Cold water for stains

Table of Contents

Tackle a stain the wrong way and you could make things 10 times worse. Be sure you’re not making these mistakes:

1. Using hot or warm water

Flushing a fresh stain with hot water may be the obvious thing to do, but it can be disastrous! Hot water can permanently set some stains, particularly those that are protein-based, like blood.
Fix: Always use cold water.

2. Rubbing

Frantically rubbing a stain can make it spread further and also damage the weave of the fabric.
Fix: Gently dab the stain away.

3. Using too much stain remover

Creating a flood of stain remover makes the area harder to rinse or dry, especially on carpets and upholstery.
Fix: Light, repeated applications of a remover work much better than flooding a stain.

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4. Working soap into fresh stains

Bar soap, soap flakes and detergents containing soap can set stains, particularly pigment-based ones like coffee, red wine and tea.
Fix: Start by rinsing with water.

5. Putting salt on red wine

Never do this! Salt will set the stain permanently. The same is true for coffee, tea and cola stains.
Fix: Rinse stain with water and use a stain remover like Wine No More!

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6. Mixing stain removal products

It’s generally a bad idea to mix chemicals. If they react together there can be very unpleasant consequences – particularly with chlorine bleach and ammonia, which will create a lethal cloud of chlorine gas!
Fix: Choose the stain remover that matches your stain.

7. Using enzyme-based products on silk and wool

Enzymes break down protein fibres – which silk and wool are – so will break down your favourite cashmere!
Fix: Use non-enzyme products and detergents designed for delicates.

8. Putting chlorine bleach on silk and wool

These fabrics are too delicate to withstand the harsh effects of bleach. There are some synthetics that won’t cope either, so always check the label.
Fix: Use a different stain remover to refresh your wool and silk.

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9. Trying to remove stains from antique fabrics

Antique fabric is particularly delicate, so you’re better off getting an expert to fix it.
Fix: Take it to a professional.

10. Giving up…

Some stains respond slowly, so you may need to repeat procedures several times before they disappear.
Fix: Persevere and you’ll get a result!

Essential stain removers

Bissell Pretreat Carpet Cleaner BISSELL £9.99

An effective spot-treatment carpet cleaner.

Vanish Gold Power Stain Remover Gel Vanish £4.00

Pre-treat stains with this powerful cleaner before machine washing. Sticky Stuff Remover £4.99

Excellent at dissolving traces left by sticky labels and chewing gum.

Dr. Beckmann Pre-Wash Stain Devils Dr. Beckmann £2.29

Dr. Beckmann offers a range of stain-specific spot treatments – choose the one best suited to the problem!

HG Mould Remover Foam Spray HG £7.49

Effective at removing mould on grouting as well as sealant, leaving them as good as new!

WD-40 Smart Straw WD-40 £6.41

Not just for squeaky hinges! Really good at dissolving chewing gum and greasy stains like tar, lipstick and boot polish.

Fairy Non-Bio Stain Removal Powder Fairy £6.00

A brilliant stain remover for those who have sensitive skin. While it doesn’t contain enzymes, it still delivers great results.

Bar Keepers Friend Household Stain Remover Bar Keepers Friend £2.99

A versatile cleaner that’s been around for many years. Great on stubborn stains and for cleaning a wide range of things in your kitchen.

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Pros and Cons of Washing Your Clothes in Hot Water3 min read

Ah, the washing machine. Arguably one of the great inventions of our era, this device has freed up hours of time and energy. But even now, some questions remain. Namely, is washing clothes in hot water always the way to go? Or is all that heat doing your favorite shirt more harm than good?
Today, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of the hot-water debate. Here’s how to wash clothes with the proper water temperature.

Pro: Hot Water Gets the Job Done

Hot water is the best option for clothes that have been lived-in—workout pants, socks and boxers, for starters. If you want to guarantee that your clothes will smell clean and fresh the next day, run them in hot water.

Pro: Hot Water Kills Germs

Flu bug going around your child’s school? Just got off an airplane? Washing clothes in hot water is a great defense. Toss the potentially infected bed linens and clothing into a hot wash and let the water do what it does best—tackle germs!

Con: Hot Water is Environmentally Unfriendly

Over the last decade or so, we’ve grown increasingly concerned about the environment. A lot of the energy used to wash a load of laundry is funneled directly into heating the water—the latest studies suggest up to a third of the energy needed to wash a load goes into producing the heat. That energy is produced via electricity, which is largely produced by fossil fuels—and when the power plant works harder to feed your laundry machines, more and more byproducts are released into the earth’s atmosphere. Consider how much laundry you do per week, and then think about how that will spike your power bill and affect the environment!

