How to get rid of difficult stains
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Of course I did laundry before I had children. I even dealt with laundry stains before I had children. But, my laundry responsibilities — and amount — definitely increased when I had children.
I’ve tried so many things for stains and uncovered what works absolutely the best so that my family’s clothes last longer and look better — no matter how messy we are! Even better, they’re easy-to-find, inexpensive products!
For any stains (even ones set in!)
In an ideal world, I’d notice and treat stains before I wash clothes. But, in reality I don’t always notice stains before I put the laundry in the washing machine. If it’s something big, I’ll usually ask my kids to leave it out separately so I can pretreat it.
I would say most of the time, though, I don’t notice the stain until the laundry has been washed and dried and I’m folding it. This is especially true for grease-based stains like from most dips my kids love (hello, honey mustard and ranch!). And if we go to the movies and get butter on our popcorn, I can guarantee there will be a few grease stains from that to contend with.
I’ve tried numerous things through the years. I tried various stain removers. I tried hand soap. I tried laundry detergent. None of them worked so great, especially if the clothes had already been washed and dried.
For years I read about Dawn dish soap being best for getting rid of laundry stains. I bought the store brand equivalent and found that it didn’t seem to work any better than anything else I tried.
In my frustration, I finally decided to buy the brand name, original Dawn dish soap. I seriously doubted it would work, but I could at least use it for dishes.
I was astounded. It worked! And it really worked! If I catch stains ahead of time that I know won’t just wash out in a usual wash cycle, I pretreat with Dawn by putting a bit of Dawn dish soap directly on the stain.
Then I add a bit of water and rub it with my fingers and sometimes my fingernail. I wash it as usual and it comes out clean. If I have a set-in stain, I do the exact same process with the exact same result!
For food stains, Dawn is by far my go-to to get clothes clean. It works so well that I buy the smaller bottle and keep it in my laundry room. And this 7-ounce bottle of Dawn lasts for ages because it only takes a small amount to work.
For blood stains
This one isn’t as fun to talk about, but sometimes we get blood stains on our clothes as well. While I had dealt with them without much luck before (even Dawn doesn’t work so great on blood), I got a tip from a fellow mom when my daughter was in kindergarten.
The last week of school, my daughter fell on the playground and split her chin open. We had to rush her to the ER for stitches. Her clothes, including a brand-new shirt she was wearing for the first time, were covered in blood.
I figured I’d just have to toss the clothes out or use them for messy play clothes. There was no way I’d be able to get the blood stains out of her clothes. I was bemoaning this to a group of moms when I was advised to try hydrogen peroxide.
I had my doubts and concerns that the hydrogen peroxide would work like bleach and leave discolorations on her clothes, but I decided to try it because I didn’t have anything to lose. And it worked! It really worked.
For those stains, I ended up soaking her shirt and pants in a sink of hydrogen peroxide and water. Then I went back over the stains with peroxide where the spots still showed, because she really did have a lot of blood on them.
But, just a small amount works for smaller stains. Last week my son got a nose bleed. He had one of his favorite Spider-man shirts on. Of course, he got some blood on it. I squirted some hydrogen peroxide on the spots, rubbed them a bit, washed the shirt and it came clean.
That shirt is bright red and a poly blend and it looks just as good as it did when I bought it a couple of months ago. The hydrogen peroxide when applied to blood stains will fizz and foam up a bit. It pulls the blood stain right out.
I will also tell you that I didn’t treat his shirt until a day or two after it happened, so you don’t have to treat it right away for this to work. I’m not sure how well it would work on clothes that have already been washed and dried, but it definitely works before clothes have been washed and dried. Just like with Dawn, a little hydrogen peroxide goes a long way and will last you a long time!
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