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How to remove tough stains from collars & cuffs

Updated February 21, 2019

Long-sleeved shirts look snazzy, adding a dressy quality to your fashion repertoire. If button-down shirts or blouses with cuffs and collars are part of your wardrobe, dealing with stained cuffs and collars may be a regular occurrence. While removing stubborn stains from cuffs and collars may seem like a laundry nightmare, a few simple techniques can make an unpleasant job easier, and will leave you with sparkling clean shirts or blouses.

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  1. Pre-treat stains on cuffs and collars as soon as possible. The longer the stain remains in the fabric, the more difficult it will be to remove. Soak the stain with liquid washing powder, bar soap or shampoo to loosen the stain. If the stain consists of blood, ketchup, egg or soft drinks, soak the garment in cold water for at least 30 minutes before pretreating. The cold water alone may be enough to remove the stain.

  2. Allow the soap to penetrate the stain for at least two hours.

  3. Launder the garment as usual, using your regular washing powder. Check the garment carefully when you remove it from the washing machine. If the stain remains, don't place the shirt in the dryer, as the heat will set in the stain. Dry the shirt according to the label care directions if the stain has been successfully removed.

  4. Scrub the cuffs and collars with a vinegar paste if the stubborn stains persist. Mix two parts white vinegar with three parts baking soda. Rub the paste into the stain, then allow the vinegar paste to remain in the garment for two hours. Launder as usual.

  5. Tip

    If the stains are from tea, coffee or juice, read the care label to be sure that hot water won't damage the shirt. If hot water is safe, hold the shirt over a sink and pour boiling water through the stain. If you've tried everything and nothing seems to work, try removing the stains with bleach. Read the care label first to be sure bleach won't damage the shirt, and then apply the bleach according to the instructions on the bleach bottle. The same techniques can be used to remove stains from the cuffs of long-sleeved T-shirts.

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Things You'll Need

  • Liquid washing powder, bar soap or shampoo
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda

About the Author

M.H. Dyer

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

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