Did you stain your clothes during an End of Summer BBQ or Back to School gathering? Don’t panic. There are two easy ways to remove the stains and return your clothes to their original condition. One is to use residential laundry services, and the other is to follow the 5 steps below. However, if your clothing is dry clean only, you should go straight to residential laundry for dry cleaning services.

1. Don’t try rubbing it out

The worst thing you can do after spilling food or drink on your clothes is rubbing it. Even using the old trick of club soda and napkin is dangerous for your fabric’s health and color. Rubbing can set the stain deeper, mix it with paper lint, and cause a larger, more stubborn mess.

2. Scrape it off

Use a dull object to scrape the stain off. Apply firm pressure as you move in one direction. Avoid moving the object back and forth in rubbing motion.

3. Identify the type of stain and appropriate cleaner

Once you’ve removed the excess stain material, you can find the appropriate cleaning agent. You want to identify if the stain is protein-, tannin-, grease-based as each type responds differently. If the stain has a rich color—think coffee, chocolate, red wine—the stain is probably tannin-based. A stain that scratches white is usually protein-based—think of dairy and meat—while grease stains come from oil and butter.


To clean tannin-based stains, use a mixture of water and vinegar. For protein- and grease-based stains, use dishwasher detergent or an enzyme-based cleaner. For oil stains, you can sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch, let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrape it off before using dishwasher detergent.

4. Pretreat stains for 15 minutes

Test the cleaner on a small patch of fabric, preferably the inside of a hem that will be inconspicuous in case the cleaner backfires. If the cleaner doesn’t discolor the fabric, pretreat your stains before the wash by applying a small amount of cleaner with a soft-bristle brush. Leave it on for 15 minutes, but deeper, darker stains could need soaking for up to 24 hours. Stain treatments and a soft-bristle brush are among the top laundry supplies to keep on hand at home for all situations.

5. Wash in cold water

After pretreating, wash your clothes in cold water. Hot water will set any lingering stains, especially if the stain is protein- or grease-based. 

If you’re uncertain, get residential laundry services

Treating stains can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, or if you’re working with a beloved article of clothing. The safest way to remove stains is to use professional laundry services. This guarantees you’re getting the best results without the stress of stumbling your way to clean clothes.

Residential laundry services in San Jose and Santa Cruz

Laundry Care Express offers laundry and dry cleaning pick up and delivery services to residents in the Santa Cruz and San Jose areas. Schedule a laundry pick up today for your stained clothes and rest easy knowing they’re getting the best treatment.


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