Let's face it; stains happen to all of us. Whether it's red wine stains on your brand new carpet, gross grass and bloodstains on your kids' clothes, or sweat stains on the best work shirt you own, stains seem to be inescapable! So what now? Do you throw the whole thing away and buy anew? Absolutely not. You hop on Google and search "how to get rid of _ stain" and wind up here, scouring through this article as fast as you can before the stain sets. Well, you're in luck. We're going to make this quick and simple, tackling the toughest stains with miscellaneous products and items you already own.

Just keep 3 things in mind:

  1. What type of stain is it? (protein-based, water-based, oil based?)
  2. What's the timeline? (minutes, hours, days, weeks?)
  3. What fabric is it? (cotton, silk, linen?)

Protein-Based Stain Removal - Blood, Grass, & Sweat

Grass stain on baseball player's uniform
Shutterstock/Philip Eppard

Protein-based stains are among the most troublesome and most time-consuming stains to remove, but are not impossible! They also include things like foods containing cream, cheese, eggs, baby food, or from urine or fecal material. Moving quickly on these stains will provide the most desirable results.

Stain Removal Steps

  1. Don't Wait: Before taking the garment off or throwing the fabric in the wash, be sure to gently dab the stain. Most beneficial to dab with some store bought or this DIY stain remover if you can.
  2. Pre-Soak: Soak protein-stained clothing in cold to lukewarm water. Protein stains will set if exposed to hot water, an iron, or a dryer. It's best to use an enzyme cleaner, but not necessary. You can improvise by dabbing some water on the stain before soaking and put some salt, talcum powder, or cornstarch to soak it up (this can take between 10-15 minutes).
  3. Let it Sit: Set your timer for about an hour.
  4. Rinse Gently & Thoroughly: Check to see if the stain is actually gone, a vigorous rinse can cause the stain to spread. Only after you're sure the stain has faded should you throw the item in the wash.

Pro Tips:

  • Sweat Stain Removal: Pre-treat with baking soda or vinegar.
  • Blood Stain Removal: To be honest, there are a few unorthodox solutions including toothpaste, saliva, hydrogen peroxide, and more!

Water-Based Stain Removal - Coffee, Wine, & Ink

High Angle View Of Red Wine Spilled From Glass On Carpet

Water-based stains are probably the most frustrating. Not because they're difficult to remove, but because they usually happen at the most inopportune moments. Big meeting? Why not spill your coffee down the front of your outfit. Family dinner? Why not let the messy child spill their grape juice all over your freshly washed carpets? Although they may make you want to scream, water-based stains can often be cleaned in a normal wash cycle! For slightly tougher stains, follow these simple steps.

Stain Removal Steps

  1. Blot Immediately: You don't want to let these stains sit for too long.
  2. Be Gentle: DO NOT WIPE! You don't want the liquids to keep running and spreading to other areas
  3. Pre-treat & Cold Soak: You can use a stain removing or a grease-fighting dish soap to pretreat the area, then cold with cold water so the stain doesn't set. If applicable, throw items in the wash on a regular cycle.


  • Red Wine Stain Removal: Try these 6 effective methods to remove red wine stains, even the ones that have already dried.

Oil-Based Stain Removal - Food, Grease, Make-Up

Woman holding a shirt with red kiss lipstick

Oil-based stains are among the most common stain you will encounter. These stains usually come from oil or grease based products that we use everyday such as motor oil, cooking oil, hair products or lotions with oil in them, bacon grease, lard, and butter.

Stain Removal Steps:

  1. Blot: You'll need to separate the soiled fabric away from any other clean fabrics, then gently blot the excess oil or food away from the treatment area.
  2. Absorb: Sprinkle on corn starch or baby powder over the stain which will soak up any excess oil and to help cleanse the fibers. In 3-5 minutes, shake of the powder while being careful not to spread any oil.
  3. Pre-treat: It's best to treat with a grease-fighting dish soap. Dab a quarter-sized amount on the fabric, then throw it in the wash. Be careful not to add too much dish soap, the suds may overflow your washer.
  4. Dry: Air drying the fabric will reduce any spreading of oil that got left behind.

Pro Tips:

  • Read The Fabric Label: Be sure to follow the "washing/during" instructions carefully.
  • Removing Makeup: Pre-treat with baking soda.

Pet Odor And Stain Remover

Cute puppy sitting near wet or urine spot on the sofa inside the room

Pets, eerily similar to children, can be messy and unpredictable. They come with a completely different set of smells and accidents. To keep your home smelling fresh and clean, check out some of these tips we've gathered!

Soiled Machine Washable Items

The Humane Society suggest you "Add a one-pound box of baking soda to your regular detergent and wash as usual, air-drying if possible. If you can still see or smell the soiling, wash again with an enzymatic cleaner — these break down pet-waste odors." If you don't have any enzymatic cleaner, try this homemade carpet shampoo specifically for pet odor and stain.

Soiled Furniture and Carpets

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends you "Start by rinsing the area thoroughly with plain water. Rent a wet vac and keep saturating and vacuuming the area until clean." If that method doesn't quite get rid of the odor then they suggest to use an enzymatic cleaner - "These bio-based cleaners work on a molecular level to break down and remove odors and stains. Be sure to choose an enzyme-based cleaner made specifically for pet stains."

Paint and wood damage

The Humane Society urges that you "replace the wood on your furniture, walls, baseboard or floor is discolored, the varnish or paint has reacted to the acid in the urine." This ensures that your place feels clean and your pet is safe!

Supplies To Keep On-Hand

  • White Cotton Cloths: The lack of colored dye will prevent accidental dye transfer while blotting and treating stains. You won't want to spend more than a dollar or two on a pack of white washcloths, because they will solely be used to clean stains (aka get dirty).
  • Soft Bristled Brush: Used to work in solutions to treatment areas. Most carpet cleaner sprays or foams come with a top scrubber, we suggest keeping it for a reusable and easy to clean brush.
  • Acetone & Rubbing Alcohol*:* Best for removing set-in ink stains from fabrics and leather.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda has a ton of household uses, including 5 key solutions to your toughest laundry problems!
  • White Vinegar: This is the most important component of a simple homemade carpet shampoo that you definitely need to get your hands on!
  • Dry cleaning solvent: Necessary to lift oily stains from non-washable fabrics. Be sure to use in a well-ventilated space and follow instructions carefully.
  • Laundry Soap Bar: Pure soaps cut through body oils, dead skin flake, and sweat.
  • Chlorine & Oxygen Bleach: Chlorine bleach is a disinfectant is required to kill most types of bacteria, viruses, and mold/mildew spores. Oxygen bleach is a gentle, all-fabric bleach that removes stains, whitens and brightens laundry, and is more environmentally friendly than chlorine bleach.
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