With summer festivities firing up, nothing ruins a look or mood more than the stains of summer. As a mom with a family and lots of experience in the interior design business I have learned some super solutions to common hard-to-get out stains.
The #1 key to stain removal is to SEPARATE the stain from the rug or fabric! Absorb or pull out as much of the stain as possible. The best way to do this is by blotting with paper towel or white clean cotton towels. Replace the towels and repeat the process as needed until no more of the stain is transferring to the towels. Be patient and give the towels a chance to do their job, and do not rub the stain. Sometimes it may be helpful to put heavy items on the towels, such as books, to press the towels deeper into the stained fibers. Once you have removed all that you can with the towels, use the cleaning solutions or mixtures listed below to pretreat the stain. Work the cleaner through gently with fingers or a soft brush to limit damaging the fibers and repeat the paper towel technique until your stain is gone. Cool water is usually recommended, unless otherwise specified, and always check the care label first. With all fabrics, please check for color-fastness and follow manufacturer’s specifications.
The basics for removing most stains
Try these or a combination of these to get out almost anything:
- Dry, clean towels or paper towels
- An oxygen-based cleaner; like Oxiclean or Quick N Brite (a T+T favorite!)
- Liquid detergent (dish soap) – for oil and grease
- An iron – for wax
Send it out the way it came in
If you are working with a rug, upholstery with a cover that can be removed, clothing, etc., try and “push” the stain out by running the item under water from the back. This technique can help to remove more of the stain by sending it out the way it came in.
You have heard this over and over again; test any cleaner in an area first to be sure the fibers will be able to tolerate the cleaner. When using bleach, never use full strength, as it may damage the item! If you have a rug made of viscose, DO NOT USE WATER! Read the label and follow the directions.
Mud: Got mud? Let it dry all the way through and then vacuum it up before you try anything else. You will save yourself so much work and have much greater success by letting it dry and then vacuuming. Once you have completed that step, pretreat using a mild liquid detergent OR powder detergent mixed with water to create a paste and gently rub into the stain. We love Quick N Brite as our pretreating agent. It is a powerful and biodegradable cleaner that clobbers stains. Rinse treated area with water and blot as listed above until the stain is removed.
Grass: That beautiful rich green color is a tough stain to remove from fabrics, especially as it is often mixed with dirt. If you get a grass stain, try to keep it wet until you can wash it. Once grass stains dry it can be harder to remove them. Pretreat the stain with a good-quality liquid detergent. Look for one that has the protein-busting enzyme called protease. Let sit for 20 minutes, and then brush the cleaner into the stain as you wash it out. Follow up with a wash in a machine with warm water. Do not let the stain dry until you are satisfied that the stain is removed.
Sunscreen: Most lotions and spray sunscreens have an oil base that can leave a nasty stain. If you can, hold the garment under running water as soon as possible and let it run from the back of the fabric to the front. Pretreat the stain with a detergent with enzymes to break apart the oily component. Pour it on the stain and brush in with a soft toothbrush. Let it set for 20 minutes, then wash in the same detergent on warm.
Wax: Citronella candles are great to have on the patio, till one spills! First chill the area with an ice pack to make the wax more brittle and easier to “chip” off, the more wax you can remove at this point the better. Set a clean dry cloth towel on the wax stain and then set a warm iron on the towel. This helps to melt the left-over wax and allows the towel to absorb the wax. Continue to flip the towel using clean areas and repeat this process until no more wax is absorbed. Then, if needed, use full strength Quick N Brite paste and let it sit. Scratch the spot lightly and repeat the process until the spot lifts from the fabric. Rinse thoroughly!
Chocolate: If there is a lot of chocolate, you may wish to chill the area with a cold pack first to make the chocolate more brittle. That will help to allow you to “chip away” any larger pieces before treating. Pretreat with Quick N Brite or use a mild liquid detergent or powder detergent mixed with water to create a paste and gently rub into the stain. Rinse with water and blot as listed above until the stain is removed. Bleach if the item can tolerate it, per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Popsicle’s, Fruits & Wine: Start with the stain 101 protocol and separate the stain from the carpet or fabric. Flush the stain, from the back forward forcing the stain out. Pretreat, using a mild liquid detergent or powder detergent mixed with water to create a paste and gently rub into the stain and let sit for at least 10 min. Rinse with water and blot as listed above until the stain is removed. If the stain remains do not do not dry the item and repeat the pretreatment step. Bleach can be used if the item can tolerate it. Also make sure to read your label; some food products do have a permanent dye!
Grab the power washer! Mix 2/3 cup of Quick N Bright liquid to 5 gallons of water and use as a pre-spray. Let this solution sit for 10 minutes and power wash from the back first pushing any stains and dirt out the way it came in. Helpful tip – hang the rug on a fence, door, wall, outdoor furniture, etc. before you start. Rugs are heavy to move after they are soaked with water and this then allows them to drip dry.
Good luck and be very patient, it will pay off with a stain free summer!
Have a fantastic and fun summer! – Jill Tran
About Tran + Thomas
Built on the foundation of a 30-year, family-owned Interior Design business, Jill Tran and Carmen Thomas opened Tran + Thomas Design Studio in 2011 bringing a combined 36 years of experience to their projects. They work on both residential and commercial projects across several styles. Interested in their services? Call (913) 268-9595 or schedule a consultation below.