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17 Stain-Removing Hacks For Any & All The Spills

by Lauren Schumacker

I'm not known for being what you'd call a "coordinated" or "graceful" gal. Spills, falls, you name it, it's probably happened when I've been around. Grass stains? Of course. Coffee? Is that even a question? One time a cocktail shaker containing red wine exploded on me. Try as you might to keep everything in your kingdom pristine, spills and stains are all but inevitable. There are all manner of stain-producing items available, so it pays to know some hacks to remove stains, if only so you don't go broke throwing out (or having professionally cleaned) every stained item in your house. Because with kids, pets, and everyone else all occupying one space, accidents are bound to happen.

Deep reds, purples, and inky black hues catch a lot of flack for being major stain-producers, but seemingly harmless things like oils, which often are very light in color, can prove tricky to clean, as well. Don't fret. There are sneaky ways to get nearly every horrible stain out of clothing, carpet, table cloths, or whatever your spill threatened to destroy. Be sure to keep these 17 tips in mind to remove stains and keep your sanity intact next time disaster strikes. Crisis averted.




Cut your finger and now there's a little bit of blood on your clothes? No worries. According to Good Housekeeping, dabbing a little bit of hydrogen peroxide onto clothing can remove a fresh blood stain. For a dried in stain, presoak with a cleaner that contains enzymes and then launder. For larger pieces such as furniture or carpeting, the magazine noted that mixture of hand dishwashing detergent and cold water can be just what you're looking for.



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It's not summer if there aren't grass stains on at least one item of clothing or other accessory. According to Mother Nature Network, soaking the offending item in a hydrogen peroxide-dish soap mixture and then scrubbing with a toothbrush can get that grass stain out without any special trips to the store for a fancy product.


Red Wine


Red wine is definitely a spill that you have to get to before it completely sets. According to Apartment Therapy salt and club soda can remove red wine. Simply dab a stain with some club soda or pour a little salt on top (or both) for quick and easy solutions. If the salt-soda combo isn't enough for your mega stain, the site noted that a dish detergent-hydrogen peroxide mix or pouring some hot water through your stained fabric into a dish below just might work.




Vaguely white sweat and deodorant stains on all your dark shirts? No need to toss them. According to The Huffington Post, a baking soda-warm water paste can remove that sweat stain. Still a little bit of a stain left behind? The site suggested trying an aspirin-warm water solution to take out whatever's left.



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Oil is my stain-producing nemesis. According to Esquire, you should immediately apply baby powder to the oil stain, let sit for half an hour, treat with a stain fighter, and then wash it away.



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Makeup stains are, sadly, far too common in my world. Yours too? Makeup artist Abraham Sprinkle told InStyle that sponges designed for removing accidental traces of deodorant (another too-often problem) can work wonders on foundation stains as well as powder blushes and bronzers. He also noted that scotch tape can lift powders and shadows off of clothing and smudged mascara is no match for a Q-tip dipped in a little oil-free makeup remover. Additionally, Real Simple noted that you can treat lipstick stains with hair spray and use rubbing alcohol on foundation stains.


Nail Polish


Nail polish spills tend to send the spiller into a fit of panic, but not anymore. According to Jezebel an acetone-based nail polish remover will remove stains on fabrics.



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A broken pen in the bottom of a purse or in a pocket can seem like a day-ruiner. Esquire suggested using rubbing alcohol to treat ink stains on cotton and hair spray for ink stains on polyester (yes, really).



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It happened. Chocolate turned on you and now there's a stain on your favorite skirt. According to Good Housekeeping, scrape of excess chocolate off the fabric, pretreat with a stain remover, and wash. For chocolate stains on furniture, the magazine wrote to use either a dish soap-warm water mixture or a dry-cleaning solvent.



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Kids drink juice, and kids spill juice. According to Real Simple, you should treat a juice stain use a dish soap-warm water solution. For pesky stains, an ammonia solution applied with a clean, white towel will do the trick.




Berries consist of beautiful red, pink, and deep purple hues, but those pretty colors can leave horrendous stains. According to Food 52, there's a three step process for removing berry stains. First, stretch the fabric over a bowl and pour hot water over it. Then, submerge the stain in white vinegar for approximately an hour. Finally (if needed), put some non-gel whitening toothpaste on the stain. You're all set.


Mystery Stains

If you have gorgeous butcher block countertops or sturdy wood cutting boards, you undoubtedly find them stained from time to time. According to The Kitchn, you can lift those mystery butcher block stains with salt, a lemon, and, if need be, warm water, hydrogen peroxide, or white vinegar.


Baby Food


Feeding a baby can be an...undertaking, with food ending up on lots of fabrics including the baby's clothes, your clothes, bibs, you get the picture. According to Parents, remove baby food stains by soaking the clothing in equal parts cold water and rubbing alcohol for about 15 minutes. If need be, soak again in equal parts water and white vinegar to remove any stubborn remnants.



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Let's face it, vomit is always a potential danger. Real Simple noted that you should try to scrape off any remaining vomit, then treat with Shout or other stain-fighting product, according to Real Simple. If you feel the need to completely disinfect the fabric (no judgment — vomit is gross), add either chlorine bleach or color-safe bleach and wash the garment in warm water.


Ketchup And Barbecue Sauce


Saucy stains aren't great, but when that disaster strikes, white vinegar is your new BFF. According to Good Housekeeping, pretreating your stain with laundry detergent and then dabbing the stain with white vinegar can remove any trace of your weekend cookout.




Sunscreen can leave awful stains on clothing and towels that are tricky to remove. According to Esquire, applying lemon juice and salt to a sunscreen stain can lift it, but if worst comes to worst, treat it like a rust stain and use a product specially-designed to handle it.


Coffee And Tea

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Coffee and tea are known stain-producing culprits. To treat coffee or tea stains on linens or floor covers, Real Simple suggested you soak or blot the stain with cold water, then treat with a stain remover. To treat tea and coffee stains on washable fabrics, the University of Illinois Extension's Stain Solutions site recommends dish soap, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and an enzyme-based presoak product.