Stain Removal

FABRIC & FASHION CARE TIPS

With the right tools and methods, most stains can be removed from washable clothes. When a spill or stain happens, blot—do not rub—with a clean towel right away. If the garment is dry clean-only, then take it to a dry cleaner—do make sure you point the stain out to your cleaner and tell them what it is so they can treat it properly. For machine-washable items, try treating the stain yourself, but always use caution. If a stain is severe or you are afraid of ruining the item, take it to a cleaner.

For all stains

  • Always read care label instructions before attempting to remove the stain.
  • Scrape off dried or crusty matter with a dull knife before treating the stain.
  • If the stain persists after treating and laundering, do not put the garment in the dryer—heat will permanently set the stain.
  • For colored garments, test stain-removal technique on a hidden area first to make sure it won’t bleach or fade the fabric.
  • Read instructions on stain-remover packaging—make sure it is safe to use on the fabric.
  • If attempts to remove the stain do not work, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Stain fighting tool kit
Keep these items in your laundry room so you’re ready to treat any kind of stain, any time it happens. You probably already have most of them in your kitchen!

  • Gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow
  • Liquid detergent with bleach alternative, such as Tide with Bleach Alternative
  • Grease-fighting liquid dish soap, such as Dawn
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • White vinegar
  • Glycerin
  • Salt
  • Dull knife or spoon
  • Old towels
  • Eyedropper
  • Plastic bucket

Beverages

Beer
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, apply a liquid detergent with bleach alternative directly to the stain. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Do not use bar soap on beer stains, it will make them harder to remove. If stain is old, rinse in cold water. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach or bleach alternative per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.
For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Coffee / Tea
For cotton and polyester: Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Rinse. If milk and/or sugar contributed to the stain, then apply small amount of liquid laundry detergent directly to stain. Soak the garment for up to 30 minutes in a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of lukewarm water in a plastic bucket. Machine wash according to care instructions. Air dry.

For washable silk and wool: Apply a small amount of a gentle detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and water directly to stain. Rub until suds form, then rinse. Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Rinse. If milk and/or sugar contributed to the stain, apply a commercial oil solvent (such as Carbona Stain Devil) and air dry.

Fruit juice / Wine / Sangria
For cotton and polyester: If stain is still damp, cover it with salt. Then stretch the fabric over a bowl and carefully pour boiling water over the stain from about one foot above it. If stain has dried, rinse garment in cold water. Soak the garment for up to 30 minutes in a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Machine wash in warm water. Air dry.
For washable silk and wool: Gently sponge on a mild laundry detergent. Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one white vinegar to two parts water to the stain. Rinse with cold water.

Milk
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Soda/pop
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, apply a liquid detergent with bleach alternative directly to the stain. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Do not use bar soap on soda stains, it will make them harder to remove. If stain is old, rinse in cold water. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach or bleach alternative per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.
For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Condiments

Barbeque sauce
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off dried residue with a dull knife. Apply glycerin to stain and let sit 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Apply a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric and let sit 15 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off dried residue with a dull knife. Apply glycerin to stain and let sit 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and a small amount of water. Rub gently to form suds, then flush with cool water.

Butter / Margarine
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit for five minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, place garment stain side down on a towel. Apply a commercial grease-remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, to the back of stain. Residue will bleed through onto towel. Air dry and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for five minutes. Apply a small amount of water and rub gently to form suds. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, apply a small amount of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit five minutes and flush with cool water again. If stain is still present, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Ketchup / Tomato Sauce
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric, or a small amount of liquid laundry detergent. Using an eye dropper, apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution to bleach any remaining stain. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester.

Mayonnaise
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit for five minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, place garment stain side down on a towel. Apply a commercial grease-remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, to the back of stain. Residue will bleed through onto towel. Air dry and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for five minutes. Apply a small amount of water and rub gently to form suds. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, apply a small amount of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit five minutes and flush with cool water again. If stain is still present, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Mustard
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain remains, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eye dropper. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Using an eye dropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Apply a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric and let sit 15 minutes. Flush spot with cool water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Salad Dressing
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, pour on talcum powder or cornstarch to soak up as much oil as possible. Brush or shake off excess. Place garment stain side down onto a towel. Apply a stain remover designed for grease and oil, such as Carbona Stain Devil, according to package instructions. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but take item to a dry cleaner if stain persists.