Con: Hot Water Can Damage or Discolor Clothing

Next time you’re debating laundry water temperature, take into consideration what kind of clothing you’re washing. Hot water can cause bright colors to run and fade, and can shrink certain types of fabric.

Con: Hot Water Can Damage Delicate Fabrics

It’s often recommended to use cold water for delicate fabrics, such as anything made with lace, wool or silk. If you don’t hand-wash these items, consider running them through a cold wash instead.

How to Remove Stains From Clothes

Fresh laundry isn’t just about water temperature, of course. We’re all prone to clumsiness and stains are normal. While hot water can often kill more bacteria, cold water is often best to get out stains. Here are some tips for removing stains from your clothes and which water temperature to use:

• For coffee, wine or juice stains, dab the stain with a paper towel to get out the excess liquid, then wash in cold water.
• For most food stains, like ketchup, mustard and jelly, scrape off the excess goop, then wash in cold water.
• For blood stains, soaking the fabric in cold water then washing in cold water gets the blotch out.
• For sweat stains, wash in cold. Hot water can discolor clothing when mixed with the oil.
• For chocolate stains, soak in cold water first to cut the grease, then rub with detergent and wash in hot water.

Study the tags on your clothing and linens and decide for yourself what sort of washing machine temperatures to use with your family’s belongings. You may well end up using a mixture of hot and cold water, rather than depending on one or the other.
And if you don’t feel like folding those linens after all that washing and drying, you can count on The Maids to finish the job. Not only do our house cleaning professionals change linens, we also hand scrub hard kitchen floors, disinfect tubs and clean the windows. Give yourself a break. Call 1-800-THE-MAIDS today for a free price quote.

Pros and Cons of Washing Your Clothes in Hot Water3 min read was last modified: July 25th, 2019 by The Maids Team

Choosing to wash in cold or hot water is not just about saving money, there are several key aspects to consider when putting your load on. While hot water is best for heavily soiled items and grease stains, cold water provides an ideal temperature for delicate fabrics and the everyday loads. The label on your clothes is a good starting point to know how to wash a particular garment, but if you’re wondering why it says to wash in hot water, we bring you a guide on everything you need to know.

When to wash with cold water?

All fabrics are cleanable in cold water. One of the main benefits of using cold water includes saving money on energy bills. Hot washes require water to be heated and a standard washing machine uses a minimum of 75L of water per wash. This means each time you wash your load using hot water, there’s an additional cost to you to heat up the water, whereas cold water doesn’t require any heating.

Aside from saving money, there are certain delicate fabrics that are recommended to be washed with cold water, including:

  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Dyed clothing
  • Protein-based stains

Both silk and wool fibres aren’t as strong as synthetic fibres, so hot water can break down their structure and decrease their lifespan in the wash. In addition, any dyed clothing or linen that has been dyed a dark colour can bleed in a hot wash, so cold water is recommended to keep colour intensity. Protein-based stains also need a cold wash to help remove their discolouration.

When to wash with hot water?

Hot water washing is particularly useful in the following cases:

  • Heavily soiled items
  • Oil and grease stains
  • Whites
  • Removing germs

Choosing to use hot water for your washing primarily depends on the level of dirt on your clothes. Your ‘day-to-day’ dirt might only require a quick warm wash, while heavily soiled outdoor gear might require an intensive hot wash with extra detergent to get it completely clean.

It’s also advised to use warm water for any oil or grease stains to help lift it from the fabric. However, keep in mind that some fabrics can shrink and fade, so be sure to read your clothing label. To prevent a stain from setting, it’s recommended you first apply cold water. Pre-treatments are also a useful way to help get rid of stains on temperature-sensitive fabric like wool. According to Asko, a pre-wash soak will “give the detergent time to work its magic and absorb all the oils and grime, and then when you wash the clothing, the chemical reaction in the surfactant will already have been activated.”

In addition, if your household is battling off a cold or flu, you may benefit from a hot wash to help keep the family from being reinfected. Washing towels, bedding and face clothes in hot water helps minimise the spread of germs and the occurrence of allergy causing irritants such as dust mites.


Is it better to clean with hot or cold water?

Both hot and cold water washing can effectively remove residual dirt caught up in fabrics. The lower the temperature of the water, however, the more detergent you will need to use, as some detergents have a difficult time dissolving in temperatures below 15°C.

