Wizard’s Laundry Stain Removal Guide

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Laundry Stain Removal GuideDon’t you just hate a laundry stain that won’t come out of your favorite garment? Or all those ruined clothes from the kids who can’t seem to stay clean? I don’t have a problem with the latter, but I’ve ruined many an outfit by not knowing how to remove a particular laundry stain. Then I got an idea.

Back when I first started washing my own clothes, there was no such thing as the Internet. I know, I’m dating myself. Well, let’s just say it was in its infancy. So I had to rely on books to find my answers and of course, my Mom. In my search for the best stain removers, I found this book. It’s called “Home Comforts; The Art & Science of Keeping House.” It has all kinds of useful information in it, but best of all it told me how to remove many a laundry stain. Between this book and other research over the years, plus talking to Mom, I ended up making a chart that I refer to often, which I am going to share with you.

The Laundry Stain Chart

If you don’t have your own chart, you can copy & paste this, or I’ve included a PDF download of the laundry Stain Removal Guide I made. Some of these ideas you may have heard of, some you may not have. I keep a copy of this in a small binder near my washing machine. Now whenever I have a laundry stain I don’t remember how to remove, I refer to my chart and stain no more. Just remember, after trying any of these stain removal procedures, if a stain remains, don’t wash & dry. Try the procedure again or move on to a different one. I learned that lesson the hard way.

This is what I keep in my Stain Removal Kit and my chart follows below: Eyedropper, dull knife, a roll of white paper towels, toothbrush, sponge, vinegar/water solution, rubbing alcohol, glycerin, ammonia, talcum powder, Ivory bar soap & Ivory dish washing liquid, regular detergent, OxyBoost, Wisk, Woolite, Clorox & Clorox color-safe bleaches, small bottle of Guardsman Dry Cleaning Solvent, and of course my Stain Removal Guide!

