“How Do I Clean That? ” J&O Fabrics Stain Removal Guide Part II

A couple of years ago we wrote an extensive article offering suggestions for cleaning the most common stains from fabric.  Our stain removal guide covered everything from blood and lipstick to wine, watermarks and even how to brighten your whites. Due to popular demand and the timeless tips we shared, we thought to update our findings and share them once again with you. Happy cleaning !


Whether you’re a woman, have children, or are a participant in this thing called life, inevitably you will meet a blood stain that you want removed. And believe it or not, blood can come out. So before you panic, let J&O give you the band-aid that can heal it.

The trick to getting the stain out depends on how much blood there is. Because blood is a protein, never use hot water as the heat will only set the blood and make it impossible to remove. Treat the stain with a cold water and table salt mixture (1 qt water / 2 tspn salt). Rinse and blot with a towel.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used very effectively for the removal of blood stains also. Pour the hydrogen peroxide onto the area of the blood stain and allow it to foam for a few minutes before wiping it off and laundering normally. Older blood stains may require repeated applications of hydrogen peroxide.

Grass Stains

To lift grass stains naturally, soak the garment in undiluted vinegar for 30 minutes, then launder it. If you can still see signs of the stain after washing, try making a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Use an old toothbrush to coat the stain, then launder it again. Grass stains will come out with prompt laundering and stain treatment.

Not a method that worked for you? Rubbing alcohol  can be a quick no-wash treatment for a grass stain. Such stain treatments can “bleed” the colors of the fabric, so it’s worth trying using a 50:50 alcohol and water solution first before moving on to straight alcohol.

If the clothing is white and can be bleached, using a chlorine bleach solution on the stain will work. Just be sure not to use too much bleach or you’ll damage the garment.

Whatever method you chose, don’t put the item in the clothes dryer until you’ve checked the stain has definitely gone. The heat will only set it in more.

When trying to eliminate grass stains, don’t use ammonia, degreaser or alkaline detergents because they may permanently set the stain.

Candle Wax

Candle wax can be found in the most interesting of places. And while the tips listed next can be applied to the wax that may have solidified on your body from last night’s wild adventure, we at J&O recommend them for fabric only.

The first step is to gently scrape away the surface wax with a spatula or a dull knife. Now you have two options: you can either spot clean with a water-free cleaning solvent or you can get creative. Getting creative involves covering the spot with several layers of paper towels and applying a warm iron. This should heat the wax and make it easy to scrape off.

The same method applies if you want to remove wax from your carpet. After you scrape up the hardened waxed and vacuum the left over debris. Next place a clean cloth, paper bag or paper towel over the wax. Run a warm iron over the cloth until the wax melts. A hot hair dryer can also be used. Once the wax is melted, it should adhere to the cloth. Lift the cloth and the wax should lift with it.

Be careful to note; anytime you apply heat to a stain, it causes the stain to lock into the fibers. It’s for this reason you should use a warm iron only. You also don’t want to use newspaper or any kind of paper with words or pictures on it unless you want the image to be transferred to your carpet. If you are left with a little reminder of your escapade, use a carpet spot cleaner. Just follow the instructions on the label for the best results.

Chewing Gum

Gum is great while it has the flavor. But it’s not so great when little Bobby decides he’s bored with it and wants to hold a wad of it for safe keeping in the pockets of his newly bought jeans. Lucky for you, J&O has provided this guide to offer relief from the tensions of parenthood. All you have to do is harden the gum with ice and then use a dull knife to remove it. If some still remains, spray with an aerosol pretreatment product and let stand for 5 minutes then throw in the laundry. This same tactic works on carpeting and upholstery as well.

Chocolate and Coffee

Chocolate on your satin sheets. Coffee on his business suit. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened in the Smiths’ home last night. Nor does it take one to figure out how to clean the stains up from this mess. Chocolate and coffee stains are easy to remove from your fabric; much easier than the memory of him in pink leather bondage is from your mind. Just dampen a sponge with lukewarm water and blot the stain. If it’s a really tough stain, re-launder with fabric safe bleach.

Ink and Markers

With ink you generally need to act fast to have a chance. Flipping cushions over to hide stains is often a quick and easy solution, but, out of sight, out of mind, until you get an ink mark on the good side. So before you start flipping and rotating, try using rubbing alcohol to lift the stain. If alcohol is not your thing, you could use a dry cleaning solvent like Carbona, Goddard’s or Energine. These products are toxic so read label carefully before use.


