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Stain Removal Guide: Laundry Tips You Need When Life is Messy

Life is messy. If you have a stain you're not sure how to get out, check out our handy stain removal guide.

Woman Staining Her Shirt with Ketchup Sauce


Fresh blood: soak in cold water (never hot, as this will "set" the stain) and gently rub to dissolve. For persistent or older bloodstains, pretreat with hydrogen peroxide or enzyme-based stain remover or soak in enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent. Wash per instructions.

Body Fluids (urine, vomit, feces) stain

Scrape off excess material. Soak 15 minutes in lukewarm water with a small amount of liquid dishwashing soap and tablespoon ammonia. Rub gently. If needed, soak an additional half-hour in enzyme-based stain remover or enzyme-based laundry detergent. Launder per instructions, using hot water if possible for vomit or feces. Bleach if necessary.

Chocolate stain

Scrape off chocolate. Soak in cool water. Pre-treat with stain remover. If needed, rub with heavy-duty laundry detergent. If stain persists, soak then launder in a solution of oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach (if safe for fabric).

Coffee/Tea stain

Blot with a paper towel, run under cold water. Pre-treat with stain remover or enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent. (Alternatively, soak in warm water in a solution of a capful of liquid dish detergent and tablespoon of white vinegar). Launder immediately. If stain remains, wash with oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach (if safe for fabric).

Cosmetics/Lipstick stain

Pre-treat with stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or laundry soap bar. For stubborn stains, rub with heavy-duty laundry detergent. Wash immediately; repeat with all-fabric bleach if needed.

Dairy products (milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt) stain

Pre-treat or soak using an enzyme-based stain treatment or detergent. Launder immediately in fabric-appropriate temperature.

Egg stain

Soak at least 30 minutes with an enzyme-based stain remover or laundry detergent. Wash in enzyme-based detergent.

Fruits, fruits/vegetable juice, jam/jelly stain

Soak in lukewarm water with a capful of liquid dishwashing detergent and tablespoon of white vinegar. If needed, pre-treat or pre-soak in enzyme-based stain remover. Launder. If stain persists, use color-safe or chlorine bleach. (Note: fully rinse fruit stains out before laundering as sugar in fruit juice can develop a brown stain when heated in the dryer, even if the juice is not visible on fabric.)

Grass and mud stain

Pre-treat with or pre-soak in enzyme-based stain remover. Can also pre-treat with a laundry soap bar. Launder in hot water with enzyme-based detergent (tip: for extreme stains, grate bar of laundry soap and toss a small pile of shavings into the washing machine with the item). Use bleach if needed according to fabric directions.

Greasy food (butter, oil, mayo) stain

Light stains can be pre-treated with stain remover and laundered in the hottest water that is allowed for fabric. For heavier stains, use liquid dish soap (dilute to dissolve color) and scrub with toothbrush. Rinse in white vinegar. Then pre-treat with stain remover and follow directions above.

Ink stain

Blot with a paper towel. Spot treat on "wrong" side of fabric with denatured alcohol or pre-treat with stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent. Ink stains can be difficult to remove.

Ketchup, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce stain

Remove excess with a spoon or knife. DON'T dab or rub as this can spread the stain. Run cold water through the back of the fabric to "flush out" as much stain as possible. Saturate with a pretreatment laundry stain remover; for heavy stains, add heavy-duty laundry detergent to the pre-treatment. Launder immediately. If stain remains, soak in either chlorine bleach or color-safe bleach (depending on the fabric) and repeat laundering.

Mustard stain

Run under cold water to loosen stain and pre-treat immediately with stain remover or heavy-duty liquid detergent. Can also soak the item in a solution of warm water and color-safe powdered bleach. Wash in the hottest water permitted for fabric; if the fabric can be bleached, use chlorine bleach in the wash cycle.

Perspiration/sweat stain

Pre-treat with enzyme-based stain remover or bar of laundry soap. If fabric color has changed due to perspiration, apply white vinegar to new stains and ammonia to old stains. Wash in enzyme-based laundry detergent in the hottest water safe for fabric.

Salad dressing stain

Saturate with pre-treatment stain remover and allow the product to penetrate fabric for at least a minute. For severe stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder as soon as possible.

Wine stain

Blot stain with a towel. Pre-treat with stain remover OR cover stain with salt and pour club soda on top, let sit for an hour and brush off the salt before laundering. Can also soak in lukewarm water with a capful of dishwashing detergent and a tablespoon of white vinegar prior to laundering.

General guidance

Note: When treating stains, always follow the manufacturer's directions for washing and try the least aggressive stain removal method first. Test area for colorfastness when appropriate and only use chlorine bleach if allowed.

About using enzyme-based cleaning products

Enzyme-based stain treatment products and detergents like Heritage Park Fine Laundry detergent are highly effective at removing stains (particularly protein-based stains such blood, body fluids, dairy products, egg) and can be used regularly to launder most fabrics. These enzyme-based treatments and detergents can also be used sparingly to treat stains on protein-based fabrics such as silk or wool. For regular laundering of wool and silk, we recommend an enzyme-free detergent such as Fine Silk and Wool Detergent from Heritage Park.

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.

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