Salsa
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit five minutes. Machine wash with color-safe bleach in warmest water safe for fabric. Repeat if stain persists.
For washable silk and wool: Pre-treat stain with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Let sit five minutes. Flush stain with cool water. If stain persists, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eye dropper. Flush with water again. If stain is still visible, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Food

Baby food
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any dried food with a dull knife. Rinse garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Repeat if necessary.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off any dried food with a dull knife. Apply a small amount of gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, to stain and let sit five minutes. Apply a small amount of water and rub gently to form suds. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, take the garment to a professional.

Baby formula
For cotton and polyester: Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Air dry. If stain persists, apply a liquid rust remover according to package instructions. Rinse in a solution of three tablespoons baking soda per one quart of water. Machine wash again.
For washable silk and wool: Pre-treat stain with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Let sit five minutes. Flush stain with cool water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Candy / sugary stains
For cotton and polyester: Rinse the garment in warm water to dissolve hardened residue. Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent or stain remover. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Blot stain with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and warm water. Flush stain with warm water. With an eye dropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Blot with detergent and water again. Flush with warm water again. Air dry.

Chocolate
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any hardened lumps with a dull knife. For washable items, pre-treat stain with a solution of one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent per two cups of water. Let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Use a solution of gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and water to remove residue. Take item to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Cheese / dairy
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eye dropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Egg
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any dry crusted matter with a dull knife. Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per one gallon of cold water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash with bleach alternative according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off any dry crusted matter with a dull knife. Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of cold water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Fruit / berries
For cotton and polyester: Rinse garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Stretch fabric over a bowl and carefully pour hot or boiling water over the stain from a height of about one foot. If stain persists, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eye dropper. Let sit for 10 minutes. Treat with a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Flush stain with cool water. Apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eye dropper. Then apply a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and a small amount of water. Rub until suds form. Flush with water again to remove detergent. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Gravy
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any excess with a dull knife. Apply liquid detergent with bleach alternative to the stain. Let sit 10-30 minutes depending on severity of stain. Rinse with cool water. Treat with a commercial stain remover designed for greasy stains, such as Carbona Stain Devil. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off any excess with a dull knife. Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of cold water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. Flush with cool water.

Grease (kitchen or food)
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with grease-fighting liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit for 10 minutes. Machine wash with one cup baking soda along with regular detergent. If stain persists, place garment stain side down on a towel. Apply a grease remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, to the back of the stain. Grease will bleed through onto towel. Machine wash as usual.

For washable silk and wool: Apply a small amount of grease-fighting liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit for 10 minutes. Blot with damp towel to remove residue. Apply a grease-remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, according to package instructions.

Gum
For cotton and polyester: Apply ice or put garment in the freezer to harden the gum. Using a dull knife, carefully scrape off as much as possible. Place garment stain side down on a towel and apply a specialty remover designed for gum, such as Carbona Stain Devil. If stain remover is not available, apply a dab of creamy peanut butter to the stain. Rinse and machine wash according to garment care label. Repeat steps as necessary. If colored residue (but no gum or peanut butter) remains, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water to stained area. Rinse and machine wash again.
For washable silk and wool: Apply ice or put garment in the freezer to harden the gum. Using a dull knife, carefully scrape off as much as possible. Place garment stain side down on a towel and apply a specialty remover designed for gum, such as Carbona Stain Devil. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Ice cream
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eye dropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Oil (vegetable or cooking)
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, pour on talcum powder or cornstarch to soak up as much oil as possible. Brush or shake off excess. Place garment stain side down onto a towel. Apply a stain remover designed for grease and oil, such as Carbona Stain Devil, according to package instructions. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Pudding
For cotton and polyester: With a dull knife, scrape off any dried residue. Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: With a dull knife, scrape off any dried residue. Place the garment stain side down on a towel. Apply a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric to the back of the stain. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Outdoors

Grass
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Rinse and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Pre-treat stain with a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric. Let sit 15 minutes. Flush stain with cold water. Using an eye dropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Flush with cold water again.

