A careless hand knocking over a coffee mug, a slip in the yard, an accidental stain of nail polish while you wait for it to dry - and there goes your favourite shirt. We've all been there, haven't we? But no need to panic - before you decide to throw away your shirt, we have some great tips and tricks for you to get rid of that stain.
The most important thing to remember is that the earlier you treat a stain, the better. Also, be sure to never rub the area immediately - instead, try blotting the area with clean water or running it under cold water.
Now let's look at each type of stain and come up with a solution.
1. Dye stains
These stains are tricky because dyes are used to get colour into fabrics in the first place. Dye stains usually occur when dyed clothes are washed with fabrics of lighter colours, usually white. To remove dye stains, soak the affected clothing in cold water mixed, according to package directions, with oxygenised non-chlorine bleach for at least eight hours. Repeat as many times as needed.
2. Grass stains
Apply detergent to the grass stain and gently rub the fabric together. Without rinsing the detergent, wash the garment like you normally would. To remove any remaining colour, use diluted white vinegar.
Important: Test for colorfastness first before using vinegar. Apply hot vinegar to an inconspicuous area of the garment, and let it sit for one to three minutes before applying a paper towel to the area. If no color comes off on the towel, the garment is colorfast, and you can continue to treat with vinegar.
3. Grease stains
If you rinse the stain immediately with cold water and dish washing soap, the stain will loosen and will most likely come off easily. If it's not possible to treat the stain immediately, gently apply and rub liquid detergent directly onto the grease stain until it's saturated. Let it sit for a few minutes. Without rinsing off the detergent, wash the garment as usual, using the hottest temperature indicated for that fabric.
4. Organic protein stains
These include bodily fluids like sweat and vomit but do not include dairy (including breast milk) and egg stains. For organic protein stains, an enzymatic detergent (which breaks down proteins) and oxygenated non-chlorine bleach should be used. While washing, use the hottest setting recommended for the fabric.
5. Dairy (including breast milk) and egg stains
These stains are a form of organic protein stain but are removed differently. If the stain has already dried, scrape off anything that is crusted on the garment before soaking it in cold water for five to 30 minutes, depending on how old the stain is, with an enzyme presoak. Keep repeating with fresh water if necessary.
6. Blood stains
Soak the fabric in cold water, rubbing the stain slowly and gently with your fingers to get as much blood out as possible. If the water starts to turn pink, replace the water and keep going till there is no pink colour to be seen. Rinse the fabric and apply an enzymatic stain remover a few hours before washing it.
7. Fruit and fresh juice stains
Hold the stained fabric under cold running water and apply an enzymatic laundry detergent directly to the stain. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes and then, without rinsing off the detergent, wash the piece of clothing at the hottest temperature recommended for the fabric.
8. Red wine stains
Cover the stain with a handful of salt. The salt will begin to absorb the colour, turning pink. Soak the garment overnight in cold water with an enzymic detergent. Then wash as usual.
9. Chocolate stains
This goes for chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate, chocolate pudding and all other types of chocolate based stains. Gently scrape away any excess chocolate, taking care not to grind it further into the fabric. Run cold water on the back of the stained fabric. If it's not possible to hold the stained fabric under the tap, saturate it in cold water to loosen the chocolate particles. Thoroughly but gently rub a biological laundry detergent or liquid dish washing detergent into the stain, making sure the detergent saturates the fabric. Soak the fabric in cold water for 15 minutes, and gently rub at the stain every 3-5 minutes or so. Continue doing this until the stain is gone. More detergent may be needed for some stains. If the stain still persists, apply a stain remover.
10. Coffee stains
Hold the fabric under running cold water to remove as much of the stain as possible. Cover the stain with enzymic laundry detergent. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the detergent into the fabric. Leave it for five to 10 minutes, then wash without rinsing out the detergent, on the hottest setting possible for that fabric type.
Read more: How to be a more conscious consumer