Woman cleaning clothing stainThere’s nothing worse than wearing a crisp, white shirt only to spill lunch down the front of it. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get those stains out! Different stains require different formulas, so make sure you have these common household items on hand to be prepared to attack any stain that comes your way:

  • Baking Soda: Excellent grease fighter.
  • Bleach: Bleach fights bacteria and fungus and brightens whites.
  • Dry-Cleaning Fluid: Looking for way to combat water-resistant stains? This is the answer.
  • Enzyme Cleaner: Naturally return fats, oils and bodily fluids back to basic elements.
  • Hairspray: If your hairspray contains alcohol, it can be used to dissolve dyes, fats and other sticky remnants.
  • Laundry Detergent: Can be mixed with other components or used to soak stains in addition to typical washing.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Dissolves oils, fats and dyes and can be used as a disinfectant.
  • Vinegar: An acid that naturally breaks down dirt, grease, bacteria and minerals. BONUS: When mixed with dishwashing detergent, vinegar can remove stains from white clothing.

For clothing stain removal solutions for virtually every spill, check out this Stain Removal Chart from the American Cleaning Institute.

The last thing you want to do is try to tackle a stain the wrong way, or leave one untreated for so long that the stain settles in for good. Many stains need to be addressed as soon as possible, including blood, chocolate, grass, ink, paint, wine and coffee. If the spill occurs while you’re away from your handy household stain fighters, do what you can for early prevention of set in stains:

Use water. If you are in a pinch and water is all you have available, it’s better than nothing.

But don’t apply too much pressure. While you are adding water, dab it onto the stain instead of forcefully rubbing it in.

Now you have a wet shirt so you want to place it under the hand dryer – think again! Heat can actually speed up your stain setting in. While you won’t be thrilled to walk around with a wet shirt, if you want to avoid permanent staining, this is your best bet.

Remember to always check the label on your clothing before you attempt to remove the stain. Different fabrics, like cotton, wool, synthetic and silk, require different cleaning methods, and the wrong solution can ruin your clothing for good.