Should jeans be washed in cold or hot water?

Unless your jeans are heavily soiled, it’s recommended you wash them in cold water. The higher the cotton content, the more likely they are to shrink in hot water or if you put them in the dryer. It’s also suggested that you wash jeans on a gentle cycle to help keep them looking newer for longer.

Should towels be washed in cold or hot water?

Towels should be washed in warm water to help kill bacteria and potential mould. Warm water is ideal for coloured towels, while hot water is best for white towels. However, hot water can decrease the life of your towels as it can weaken fibres, fade colours and contribute to shrinkage. So, to help improve the life of your towels, you might like to put them through cold-water washes instead.

The bottom line on washing machine temperatures

Understanding what clothes and fabrics to wash in cold water and what to wash in hot water is not an easy task. To help you look after your clothes better and get the most out of your wash, it’s important that you understand how each washing machine cycle works. So, before you decide on the temperature, it’s a wise idea to consider your washing machine settings first.

Front Load Washing Machine Reviews

Stain Treatment 101: Hot or Cold Water?

You just spilled a glob of mustard on your new, white blouse. You knew that hot dog was a risky choice, but it was simply irresistible. Fret not! Your new shirt is not ruined – at least not yet.

As soon as that stain hits the fabric, the countdown is on. If the stain dries, you might as well make it your dedicated hot dog-eating smock. The most important step is to take off that shirt and get it in water as soon as possible. But not just any water. Choosing between hot and cold is the difference between stain removal and permanent stain setting.

Should I Soak the Stain In Hot or Cold Water?

Choosing between hot and cold water can be misleading. Many people assume that the color of the garment dictates water temperature. You wash whites in warm-to-hot water to blast out all of the stains, and you wash colors in cold water to keep the colors from running, right? Well, this logic does not translate to spot treatment. When it comes to stain removal, it’s all about the characteristics of the stain.

Typically, hot water works best on protein-based stains while cold water works great on food, beverages and water-based paint. Unfortunately, there’s no golden rule to stain removal. For example, most food stains should be soaked in cold water, unless it’s egg, mustard or a tomato-based product. Another tricky rule: Urine stains get cold water while sweat and vomit stains get warm-to-hot water.

Take a minute to study our cheat sheet below. Or better yet, print it out and post it in your laundry room!

Stains to Soak in Cold Water

  • Baby food/formula
  • Blood
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee and tea
  • Jelly and jam
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Paint (water-based)
  • Soft drinks
  • Soy sauce
  • Urine
  • Wine, beer and cocktails

Stains to Soak in Warm-Hot Water

  • Dirt/mud
  • Dye and marker
  • Egg
  • Grass
  • Grease
  • Oil
  • Tomato-based products
  • Lotion
  • Mustard
  • Sweat
  • Shoe polish
  • Vomit

Yes, the temperature of the water will help treat stains to the best of your ability. But when it comes to treating stains, the most important step is to get the garment in water before it has time to dry and settle. If you’re unsure what temperature the water should be, start with room temperature. Then pull out your phone and look up this cheat sheet. You can always move the garment to either cold or hot water once you figure out which temperature is right for your stain.

As your home cleaning professionals, Molly Maid is dedicated to cleaning your home or apartment and giving you the knowledge to keep it that way! And if your household has trouble with mustard and other messy spills, you could probably use an extra hand to tidy things up. Contact your local Molly Maid, a Neighborly company or call(800) 654-9647 to learn more about our flexible cleaning programs!

More than 60% of Americans still wash their laundry in warm water. It’s a practice that’s as costly as it is environmentally unfriendly. What’s more, it doesn’t make our clothes appreciably cleaner. Here’s why you should make the switch to cold water.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

Given that we all have to do it, it should come as little surprise to learn that laundry exerts a significant global footprint. Of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry, approximately 75% of it comes from warming the water itself.


There’s also the cost to consider. According to Consumer Reports, doing laundry in cold water will save you upwards of $60 per year (or more if you live in an area with higher-than-average electricity rates), assuming an average of 300 loads per year. That may not sound like much, but it’s significant when considering the pressure placed across the entire electrical grid.

Think of it this way: If every Las Vegas household switched to cold washing for an entire year, the amount of energy saved could power its famous Strip for nearly a week. If every household across the U.S. switched to cold water for an entire year, that would save the same amount of energy produced by the Hoover Dam in 20 months.

Credit: H.A.M. Phtgrphy/Flickr/CC.