Mud / dirt
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off dried matter with a dull knife or soft bristle brush. Apply liquid laundry detergent. Rub with a little bit of water to form suds. Rinse with cool water. Apply a half vinegar, half water mixture. Machine wash according to garment care instructions.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off dried matter with a dull knife or soft bristle brush. Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, and one cup water. Use an eye dropper to apply the mixture to the stained area. Flush with cold water.

Red clay
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off encrusted clay with a dull knife. Apply a liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, to the stain and let it sit overnight. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, apply color safe bleach or rubbing alcohol to the stained area. Machine wash again.
For washable silk and wool: Scrape off encrusted clay with a dull knife. Flush stain with cool water. Rub glycerin into the stain and let sit for 2-8 hours. Flush with cool water again. If stain remains, take garment to a professional.

Tree sap
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off large globs with a dull knife. Rub in glycerin and let sit until remaining sap has softened. Place garment stain side down on a towel and tap to loosen sap. Rinse. If stain persists, apply commercial stain remover appropriate for the fabric. Machine wash.
For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains after treating.

Personal care

Blood (dried)
For cotton and polyester: Soak garment in cool saltwater for a few hours. Rinse thoroughly. Mix one tablespoon of ammonia with ½ cup water. Apply solution to stain. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain remains, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Rinse and machine wash again.
For washable silk and wool: Dab cold salt water onto stain. Flush with plain cold water. Use an eye dropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Flush with cold water again. If stain remains, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Blood (wet)
For cotton and polyester: Flush the stain with cold water. Pre-treat spot with an enzyme treatment, such as Era Plus. Let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Flush the stain with cold water. Use an eye dropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Flush with cold water again. If stain remains, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Deodorant
For cotton and polyester: Brush off flakes and residue with a soft bristle brush or dry terrycloth towel. Pre-treat with liquid detergent and let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash with double the recommended amount of detergent in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Air dry and repeat if necessary.

For washable silk and wool: Brush off flakes and residue with a soft bristle brush or dry terrycloth towel. Apply a half-vinegar half-water solution with an eye dropper. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Feces
For cotton and polyester: Rinse thoroughly with cold water. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach or bleach alternative per one gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain remains, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution. Rinse and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Flush stained area with cold water. Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit 10 minutes. Apply water and rub until suds form. Flush with cold water again. Use an eye dropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Flush with cold water again. If stain remains, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Hair dye
For cotton and polyester: Stretch fabric over a bowl. Mix one cup of household ammonia with one gallon warm water and pour over stain. If stain remains, let sit for 30 minutes – four hours. Rinse in warm running water. Machine wash in warm water. Air dry and repeat steps if necessary. This stain may be permanent.

For washable silk and wool: Take garment to a dry cleaner; this stain may be permanent.

Lipstick
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any excess with a dull knife. Place garment stain side down on a towel. Apply commercial stain remover specialized for oils, such as Carbona Stain Devil. Lipstick will bleed through onto towel. If stain remains, pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Rub in with water until suds form. Rinse thoroughly. Use an eye dropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for cotton and polyester, but air dry and take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Mascara
For cotton and polyester: Apply makeup remover recommended by the manufacturer. If stain persists, dampen spot and rub with a bar of soap. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Same as for cotton and polyester, but air dry and take garment to a professional if stain remains.

Perspiration
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash again in hottest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Using an eye dropper, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution to the stain. Let sit 10 minutes. Flush with water. Repeat as necessary. Take garment to a dry cleaner if stain persists.

Sunscreen
For cotton and polyester: Apply spot remover to the stain according to package instructions. Pre-treat with liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Machine wash according to garment care label.
For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but air dry and take garment to a dry cleaner if stain persists.

Urine
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash with bleach alternative and one cup of baking soda in warm water.
For washable silk and wool: Flush stain with cool water. Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for 10 minutes. Apply small amount of water and rub until suds form. Flush with water again. Take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Vomit
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash with bleach alternative and one cup of baking soda in warm water.
For washable silk and wool: Flush stain with cool water. Treat with gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for 10 minutes. Apply small amount of water and rub until suds form. Flush with water again. Take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

House and Home

Ballpoint pen / ink
For cotton and polyester: Apply glycerin to stain and let sit 10 minutes, then treat with gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and water. Rub until suds form, then rinse. Machine wash in warm water.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but do not rinse—dab water until suds are gone. Take to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Candle Wax
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off hardened wax with a dull knife. Stretch fabric over a bowl. Carefully pour boiling or very hot water over the stain from a height of about one foot. Air dry. If stain remains, place garment stain side down on an old towel. Place another towel on top. Gently press a warm—not hot—iron over the towel. Wax residue should melt and transfer to bottom towel.
For washable silk and wool: Scrape off hardened wax with a dull knife. Place garment stain side down on an old towel. Place another towel on top. Gently press a warm—not hot—iron over the towel. Wax residue should melt and transfer to bottom towel.

