How to remove pretty much any stain from your clothes

Save yourself the dry cleaning bill

remove stains

Save yourself the dry cleaning bill

There’s nothing quite as heartbreaking as spilling coffee down your crisp new white blouse (even worse if you’re heading to an interview), or getting blood on your new shoes because they’re so damn uncomfortable. We know, TMI but we’re keeping it real, because these things happen.

So we thought we’d do a bit of research on how to deal with those annoying stains, without having to spend a month’s rent on dry cleaning.

How to remove red wine stains

The key is to NOT rub it, that’ll make it worse. But… you need to act fast. If you’ve just spilled it, dab at it to blot the excess liquid, and apply salt to it as it’ll absorb the wine. Then you can dab at it some fizzy water to remove the stain, and you should pop it in the wash as soon as you can after that.

How to remove tea & coffee stains

You can use a similar method to the red wine removal one, or a quick solution is to dab at it with a baby wipe as that’ll soak up the worst of it, or, if you don’t have any wipes to hand, hold the stain under the cold tap for a few minutes and then carefully dab away the moisture. Then pop it in the washing machine.

How to remove ketchup or tomato sauce stains

Yes yes, we have all gotten carried away at the local McDonald’s after a night out, but a ketchup spill needn’t end in tears. Rub a bit of liquid detergent (like dishwasher one) over the stain for a few minutes, then soak in cold water for ten minutes. Wash as normal.

How to remove chocolate stains

Don’t use hot water to remove a chocolate stain, it’ll melt it and make it set in the fabric. Instead, pop your clothes in a bag and leave to chill in the fridge. Once the chocolate has cooled, you can scrape it off with a nice and pop your clothes in the washing machine.

How to remove blood stains

Your grandma wasn’t lying when she said cold water was best to remove blood stains. Leave to soak in cold water and rub gently away at the stain with some soap. If it’s shoes we’re talking about, while the stain is still fresh, rub gently at it with cold water and soap. If the stain is set, you’ll have to use a targeted stain removal product.

How to remove ice cream stains

If the stain is fresh, follow the same method as the ketchup removal step. If the stain is still visible after that, rub some detergent on it and leave to soak in room temperature water. If the stain has set, then use a stain removal product before washing.

How to remove ink stains

This is a bit of a weird one, but if you have hairspray, use it on the ink as it breaks it down, or rub alcohol on it.

How to remove grease stains

Grease stains are notoriously tricky to get rid of, but there is a solution. You need to put some baking soda on it as it’ll draw out the grease, or if you don’t find any, then gently rub in washing up liquid as it’s design to repel grease. Then pop in the wash.

How to remove perfume stains

You can get rid of most perfume stains by popping your clothes in the wash.

How to remove foundation stains

For liquid foundation, blot the liquid with a clean cloth using a lifting motion to remove excess. Then rub laundry detergent into the stain and put it in the wash. There's also a hack doing the rounds, where you rub shaving cream into the stain before rinsing with cold water. Either way, pop the item in the wash after.

How to remove lipstick stains

You can use hairspray again here, and leave it to sit for 10 minutes before putting it in the wash. Another good method is to use washing up liquid before the wash.

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Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.