Stain Removal Techniques: Tips & Guidelines

Strawberry stain on white t shirt.

Stains can ruin furniture, carpet, tile, and many other items. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Our stain removal guide will help you remove even the most stubborn stains, regardless of the type of stain and where it is found.

Stain Removal by Type

Different stains require different cleaning solutions and techniques, depending on what has caused them. Let’s explore how to take out some of the most common stain types:

Grease Stain Removal

Person holding up blue shirt with a grease stain on it.

Begin by blotting excess grease with a paper towel. Treat the grease stain with baking soda or cornstarch and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb the grease. Then, gently brush away the powder and apply a suitable stain remover.

Ink Stain Removal

Hands holding up a white shirt with an ink stain on it.

Ink stains require prompt action. For best results, dab the ink spot with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl alcohol, ensuring not to rub as it can spread the ink. Rinse with cold water, apply a pre-treatment stain remover, then launder as usual if your item is washable. Repeat if necessary for stubborn stains. Continue spot treatment if your stained item can’t be laundered.

Paint Stain Removal

Paint stains on a blue shirt.

Before you begin the paint stain removal process, consider which type of paint was used. Water-based paints can be washed off with soapy water, while oil-based paints require a solvent like turpentine. Gently blot, don't rub, to lift the stain. Next rinse and launder as usual or continue spot treatment.

Stain Removal by Surface

Whether you have an ink spot, are dealing with oil smudges, or fighting any other stain accidents, how you handle the affected area will also depend on the surface. Addressing stains on carpets will differ from concrete, for example. However, this holds true for any surface: always try your stain removal in an inconspicuous area first.

Removing Stains from Carpet

Person blotting red food stain on carpet.

When you need to remove a stain from your carpet, act quickly! Blot the stain with a cloth. Do not rub the stain, as that can make it worse. Use a suitable carpet cleaner, following the instructions carefully. For stubborn stains, consider a mixture of vinegar and water or seek professional cleaning services.

Removing Stains from Wood Floors

Person wiping up wine spill on wood floor.

Removing stains from wood floors starts with identifying the type of stain. For water-based stains like wine or juice, gently blot with a damp cloth and mild detergent. Oil-based stains, like grease or ink, may lift the spot with a mixture of baking soda and water. You can also lean on commercial wood cleaners to help fight most of the common stains.

Stubborn stains might need fine steel wool or sandpaper, followed by refinishing. Remember to test any solution in an inconspicuous area first, and always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for your specific floor finish.

Strategies for Stained Tile and Grout

House cleaner scrubbing stain on tile floor with a brush.

To tackle stain removal jobs for tile and grout, start with a mixture of vinegar and water. For tougher stains, try baking soda and a brush, but avoid harsh chemicals that can damage grout. Commercial cleaners may be another way to tackle your stain should the DIY method not bring the desired results. Seal grout lines to prevent future staining, and consider professional cleaning for stubborn stains.

Addressing Cement Stains

Power washing stain cement stains.

For fresh spills, immediately rinse with water to prevent permanent damage. For older stains, use a mixture of water and vinegar or a specialized cement stain remover. Scrub gently and rinse thoroughly. Protective sealers can also prevent future staining, maintaining a cleaner surface.

Let The Pros Help

Effectively removing stains requires time and effort, so does keeping your space clean. If you struggle finding the time and motivation to keep your home clean, the house cleaning pros at your local Molly Maid® can help. Our experienced cleaning teams are well-equipped to handle the toughest cleaning jobs. If you need help keeping your home as clean as you’d like, request a free estimate today! All of our cleaning services are backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™, which ensures your satisfaction.

Stain Removal FAQ

Still unsure how to clean stubborn stains? Our cleaning experts have answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about cleaning stains.

What's the Best Way to Remove Red Wine Stains?

To remove red wine stains, blot the excess immediately with a clean cloth. Then, pour salt on the stain to absorb the wine. After a few minutes, rinse with cold water and apply a paste made from a combination of baking soda and water. Let it sit before washing as usual. If the stained item is oversized or simply can’t be treated in your washing machine, try taking a spot-cleaning approach. If the item is large or valuable, consider consulting a professional cleaner for specialized treatment.

Can I Use Vinegar and Baking Soda for All Types of Stains?

Vinegar mixed with baking soda is effective for many stains, but not all. This combination works well on organic stains like food or sweat. However, for oil-based stains or delicate fabrics, it's better to use specific stain removers or solvents suited for the fabric type and stain.

How Do I Remove Stains from Delicate Fabrics Like Silk or Wool?

For delicate fabrics, avoid harsh chemicals. Blot the stain with a solution made from mild detergent and lukewarm water. Test any solution on a small, inconspicuous area first. If the stain persists, consider taking the item to a professional cleaner who specializes in delicate fabrics.

What Is the Most Effective Method for Coffee Stain Removal?

For coffee stains, quickly blot up as much liquid as possible. Rinse the stain under cold water, then apply a pre-treatment stain remover or a solution containing water (2 cups), liquid dish soap (1 tbsp), and white vinegar (1 tbsp). Launder as usual afterward. If the stained object is too large for your washing machine or isn’t washable, opt for targeted spot cleaning until the stain lifts.

How Can I Tackle Stubborn Grass Stains on Clothing?

To tackle grass stains, pre-treat the area with a mixture of laundry detergent and water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then gently brush with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse with cold water and launder in the warmest water that’s safe for the fabric. Repeat if necessary before drying.

Stain Removal Guide PDF (558 kb)

Molly Maid Stain Removal Guide

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