Laundry School lesson : Fix Your Favorite Shirt If It Stained

Here are some tips about laundry.

There’s an existing column on the topic that goes into great detail on the different ways you might remove a grease stain from clothing or upholstered furniture, that goes into the use and limits of dish soap to treat stains. In the case of this Letter Writer, the best thing to use on those stains is going to be Lestoil or Pine Sol, similar products that can be used interchangeably to pretreat stains by dabbing the product on prior to laundering. Another good option is a mechanic soap like GOJO.

How to Never Worry About Grease Stains Again

Unfortunately, options are fairly limited when it comes to laundry boosters that can be added directly to the wash to eliminate grease stains. Borax is one option, though you’re going to have better luck with pretreating stains prior to laundering. You can also add 1/4 cup of Lestoil or Pine Sol directly to the wash, though I’ll tell you from personal experience that pretreating the stains works much, much better.

Inexplicably something bled into my clothes, like somehow a colored thing got into my white laundry and now there’s this hue of pink. Recommendations on how to remove that? It’s subtle but annoying.

I have recommendations, but I want to warn you that red dye is a bear and that it may take several treatments for you to eliminate that pink tinge. I mention that to encourage you to stay with it and try not to get too frustrated if your efforts don’t do the trick on the first, second, or even third go around.

The most important thing to know when you take a load out of the washer and discover that there’s been a dye run situation is DO NOT PUT THE CLOTHES IN THE DRYER. I’m yelling that at you on purpose, because I want you to live in terror of drying stained clothes.

If you’ve got it on hand, run the load through the machine again without detergent but with a generous scoop of either oxygenated or color-safe bleach. If the load is entirely made up of whites, you may use chlorine bleach.

If the color transfer is significant, or if running a second cycle with just oxygen or color-safe bleach doesn’t do the trick, go ahead and toss the clothes into a utility sink, bucket, tub, etc. and soak them overnight in a scoop or two of oxygen or color-safe bleach and hot water (the water will obviously cool during the course of soaking, and that’s okay).

There are also products designed for this specific problem, which should make you feel better because it means that this is a fairly common problem, such as Carbona Color Run Remover.

Damn it, I got beer on my brand new white jeans the first time I wore them and it didn’t come out in the wash HELP.

This question, as you can probably guess based on its brevity and familiarity, came from a friend of mine. It’s perfect, in its way, because spilling stain-making drinks on our clothes is something we all do.

When a drink stain happens, whether it’s red wine, dark beer, coffee, colorful cocktails, or fruit juice, you always want to deal with the stain as it happens, as well as pretreating the residual staining prior to laundering.

Laundry: Are You Even Doing It Right?

The first part, treating a drink spill stain as it happens, isn’t super involved, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to salvaging the garment. Depending on what’s handy, you may choose any of the following methods to address a fresh liquid stain:

  • Flush the stain with cold running water
  • Dab club soda or plain water on the stain using a cloth or paper napkin
  • Use a Tide pen
  • Massage a small amount of dish or hand soap into the stain and rinse with cold running water
  • Blot the stain using a dry napkin or paper product to absorb much of the liquid

It’s entirely likely that you may be able to remove the stain entirely by treating it when it happens. If traces of the stains remain, treat them with a laundry spray like Shout or a product designed for specific stains, like the Carbona Stain Devils system.

We need help with our whites! My husband and I have been paying more attention to appropriately pre-treating and washing our whites thanks to you. But, what should we do when we have multiple kinds of stains on one item? We have lots of stuff with a combo of protein stains, non-protein stains, and general dinginess.

Ah yes, the protein stain, my old friend! There’s a shorthand I use to help folks remember what falls into the protein stain category: If it comes out of you, it’s probably a protein stain. That means that sweat, barf, blood, and sexual fluids all fall into the category of protein stain, and should either be treated with an enzymatic laundry pretreatment spray like Zout, or with an oxygenated bleach like Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus. Protein stains should not be treated with chlorine bleach.

The good news here is that both Zout and oxygenated bleaches are great for stains that don’t fall into the protein category, as well as for counteracting dinginess. For heavily soiled items, try soaking them in a solution of water and oxygen bleach for an hour (even up to overnight!) prior to laundering.

Pit stains

We’ll close this out with a bookend of sorts: While grease stains are the #1 question I get during my weekly Facebook Live segments, the second runner up is the old, “How do I get rid of ugly yellow pit stains.”

Get Rid of Those Pit Stains Once and For All

Pit stains fall into the protein stain category because our sweat is part of what causes the yellowing, but they’re made more complicated by the fact that the aluminum in many deodorant formulas has a chemical reaction that deepens the appearance of sweat stains. An enzymatic stain treatment, like the aforementioned Zout, is a great choice for treating stains as they begin to develop, while a long soak in an oxygenated bleach solution, followed by regular laundering, will help to eliminate deeply set-in stains.

There is, as you might expect given that pit stains are such a hot topic, a much more in-depth discussion on the subject in a previous column. And, as a bonus, I’ll be doing a demo of pit stain triage techniques on this week’s Facebook Live segment on Friday at 1 p.m. (ET). Until then, happy laundering!

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