How to Remove Impossible Stains - dummies

By Gill Chilton

Defeat isn’t a word to associate with cleaning a stain. But let’s be realistic – every now and again, you meet with a mark that you just can’t shift even though you’ve tried everything you can think of. When you reach that point, try these tips:

  • Seek expert advice: Take the item along to a dry-cleaner, even if it is washable. They may have met with a similar problem and found a unique or unconventional approach that worked.

  • Take more risk: If you cannot bear to use the item as it is, it’s not such a big deal to risk destroying it altogether by using too harsh a stain treatment. So decide to ignore the care label and wash at a hotter temperature than is recommended. Or wash a non-washable. Remember you’re doing this only as a last resort and that you could ruin the item completely.

  • Cut the stain out: On carpet, hold small scissors as horizontal as you can to cut away damaged pile. On laminate or wood floor, refit a new panel.

  • Mask the damage: Choose from the following options or try your own:

    • Add a floor rug.

    • Only wear the shirt under jumpers.

    • Adjust curtain pleats at the top to hide a stain within a fold of fabric.

    • Turn up shirt cuffs and skirt and trouser hems if possible.

    • Add trimmings, badges, or bows to cushions, children’s clothes, or tableware.

  • Bleach out the stain: On whites, this is generally a good idea. But it’s a last resort for coloureds, as you’ll remove colour throughout.

  • Dye the fabric: Including towels, bedding and shoes. Go dark to cover over the stain as well.

  • Paint over hard surfaces: With specialist paint, you can cover plastics, enamel, ceramic, and metal as well as wood. Doing so also paints out your stain problem.

Don’t knock learning to live with the stain. Like that old saying – don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water – there’s no sense in throwing out the bathroom suite (fixtures) for the sake of one hair-dye stain on the sink.