Remove stains from clothes and fabrics

Stains and spills are unavoidable even if you’re the most careful person in the world. And if you have kids and pets, then the probability of unsightly marks on your clothes and fabrics is 1000%. Whether it’s spills from coffee or tea on your carpet, greasy fingerprints, paint or crayons, you need to learn how to remove stains from fabrics. Otherwise, you’ll have to replace your wardrobe and floor coverings every couple of weeks and who wants to do that, right? So let’s begin.

Types of stains

Before attempting to remove a stain, it’s important to identify what type of stain you’re dealing with. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits-all-solution. Different stains need different approaches so you must know what you’re up against.

Here are the most common types of stains you’re likely to face at home:

  • Protein-based stains: By far the most common protein-based stain is sweat. The second most common is pet urine. Staining is caused by the proteins in the body. These stains are tough to remove, but luckily technology has made serious strides in recent years.
  • Oil-based stains: Oil stains are widespread in kitchens across London. Grease and oil stains can be stubborn, especially because people usually use the wrong products to clean them up.
  • Tannin stains: Tannins are plant-based compounds that can be a nightmare to remove once they cause a stain. “Tannin stains” are just a fancy way of saying red wine, coffee, and tea stains.
  • Dye stains: Dyes are used in markers and food coloring and as any parent whose kids have decided to turn the white carpet into a canvas knows – a nightmare to deal with.

Those are the most common stains you’re going to encounter at home. You need to identify the type of stain immediately. Speed is of the essence. The longer a stain sits, the harder it will be to remove or damage the fabric.

The moment you notice a stain, try to blot up as much of the excess liquid as possible and rinse the area with cold water. This will help to dilute the stain and prevent it from setting in for good.

Note: Some stains, such as chocolate stains, can be complex and include more than one type of staining type.

How to remove different types of stains

Alright, we’ve taken care of identification. The thinking part of the exercise is over. Time to spring into action. I’ll give you a cleaning method to use for every type of stain.

Note: Make sure to check the labels of your clothes or fabrics before using a treatment. Some of these methods may not be suitable for every type of fabric.

Side note: Always test potential solutions on a small, inconspicuous area to make sure they won’t damage the fabric.

With the caveats out of the way, here are a few tips for removing common types of stains from clothes and fabrics:

  • Protein-based stains: As I said, the most common of this type of stain is sweat stains, usually on a white shirt. Most people try to remove them using bleach. Resist the urge! Bleach will not help you. If you want to remove protein-based stains, you need an enzyme laundry detergent. There are plenty of eco-friendly options on the market. Mix it with hot water and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse the area with cold water.
  • Oil-based stains: If you’ve read any of my other works, then you know you remove oil-based stains with a base. You can use baking soda, dishwashing detergent, or for more stubborn stains – a degreaser. Place your solution of choice on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then blot the stain with a clean cloth and rinse the area with cold water.
  • Tannin stains: There are several ways to remove tannin stains from fabric. You can apply an acid, such as white vinegar or lemon juice, to the stain if the fabric allows it. Alternatively, you can try using a base like baking soda. But don’t mix both. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse the area with cold water.
  • Dye stains: You can try to remove dye stains with a colour-safe bleach or a commercial dye remover. They’re much weaker than regular bleach and will preserve the colour of the fabric. Unfortunately, they might not be effective enough to remove the stain. Still, it’s your best bet, unfortunately. Simply follow the instructions on the product and hope for the best.

It’s important to keep in mind that some fabrics are more prone to staining than others. Harsh cleaning chemicals can easily damage delicate fabrics such as silk and wool. It’s important to be extra careful when treating stains on these fabrics.

The good news is that sturdy fabrics, such as denim and cotton, can withstand more aggressive cleaning methods. However, this is not an invitation to go wild – you still need to handle them with care. 

How to prevent stains

Prevention, as they say, is the best cure. There are a few preventive measures you can take to reduce the risk of staining on your clothes and fabrics.

One thing you can do is use stain-repellent sprays on upholstery and clothing to make them more resistant to stains. This is not a be-all, end-all solution, but it helps, especially if you have kids or pets.

You can also invest in protective covers for your furniture, such as slipcovers and throws. This will help prevent stains from occurring in the first place.


While stains can be frustrating, all is not lost. With the right tools and methods, you can oftentimes remove them and restore your clothes and fabrics to (close to) their original condition. Simply act quickly and follow the process I’ve outlined above and you’ll be fine. And remember – if you need professional help, we’re never more than a phone call away.

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant, Author - Atanas
Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.