By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
They say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” But you don’t have to be an omnipotent deity to get your goods spic and span and wipe out some of the toughest stains on prized surfaces. All it takes is the right combination of elbow grease, appropriate cleaning materials, and good timing.
The last part is particularly crucial. That’s because the longer you wait to tackle a tough stain, the harder it will be to eradicate or even slightly hide.
“Timing is very important. Removing stains quickly is paramount in almost all cases since stains can seep into surfaces the longer, they sit. It’s best to start the stain removal process as soon as a spill or accident happens,” says Ryan Knoll, owner of Tidy Casa, a home cleaning company based in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.
Clothes are among the items that attract stains the most, particularly food and beverage-related blemishes. Here, the advice varies a bit, depending on the type of clothing.
“For most clothing stains, it’s essential to identify the type of stain first,” says experienced residential and commercial cleaning specialist Prerna Jain, owner/founder of Ministry of Cleaning. “I recommend pretreating the stain with a suitable stain remover or a mixture of detergent and water. Gently rub the fabric together or use a soft brush. Then, wash the clothing according to the garment’s care instructions.”
Knoll prefers using a mixture of white vinegar, dish soap, and water to get rid of food stains, sweat stains, and even grass stains on clothes.
“As always, test this mixture on a hidden area of the garment first,” he cautions.
When it comes to bedding or linens, a baking soda and water paste mixture is great for sweat and body oil stains, “but allow it to seep in for a few hours before washing the clothing,” says Knoll.
Jain prefers to pre-treat linen/bedding stains with a stain remover or a combination of detergent and water. Let this sit for a few minutes before laundering the item; use the hottest water temperature allowed for the fabric for best results.
“Before attempting to remove stains from furniture, check the manufacturer’s guidelines,” continues Jain. “For upholstery, use a fabric-specific stain remover or a mild soap mixed with water solution. Blot the stain gently with a clean cloth or sponge, starting from the outer edges and working your way inward. Avoid rubbing vigorously, as it can damage the fabric. Lastly, dry the area thoroughly.”
Coffee and wine stains on upholstered furnishings are best treated via a combination of dish soap, vinegar, and water applied with a microfiber cloth.
Got a nasty spot or stained area on your rug or carpet? Here’s a little-known secret: Apply shaving foam to the area, which can be especially effective on stains caused by pets, spilled drinks and grease.
“Squirt the foam onto the stain, rub it in with a towel, let it sit and then scrub it dry,” Knoll suggests.
Jain’s approach is a bit different but equally effective, she insists.
“Blot the carpet or rug stain immediately with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. Then, apply a carpet stain remover with a mixture of vinegar and water. Blot the stain gently, rinse with clean water and repeat if necessary. But for stubborn stains, consider a professional carpet cleaning,” she says.
Special care must be taken to remove fabric stains caused by wine, coffee, tea and grass, as these are acidic-sourced.
“I suggest using a tannin remover, which breaks down and lifts tannin stains from carpets, fabrics, upholstery and other surfaces and contains ingredients that help dissolve the tannins and release them from the material,” says Rick Rome, CEO and founder of WashClub, an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service. “Use the tannin remover to spot-treat the stained surface, applying the product directly to the stain. While the fabric is still wet, place it in a warm water wash cycle, using detergent and bleach as appropriate. The warm water will cause the stain to lose its adhesion to the microfibers in the fabric, making it easier to clean.”
If your blemish comes from artificial food coloring like a popsicle, immediately soak the material in cold water and laundry detergent for at least half an hour, Rome advises. Then, use a soft brush to scrub stain remover over the stain. Let the garment settle and repeat these steps as needed.
In general, a baking soda and water paste can lift stubborn stains from other services, such as soaps, or mildew on tiles and countertops. For delicate surfaces like wood, “a mild dish soap solution works best on grease and general dirt stains,” says Knoll.