As noted by Leigh Krietsch Boerner at The Sweet Home, “nless you have a really good reason for washing in warm or hot, such as really stinky clothes or cloth diapers, go for cold. It saves energy, and your clothes will last longer.”


Indeed, cold water is actually good for certain clothes. Lower temperatures protect the dyes, and therefore the color of clothes, while also helping to preserve the fit of the clothes by preventing shrinkage, particularly along the seams. What’s more, some stains, like blood, should only be washed in cold water. Warm water just makes blood stains set in.

So aside from some rare instances, there’s really no reason for you to keep washing your clothes in warm water. The Laundry Goddess offers some practical tips:

Personally, I have found that you can wash everything in cold water successfully, as long as you follow a few basic rules: Only use liquid detergent, as most powders need warm water to completely dissolve and clean successfully. Use the proper amount of detergent – too little and your wash load will not come clean, and too much will leave a soapy residue behind on your wash.


Also, do not overload the washer; be sure to leave room for items to move around in the water.

Substituting for Warmth

Now all this said, warm water does play an important role in helping to make your clothes clean. Well, provided you use high performance detergents and washing machines — and provided you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Using too much or too little detergent can result in sub-optimal performance, as can using the detergent at the wrong temperature. Using a standard warm-water detergent in cold water, for example, may not get you the results you want. So, unless you opt for a specifically cold water detergent, you may not notice that the warm water is cleaning better. But the fact of the matter is that you can get just as clean with cold.


Laundry involves a number of chemical reactions — reactions that go faster at higher temperatures. So, along with chemicals and mechanical energy, the thermal energy produced by warm water helps to get rid of stains, dirt, and residue on our clothing. Until very recently, most detergents were designed with this in mind. Owing to a demand for more environmentally friendly solutions, detergent manufacturers have now found ways to create detergents that work remarkably well in cold water. But to do so, they had to get around some very tricky chemical constraints.

One of the biggest challenges to developing detergents that work in cold water, or regular “tap water,” is that tap water temperatures are inconsistent across geographical locations and seasons. For example, “cold” water in Florida during the summer months is ~80 degrees F, while “cold” water in Minnesota during the winter months can dip as low as ~40 degrees F. Consequently, cold water detergents need to work effectively across a surprisingly large spectrum of temperatures.


To complicate things even further, surfactants — the so-called “work-horse” of detergents — don’t perform as well in cold water. These chemicals, which comprise upwards of 30 to 40% of the weight of detergents, lift and removesstains. They involve a class of chemicals known as linear alkylbenzonesulfates — long chains of a chemical called a dodecane.


Credit: FluffLoveUniversity.

Writing in C|Net, Richard Baguley and Colin McDonald explain how surfactants work:

readily forms long chain molecules, quite similar to petrochemicals like oil. Attached to this is a benzene ring, with a sulfate molecule attached. These two parts fundamentally disagree about something: how they feel about water. The dodecyl chain hates it, doing all it can to get away from it. The benzosulfate bit, however, loves water and wants to get close to it. Chemists call these properties hydrophobic (water-hating) and hydrophilic (water-loving), and this conflicting nature is what makes detergents so powerful. Dodecyl chains hate water, but like each other, and also like other chemicals like fats, sugars, proteins and others. In other words: all of the things on your clothes that you want to get off. Dodecyl chains also like each other: give them a chance, and they will gather together and complain about how much they hate water.


It’s this tension that works to clean our clothes; the hydrophilic part mixes with the wash water while the hydrophobic part of the molecule lifts up and absorbs stains and dirt so they can be rinsed away. Surfactants work the same way when exposed to different temperatures, but as Mary Johnson, Fabric Care Principal Scientist for Tide and Downy, told me, surfactants “can become super-sluggish in colder water temperatures – leading to stained and dingy clothes.”

To get around this problem, Procter & Gamble chemists — who get the credit for developing this innovation — created a specially formulated surfactant system, which can be found in Tide Cold Water Clean and Tide PODS. Their system overcomes these limitations in three ways. Here’s how she explained it to me over email:

1. We use a variety of different surfactant types and within each type we use a variety of chain lengths. This makes the surfactant system super-fast and super-responsive across a broad range of temperatures — even in temperatures as cold as 40 degrees F.

2. We also use polymers – long chain molecules – at high concentrations that act as cleaning boosters to help remove more stains – even greasy stains in cold water.

