Refer to this handy list for solutions to common stains and spills…
Beetroot – Act as soon as you notice the infamous purple stain on your clothes. First dab the stain with a dry cloth to remove any excess liquid. Soak a clean sponge in cold water. Hold it on the stain then blot with a dry cloth and repeat. For stubborn stains, you may need to mix one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups of warm water – then try the sponging and blotting technique.
Blood – Create a paste with salt and cold water. Rub the paste directly onto the stain (ideally within 10 minutes of the stain occurring). Rinse with cold water and repeat as necessary.
Chewing gum – Take the item of clothing and place it in a freezer bag, making sure that the gum doesn’t stick to the bag. Leave the bag in the freezer for a minimum of two hours then peel the gum off the clothing as soon as possible to prevent the chewing gum from warming up and reattaching to the fabric. The chewing gum should peel off easily without any force. If traces of gum remain, hand-wash the item or place it in the washing machine for a final rinse.
Chocolate – Scrape off as much of the excess chocolate as you can, taking care not to push the stain deeper into the fabric. Next, flush out as much chocolate as you can with cold running water from the back of the stain. Soak in a solution of detergent and water for at least 30 minutes before washing as per usual.
Coffee – For fresh stains, first try running cold water through the back of the stain. If that doesn’t work, rub liquid laundry detergent and a little cold water into the coffee stain. Wash as per usual.
Grass – Sometimes all you need is a good laundry detergent and nothing else to lift a grass stain. Simply rub the stain with a small amount of detergent, as this pre-treatment will help to loosen the stain. Then wash as normal.
Grease – Lay the fabric on a flat surface and liberally sprinkle corn starch over the stain. Let that soak in for at least 30 minutes or even longer (an hour is better). Next, rub dish soap into the stain (use a nail brush if you want to get into the fibres). Finally, wash as per usual.
Lipstick – Carefully scrape off any excess lipstick with a blunt knife or dull edge. Apply a pre-wash stain remover or small amount of liquid detergent directly to the stain. Spray the remover on both sides of the lipstick stain before rinsing in warm water, making sure not to rub as this can cause further spread; blot or dab the stain instead. Wash as per usual once the stain has been removed.
Oil – Blot the excess away with a paper towel. Cover the stain with baby powder then remove it with a spoon. Work some liquid soap into the stain with your thumb. Rub the stain with an old toothbrush on both sides of the fabric. Wash the garment separately and leave it to dry.
Red wine – Dab at (don’t rub) the stain with a damp cotton cloth to absorb any excess wine. Pull the fabric taut over a bowl, with the stain in the centre of the bowl. Sprinkle the stain with salt then run boiling water over it. Machine wash.
Shoe polish – Remove as much excess shoe polish as possible, being careful not to spread it around further. Apply liquid laundry detergent to the stained area and try to blot (not rub) it out. Let the cloth soak in a solution of cold water and liquid laundry detergent for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the stain is gone before ironing or you may set it.
Sweat – For yellowish armpit stains, make a paste with baking soda and water and spread it over the stained area. Allow it to set until it dries. Wash as per normal.
Tomato sauce – Remove as much of the excess sauce as possible from the fabric using a spoon or the back of a butter knife. Then run cold water through the back of the stain. Rub a liquid laundry detergent into the stain and work it into the fabric in a circular motion, beginning on the outside of the stain and working your way in (this will minimise spreading the stain). Repeat until the stain disappears. Hold the stain up to the light to make sure all of the sauce is gone. Wash normally.
Tea – Rinse the stain thoroughly from the back of the clothing with cold water. Use a liquid detergent and rub gently into the tea stain. Allow the detergent to stand on the tea stain for at least five minutes. If the stain is old or dry, rub the tea stain with detergent and allow to soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse the clothing thoroughly. If traces of tea remain, rub liquid laundry detergent into the stain and soak in warm water for 10-15 minutes. You can also try applying a thick layer of baking soda directly onto the stain while the tea is still wet. The powder will absorb the tea, pulling the brown colour out of the fabric and into the powder. Leave it overnight and then scrape the powder off. Most of the stain should be removed, and then you can try washing as per usual.
Wax – First scrape off the excess with a dull knife, then place the stained area between two sheets of brown paper and press with an iron on a low setting.