Owning a home is guaranteed to come with a fair share of messes. Sometimes, cleaning up can be a breeze. Other times, messes create set-in stains that require more work to remove. While there isn’t one cure-all solution to removing stains, you can treat specific stains with the right information and cleaning supplies.
The following cleaning keywords are mentioned throughout this guide. For reference, here are their definitions and/or instructions on how to make these cleaning solutions:
- Tepid Water – A mix of two parts cold water to one part boiling water, also known as luke-warm water.
- Tamp – To press lightly on an area, usually with a soft-bristle brush.
- Enzyme Detergent – These types of detergent contain enzymes that are a type of protein that enables effective cleaning at lower temperatures. Common enzymes in detergents include Amylase (for starch stains), Lipase (for fat and oil stains), Protease (for protein stains), and Cellulose (for organic matter).
- Washing Soda – When baking soda is heated to a high temperature, it breaks down to become washing soda. To make your own, simply heat baking soda on a shallow pan in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The baking soda will turn from its powdery, crystallized, salt-like state into a grainy, dull powder of individual grains that can be used in a number of cleaning applications.
Removing Stains From Clothing
When it comes to clothing stains, acting as quickly as possible will yield the best results. Any type of liquid stain on clothing should be treated gently. Regardless of what caused the stain, start removing it by blotting up any excess liquid with a cloth, working from the outside-in so as to avoid spreading the stain. To remove the stain completely, determine what caused the stain first to take the best course of action.
- Grease (Butter, Oil, Mayo): Use a dry solvent to treat the stained area, then rinse with isopropyl alcohol. Allow time for the garment to dry. Spray the remaining residue with diluted dishwashing soap, then soak the garment in an enzyme detergent before machine washing.
- Fruit/Vegetable Juice: Remove sugars from the garment by spraying the area with diluted dish soap. To remove any remaining color, use an eyedropper to flush the stain with white vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide. Finally, soak the garment in an enzyme detergent prior to machine washing.
- Red Wine: Spray diluted dish soap onto the stain and use a soft-bristle brush to tamp the area. Be sure to brush softly to avoid pilling the material. Then, apply white vinegar and tamp again. After a few minutes, rinse the area with water. If the stain persists, try using hydrogen peroxide or ammonia, then treat with an enzyme detergent and machine wash regularly.
- White Wine: Unlike red wine, white wine is much easier to remove. Flush the area with cold water, then use a diluted dish soap solution to treat the area. Follow up with a soak in enzyme detergent, then wash the garment normally.
- Coffee/Tea: Remove the stain by using an eye dropper to flush the area with lemon juice or white vinegar. If there was sugar or milk in the beverage, treat with a diluted dish detergent and then an enzyme detergent prior to washing to help remove any residue.
- Mustard: Remove excess mustard from the garment, dabbing to prevent spreading the stain. Use vinegar to flush the stain, then hand-wash carefully with a diluted dish soap solution.
- Sauce (Ketchup, BBQ): Wipe away excess sauce, then spray on a diluted dish detergent. Soak in tepid water, then treat with enzyme detergent, and wash normally.
- Soy Sauce: Spray the stained area with diluted dish soap, then tamp lightly with a soft-bristle brush. Flush with water and white vinegar and continue to tamp the affected area. If the stain persists, use a drop or two of ammonia, then flush with water. Finish the job by treating the area with an enzyme detergent and washing normally.
- Vinaigrette: Treat these types of stains as you would a grease stain, then flush with white vinegar to remove any excess stain. Wash normally using an enzyme detergent.
- Paint: For latex-based paints, the experts of Humble painters say that it’s important to act quickly. Start by scraping away excess paint with a spoon. Blot the area with dish detergent and water, then rinse away the solution. Repeat this process until the stain is removed. For oil-based paints, do not use water! Instead, use oil-paint solvents, like Distilled Turpentine, to safely remove oil paint stains. Simply spray the area with the solution and rub against the stain to remove it. Once the paint has been removed, soak the garment in warm water and dish detergent to remove excess grease.
- Ink: Set-in ink stains are almost impossible to remove, so working on an ink stain as soon as possible is always the best course of action. Avoid blotting the area, and never rub the stain, as this can spread the ink. Barring that the ink has not set in, rubbing alcohol will work to remove the stain. Dab a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol onto the stain. To prevent worsening the stain, use a fresh cotton ball once the ink has transferred from the garment to the cotton ball or sponge. Rinse the garment with water and allow it to dry, then wash it normally.
- Blood (Protein): Spray the blood stain with diluted dish soap and allow time for it to soak. Rinse in tepid water and wash normally with enzyme detergent if necessary. Be sure to use cold water when dealing with blood stains; warm water can cause the blood to coagulate and spread, making the stain worse.
- Urine: Fill a sink or bucket large enough to fit the garment with 2 parts hot water, 1 part cold water, and 1 part white vinegar. Soak the stained area for up to 45 minutes, then wash normally. Air dry the garment to ensure the stain is gone.
