrogen peroxide and salt and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water. Repeat if necessary.

 

Gravy

New stain - Presoak in cold water and washing powder for an hour before washing as usual.

Old stain - Spray with prewash according to instructions and wash as usual.

 

Grease

New stain - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

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H

 

 

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I

 

Ink - Ball Point Pen

New stain - Use a paper towel to blot the stain. Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain, rinse in cold water and wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain. Repeat if stain remains. Rinse in cold water and wash as usual.

 

Ink - Fountain Pen

New stain - Use a paper towel to blot the stain. Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain, rinse in cold water and wash as usual.

Old stains - Prepare an equal solution of water and white spirit vinegar and soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse in cold water and wash as usual.

 

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J

 

K

 

L

 

Leather - see care for leather

 

Lipstick

New stain - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

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M

 

 

Marker, Permanent

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Margarine

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Mildew

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

GOOD TO KNOW : Refresh stored clothes by making a paste of lemon juice and salt. Rub in on any mildew stains, lay the clothes out in the sunshine for an hour or two and wash as usual.

 

Motor Oil

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Mud

New stain - Soak in cold water for 30 minutes and then soak in warm water and washing powder for 30 minutes. Rinse and wash as usual. For stubborn stains apply prewash stain remover.

Old stain - Soak in cold water for 30 minutes and then soak in warm water and washing powder for 30 minutes. Rinse and wash as usual. For stubborn stains apply prewash stain remover.

 

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N

 

Nail Polish

New stain - Dissolve with acetone (nail polish remover) and wash a usual.

Old stain - Dissolve with acetone (nail polish remover) and wash a usual.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

 

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O

 

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P

 

 

Pencil Marks

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Perspiration

New stain - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

 

Paint, Acrylic

Most modern paints are water-based and can be washed as usual on a cool wash cycle.

 

Paint, Oil-based

New stain - Use an eco-friendly paint stripper (plascon removall) to break down the glue so that it can be scraped off. Wash as usual.

Old stain - Use an eco-friendly paint stripper (plascon removall) to break down the glue so that it can be scraped off. Wash as usual.

On delicate fabrics consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner.

 

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Q

 

R

 

 

Rust

New stain - Sprinle cream of tartar onto the stain and brush with an old toothbrush. Let stand for 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Sprinkle cream of tartar onto the stain and brush with an old toothbrush. Let stand for 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water. If stain remains, repeat - adding salt to cream of tartar and let stand in the sun for 10 minutes. Wash as usual.

 

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S

 

 

Soft Drinks

New stain - Use a paper towel to blot the stain. Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain, rinse in cold water and wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain. Repeat if stain remains. Rinse in cold water and wash as usual.

 

Smoke or Soot

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual, adding half a cup of vinegar to rinse water.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual, adding half a cup of vinegar to rinse water.

 

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T

 

Tea

New stain - Immediately pour hot water on the stain. Mix up a paste of borax and water and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. Repeat if necessary.

Old stain - Mix up a paste of borax and water and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. Repeat if necessary.

 

Tomato Sauce

New stain - Soak in cold water for 30 minutes and then soak in warm water and washing powder for 30 minutes. Rinse and wash as usual. For stubborn stains apply prewash stain remover.

Old stain - Soak in cold water for 30 minutes and then soak in warm water and washing powder for 30 minutes. Rinse and wash as usual. For stubborn stains apply prewash stain remover.

 

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U

 

 

Urine

New stain - Soak in cold water for 30 minutes and then soak in warm water and washing powder for 30 minutes. Rinse and wash as usual. For stubborn stains apply prewash stain remover.

Old stain - Soak in cold water for 30 minutes and then soak in warm water and washing powder for 30 minutes. Rinse and wash as usual. For stubborn stains apply prewash stain remover.

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V

 

Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil

New stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Wash as usual.

Old stains - Apply an ammonia-based cleaner (handy andy cream) to the stain and gently massage into the fabric with your fingers. Let stand overnight and then wash as usual.

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W

 

Wine

New stains - Saturate fresh stains with club soda and blot with a paper towel. Wash a usual.

Old stains - Soak fabric in boiling milk, just enough to cover the stain. Remove from heat and let sit until stain disappears.

 

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X

 

Y

 

Yellowing

Restore the brightness of clothes by adding half a cup of white spirit vinegar to a bucket of warm water and soaking overnight. Where a washing machine uses hard water, this reduces the effectiveness of washing powders and yellowing or greyness occurs. Oxygen bleach may also help restore brightness.

 

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Z

 

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