From my inbox:
Mama, what is the best way to pre-treat a stain? Is there any one best way? Or do you just spray on the stain remover and let it be?
So it might seem like a no-brainer to pre-treat a stain before washing, but there really is a best way to do pre-treat stains. The end result of any attempt at stain removal is to have a stain-free garment. Making sure you start the stain removal process on the right foot ensures you end up with an article of clothing that looks new again.
So here is a step-by-step guide to follow. Because Mama loves a step-by-step guide to most anything.
What type of stain is it?
First, determine what type of stain you’re dealing with: protein, food grease, ink, grass/dirt.
If the stain is:
- protein-based (blood, spit-up, baby poop) – rinse under cold running water as quickly as possible. Keep it in cold water until you can launder it. If you choose to use a spray stain remover, follow the directions later in this post.
- food grease (bacon grease, french fries, cooking oil) – you’ll need to use the Blue Dawn method. Skip the spray stain remover step below completely. Spray stain removers aren’t really formulated for this type of stain.
- ink (from an ink pen or marker) – go straight to the pre-treat steps listed below in this post.
- grass/dirt – you’ll probably have to end up doing The Soak, but you can certainly try to pre-treat with a spray stain remover first and hope for great results!
Using Spray Stain-Remover
Assuming you have completed all of these crucial steps in stain removal, you’re now ready to spray on your favorite product.
Spray directly on the stain, saturating the entire area.
Using your finger, rub the stain remover in really well. Slightly lift up the fabric with your finger, ensuring you completely surround the stain with your spray product.
Next, you have the option of gently (and I mean really gently) rubbing the stain remover in with a toothbrush. If you have a really tough stain (tomato sauce, mustard, chili), you might need the extra agitation. But make sure you understand: be cautious when you use a toothbrush as this can sometimes be too vigorous for the fabric and lift the color. I speak from experience.
So this next part seals the stain removal deal: make sure to treat the stain on the reverse side of the fabric. Use your finger to rub the stain remover into the fabric to ensure it’s covered well on both the front side and the reverse side.
What You Should Never Do When Pre-Treating a Stain
Never ever rub the fabric together when pre-treating a stain. It is one of the worst techniques to use in all of laundry in my opinion. If you spray the stain with stain remover and then rub the fabric back on itself to saturate the stain with product, you can spread the stain and even make it bigger. This is not the result you’re going after.
Just out of curiosity, what is your favorite product to pre-treat stains? Do you have one that you consider to be the best?