header illustration for removing a stain

Remove A Stain

header illustration for removing a stain

Remove A Stain

Experiment to find the best methods of removing stains from clothing.

Removing a stain means that clothes can be worn longer and makes clothes less likely to be thrown out.

  • One or more stained pieces of fabric
  • Household stain removal products
  • A sink and running water
  • Rubber gloves
  • A clean surface to put your stained clothing on
  • Laundry detergent
  • A washing machine (optional)
Dark brown stains on a pair of jeans
Stains on a pair of jeans (bagi1998, iStockphoto)

To remove a stain, first you will need to determine what kind of stain you are dealing with.

There are four basic kinds of stains:

  1. Organic stains such as grass stains or dirt stains
  2. Inorganic stains such as ink or dye
  3. Oily organic stains such as sweat or ketchup
  4. Oily inorganic stains such as lipstick or grease.

You might want to do some research to determine what kind of stain(s) you are dealing with. This will help you determine what stain removal techniques will work best on this type of stain.

Stack of shirts
Stack of clothing (egal, iStockphoto)

After identifying the stain, it is important to to identify what kind of material your clothing is made from. Different kinds of materials need different stain removal methods. For example, you will not want to scrub wool material as it can pull and ruin the fabric.

Have a look at the clothing label to determine what kind of fabric you are dealing with. 

Commercial stain removers
Products and tools for removing stains (btoldi, iStockphoto)

Not all household stain removers will work the same on every stain or fabric. You might want to do some research to determine which stain removers may work best for your stain based on the ingredients in them. 

Once you have selected which products to try, test a bit of your fabric to ensure the remover won’t damage it. Make sure you do this test on a part of the fabric that isn’t visible.

Natural stain removers
Natural stain removers (Geo-grafika, iStockphoto)

Commercial stain removers aren't the only way to remove stains. There are many other household products that may help remove your stain. Consider the type of stain and fabric you are dealing with to see which ones might work best. If you don’t know where to start with non-commercial stain removers, check out this list of natural stain removers. 

Young man loading a washing machine
Teen loading a washing machine (Daisy-Daisy, iStockphoto)

In your research, you'll notice that part of the process involves washing your clothing item after using a stain remover.

Think about how you will wash your item. You might want to look at the clothing label to see if you should wash by hand or in the washing machine. You might also want to research whether you should use cold water or hot water depending on the type of stain.

It is possible that your stain may not have come out after you wash your clothes. If this is the case, think about what other stain removers might work. Is there anything your family uses often for removing these types of stains? 

Shirt being tie-dyed
Shirt being tie-dyed (Teona Swift, Pexels)

If you have tried many times to remove your stain and it still wont come out, don’t throw your clothing out! You could try to cover your stain with a patch or tie-dye or even upcycle your fabric into a new piece of clothing! 

  • Now that you have tried removing one stain, you could run an experiment with many different kinds of stains and stain removers to see which works best! Make sure to use an old t-shirt or fabric you don’t care about.
  • Make a short video or tutorial on how to remove a stain and share it with others!
  • What is the chemistry behind the stain remover you used? Find out!