Laundry Stain Removal Guide


Stain Remover

Removal Procedure

Adhesive Tape, Gum or Rubber Cement Ice & Pre-Wash  Stain Remover Harden the stain with ice and then scrape off substance with a dull knife. Soak the remaining stain with pre-wash, rinse and launder as usual.
Ballpoint Pen Ink Glycerin (find in drugstores) & Woolite Put a small amount of glycerin on the ink stain. Next add a small amt. of detergent, like Woolite, and a small amt. of water. Rub together, gently, forming suds and then rinse.
Ballpoint Pen Ink (alt. method) Dry Cleaning Solvent or Rubbing Alcohol Place garment, ink stain face down, on white paper towels. Rub the back with the alcohol or a dry-cleaning solvent, such as Guardsman. Repeat until stain is removed, changing paper towel as necessary.
Barbeque Sauce Glycerin & Pre-Wash  Stain Remover Put glycerin on the spot & rinse with cool water. Soak with a pre-wash & let sit for 15 min. Wash as usual.
Blood-Fresh Cold Water & Detergent Soak the fresh blood stain in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Rub detergent into the remaining stain, rinse, then launder as usual.
Blood-Dried Tepid Water, Enzyme Detergent Soak a dried blood stain for several hours in tepid water, using a detergent containing enzymes, such as Wisk or Axion. Launder as usual. If a stain remains, try using a color/material-safe bleach.
Candle Wax Ice & Pre-Wash  Stain Remover Harden the wax with ice and scrape off residue with a dull knife. Put wax stain in between paper towels & press with a warm iron, replacing paper towels frequently. Place any remaining stain face down on paper towels and sponge the back w/ pre-wash. Blot w/ paper towels, let dry & launder as usual. If a stain remains, use a color/material-safe bleach.
Chocolate Enzyme Detergent & Water Treat the stain with a tablespoon of enzyme detergent, such as Wisk or Axion, and about 2 cups of water. Let stand for 20 minutes, rinse & launder as usual. If stain remains, re-launder w/ a color/material-safe bleach.
Coffee-Plain or w/ Sweetener Vinegar & Water Mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Using an eyedropper, apply to stain only. Soak for a few minutes, rinse & launder as usual.
Coffee-w/ Creamer Enzyme Detergent & Water Use the vinegar method above and then follow-up w/ a small amt. of enzyme detergent, like Wisk, and a little water. Gently rub into stain, rinse & launder as usual.
Cosmetics (other than Lipstick) Pre-Wash  Stain Remover or Bar Soap & Detergent Dampen stain. Pretreating the stain with stain remover of your choice or bar soap, work the pre-treater into the damp stain until outline of stain is gone, then rinse. If a stain remains, soak in an enzyme detergent, rinse & launder as usual.
Cranberry or Other Berries Combination Solvent, Vinegar/Water Solution & Water Rinse the stain under cool water. Mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Using an eyedropper, apply the mixture directly to stain and soak for 10 minutes. Next apply a combination solvent, like Shout, and then launder as usual.
Crayon Ice & Pre-Wash  Stain Remover Follow the same steps for removal of Candle Wax.
Dye Transfer Color Remover, Bleach, Oxygen Bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide Remove any dye with a commercial color remover, like Rit. If that does not work, launder again w/ chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric. If you can’t use chlorine bleach, try soaking the stain in an oxygen bleach such as Oxy-Boost or try hydrogen peroxide. Rinse and launder as usual.
Egg Enzyme Detergent Pre-treat stain w/ an enzyme detergent, like Wisk, for 30 minutes for a fresh stain, up to several hours for an older one. Launder as usual.
Fabric Softener Bar Soap & Rubbing Alcohol or Dry Cleaning Solvent Moisten stain and rub with bar soap. If a stain remains, rub with Rubbing Alcohol or a dry cleaning solvent, such as Guardsman. Rinse completely & re-launder.
Fingernail Polish Nail Polish Remover If the fabric IS NOT made of acetate or triacetate, try a bit of remover on an inconspicuous area first. If no adverse reactions, place the stain face down on paper towels & sponge with remover until stain is removed. Rinse & launder as usual. *Some polishes may never come off.
Grass Enzyme Detergent, Water, Vinegar/Water Solution Apply a paste made of enzyme detergent, like Wisk, and water. Let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Mix 1 part vinegar or ammonia (if safe for fabric) w/ 2 parts water. Using an eyedropper, apply mixture to stain. Rinse w/ cool water, launder as usual.
Grease Pre-Wash  Stain Remover For light stains, pre-treat, rinse & launder as usual, in hottest water safe for the fabric. For heavier stains, lay the stain face down on paper towels and apply cleaning fluid to the back, changing paper towels as necessary. Let air dry, rinse and launder in hottest water safe for the fabric.
Ketchup & Tomato Sauce Combination Solvent & Vinegar/Water Solution Apply a combination solvent, like Shout, to stain. Bleach any remaining color w/ 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water solution, using an eyedropper. Launder as usual.
Lipstick Pre-Wash  Stain Remover Place lipstick face down on paper towels. Sponge the area with pre-wash stain remover or dry cleaning solvent, replacing paper towels frequently. Rub liquid detergent into stain until outline is gone. Launder as usual. Repeat the above if a stain remains.
Mildew Chlorine Bleach or All Fabric & Hydrogen Peroxide Launder stained items using chlorine bleach, if safe for that fabric. If you can’t use the chlorine, soak the garment in an all fabric bleach and hot water, then launder. If some stain remains, sponge w/ hydrogen peroxide. Rinse & re-launder. Dry in the sunlight. *If the garment is too badly mildewed, it may be a lost cause.
Mud Dishwashing Liquid, Water, Enzyme Detergent, Vinegar/Table Salt Solution Let dry & brush off as much dirt as possible. Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid & 1 cup of water. Using an eyedropper, apply to stain. Soak, rinse and launder as usual. For heavier stains, pre-soak w/ laundry or an enzyme detergent before laundering. To remove red clay, apply a paste made of vinegar & table salt. Soak for 30 min. & launder as usual using the hottest temp. safe for that fabric.
Mustard Ammonia/Water Mixture, Combination Solvent Mix 1 part ammonia to 2 parts water. Using an eyedropper, apply mixture to stain to bleach the color. Apply a combination solvent, like Shout, and soak for 15 min. Launder as usual.
Paint-Water Based Detergent Water-based paint can be rinsed with water while still wet & laundered as usual. This stain can’t usually be removed after it dries.
Paint-Oil Based, incl. Varnish Paint Solvent or Turpentine & Pre-Wash Stain Remover Use the solvent listed on the paint can as the thinner or use turpentine, then rinse. Pre-treat with a pre-wash stain remover, and then launder as usual.
Pollen Sponge off as much pollen as possible and then flush with a dry cleaning solvent such as Guardsman. Let air dry. Rub the stain gently w/ detergent and then launder as usual, using bleach that’s safe for that fabric.
Red Wine or Sangria Salt & Boiling Water Cover the stain with salt, and then stretch the fabric over a bowl. From about one foot above, pour boiling water down onto the stain. Pre-treat if necessary and then launder as usual.
Rust Commercial Rust Remover Apply a commercial rust remover to stain, using manufacture directions. DO NOT USE bleach. Launder as usual or per instructions.
Salad Dressing Talcum Powder or Corn Starch & Combination Solvent Shake talcum powder or corn starch over stain, soaking up as much oil as possible. Scrape off the excess and then rinse. Next apply a combination solvent, like Shout, and soak for 15 min. Launder as usual.
Scorch Chlorine or All-Fabric Bleach Launder with chlorine bleach if safe for fabric. If not, soak the garment in an all-fabric bleach & hot water and then launder. *Badly scorched items cannot be saved.
Tar Detergent Act quickly before the stain dries. Using a dull knife, scrape off as much tar as possible. Place the stain face down on paper towels & sponge with a detergent, replacing paper towels frequently. Launder as usual using the hottest temp. safe for that fabric.
Tea Boiling Water, Lemon Juice/Water Mixture Using the same method as w/ red wine, minus the salt, pour the boiling water over the stain. Dilute 1 part lemon juice w/ 2 parts water and using an eyedropper, apply mixture to stain to bleach the color. Rinse with cool water, launder as usual.
Yellowed Cotton or Linens Detergent Fill washer with hot water. Add two times the detergent as normal. Place items in washer & agitate for 4 minutes on regular cycle. Stop washer & soak for 15 min. Complete the wash cycle, repeat if necessary. *Alternatively, the sun itself can be a great bleaching agent!


If anyone has any laundry stain scenarios I didn’t cover, or a different method for any of the above I don’t have, make sure to leave a comment. I’m always looking for the latest & greatest, as I’m sure everyone is. For those of you who would like to download this chart, this is the link here: Stain Removal Guide

Until next time, Happy Laundering 🙂


  1. Aerosol hairspray will work on ink stains and some markers. Spray the stain generously with hairspray, allow to sit for a few moments and rinse with tepid water. Repeat until removed. Wesley’s White Wall cleaner (yup the stuff for your tires) will help with any oil based stains. Chocolate stain on a white shirt? Use the white wall cleaner the same way as the hairspray. Hydrogen peroxide will help with organic (blood and grass) stains as well. Be sure to air dry items when trying to remove a stain. Placing them in the drier will set the stain, making it much harder to remove.

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