3. We use enzymes to help break up stains which can then be lifted away by the surfactants.


Indeed, enzymes are another important component of modern laundry detergents. Enzymes, which are comprised of biological components, break down stains that are otherwise hard to remove with conventional surfactants alone. Fascinatingly, P&G uses enzymes that were inspired by the evolved systems of organisms found in cold ocean water — systems that don’t get sluggish when exposed to cold water.


Cellulase 1JS4, a common enzyme found in detergents Credit: Pratulka/cc.

“In addition to using a wide variety of surfactants while adding polymers and enzymes – we also increased the amounts of these ingredients to… clean in even the coldest wash temperatures,” added, Johnson, who says Tide’s Cold Water Clean works better in cold water than its base Tide liquid product.


In addition to the products already listed, other cold water detergents include Arm & Hammer Cold Water, and Purex Coldwater. Encouragingly, washing machine manufacturers are getting involved as well; Whirlpool’s Maytag Bravos XL is a washer designed to work with cold-water detergents.

But as noted, you may not need to resort to these specialized products in most instances. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start cleaning your clothes in cold water.


Sources: New York Times | Consumer Reports | CNet | Dr. Chemical (2)| BBC

Contact the author at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter


When to Use Hot water

Hot water is the most powerful for cleaning and helps deodorize and disinfect (when used with the proper washing products). Does hot water shrink polyester? Aggressive on textiles, hot water should only be used on heavily soiled or odorous items made from strong fiber like linen, cotton, and durable synthetics such as polyester. When these items are only moderately or mildly soiled, use warm water. When it comes to water temperature, err on the side of caution (the colder the safer) and default to a gentler treatment.

Does hot or cold water shrink clothes? Does cotton shrink in hot water? How do you prevent cotton from shrinking? These are common questions we get from our followers and fans- that’s why we created the Understanding Water Temperature guide to help you understand when to use hot, warm, cold and cool water.

Does warm water shrink clothes?
Both hot and warm water can cause certain items to shrink. Warm water will shrink them more gradually over multiple washes. Use cooler water to be safe and conserve energy.

Does hot water cause shrinkage?
Both hot and warm water can cause certain items to shrink. However, hot water shrinks items to their maximum shrinkage capacity after one wash, whereas warm water will shrink them more gradually over multiple washes.

Does cotton shrink in hot water? Does warm water shrink cotton?
Cotton, linen and durable synthetics can be washed in hot water, but it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to water temperature (the colder the water, the safer). Cotton, linen and durable synthetics can be washed in hot water, but it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to water temperature (the colder the water, the safer). Wash cotton with the Signature Detergent on the normal cycle with hot water to get the deepest clean. To avoid shrinking your cotton items, alternate cold or warm washes with hot washes.

There’s nothing like putting on a new item of clothing only to spill something on it right after. Or, that proud feeling of showing off a brand new rug only for a beloved pet to make their mark on it. But fret not — where there’s a will to get a stain out, there’s a way.

Stain removal experts Patric Richardson, owner of Mona Williams, also known as The Laundry Evangelist, and Mary Marlowe Leverette, laundry and housekeeping expert at The Spruce, were kind enough to share a few tips on how to get the toughest stains out of your clothing, and various surfaces, too.

How to remove wine stains


Leverette recommends “flushing” the stain by holding the fabric wrong side up under running cold-water to force the stain out — contrary to advice, club soda doesn’t work any better than plain water, she says. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water (or use a product with those ingredients) and soak the entire garment for at least one hour. “Four hours are better, overnight is best,” she says. Check the stains and wash as usual.

Rugs and upholstery

Richardson says to dab a solution of water and bleach alternative on the stain and follow up by dabbing it with a towel of clear hot water. Then, use a clean towel blot up the wet area. “If your carpet is white or a light color, it will appear bleached but If you leave it for a few weeks the color will even out once again,” he says.

Leverette says to bear in mind that hydrogen peroxide can bleach out the color of darker carpets and upholstery.

Granite or marble countertops

Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste the consistency of peanut butter. Spread the mixture about one-fourth inch thick over the stain and cover with plastic wrap. Tape down the edges of the plastic wrap to hold it in place. Allow the mixture to remain on the stain for 24 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and allow the mixture to dry completely, then wipe away. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone. After cleaning, the stained area will need to be resealed to prevent further staining.

How to remove ink stains

Leverette recommends dipping a cotton swab in clear rubbing alcohol and gently lifting the stain from the outside edge toward the center, swapping swabs as soon as each absorbs the ink. She warns permanent ink (as in Sharpies) are permanent.