Little Hannah is so excited to show you how she can spell her name. The problem is, she forgot to capitalize the H, and to use the paper you gave her instead of the white linen tablecloth on your dining room table. No problem. Just have her use the eraser on her pencil to remove what excess lead she can. Watch her to be careful not to damage the fabric in the process. Then kindly let her watch as you spray the stain with a pretreatment product. Rinse or leave on as the label suggests, then launder. If Hannah has a habit, it might not be a bad idea to invest in a commercial pencil mark remover from an art supply store as backup.


“What a pretty rainbow Little Stevie. And you used EVERY color in your box! Too bad we can’t hang your fathers favorite T-shirt up on the fridge for him to see.” Instead you will have to take a snapshot of this wonderful masterpiece and quickly clean up the remains before father comes home.

First things first, scrape the excess crayon with the dull edge of a butter knife. Wash the shirt in hot water with soap and ½ cup baking soda for 10 min. If the stain is stubborn, do it a second time. Wash for 5 minutes and rinse. To remove any remaining color, use bleach or color remover that is safe for the fabric. Then pick up a box of washable crayons for Little Stevie’s future art projects.

Vomit/ Urine

What happens when you mix 12 slices of pizza with all the toppings, 1 hour of straight vodka shots and a birthday you will never forget?….Loss of control of your faculties and a cleanup job the next morning with a hangover you could do without! But J&O can help with that.

Step one, scrape off whatever you can. Fresh protein stains can often be removed just by soaking the soiled clothing or fabric in cold water before washing (hot water can set the protein causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stain more difficult to remove).

Soak in cold water using a detergent or enzyme presoak product for about 30 minutes. Launder in warm water, rinse and inspect. If remnants of the pizza still remain, soak an additional 30 minutes then rewash. Never put a stained fabric in a dryer. The heat from the dryer can set the stain.

Water Stains

Water stains on washable fabrics should come out during normal laundering. For dry-cleanable draperies, consult a professional cleaner. Water marks on drapes are water soluble and can‘t be removed by dry-cleaning solvents.

Wine and Alcohol

Maybe you got a little crazy at last night’s party. Maybe you got caught in another lie by your
wife again. Either way, getting that stain out is the easy part, getting her to forgive you may take some time.

First, spot clean or soak the fabric in hot water with a water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner containing enzymes . Do not use soap or detergents containing natural soap since soap could make the stain permanent or more difficult to remove. To remove tough set in stains, soak for 30 minutes. You might have to use fabric safe bleach. Always check for the colorfastness first by pre-testing a sample section of the material.

Fruit / Fruit Juices

Follow the same directions for Wine / Alcohol. Note that if all the sugars are not removed from the material, a brown stain will appear when the fabric is heated in the dryer or is ironed. This is due to the sugars from the fruit caramelizing.

For cherry and blueberry stains, follow the following steps. Soak the fabric in an all-fabric powdered bleach. If the stain remains and the garment is colorfast, soak the entire garment or fabric in a diluted solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. Caution: Chlorine bleach may change the color of the garment or cause irreversible damage. Therefore, it is important to check for color fastness before using. If the stain does not come out within 15 minutes of bleaching, it can’t be removed by bleaching, and any further exposure to bleach will weaken the fabric.


Lipstick on your collar again? Need a quick fix-him-up so the other girlfriend won’t see? J&O can help you with that, but maybe not the naughty boy in you. So here are a couple of quick tips.

Rubbing alcohol can help to remove lipstick. Put a small amount on your clothing and blot until the stain has vanished. This may need to be repeated several times until the stain is gone. “Rinse” the fabric by blotting with cool water.Petroleum jelly can be massaged into the stain until it disappears. If a greasy stain is left behind, sprinkle on some baking soda to absorb and launder as usual.Hair spray can be used to remove lipstick stains as well. Spray a bit on and blot with a damp cloth. Repeat the process until the stain is lifted and launder as usual.With today’s smudge and water proof lipsticks, you may have a challenge on your hands. If the stain remains and all else has failed and the garment is colorfast, soak the fabric in a diluted solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. Caution: Chlorine bleaching may change the color of the garment or cause irreversible damage. Therefore, it is important to check for color fastness before using. If the stain doesn’t come out within 15 minutes of bleaching, it can’t be removed by bleaching, and any further exposure to bleach will weaken the fabric.

Make-up (water based)

Hair,…tidy. Outfit…perfect. Makeup ….flawless. You’re on your way out the door for your big date and take one last look in the mirror for approval only to find a carmel colored ring of foundation around the collar of your new Ralph Lauren blouse. What on Earth!

