How to remove set stains from cotton shirts

Written by roz calvert
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How to remove set stains from cotton shirts
Sun, suds and strategy get out set stains. (Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Cotton is used more than any other fabric to make the clothing we wear. It is washable and comfortable, and the fibre soaks up liquid quickly and holds dyes well. These qualities make it a great fabric for everything from T-shirts to frilly blouses. Unfortunately, cotton soaks up substances that we'd rather not have in our clothes. Stains get set easily in cotton because it dries quickly. Getting stains on cotton is a lot easier than getting them out.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Sponge
  • Liquid washing powder
  • Colour-safe bleach
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Stain remover
  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hairspray

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  1. 1

    Pour a spoonful of table salt onto the shirt if it has a coffee stain. Add a few drops of water to remove coffee or tea stains. Dab a sponge against the stain until it begins to fade. Rinse the shirt in cool water and let it rest in the water for 30 minutes. Wash the cotton shirt in detergent and chlorine or colour-safe bleach and warm water.

  2. 2

    Dab stains with slightly diluted dish soap if they are lipstick and other waxy or greasy stains. Spend as much time on this as the stain needs. Do not rinse until the stain fades markedly. When the stain does vanish, wash it in detergent and cool water.

  3. 3

    Apply a cleaning solvent to greasy food stains. If the stain does not lift, let the shirt soak in a bath containing equal parts of white vinegar and water. Rinse the shirt in cool water.

  4. 4

    Soak a chocolate-stained shirt in cold water to begin working on the stain. After two hours, if the stain persists, dab hydrogen peroxide on the stain. Let is set for 30 minutes. Wash the shirt in cool water with liquid detergent.

  5. 5

    Spray hairspray onto the cotton shirt to remove ink stains. Wash immediately with cold water and liquid detergent. Do not dry the shirt. If the stain is still there, try a commercial stain remover. Wash again.

  6. 6

    Soak a blood stain in cold water overnight. Place a stain remover product on the stain. Wash it in cold water. If the stain is not gone, make a paste of baking soda. Spread it on the stain. Rub it in and let is set. When dry,, scrape the baking powder off and rinse. Wash the shirt in cold water.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not hesitate to repeat all the steps when a stubborn stain will not lift.
  • No matter what the set stain is, do not wash the cotton shirt in hot water or dry it in a dryer until the stain is lifted.

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