Use the same techniques. When stain is removed, blot the area with plain water and allow to air dry.


Again — same as above. Rinse with plain water and do not allow the alcohol to dry on the stone.

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March 16, 201700:35

How to remove grease stains

Richardson says it can be “very frustrating” to get grease stains out of clothing — but there is a simple trick. “Use a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water on the stain. Apply liberally and then treat with laundry soap and water. “DO NOT put the garment in the dryer until you have seen that the stain is gone,” he warns.

Richardson advises dabbing grease stains with laundry soap and rinsing with water. Follow up by dabbing a little white vinegar on the spot if the stain still shows.

How to remove pet urine stains and smells

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Leverette says washing the item with a heavy-duty detergent in the hottest water recommended for the fabric should do the trick. “Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water to help with odor removal. If the stain is old and the odor is strong, mix a solution of cool water and add two cups white distilled vinegar. Completely submerge the fabric and allow it to soak overnight,” she says. Wash as recommended above. Line drying the items outside will also help get rid of the odors.

As soon as possible, soak up urine stains with white paper towels, an old cloth, or a wet/dry shop vacuum, says Leverette. If using a cloth, press it firmly into the stain using an old shoe and keep moving to a dry area or new paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. Commercial pet stain removers work fine but you can easily make your own by mixing one-part distilled white vinegar and one-part cool water and pouring it into a spray bottle, she says. Be sure to completely saturate the carpet all the way to the backing. Use a soft-bristle brush to work it deep into the fibers, and blot the solution away using paper towels or a shop vacuum, allowing the stain to air dry.

When the carpet is dry, sprinkle the area with baking soda. Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. “This should be mixed fresh each time because hydrogen peroxide turns to pure water after exposure to light,” Leverette explains. Spray or pour this solution onto the baking soda and use a soft bristle brush to work it into the carpet. Blot or vacuum away the moisture, allowing the carpet to air dry away from direct heat. When the carpet is dry, vacuum to lift the fibers.

How to remove grass stains

Leverette recommends treating grass stains with a stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent (Tide and Persil contain the needed enzymes to remove the stains). “Work the stain remover into the fabric with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Set aside for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. If the stains remain or are older, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water and allow the garment to soak overnight, then wash,” she says.

How to remove coffee stains

Richardson says the easiest way to remove coffee stains is to run hot water directly through the stain. “If the stain sets, spot treat it with a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water, then use a brush and a little laundry soap to remove the vinegar.

Leverette recommends blotting the stain and mixing a solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing detergent in two cups of warm water. Dip a clean white cloth, sponge, or soft bristle brush in the solution. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep it from spreading, work the cleaning solution into the stain. Blot with a dry cloth to absorb the solution. “Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. Finish by dipping a clean cloth in plain water to rinse the spot. This is especially important because any soapy residue left in the carpet will actually attract more soil,” she explains. Allow the stain to air dry away from direct heat, then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. “It will solve almost all tough stains,” says Leverette, who advises against using acidic cleaners like vinegar or lemon juice, which can etch the stone.

How to remove mud stains

Richardson says the easiest way to remove mud from your clothes is to use laundry soap and a brush directly on the fabric. “Wet the area and then rub the stain with soap and a brush — repeat twice if the stain is really set,” he says.

Richardson says to wet the stain generously with water, use laundry soap and a brush to remove the mud, then spray vinegar and water on the area to dissolve the soap. Finally, blot with a clean dry towel.

All you need is baking soda and vinegar for these common chores

May 3, 201903:34

How to remove blood stains

Leverette says to flush the stained area with cold (never hot) water as soon as possible. “Hot water will cook the protein in the blood, making it more difficult to remove from the fabric,” she explains. Treat the stain with stain remover or a bit of liquid heavy-duty laundry detergent, working it into the fibers with a soft-bristled brush. Set aside for 15 minutes and then wash as usual in cool water. “If the stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and water and submerge the entire garment, allowing it to soak at least four hours,” she says. Repeat if needed and wash as usual.

Blot up as much moisture as possible with a white paper towel, says Leverette. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel as the blood is absorbed to prevent making the stain larger. If the stain has dried, use a soft bristled brush to loosen the dried blood and vacuum away before treating.

Mix one teaspoon of liquid hand dish washing detergent in two cups of cold water. Dip a white cloth or the brush in this solution and work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Blot or lightly scrub the stain and blot with a dry paper towel to absorb the moisture. When the stain is gone, dip a clean white cloth in plain cold water and rinse the area to remove all cleaning solution. Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the fibers.