For a quick fix, try a little makeup remover to get the makeup off your clothing. Check the ingredients first, however, to make sure the cleaning agents are compatible with the fabric. In most cases, you can dab a little of the makeup remover directly onto the fabric and rub a bit and the stain should lift right off. Launder as usual.

If you decide to just change the shirt for another, then launder with detergent in hottest water safe for the fabric when the date is over. Don’t use soap (bar, flake, or detergents containing natural soap), since soap could make stain permanent or at least more difficult to remove. Soak tough stains for 30 minutes in 1 quart of warm water and 1 teaspoon of enzyme presoak product. To remove old or set stains may require washing with bleach that is safe for the fabric. Always check for colorfastness first.

For future, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you’re going to use makeup, use a stocking mask or satin scarf around your face when dressing once the makeup has been applied.

Nail Polish

I don’t know too many women who have had the full success of painting their nails without some mishap from time to time. So for those of us who are “prone” to the occasional perfectly pink on the couch cushion, sky blue on the bed sheet or flaming red on the tweed pant leg, here are some helpful removal tips.

It is important to catch the nail polish stain as early as possible to avoid drying and setting. Test the fabric or carpet with acetone in an inconspicuous area for colorfastness . If the carpet or fabric is not colorfast, then you have to decide which is worse, the sunset orange nail color or a faded spot on your garment or carpet.

The product that is most recommended to remove nail polish is a simple non-oily or acetone nail polish remover. Although acetone nail polish remover can be very harsh to fabrics, most will withstand a spot treatment. Never use it on acetate, triacetate or modacrylic, as they will dissolve. Take these fabrics to the dry cleaner instead.

Another option is to apply the nail polish remover to the back of the stain while laying the fabric on white absorbent towels. Rinse and launder.

DeodorantHow self conscious do you feel when being selected to make a power point presentation in front of your business peers, only to realize moments before hitting the stage, that the new deodorant you tried has left stains on your newly bought, crisply ironed black Sean John dress shirt?
Unfortunately there is no quick fix we can offer for that most awkward moment in your life, but we can offer a suggestion that might save you some embarrassment …..put on your suit jacket no matter how hot!Deodorant stains can be embarrassing. Removing deodorant stains from clothing can take a lot of work . For this stain, we have old wives tales mixed in with new age tips to help remove them. Try them all if the material is not too fragile or requires dry cleaning.The first thing you want to do is to treat the stain as soon as possible. This is because deodorant stains will set, and one has a better chance of removing them sooner than later.

One method is to take a pair of nylons and rub the stains. This is a safe method to try on just about any fabric, since it will not harm the fabric. Another option is to wash the garment inside out. Some have said that rubbing deodorant stains with a past made from baking soda, or using whitening toothpaste and allowing the fabric to sit overnight works.

Applying white vinegar to the deodorant stains and allowing the garment to sit overnight in a vinegar and water solution has been said to work wonders. Just make sure not to try the vinegar and baking soda methods together. We don’t want any explosive chemical reactions.

There are a plethora of other suggestions, and one may have to experiment with several methods before finding the ideal technique for removing deodorant stains. The old saying “ an ounce of medicine is worth a pound of cure” might be worth the review. To avoid stains in the future, look for antiperspirants or deodorants that are advertised as non-staining.

Baby Stains: Formula / Poop f=”http://www.jandofabrics.com/newsletters/uploaded_images/cutebaby-752854.jpg”>

It never ceases to amaze me, the timing of a baby and his spit up …or even a baby and his poop. It seems the moment you dress him in his cute organic hemp 3pc outfit and put on a fresh new cotton cloth pamper, he decides that it is the perfect moment to regurgitate his morning formula and unload what seems like 2 days worth of banana and sweet potato, all with a smile on his face.

It’s at these times that we wish we could program these little people to our busy schedule and click a button that would have a robotic house maid come whisk the soiled garments away for a super speedy cleaning and redress. But until that day comes, here are some simple directions for removing those inevitable baby stains.

First, scrape or wipe off what you can. Fresh protein stains can often be removed by just soaking in cold water before washing. Soak in cold water using a detergent or enzyme presoak product for about 30 minutes. Soak old stains for at least several hours. If hot water is used first, it can cook the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stain more difficult to remove. Launder in warm water, rinse, and inspect.

