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The science of stain removal


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

The science of stain removal

With the right formula you can remove almost any kind of stain from clothing and there’s no reason not to experiment with ingredients that do no harm: bicarbonate of soda, cornflour, flour, lemon juice, liquid detergent, a raw potato, shampoo and white vinegar.


Soak a bloodstained item of clothing in a bucket of cold salted water as soon as possible. After 3–4 hours, rub the stain with liquid detergent, then launder as usual.



Either soak grass stains in full-strength white vinegar or brush non-gel, non-whitening toothpaste directly onto the stain.



Cover the stain with bicarbonate of soda, cornflour, flour or salt, all of which soak up grease. After brushing off the substance, pour liquid laundry detergent and hot water directly onto the stain, then launder.



Pour salt onto an ink stain that’s still wet, gently dab with a wet paper towel and then brush off the salt; repeat as necessary.



Rub the stain with a peeled slice of raw potato and then soak the garment in cold water for at least 15 minutes.



Stir 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1⁄2 teaspoon liquid laundry detergent into 1 litre warm water. Sponge the solution on the stain and let it air-dry. Before washing the garment, apply liquid detergent directly to the spot.



Rub shampoo directly onto the stain with your finger or with a toothbrush. Let it sit for 25–30 minutes before washing the collar of the shirt. (Make sure the shampoo you use contains ammonium lauryl sulphate, an ingredient that cuts through oil.)

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