If this method doesn’t work, Leverette says to mix one tablespoon household ammonia with 1/2 cup water. Apply to the stain and let it sit on the carpet for at least 10 minutes. Blot away and rinse with plain water and repeat until the stain is removed.

So go ahead — get dirty without fear. At least now you know how to clean it all up.


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The best stain remover can sometimes be found right in your home, so check out these tips for stains and stain removal. Whether it’s oil or grease, ink, blood, food, wax, mildew, grass, or lipstick—we’ve got you covered!

How to Remove Oil or Grease

  • Scrub a grease stain with a lather of laundry detergent and water. Distilled water works best for this since “soft” water cuts grease better than water having a high mineral content.

How to Remove Ink from Clothing

  • Put a piece of scrap fabric beneath the stained spot to blot any ink that may come through. Then spray the stain evenly with aerosol hair spray from four to six inches away. Blot the surface of the stained article after spraying. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times. Finally, give the garment a regular laundering.

  • Hairspray will also work to remove ballpoint ink stains from leather. Saturate the stain, let the spray dry and then brush lightly with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.

  • Another approach to removing ballpoint ink stains from leather is to coat them with petroleum jelly. You may need to leave the jelly on the stain for several days before wiping it off.

Blood Stains

  • If stain is fresh and still wet, immediate sponge with cold water and soak for 30 minutes in cold water. Rub liquid detergent into area, rinse.

  • If stain remains, or blood stain is older, soak in a solution of 2 tablespoons of ammonia per 1 gallon of cold water. Wash in cold water and dishwashing liquid to remove an vestiges of the stain left after the ammonia treatment. Repeat detergent treatment.

  • If the bloodstain is on a large article, such as a blanket, that you don’t want to soak completely, make a paste of cornstarch and water and slather it dry, brush it off, and keep repeating until the stain disappears.

  • Machine-wash the fabric using an enzyme detergent (most standard laundry soaps are enzyme-based), which breaks down protein stains. Make sure the blood has lifted before putting fabric in the dryer, as the heat will set the stain.

Food and Drink Stains

  • For fruit, berries, and juices: sponge immediately with cool water. If safe for fabric, pour boiling water through stain. Work detergent into stain; rinse.

  • For alcoholic and soft drinks, sponge in cool water and glycerine. Soak 30 minutes. Sponge with alcohol if safe for fabric.

  • For chocolate, scrub the stained area immediately with ammonia, then wash as you normally would.

  • For nonchocolate candy, vegetables, and catsup: Sponge stain with cold water. Soak for 30 minutes.

  • For egg stains, scrape off the excess with a dull knife, then soak the stain in cold water. Launder as you usually would. If the article requires dry cleaning, sponge the stain with cold water and take it to the dry cleaner right away.

  • Fresh coffee and tea call for the “hot waterfall” approach. First, stretch the stained part of the fabric over a bowl, as if you were putting a head on a drum, and secure it with a rubber band. Then pour boiling water over the stain from a height of two to three feet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Wash the article as you normally would, using a small amount of bleach if the fabric can tolerate it. The “hot waterfall” also works to loosen fruit and berry stains. It works with red wine if you first sprinkle a little salt on the stain. For more tips on how to remove red wine stains, check out this list of money-saving tips for the kitchen.

  • After a wine spill, blot up as much of the wine as you can, then rinse with cool water or club soda. Sprinkle a little salt on the stain, and create a paste of salt and water. Then, if the fabric will stand it, pour boiling water through the stain with the cloth stretched over a bowl or bathtub. For tough stains, try blotting the stains with one of the following: ⅓ cup vinegar in ⅔ cup water; 2 tablespoons ammonia in 1 cup water; or alcohol, either straight or mixed with an equal amount of water. Rinse well and then launder as usual. In some cases, you may have to use an enzyme detergent to remove wine stains.

  • If spilled beer has dried onto clothing or tablecloths, mix a solution of equal parts vinegar and dish washing liquid, then sponge it onto the stain. Rinse with warm water and launder as usual.

Wax Stains from Candles

  • Small spots of hardened candle wax can be removed from tablecloths by rubbing with a generous dollop of vegetable oil. Wipe off any excess oil, then launder as usual.

  • Another way to remove small amounts of wax hardened onto a tablecloth is to spread the affected area over a large bowl and secure it with rubber bands, then pour boiling water over the wax to melt it. Follow up by washing the tablecloth as usual.

