Stains Needing Unique Treatment Methods

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Stains Needing Unique Treatment Methods

Chewing gum: Apply ice to harden gum. Crack or scrape off excess. Spray with pretreatment aerosol product. Rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Rinse with hot water. Repeat if necessary. Launder.

Deodorants: Apply liquid detergent,wash in warm water. Build-up of aluminum or zinc salts may be impossible to remove.

Fingernail polish: Do not use nail polish remover (or acetone) on acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic fabrics as they will dissolve. Take these fabrics to professional drycleaners and identify the stain. For other fabrics, use nail polish remover,acetone and spot treatment method.

Hog confinement odor: Wash clothes adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup household ammonia to wash load with heavy-duty detergent. Do not mix ammonia and bleach in same wash load. Toxic fumes are produced. Ammonia can be used on colored fabrics, but occasionally its use will change the garment's color.

Iodine: Iodine is quickly removed with sodium thiosulfate, which is sold in photo supply stores as "acid fixer." If the photo supply fixer solution contains other chemicals in addition to sodium thiosulfate, it should not be used. Iodine may also be removed by some commercial stain removers.

Lead pencil: Use art gum eraser to lift off excess; avoid hard rubbing. For delicate fabrics use spot treatment methods. For most durable, washable fabrics, spray with pretreatment aerosol product. Rub in heavy-duty liquid detergent. Rinse in warm water. Launder.

Mildew: Mildew is a growing organism that must have warmth, darkness, and moisture to survive. Mildew eats cellulosic fibers, causing permanent damage and weakening of fibers and fabrics. To remove mildew: Shake or brush item outdoors. Pretreat darkest stains with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder in hot water with a heavyduty detergent. Bleach as safe for fabric.

Odor: Most odors are removed by laundering.For persistent odor problems, place calcium carbonate crystals, activated charcoal, or soda in an open container and store with clothes in closet or sprinkle soda directly on fabric and let stand; then shake or vacuum.

Paint-latex: Treat while wet. Soak in cold water; wash in cool water with heavy-duty detergent. After paint has dried 6 to 8 hours, removal is very difficult. Treat as combination stain. Wash in hot water, Rinse. Repeat treatment.

Paint-oil-based: Treat while wet. Use thinner recommended for paint. Use spot treatment technique and thinner on spots until paint is softened and can be flushed away in heavy-duty detergent wash. Usually turpentine or alcohol will work as solvents.

Perspiration: Apply liquid detergent or soak in warm water with presoak product 15 to 30 minutes. Launder.

Pesticide: If full-strength liquid concentrate spills on clothes, handle only with rubber gloves. Discard clothing immediately. Laundering does not remove concentrate to a safe level for reuse of clothing. Launder other pesticide- contaminated clothing separate from general family laundry. If visible staining from diluted spray of pesticide residues remains after laundering, rewash using hot water, heavy-duty detergent, and a full water level. Then line dry.

Rust: Rust stains cannot be removed in normal laundering. Use of chlorine bleach makes them permanent. Rust removers such as RoVer or Whink are effective and safe for most fabrics, but rust removers that contain hydrofluoric acid are extremely toxic, can burn the skin, and can damage the finish on appliances. A solution oxalic acid crystals in water will also remove rust stains,-but it is often difficult to obtain the crystals.

Lemon juice and salt are more readily available and are helpful sometimes, Sprinkle the salt on the stain, squeeze lemon juice on it and spread the garment in the sun to dry. A word of caution: Lemon juice can bleach some colors and many washable garments are not manufactured to be colorfast to sunlight.

Scorch: Excess heat on cellulosic (cotton, linen, ramie, rayon), wool, or synthetic fibers can cause permanent damage. If fabric is thick and fuzzy, brush to remove charring. Rub liquid detergent into scorched area. Launder. If stain remains, bleach using,all-fabric bleach. fabric will be permanently weakened in scorched area. Synthetic blends that are melted or glazed cannot be fully restored.

Smoke, soot: Shake off excess soot outdoors. Launder in washing machine using heavy-duty phosphate-based detergent or heavy-duty liquid as recommended by manufacturer, one cup of water conditioner, and 1/2 cup of all-fabric bleach. Use water temperature appropriate for fabric. Air dry. Inspect for smoke odor. Repeat as necessary. Three or four washes may be needed for cottons and cotton blends.

Urine: Rinse in cold water and launder. For stains on mattresses: (1) sponge with cloth using detergent solution, (2) rinse with cloth using vinegar solution, (3) let air dry, and (4) if odor remains, sprinkle with soda or calcium carbonate; wait 1 day, then vacuum.

Water Spots: Launder. For drycleanable draperies, consult a professional cleaner. Water marks on drapes are water soluble and not removable by drycleaning solvents.


Special thanks to Iowa State University for allowing us to reproduce this information.

Reproduced with permission from the Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011.

Prepared by: Janis Stone,
Textiles and Clothing Specialist,
Iowa State University

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The information found on the pages in this section are provided by Ohio State University for educational purposes. is not associated in anyway with Ohio State University.  Apparel Search is simply providing viewers of the fashion industry with easy access to the helpful educational material that has been developed by Ohio State University.  Please visit the Ohio State University web site to learn more about the wonderful educational opportunities that they provide. 

Clothing Care and fiber Content Labels

fabrics Labeled "Dry-clean Only"

A Note about Modern fabrics

Garments with Contrasting Colors or Trim

Removing Stains from Washable fabrics:

Spot Treatment Technique (Sponging) for Apparel fabrics

Chemical Solvents and Supplies

Follow These Safety Precautions

Classification of Stains

What to Do if You Don't Know

Stains Needing Unique Treatment Methods

Common Remedies to Avoid

How to Identify and Prevent

Additional Stain Removal References

You really should consider washing your clothes if they are dirty.  Learn more about washing clothes.

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