If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash. (Never put a stained fabric in a dryer. The heat from the dryer can set the stain.) If color stain remains, launder using chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or with all fabric bleach. However, if bleach is used, rewash to be sure all bleach has been removed because baby’s skin is sensitive.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, adding one cup of white vinegar to each laundry load during the rinse cycle breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh.

Yellowing and Graying

Have you ever had those socks that no matter how much you wash them, they just never seem to let go of their grey ‘dingy’ look? Or how about that white Donna Karen top you bought last summer that’s been sitting in your closet waiting to be selected to adorn you for your trip to Hawaii, only to find yellow stains precariously placed throughout the material. Even better, the white gauze fabric you placed on your shelf 3 years ago that now you are ready to create into a masterful window dressing, but, oh no…yellow stains again!

There are several reasons why fabrics gray, yellow, and become dingy, including not using the right amount of detergent (i.e., using too much or too little detergent), insufficient rinsing, and/or the wash water temperature is too low.

Some cellulose fibers tend to yellow from its own oils in which case, a cotton ball dampened in hydrogen peroxide and blotted on the spots can alleviate your angst. Other fabrics which are white or pastel colored contain optical brighteners or fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) which were applied during manufacturing. These agents can decompose when exposed to light and atmospheric conditions, or prolonged storage conditions. In some cases the entire fabric becomes dingy or develops a yellow cast. In other cases the yellowing develops only where exposed to light. The FWAs can also be damaged by the use of chlorine bleach. Unfortunately, once the FWAs are damaged, the whitening agents can’t be reapplied to the fabric. To revitalize your fashionable garments and designer linens, J&O has provided the following tips:

Wash with a permanent press cycle in hot water, use a cool-down rinse on permanent press and use one cup of water conditioner instead of detergent. If the discoloration remains, either repeat this procedure or wash with the correct amount of detergent.

If the fabric is white, consider specialty products available in grocery or drug stores, such as Rit’s “Whitener and Brightener” to whiten the fabric. Always read the instructions on the product label and check for colorfastness first. Separate and wash your whites separate from colors. And, don’t put heavily soil garments with lightly soiled items.


Mold and mildew can wreck havoc on house and home, let alone on you or your families’ respiratory systems! It is the culprit that is often times responsible for that damp smell and itchy eyes. But have no fear, here are some helpful tips for getting rid of that pesky attacker.

Mildew is a growing organism that must have warmth, darkness, and moisture to survive. Mildew actually eats cellulosic fiber and can also attack manufactured fibers, causing permanent damage and weakening of fibers and fabrics. To treat mildew, first carefully brush or shake off mildewed area. Pre-treat the stains by rubbing the areas with a heavy-duty liquid detergent. Then launder in the hottest water safe for the fabric, using bleach safe for fabric. (Chlorine bleach is best if OK for the fabric.) Always check for colorfastness before using bleach. Let item dry in the sun.

Looking for a more natural yet effective approach? If you forgot to move the wash over to the dryer and it smells mildewy or has visible mildew stains, just mix equal parts vinegar and water with some salt, and soak the clothing in the solution. This should lift mildew stains from most fabrics. If you still see signs of staining after soaking, make a solution of undiluted vinegar and salt, and soak it again.

Badly mildewed fabric may be damaged beyond repair. Old stains may respond to flushing with dry cleaning fluid, i.e., Carbona, Energine, Goddard’s (Carefully read and follow the instructions on the product label.

There are odors created from eating too many beans and onions, or using too little deodorant . For those bodily releases, we can only recommend use of the proper refreshing agents. For the odors that linger on the garment fabrics, drapes, carpeting and upholstery, we offer the following tips for a cleaner, fresher scent .Most odors should be removed by normal laundering. For stubborn odors, place calcium carbonate crystals, activated charcoal, or soda in an open container and store with clothes in the closet, or sprinkle the clothes with baking soda, let stand, and then vacuum. Although a little crazy, for really persistent odors, try placing a thin layer of kitty litter on the clothing and let it stay for a couple of days. Then vacuum.Caution: vacuum it up before little Spotty gets to it. We wouldn’t want your favorite feline getting tossed out with the ruined silk dress all on a matter of misunderstanding (smile).Rust

It’s spring cleaning time again. Time to get rid of the old, the out-dated, the no-longer-stylish. But before you give up on those pink and yellow retro designed drapes dressing your double hung windows in the1970’s themed meditation room, think again. Those rust stains left from the once fashionable large brass rings can come out with a some helpful tips from your J&O Fabric family.

