First, Steve broke stains down into categories for me – protein, from things like eggs, dairy, blood, glue; oil, such as olive oil, butter, suntan lotion, makeup; water-based, the likes of soda, wine, tea, coffee; and dye, which includes things like mustard, grass, ink. But then it got complicated when we got into combination stains – think coffee with cream and sugar or even crayons which include dye and wax.Before I move forward, I feel like I should pause here and just say that the amount of knowledge that Steve has in his head is simply amazing. I asked so many questions and tried to take good notes, but things got jumbled after a while. So I decided to boil it down to what I thought I could tackle at home and what I knew I should simply take to a professional.
- Water-based stains are fairly simple to remove. For many, spraying with a good-quality pre-treater and laundering according to the care label will do the trick. Others may just require soaking in warm water with color-safe bleach, then laundering according to the care label. Always check the area to make sure the stain has been completely removed before placing the garment in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will set the stain.
- Then there are the others. Oil-based stains are almost impossible to get out at home. Grocery store pre-treaters won’t break down the stain. Steve knows of non-traditional items that could possibly break down oil-based stains but he warned that they can also cause the garment’s color to break down as well. The good news is that the solvent that dry cleaners use can break down oil-based stains lickity split. Dye and combination stains are equally difficult to remove at home. They require multiple steps for stain removal.