ASKO - 8 common stains and how to remove them

8 common stains and how to remove them

Life is a sometimes messy enterprise, and there are plenty of common stains most of us will have to deal with at some stage. As an incorrectly treated stain can permanently set the stain or damage the fabric, knowing how to get them out correctly may just save your beloved item.

Here are a few golden rules when removing any type of stain:

●    Always read the garments washing instructions.

●    Treat a stain as quickly as possible.

●    Blot, never rub at any excess fluids.

●    Running cold or hot water through the stain is sometimes enough to remove it. It’s best to try the gentle approach first.

●    Putting a stained garment through the dryer can sometimes set a stain, so check your chosen cleaning method has removed all traces before popping it in to dry - or better yet, line dry until you’re sure.

●    If your garment is delicate (for example silk or wool), hotfoot it to your dry cleaner for expert attention.

Keep your laundry well stocked to deal with any stain. Many laundry products work on a range of other household messes as well, such as white vinegar, bicarbonate soda (both great deodorisers), an oxy lift pre-treatment product with enzymes, wool wash, 3% hydrogen peroxide, and stain sticks or sprays. 


Remove foundation on your neckline by pre-treating with prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent (or make a paste of powder detergent and water), then wash as normal. Get the lipstick off your shirt by covering the stain in dishwashing liquid, allow to soak then wash as normal.  Some experts swear by hairspray applied to the stain.  As always, proceed with caution (and by the garment label) when it comes to delicate items.

Sweat stains

If you notice a yellow tinge around the neck or armpit of your shirts, or your shirt emits an unpleasant odour even after washing, these are signs of a sweat stain. It’s a little-known fact too much washing powder can trap sweat into clothing (it certainly seems logical that the smellier the clothing, the more powder is required), but once it’s in your clothes, you can take steps to try and remove it.

Start by spraying the affected area with either lemon juice or white vinegar then wash on the appropriate cycle for the fabric with a pre-wash option using an oxy lift enzyme treatment product (hand wash for silk). Line dry and repeat if necessary.

For future loads, resist the urge to double up on laundry detergent and instead pre-treat the stain with a spray of lemon juice or white vinegar, following the washing steps above.

Tomato based stains

Most fabrics will come clean by a rinse with cold water, followed by a heavy soil cycle appropriate for the type of fabric. Also select the pre-wash cycle, and use a good quality oxy lift product. Silks are the exception. If cold water doesn’t do the job (or your garment care label says dry clean only), take it to a professional ASAP.


While a spin in the ‘heavy soil’ cycle should be enough to remove blood or other protein based stains from wool or polyester, they can be trickier to remove from cotton. If the above doesn’t work on cotton, try soaking the garment in cold water and salt (1g/100ml). Any remaining stain can then be treated by soaking for two hours maximum in an oxalic acid solution, as hot as the garment can handle. Finally, machine wash as normal.

Red wine

While polyester and wool clothing should be back to normal after a machine cycle (select the pre-wash cycle), you can sometimes remove a red wine stain from cotton or silk by pouring boiling water through it. If this doesn’t work, pour warm glycerine over the stain, and work it in, then rinse with water. Now add 10% acetic acid and work the stain again, followed by another rinse with water. If the garment is white, you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide on the spot, then machine wash the garment as normal.

Grease stains

Cotton and polyester garments should come clean with a wash in a heavy soil cycle, with pre-wash selected (don’t forget your oxy lift products!).  Silk and wool should be left in the hands of the experts.


Stains on cotton and polyester garments can usually be removed by pre-treating the stain with liquid laundry detergent, then wash the garment on a normal white / colours or heavy soiling and pre-wash cycle. Silks and wools should be treated by a professional.

Dirt and mud

For cotton or polyester garments, rinse as much mud away as possible in water, then rub the stain with hand soap and water before machine washing as normal. Check that the garment can take the treatment by testing the method on a small concealed area such as an inner seam. Wool and silk garments should be treated by the professionals if the mud has stained and can’t be brushed off and washed on their usual cycles.

ASKO stain guide

Got yourself a stain and you’re not sure how to safely remove it? Check out ASKO’s handy searchable stain guide - you can search by fabric and type of stain.