Though removing rust stains can be difficult, it is not impossible. Unfortunately, rust stains can’t be removed in normal laundering. Nor can you use chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach will only make the stains permanent.

Small stains may be removed with a few drops of a commercial rust remover, or by repeated applications of lemon juice and salt on the stain. Do not let dry between applications. Rinse thoroughly and launder with a liquid laundry detergent and oxygen bleach, following directions. If safe for fabric, boil in solution of 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar per pint of water. Rinse thoroughly.

Severe rust staining may be removed with a commercial rust remover, such as RoVer or Whink. Follow package instructions. But rust removers that contain hydrofluoric acid are extremely toxic, can burn the skin, and will da
mage the porcelain finish on appliances and sinks, so be mindful where you soak your drapes or fabric.

Butter / Oil / Mayo

They say the sign of a passionate cook is the amount of grease stains on her apron and dishes in her sink. Or is that the sign of a woman with two left hands? Either way, the sign of wise person is she who follows these tips to bring her beautiful handmade apron back to new.

Treat light stains with a pretreatment spray stain remover and wait a couple minutes for it to penetrate. Rub with a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder. If color stain remains, launder with chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or use an all-fabric bleach. Always test for colorfastness before using bleach. Place heavy stains face down on clean paper towels. Apply dry cleaning fluid to the back of stain. Replace towels frequently. Let air dry, rinse, then launder on hot setting.

Grease / Hand lotion / Oiled based Make-up

The combination of these three elements sounds like any parent’s nightmare that has a teenage daughter who spends time in front of her vanity. So let us offer a few removal tips.
Saturate light stains with a pretreatment spray stain remover and wait several minutes for it to penetrate. Rub with a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder. If color stain remains, launder with chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric, or use an all-fabric bleach. Always test for colorfastness before using bleach.

Place heavy stains face down on folded paper towels. Apply dry cleaning fluid to the back of stain. Replace towels as needed. Let air dry. Rinse, and launder in hot water.

Tomato Based Stains

I love pasta and spaghetti as much as the next person, but not when it’s all over my shirt or tablecloth. So for all those who twisted one too many times around the fork or tried to imitate the romantic Italian dinner eat & kiss scene between the two canines in Lady and the Tramp, here are some tips for removing that ever feared sauce stain.

First, saturate the area with pretreatment laundry stain remover. Wait a couple of minutes for the product to penetrate the stain. For stubborn stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately. If color stain remains, soak the entire garment in a dilute solution of all-fabric powered bleach. Be aware that all the colors may lighten.

If the stain persists, and the garment is white or colorfast, soak in a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. But, be sure to read the garment label regarding the use of bleach. Bleach can damage some dyes and prints, and bleaching damage is irreversible. And, if the stain is not removed in 15 minutes, it cannot be removed by bleaching and further bleaching will only weaken the fabric.

Looking for a more natural and less harsh solution? Saturate the tomato stain with vinegar and allow it to soak in. Then, launder as usual. Check to make sure the stain is out ​before you run the clothing through the dryer.

Caution: Since bleaches can alter the color of a fabric as well as the stain, bleach the whole garment and do not try to bleach just the spot (again, be sure bleaching is permitted). For heavy stains, apply dry-cleaning fluid to back of stain over absorbent white paper towels. (Check product label for instructions and follow carefully.) Let dry; rinse. Proceed as above.

If you’ve already destroyed some of your favorite material due to stains you tried too hard to remove, check out our following fabric catagories for some of our latest and greatest selections. If you are just looking to add to your already fabulous collection, take a moment to do some overdue shopping just for you!

*Note* The following information is intended to aid our customers in their fabric projects. These suggestions are based on manufacturer’s recommendations and customer insights. The following statements are not intended to be understood as unequivocal or applicable to every circumstance. Therefore, J&O Fabrics is not responsible for the results of the implementation of these cleaning methods.  Some stains are easier to get out then others. The amount of stain, how long it’s been sitting there and the type of fabric it is sitting on will all play into the degree of difficulty in getting it out. Remember, if the fabric good has a care label attached; follow the instructions and warnings provided. But if not, try these helpful tips. If all else fails, pay the extra money to have it removed professionally. There’s no sense in playing Dr. Zilvago on your innocent material and risking the possible potential of ruining your fabric and creating a bigger mess than what you started with.

Have some tried and true stain removal tips and tricks of your own?

We’d LOVE to hear from you!

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3 Responses to ““How Do I Clean That? ” J&O Fabrics Stain Removal Guide Part II”

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