Chalk
For cotton and polyester: Shake or gently vacuum garment to remove loose particles and chalk dust. Place garment stain side down on an old towel or paper towels. Gently dab rubbing alcohol on the back of the stain. Chalk residue should transfer onto bottom towel. If stain persists, pre-treat with liquid dish soap (such as Dawn) and machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Shake or gently vacuum garment to remove loose particles and chalk dust. Apply a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit 10 minutes. Apply small amount of water and rub until suds form. Flush with cool water and air dry. If stain persists, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Crayon
For cotton and polyester: Place the garment stain side down on a towel. Spray the back of the stain with WD-40. After five minutes, flip over and spray front of stain. Rinse in cold water. Rub liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, into stain and rinse again. If stain persists, apply a commercial stain-remover appropriate for the fabric. Machine wash with ½ cup baking soda along with usual detergent.
For washable silk and wool: Do not attempt to clean at home. Take to a dry cleaner.

Gasoline
For cotton and polyester: Do not put items stained with gasoline or other flammable materials into a washing machine. Check washing machine warning labels (usually located inside the lid) for instructions specific for your washing machine. If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to absorb moisture and odor. Brush off excess. Rinse the garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Rub liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, into the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per one gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Add one cup baking soda to neutralize odors. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Discard solution appropriately, as you would gasoline. Rinse garment again in warm water. If stain and/or odor remains, hand wash in warm water with liquid laundry detergent and baking soda.

For washable silk and wool: If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to absorb moisture and odor. Brush off excess. Flush stain with cold water. Apply liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, and let sit for 10 minutes. Flush with water again. If stain does not begin to fade, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Glue
For cotton and polyester: Using a dull knife, scrape off dried glue. Use glycerin to loosen up remaining residue and scrape off. Rub liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, into any remaining stain and machine wash.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for cotton and polyester, but take to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Grease (automotive)
For cotton and polyester: If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to soak up moisture. Brush off. Rub in liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Machine wash using half the recommended measurement of detergent, and half liquid dish soap (such as Dawn). Repeat steps as necessary. Add more baking soda to neutralize any odor.

For washable silk and wool: If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to soak up moisture. Brush off. Rub in liquid dish soap such as Dawn. Let sit 10 minutes. Flush with cool water. Take garment to a professional if stain persists.

Mildew
For cotton and polyester: Make a paste of lemon juice and salt. Be careful—this may cause discoloration on some fabrics. Cover stain with paste and let sit 15-30 minutes. Rinse. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Using an eye dropper, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution to the stain. Let sit 10 minutes. Flush with water. Take garment to a dry cleaner to completely remove stain.

Paint (oil-based)
For cotton and polyester: Apply turpentine and blot with towel to absorb residue. Flush with water. Rub in liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, and let sit 10 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. Repeat as necessary.

For washable silk and wool: Apply small amount of liquid dish soap to the stain. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Scrape off paint flakes and soap with dull knife or fingernail. Flush with water. If stain does not begin to fade, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Paint (water-based and acrylic)
For cotton and polyester: Gently apply laundry detergent and warm water to stained area with a sponge. When paint has softened, scrape off with a dull knife. Rinse and repeat as necessary, then machine wash according to garment label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for washables, but do not machine wash—air dry. If stain persists, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Pencil
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Apply small amount of gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Apply small amount of water and run gently until suds form. Flush area with cool water. Take to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Rubber cement
For cotton and polyester: Rub off as much as possible with fingers. Apply small amount of paint thinner to stain. Let sit 30 minutes. Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool items: Rub off as much as possible with fingers and take garment to a dry cleaner.

Soot
For cotton and polyester: Shake off excess soot—do not rub. Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric with water conditioner and detergent with bleach alternative.

For washable silk and wool: Do not attempt to clean at home – take garment to a dry cleaner.