NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Which Treatment for Which Stain?

Which Treatment for Which Stain?

                The abundance of laundry pretreatment products available today should make stain removal a snap right? Not always so.  Pretreatment products contain soil removers that penetrate stubborn stains and suspend them in the wash water so they can be flushed away.  Different pretreatment products though have different formulations which work more effectively on certain types of stains.  For example, some pretreatment products have enzymes that break down protein stains, such as blood and grass.                Apply all liquid (including aerosols) pretreatment stain removers just before washing, and leave on a minute or two. Do not allow the fabric to dry out. Launder items immediately after treatment.

-           Aerosol sprays including Shout, Spray’n Wash and Magic Prewash are designed for use on all stains but are especially effective on grease-based stains.

-           Pump-type liquid including Shout and Spray’n Wash may be used on all stains but are less effective on grease-based stains than aerosol products because solvents can only be packaged in cans.

-           Sticks can include Magic Wand, Shout and Spray’n Wash and are for use on all stains.  A big advantage of sticks is that after application the washing of treated items may be delayed several days if necessary.

                Some other useful chemicals in your fight against stains include:

-           Alcohol (rubbing, denatured, or isopropyl.  Look for a 70 percent or 90 percent concentration with no added color or fragrance).  Alcohol fades some dyes so check for colorfastness first on the inside of a seam or hem.

-           Ammonia (without added color or fragrance).  Ammonia can also affect color of fabrics to test before using.

-           Color removers, which contain sodium hydrosulfite, removes dye stains from whites washed by mistake with colored items and helps remove brown iron rust stains on white fabric washed in hard mineral waters.

-           Color retention products are used to set colors on non-colorfast cottons and   cotton/polyester. They can be found in some craft stores and are also available online from mail-order companies.

-           Color whiteners including RIT Fabric Whitener & Brightener cleans and whitens white fabrics and brightens colors. Read and follow precautionary statements carefully before using.

-           Enzyme presoak products include Axion, Biz and Snowy. These products are bleaches with enzymes in them. Do not use on silk or wool since enzymes digest protein. They are most water until you are ready to use, and do not combine them

-           Waterless hand cleaners such as Goop are especially effective on greasy stains. They were originally intended to remove grease from hands but are safe for most fabrics.

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