To learn more about removing specific types of stains from your clothing, use this stain removal chart as a reference.
Removing Stains From Flooring
Spills are bound to happen in your home, whether you’re entertaining guests or have a house full of toddlers. As with all stains, the best way to remove a stain from any type of flooring is to first know what caused the stain. Use this guide to treat the type of flooring you have in your home with the right stain removal method.
- Carpets: The most common carpet stains include juice, pet stains, coffee, blood, and ink. To remove these stains, a mixture of water, dish detergent, and white vinegar will usually do the trick. The vinegar will work to neutralize any odors, while the soapy water will work to remove the stain from the carpet fibers. Regardless of the cause of the stain, always remember to blot away any excess first, then blot the area with cleanser, and repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.
- For pet stains specifically, it’s best to use a commercial cleaner designed specifically to work on those types of stains and remove any set-in odors.
- For blood stains, it’s important to use a mixture of cold water and soap. Cold water will prevent the blood from coagulating and spreading, which can cause the stain to spread and sink deeper into carpet fibers.
- With ink stains, alcohol works best. Blot the area with a cloth soaked in alcohol to prevent the ink from spreading. Allow the area to dry, then vacuum away any excess.
- To remove water- and latex-based paints from carpeting, remove excess paint first, then a solution of dish detergent and water and a soft-bristle brush to remove the stain completely. For oil-based paint stains, remove the excess paint first, then use a solvent like Distilled Turpentine cleanse the carpet of the paint.
- Hardwood: Removing stains from hardwood poses the threat of water soaking into the wood, which can cause it to rot. Conversely, using harsh cleaners can strip the wood of its finish, causing it to dull. The best way to remove stains from hardwood is to use a homemade cleaning solution.
- Rubbing the area with a damp cloth soaked in warm water will remove most stains from pets, blood, juice, and other sticky substances, like candy. Be sure that the cloth is not dripping wet when you use it to prevent excess water from soaking into the floor. For more stubborn stains, try using a cloth dampened with vinegar or iodine.
- To remove pet stains from hardwood, create a paste of white vinegar and baking soda. Layer this onto the affected area, and let it stand until it dries completely. Wipe up any excess paste to leave your hardwood floors refreshed.
- To remove paint stains from hardwood flooring, wipe or scrape away any excess paint first. Then, soak a rag in rubbing alcohol and use this to wipe away paint.
- Tile: Contrary to popular belief, tile flooring can stain like any other flooring. For most tile floor stains, an all-purpose cleaner or any kind of tub-tile cleanser will work.
- For stains like blood, coffee, tea, or juices, blot the area with hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach for easy cleanup.
- To remove surface stains from gummy or waxy substances, place a bag of ice cubes over the area to harden the material. Scrape the area with a non-abrasive tool to remove the stain.
- For stains caused by grease or fatty substances, rub the surface with club soda to break down the fat, then wipe away the excess with an all-purpose cleaner.
- For dried-on nail polish stains in bathrooms or powder rooms, simply use nail polish remover to wipe the stain away.
- For paint stains on tile, it’s best to use a commercial paint remover and a cloth. Wipe the surface with this solution, and scrub with a soft-bristle brush if necessary.
To learn more about removing specific types of stains from your flooring, use this stain removal chart as a reference.
Removing Stains From Walls
Walls can become stained just like clothing and flooring. Because wall staining is so rare, not many people know how clean these types of messes. It’s important to dust walls prior to using any type of cleaning solution on the surface, as dust can quickly mix with these solutions and cause an even bigger problem. To make wall stain-removal even easier, use two buckets – one for the cleaning solution, and one for clean water to rinse the walls with.
- Food: Commercial cleansers, like the all-purpose “Magic Erasers” work well, but if used to scrub a wall too harshly, they can strip the paint from the surface. Luckily, it doesn’t take much to make your own stain-removal solution to remove food stains from your walls. Use dish soap and warm water to safely and effectively remove food stains.
- Beverages: Sticky soda spills can do major damage to your walls. To remove stains caused by carbonated beverages, combine 1 gallon of water, 1/2 cup of ammonia, 1/4 cup of washing soda, and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a bucket. Use this mixture to wash the soda residue from the wall, working from the bottom up to prevent further staining. Rinse the solution from the wall with clean water and a clean cloth, then dry the walls with a fan.
- Dirt & Grime: Mix 1 cup of ammonia with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of baking soda in your cleaning solution bucket. Add this mixture to a gallon of warm water, then wipe your walls with a sponge or cloth to remove caked on stains from dirt and grime.
- Arts & Crafts: When kids get their hands on crayons, markers, pens, and other non-erasable writing tools, you’re bound to find some markings on your walls. For crayon marks, sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge, then lightly scrub the wall surface to remove the crayon. For permanent marker stains, use a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to dab the stain. For ink stains, try using nail polish remover.
To learn more about removing specific types of stains from your walls, use this stain removal chart as a reference.
These stain removal tips brought to you by Sherry Anne Interiors, a Temecula, CA interior decorator.