Stain Removal From Washable Fabrics

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Sharon Stevens
Department of Textile and Apparel Management

The procedures described are appropriate for removing stains from washable fabric. Check the care label for recommended laundering procedures, and follow those instructions. If instructions state that the garment is to be washed, it cannot be assumed that dry cleaning is also safe.

Stain index from A to Z

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

[ A ]

[ B ]

[ C ]

[ D ]

[ E ]

[ F ]

[ G ]

[ H ]

[ I ]

[ J ]

[ K ]

[ L ]

[ M ]

[ N ]

[ O ]

[ P ]

[ R ]

[ S ]

[ T ]

[ U ]

[ V ]

[ W ]

[ Y ]

Stain removal tips

  • Blot liquid stains immediately.
  • Test stain-removal product on seam allowance or hidden part of garment. If color is affected, do not use that product.
  • Allow all dry cleaning solvents to completely evaporate before washing. Rinse out stain remover products before washing. Always use in well-ventilated room. Follow manufacturer's instructions when available.
  • Work from back. Place stained side of fabric down. Work on absorbent surface such as clean white paper towels. Change towels often to avoid restaining.
  • Treat stains promptly. Fresh stains are more easily removed.
  • Read garment care label. Take non-washable items to dry cleaner. Take suede, leather or fur to dry cleaner. Point out and identify the stain.
  • Avoid excessive rubbing which may damage the fibers or finish, remove the color or spread the stain.
  • Do not use colored towels or cloths that may leave a dye stain. Avoid using linty cloths or paper.
  • Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach on silk, wool or spandex fibers. Do not use on urethane fabrics or polyurethane foam.
  • For fabrics made from a fiber blend, use stain removal method appropriate for most sensitive fiber.
  • Do not iron stained fabrics. Heat may set stain.
  • Line dry during stain removal process. Do not put item in dryer until stain is completely removed.
  • Follow stain removal procedures until the stain is removed. Then launder the item according to label instructions. Do not dry in dryer until you are sure the stain is removed.
  • Always launder items after treating to remove residues of both the stain and the stain remover.


  • Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service. Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal. Ames, Iowa, 1986.
  • Johnson Wax. Form ED2-11. Laundry Products. Shout. 1989.
  • Maytag. Stain Removal Guide Form number 19 YG1087
  • North Central Regional Cooperative Extension. Stain Removal for Washable Fabrics. Publication 64. Extension Services of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, 1979.
  • Proctor and Gamble Educational Services. The How to Clean Handbook, 1986.
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension. FACTS: A General Guide to Stain Removal. West Lafayette, Indiana, 1979.
  • Soap and Detergent Association. Laundering Problems — Causes, Solutions, Preventive Measures, n.d.
  • Soap and Detergent Association. Removing Stains from Washable Items, n.d.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. Removing Stains from Fabrics. Home and Garden Bulletin number 62. Washington, D.C., 1976.
  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Recommended Procedure for Removing Liquid Paper Correction Fluid From Clothing, n.d.

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