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Stain, Stain Go Away: The
Ultimate Stain Removal Guide

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February 25, 2024

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Stain removal is a big part of house cleaning chores; there’s no way around it. Whether you have kids, dogs, guests, or all three, a few spills are part of life. Rather than spend loads of money on commercial stain removers, you can usually use everyday household items to get the job done. Let’s learn how to clean stains using proven, field-test solutions.

Stain Removal 101

Removing stains effectively means more than knowing the type of stain—it means understanding the fabric or material involved. The best place to start with stained clothing is with the manufacturer’s care label. The cleaning tag has symbols that tell you what you can and can’t use to clean the fabric. Upholstered furniture is often tagged with a cleaning code, so check the label first.

Stain Removal Essentials

Here’s a list of essentials that you can easily find around your home:

  • White paper towels or cloths for blotting stains
  • Microfiber cloths to dampen fabric and wipe off cleaning residue
  • Cotton swabs for spot-testing stain removal solutions
  • Old toothbrush
  • Hairspray
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Baking soda or cornstarch
  • Enzyme laundry pretreat

Before you jump in, remember the basics of cleaning stains: understand your stain, the fabric you’re working on, and the perfect stain-fighting weapon for the job.

Your Strategy for Removing Stains

While it may seem like you’re fighting an endless number of stain culprits, there are only three categories: oil-based stains like butter and fried foods, protein-based stains like eggs and blood, and pigment-based stains like wine and ink. Here’s how to remove stains successfully!

  • Take action on stains as soon as you find them.
  • Blot or dab stains from the edges inward to prevent stains from spreading.
  • Go easy with the water when working on upholstery, but ensure the fabric is damp.
  • Check the care label of the upholstery or clothing to see what you’ll need to use.
  • Use the safest and mildest stain-removing solutions before resorting to more firepower. Spot check for color-fastness using a cotton swab and the stain remover.
  • Be patient and work slowly and methodically.

Now that you’re ready, here’s your stain removal breakdown for the most common stains.

How to Tackle Stains

You can’t remove the different types of stains on clothing, upholstery, and carpets with the same approach. Good old soap and water should be your first choice for most stains, but some can be tricky. Before you grab a commercial stain remover, learn how to get rid of stains with less expensive and safer solutions.

Click on the stain type to be taken directly to the cleaning tips.

Removing stains safely from Items you can’t throw in the washer requires a different approach. Check out our guides for mattresses, carpets, and upholstery stains for proven stain-fighting tips.

How to Remove Blood Stains

  • Blot excess blood, soak or rinse with cold water, and scrub gently with liquid dish soap.
  • Use an enzyme stain remover for old stains by soaking the stain for 30 minutes and then scrubbing.
  • Try hydrogen peroxide if the stain is still visible, then rinse with cold water.


How to Remove Pet Urine Stains

  • Wash clothing with urine stains to remove most of the stain.
  • Scrub the fabric with half water and half vinegar solution if you can still see the stain.
  • Rinse the fabric with cold water.
  • Remove any lingering urine odors with these proven solutions.


How to Remove Chocolate Stains

    • Allow the chocolate to harden, then gently scrape off as much as possible.
    • Apply a drop of liquid laundry detergent and scrub gently.
    • Launder the stained clothing or use a damp cloth to remove the soap residue.


How to Remove Coffee & Tea Stains

  • Pour cold water on the stain if it’s on clothes, and use a damp cloth for upholstery.
  • Add a drop of liquid laundry detergent, rub it in, and let it sit for five minutes.
  • Use rubbing alcohol if the stain is still visible.
  • With a damp cloth, remove the cleaning residue.


How to Remove Fruit Juice Stains

  • Blot the stain to remove excess liquid, then rinse with cold water.
  • Rub the stain with a cut lemon or lemon juice and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse with cool water and let it air dry.


How to Remove Grass Stains

  • Dampen the stain with rubbing alcohol and let it sit for 20 minutes
  • Rub a few drops of liquid dish soap into the stain.
  • Wipe the soapy residue off with a damp cloth. 


How to Remove Grease Stains

  • Remove excess grease using paper towels.
  • Use two drops of liquid dish soap and an old toothbrush to scrub the stain
  • Rinse upholstery with a damp cloth to remove all the detergent or wash the stained clothing
  • Repeat if the stain persists.


How to Remove Hair Dye and Ink Stains

  • Spray hairspray on the stain and allow it to break down the pigment for a few minutes.
  • Blot the stain with paper towels to soak up the dissolving ink
  • Use a couple of drops of laundry detergent and scrub the stain with a toothbrush.
  • Rinse thoroughly or launder immediately.


How to Remove Tomato-Based Stains

  • Remove any excess sauce, being careful not to rub the stain in.
  • Use cold water to loosen the stain.
  • Add a small amount of liquid detergent and scrub the stain with a toothbrush.
  • Rinse the cleaning residue off the fabric.
  • If you can still see the stain, use hydrogen peroxide.


How to Remove Makeup Stains

  • Saturate the stain with hairspray.
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes, then blot with paper towels.
  • Use a wet cloth to remove the last of the stain and hairspray residue.


How to Remove Vomit Stains

  • Remove any excess vomit.
  • Soak the stain for 20 minutes using warm water and liquid laundry detergent.
  • Scrub the stain with a toothbrush, then rinse or wipe off the residue.


How to Remove Wine Stains

  • Blot up excess liquid using paper towels.
  • Treat the stain with a half hydrogen peroxide half liquid dish soap solution.
  • Let the stain remover break down the stain for 5 minutes.
  • Blot the stained area with a towel until the stain is gone.
  • Wipe off the soapy residue with a damp cloth.




Let’s be honest: Getting out stains isn’t an enjoyable way to spend your time. But when you have a proven stain-removal strategy, it’s much easier. Whether you use our handy housekeeping guides or healthy cleaning services, partner with The Maids® to make life more manageable. Discover how you can enjoy a clean home more often and more time to enjoy the things you love.

Get your free personalized house cleaning quote today.

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