The Easiest and Best Ways to Get Rid of These 5 Household Stains

published Jan 3, 2022
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If dealing with stains were a one-size-fits-all solution, it wouldn’t be so disruptive when they happen. Instead, something spills or splatters and we fret because we aren’t really sure if our carpet will be permanently discolored or our pretty new blouse is ruined. And in a houseful of children and pets, stains are a regular part of life. 

Addressing them effectively is a “let the punishment fit the crime” situation; not every stain should be treated the same way. Knowing how to approach various types of common household stains takes the stress out of something we wish we could control, but can’t. Ultimately, this means a more peaceful household: One in which we’re not stressed about the upholstered dining room chairs or the playroom rug; one in which our children are taught how to take care of things, but not terrified when they make a mistake. 

As with so many things, knowledge is power. Here are some common household stains and how to get rid of them: 

Credit: Getty Images

Spit-up stains on clothes

These are some of the trickiest stains. For fresh stains, first remove any remaining spit-up with the smooth side of a butter knife or a spoon. Flush with cold water and treat the stain with an enzyme stain remover like Zout Triple Enzyme Formula or Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Stain Remover. Launder as usual. Line dry if possible so you don’t accidentally set in a stubborn stain with the dryer. The sun is also a natural bleaching agent that will help zap lingering discoloration. 

Treat old stains by soaking in hot water and OxiClean and then drying items in the sun. This may need to be repeated before stains are gone. Use a laundry room sink or a large plastic bin to treat multiple garments at once.  

Coffee stains on clothes

Tannins in coffee make it hard to remove the marks they leave behind. If you’re able to treat stains right away, flush them with cold water. If the stain isn’t fully flushed with this method, or you aren’t able to treat the stain when it’s fresh, rub liquid laundry detergent on it and allow it to soak for three to five minutes. Older stains may need to soak in water after you apply the liquid detergent. Agitate the detergent with your fingers every five minutes. 

Food stains on carpets or upholstery

Whether they happen on upholstered furniture or carpeting, Folex is your very best friend. After removing excess mess (you can sprinkle baking soda to help absorb liquid), spray Folex liberally on stains and rub with a white rag. Repeat until the stain is gone. 

“Art” on walls

It’s going to happen sooner or later, and when it does, whether the marks are from markers, pens, crayons, or pencil, Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser will take care of them. Definitely spot test first to make sure you won’t damage paint. (In some instances, you can use a Magic Eraser, but be careful because it’s abrasive and can ruin paint.)

Food stains on plastic

From spaghetti sauce stains on the white plastic high chair tray to curry stains in your plastic tupperware, they’re unsightly and stubborn. Spray with or soak in a white vinegar and water solution and follow up by making a baking soda paste for scrubbing. This will remove the last of the stains and also help remove greasy residue.