Easy ways to remove stains

Easy ways to remove stains

Tried-and-tested tips to remove just about any mark, quickly and effectively!

Golden rules

  • Attempt stain removal as soon as possible after staining occurs.
  • Always try to remove stains before washing. Washing and drying could set the stain permanently.
  • For delicate fabrics, or if you’re in any doubt, always do a spot test, applying stain removal products on an unseen area of the garment.


What to use: Salt, fabric stain remover.
How: Soak stain in salt water for a few hours. Rinse, then apply a paste of fabric stain remover and water.
Leave in a warm place for half an hour before machine washing.


What to use: Maizena, talc.
How: Sprinkle with talc or Maizena. Scrape off powder and any solids before rinsing with cold water.


What to use: Fabric stain remover.
How: Soak in fabric stain remover and water for half an hour before machine washing.



What to use: White vinegar and fabric stain remover.
How: Apply white vinegar and water (1:1) to black coffee stains, then rinse with clean water. For white coffee, use fabric stain remover and water.

Cooking oil

What to use: Maizena, talc, dishwashing soap.
How: Sprinkle with talc or Maizena. Scrape off powder and any solids before rinsingwith cold water. Dishwashing soap also works well to dissolve grease on fabric.


What to use: Fabric stain remover, biological detergent, white vinegar.
How: Stretch affected fabric over a bowl and pour over warm water to soften wax. Apply fabric stain remover. Allow to dry and treat any remaining marks with vinegar. Machine wash as usual.


What to use: Fabric stain remover.
How: Soak in handwash solution for half an hour, then machine wash as normal.

Face powder

What to use: Masking tape and biological detergent.
How: Blot up powder excess with masking tape. Rinse in cold water, then machine wash in biological detergent.


What to use: Fabric stain remover.
How: Scrape off excess then rinse withcold water. Apply fabric stain remover. Allow to dry then machine


What to use: Fabric stain remover, bleach or white vinegar.
How: Rub with a paste of fabric stain remover and water. Leave in a warm place for half an hour. Use undiluted bleach or vinegar to remove any lingering marks. Machine wash as normal.


What to use: Toothpaste.
How: Rub stain with toothpaste using an old toothbrush. Leave for 5 minutes then machine wash.



What to use: Fabric stain remover, liquid soap, bleach.
How: Apply fabric stain remover and allow to dry. Rub in liquid soap, then rinse. Apply diluted bleach/water solution (1:3). Machine wash as usual.


What to use: Washing powder, bleach.
How: Shake or brush the item outdoors. Pretreat darkest stains with liquid detergent. Machine wash on a hot cycle. Apply bleach only if safe for fabric. Since mildew destroys fibres, bleaching may not restore fibres to white.

Motor oil

What to use: Bicarbonate of soda, toothbrush, fabric stain remover.
How: Cover the stain with bicarbonate of soda and brush into the fabric using the toothbrush. Work it in well. Spray on fabric stain remover and rinse in water. Repeat if any stain remains, then machine wash as normal.


What to use: Detergent, white vinegar.
How: Dry, then brush off any excess with nail brush. Apply detergent, run until foaming, thenrinse. Apply diluted
vinegar and water (1:1) to lingering marks.


What to use: Bleach, fabric stain remover
How: Use a cotton bud to apply diluted bleach (1:2) to the stain. Apply fabric stain remover to the stain for half and hour then machine washas usual.

Permanent marker

What to use: Hand sanitiser.
How: Rub hand sanitiser into the stain then rinse in cold water. Machine wash as usual.


What to use: Masking tape.
How: Lift off grains with a strip of tape, using a clean strip of tape each time you dab to avoid spreading the stain.

Red wine

What to use: Salt.
How: Cover stain with salt. Lie fabric over a bowl and pour over boiling water. Machine wash as usual.

Scuff marks ( on patent leather and trainers)

What to use: Nail polish remover.
How: Dab cotton wool soaked in nail polish remover over scuff marks and they’ll lift easily.


What to use: White vinegar, washing powder
How: Sponge stain with white vinegar, then machine wash on a hot cycle.


What to use: Lemon juice.
How: Hold garment over a bowl and pour over boiling water. Apply (1:1) lemon juice and water mixture over stain and wash as normal.

Tomato sauce

What to use: Fabric stain remover, white vinegar.
How: Apply fabric stain remover then drip (1:1) water and vinegar solution onto stain. Machine wash as normal.


How: Freeze garment until wax is hard. Peel off wax.

Photos: Fotolia.com

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Digital editor I’m getting married in 2018 and I think it’s the perfect time to focus on my relationship with not only my fiance but my friends, family and colleagues too. I want to nurture and cherish the people I love by being more understanding and present in their lives.


Send this to a friend