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Thanks to the Laundry Evangelist’s Laundry Camp for many of the tips shown in this video. If you ever have the chance to visit it at the Mall of America, you should do so.
No matter how careful a man may be in his day-to-day life with his clothes, the occasional stain is inevitable whether it be from a plate of spaghetti and impromptu tire change on the side of the road or really any time spent with a toddler, you’re bound to encounter a tough stain at some point. Fortunately, however, stain removal doesn’t have to be a chore or involve the dry cleaner. As long as you understand some basic chemistry you’ll be all set.
01:10 Four Basic Types Of Stains
Stains can be organic or inorganic in nature and from there can be oily or not. In other words, the four types of stains are organic, inorganic, oily organic, and oily inorganic. As examples of each of these, stains from living organisms including plants are considered organic, things like grass stains, blood, or red wine. Meanwhile, stains from manmade materials are inorganic, things like ink, solvents, or machine dust. Oily organics are things like barbecue sauce or sweat stains and oily inorganics are generally cosmetics like lipstick.
02:15 How To Get Rid Of Stains
First, standard organic stains are best treated with hot water and a substance that’s commonly marketed as bleach alternative. Bleach alternative and oxygen bleach are marketing names for a substance that’s scientifically known as sodium percarbonate or SPC for short. It’s the active ingredient in cleaners like Oxiclean but whereas those types of commercial cleaners usually contain fillers, SPC is most effective in its pure form.
For treatment of an organic stain, start by laying a towel down on your work surface. Actually, for any of the types of stains, we’re about to cover, putting down a clean towel is a good idea. Next, add a bit of SPC, we used about 1/2 capful to a basin of hot water and stir to completely dissolve it. Then, thoroughly wet the stained area of the garment in question with the hot water and SPC mixture. Lay the garment flat on the towel and gently blot at the stain with a clean cotton cloth, washcloth, or towel. You can also use a garment safe stain brush on most fabrics as we’re doing here. After pre-treating your stain this way, it can be washed as normal in your machine and if you’d like, you can also add a bit more SPC directly to the drum of the machine during the wash process.
Next, standard inorganic stains like ink are best removed by the use of a solvent. Rubbing alcohol or more technically isopropyl alcohol is best here. Although you can also use different substances like plain vodka. Applying the alcohol to the stain with a spray bottle works well after which point it can be gently blotted. Then wash as normal and as before, you can add some SPC to the machine if you’d like.
All oily stains whether they’re organic or inorganic in nature are best treated by first dealing with the oil. As oils often surround other staining substances, we’ll be looking at these stains sort of like a stain sandwich that is oil layer, stain layer, oil layer. To remove the first oil layer, fill a spray bottle with a solution of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water. Spray the oil layer of the stain and then blot. Actually, using a stain brush may work best here. Next, apply a bit of water along with laundry detergent or better yet soap flakes and scrub again to deal with the main stain layer and for the final oil layer, spray again with your water and vinegar solution and blot or scrub a final time. To finish here, you guessed it! Wash as normal with optional SPC.
With these techniques in your arsenal then, stains should no longer pose a significant threat to you or your garments and you should be able to take care of them completely from the comfort of your own home.
Which of the techniques we laid out today were you most surprised by and do you have any alternative techniques for stain removal that we didn’t mention here? If so let us know in the comments section below.