  • For larger wax deposits on tablecloths, first scrape off the excess with a dull knife, then place the stained area between two paper towels and press with an iron on a low setting. Replace the paper towels as the wax is absorbed into them, then launder when the paper no longer absorbs wax. (If the fabric is one that’s especially sensitive to heat, avoid burning it by holding the iron a couple of inches above the towels. You will still get enough heat to melt the wax.)

Mildew Stains

  • To get rid of the black and gray stains caused by mildew, try moistening the stained area with lemon juice and salt, then drying the fabric in the sun. If this doesn’t work, sponge the stain with hydrogen peroxide and sun-dry it.

  • If you have a leather item stained with the powdery traces of surface mildew, wipe the affected area with a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water. When the leather is dry, treat it with a conditioner such as caster oil.

Remove Grass Stains

  • To help remove grass stains from garments, work liquid laundry detergent into the stained area, rinse, then launder as usual.

  • Saturate grass stains on cotton with rubbing alcohol, let stand for 10 minutes, and launder as usual.

Lipstick Stains

  • Rub peanut butter on the lipstick stained area. Before the peanut butter dries, wash the fabric with warm water and dish washing liquid. This is hardly peanut butter’s only odd use—check out this article on uncommon household uses of peanut butter for more tips.

  • Use vegetable oil, shortening, or petroleum jelly. Cover the stain with the oil, let it sit for five to ten minutes, and then wash with warm, soapy water. Make sure to remove all the oil, or you’ll have a different stain to deal with.

Fingernail Polish

  • Fingernail polish is easy to remove. Yep, just sponge with nail-polish remover. Rinse.

For more tips on other common stains and how to remove them, check out this blog post.

Chances are, at some point in your life you’ll get blood on your clothing or sheets (hopefully from minor normal bodily happenings like a nosebleed and not something more serious or criminal). Here are some tips for removing those obstinate stains, whatever their cause.

Cold vs. Warm Water

As common as blood stains are, you may get conflicting advice about how to remove them. The BBC strongly recommends not using hot water to remove a blood stain because it could make the stain set in; instead soak the fabric in a quart of cold water with two tablespoons of table salt or ammonia.


Other sources, like How Stuff Works, say for stubborn stains to soak fabrics in a quart of warm water with a half-teaspoon of dishwashing soap plus one tablespoon of ammonia.

The difference may be in how soon you can get to cleaning the stain. Obviously you’ll want to rinse and remove the stain as soon as possible: sponge or blot it with a clean cloth dipped in salt water solution and rinse with cold water before the stain has set. (The longer you can rinse or soak in cold water, the better.)

Blood Stain Removers

Meat tenderizer, probably because it breaks down proteins, might be an effective blood stain remover: BBC recommends you make a paste of it with cold water, work it into the stain and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing.


Hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and enzyme soap are also commonly recommended blood-stain-removing agents. Real Simple has a guide for removing blood stains that combines all of these ingredients, from the cold water soak and hydrogen peroxide treatment to machine washing the stains off with an enzyme-based laundry detergent. Make sure, however, that you test dyed fabrics for color fastness before applying hydrogen peroxide (it’s safe for all fibers but acts like bleach).

There are other less conventional recommendations for removing blood stains, like using saliva on blood stains on silk fabrics. If you have any tried-and-true methods for making blood stains disappear, let us know in the comments. Photo by Alice Carrier.


Crash Course is a twice-weekly series of guides to life skills everyone should know but you may have been afraid to ask. Do you have an everyday problem you wish someone had taught you to solve? Let us know at [email protected]

You can follow or contact Melanie Pinola, the author of this post, on Twitter.


In an interview with ABC, Choice whitegoods expert Ashleigh Iredale said that thanks to advancements in washing machine technology, and enzyme-based detergents, the difference between a hot and cold was is minimal.

“You do get a slight performance improvement washing in warm water, but we’ve found it’s not worth the extra energy cost. If you have solar hot water or electricity then washing in hot water is free, but it might not be great for all your clothes,” he said.


How to get a good wash at any temperature

  • Use a high-quality laundry detergent
  • Clean your washing machine regularly if you always use a cold wash
  • Run a hot water cycle every now and then to remove detergent residue and mould
  • If members of the family are sick, it’s better to use a ‘hygiene wash’ setting on your machine with warm water
  • Cold water will reduce clothes fading in colour

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How to remove tough stains

Looking for laundry makeover inspiration? Watch the video below.