Stains happen, and let's face it we aren't always equipped to deal with them. The best "tool" is knowing how to treat different types of stains. Some respond better to cold water, others to hot. Some need bleach alternative, others need nothing but a rinse.
Always check the care label first and pretest stain removal products. If the item is dry clean only, blot the excess stain and take to the cleaners within 24-48 hours of the stain.
Grease or Oil from Cars, Makeup and Food (including Butter and Mayonnaise), Collar/Cuff Soil, Deodorant/Perspiration, Gasoline
Soak fresh stains in cold water. Rub fabric against itself to dislodge stain. If stains are old, scrape off crusted material and soak in cold water with detergent. Launder in warm water with detergent. Do not use hot water to soak or wash items with protein stains (hot water may set these types of stains).
Baby Food/Formula, Body Soils (Feces, Urine, Vomit/Spit-Up), Blood, Dairy, Dirt/Clay/Mud, Egg, gelatin dessert
Pretreat with detergent. Make sure to work detergent into stain and let set for 10-15 minutes. Then wash in hottest water safe for fabric.
Avoid perspiration stains by applying deodorant twice daily (once in the morning and again before bed) to provide extra protection against wetness.
Beer, Coffee, Tea, Soft Drinks, Fruit & Juice (including Red Berries), Perfume, Wine
First rinse in cool water. Then wash fresh stains in hottest water safe for fabric with your favorite detergent. Use detergent with bleach or bleach alternative for old stains. Do not use bar soap on tannin stains — it makes them harder to remove.
Dye Transfer, Fruit (Blueberry & Cherry), Grass, Kool-Aid®, Mustard
Pretreat with detergent and rinse thoroughly. Soak in diluted solution of water and use detergent with bleach or bleach alternative. Then wash in the hottest water safe for fabric.
Ballpoint Ink, Candle Wax, Chewing Gum, Crayon, Lipstick, Shoe Polish, Chocolate, Gravy, Ketchup, BBQ and Tomato-Based Sauces
These stains generally involve two components: oil/wax and dye/pigment. Remove the oily portion first and then the dye portion.
For stains that are waxy and/or ink-based, scrape and treat with dry-cleaning solution first, then rub with detergent and scrub stain under hot water. For most other combination stains, rub detergent into stain, then wash in the hottest water possible for fabric with detergent with bleach or bleach alternative.
For candle wax on a tablecloth, try this technique. First, physically remove the stain by scraping it with a dull knife, then shake off the residue. Place the tablecloth down on a white paper towel and place another paper towel on top of it. Press with a warm — but not hot — iron, being careful to keep the iron on the paper towel. Keep changing the paper towels as needed until no more stain transfers. Finally, pretreat using detergent, then wash in warm water.
Another option is the StainCare™ option from LG, which uses multiple temperatures to remove a variety of stains within a single wash.
As always, before treating any garment, first refer to the instructions on the care label.