Keeping Clothes Clean: The Nemesis of Tricky Stains

Mar 30, 2016

Keeping Clothes Clean: The Nemesis of Tricky Stains

Share Article

There are two points in life where stains seem to be inevitable: the youngest and the oldest generations. The lack of refined motor skills and inability to control movements and certain urges makes stains a regular occurrence in these two age brackets.

However, there are a few tips and tricks that can make the removal of stains easier and more effective than you could imagine.

Tricky Stains: Removal Guidelines

To begin, let's look at a few guidelines that make the removal of stains possible.

Act fast.

It is important to act as soon as possible when you notice a stain. The sooner you act, the higher the chance that the stain will be able to be removed! Even by simply applying cold water or ice to the affected area will prevent the stain from setting in as quickly.

Blot, don’t rub.

When treating stains, it is important to remember to blot the stain, not rub at it. Blotting allows for the stain to be picked up and absorbed by the towel while rubbing at the stain with the same towel will continue to work the stain into the garment you are trying to remove it from.

Small paintbrushes.

Investing in a small paintbrush to apply liquid or gel stain remover or detergent to a piece of clothing can make your life so much easier. Instead of trying to pour the detergent onto a small stain, the paintbrush allows you to not only be more precise but also economical because you aren’t wasting your stain remover.

Work inside out.

Another useful trick for removing stains is to work from the inside out, meaning work from the opposite side the stain resides on. For example, if your mom spills some of her lunch on her shirt, place a towel on the side of the stain, and then use another cold, damp cloth to blot from the inside. Doing so transfers the stain to the towel and not to the device you are using to clean with.

Test, test, test.

If you find yourself using a method or cleaner on a fabric that you have not used before, it is important to test it out on a discrete area before submitting yourself to using it on a more conspicuous area. Certain cleaners may not interact with the fabric very well and could even damage the garment if you’re not careful. Testing can help make sure you do not ruin your dad’s favorite t-shirt.

Treat first, wash later.

When you see that there is a stain on an article of clothing, make sure that you treat the stain before laundering. Washing and drying the stain before it is correctly treated can set it in, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

Commercial Products

Aside from the methods of removing stains, there are also various products, both commercial and home remedies, which make the elimination of stains a possibility. Below are two very useful products that can make stain removing easier.

Tide to Go

Tide to Go is a product that comes in a small pen-like stick and is perfect for the times that you or your loved ones are away from home and get something on their clothing. The pen distributes a small amount of stain remover and the pen allows for precise application.

OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray

OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray should be applied to the stain and then left to sit for up to 10 minutes before laundering as normal. The concentrated spray sticks to the stain and is highly reviewed to be able to remove stains other products can’t.

Home Remedies

Oftentimes stains happen when you don’t have a commercial stain remover available. The truth is, this does not mean that you are out of luck. There are various options for DIY or home remedies for stains that work as well or better than what is sold in stores. A few helpful items and how they can be used are listed below.

Club soda

Club soda is one household item that has many stain fighting uses. It can be used to remove grease stains by pouring it directly onto the stain and then gently scrubbing. Most red foods, including tomato soup and red wine, have shown to be no match for club soda as well. The soda helps to break down the stain and associated pigments. Urine stains and smell can also be eliminated by club soda. First, blot as much urine as possible, pour on club soda, and then immediately begin to blot again.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a very effective stain remover for almost any stain imaginable. It is the best option if you do not know the origin of the stain. Mixing a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a small amount of either cream of tartar or non-gel toothpaste will remove almost any stain. It is perfect for wine stains, mildew, and bloodstains. For bloodstains, simply apply the hydrogen peroxide, rinse with water, and then launder as normal.

White vinegar

White vinegar is another household item that is helpful for stain removal. It can be used for many different purposes. It can be used for bloodstains but should be applied immediately after they happen by soaking for 5-10 minutes before washing. It is also helpful for eliminating water-soluble stains including fruit juices, tea, coffee, and even vomit by blotting with vinegar or soaking in a 3 part vinegar, 1 part water mixture before laundering. Sweat rings and mildew can also be removed by creating a paste of white vinegar and baking soda and then scrubbing.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is essential for the removal of ink stains. The ink stains can typically be removed by simply soaking the affected area for a few minutes before placing in the wash. It can even be added to the rinse cycle to help with stain removal.

Stains are a part of everyday life when you are in the presence of elders. While they can be tough, there are various tips, tricks, and products that can make the removal of stains not so intimidating.

Please enter a comment.
Please enter a name.
Please enter a valid email address in the form "".
Please check the box to the left of "I'm not a robot".

Frequently Asked Questions

My mom has dementia and sometimes she will bathe with no fuss but other times, she just flat out refuses. It doesn't matter whether it is day or night. How can I get her to bathe easier?!

I'm sorry you're having some struggles getting your mother clean! There are many different reasons why your mother may not want to bathe. It could be due to dementia symptoms but it could also be because she is embarrassed you have to bathe her or because she has trouble getting in or out of the bath. 

Try to keep your mother on a bathing schedule. Routines are especially helpful for caring for seniors with dementia. Also how often are you bathing your mother? Depending on her lifestyle it may be too much. Seniors have much drier skin, and typically less active lifestyles than other adults, so they may not need a full bath or shower daily.

Try to keep the environment peaceful. Play some of your mother's favorite tunes or sounds from nature to help soothe her. Keep conversations casual in an attempt to keep your mother from feeling embarrassed. Also, let your mother do as much of the self-care that she is able. Even if it takes her longer, it allows your mother to maintain independence and dignity. 

See All Answers »

My mother needs constant assistance, and lately she’s refusing to bathe. How should I handle this?

First, try and understand what it must be like to be at a stage in life where the same child you used to bathe now must bathe you. Getting older and more dependent is hard for many people to accept. Next, try and figure out why your mother does not want to bathe. Does she feel so helpless, that by refusing a bath, she is trying to gain some control over her daily life? In this case, you could give her more control by letting her choose when she bathes.

Perhaps your mother has had a fall or a near-accident, and no longer feels safe. If that is the case, you could install new safety features in the bathroom and shower like grab bars, non-slip shower mats, or even getting a walk-in tub.

See All Answers »

Search By State

Find Senior Caring Options by State
Finding the perfect senior care community is only part of making your loved one’s senior living transition smooth. At SeniorCaring, we know that it is also equally important to be aware of what other community services and resources are available to your family’s senior. Choose your location and find local resources for your senior.