So you’ve decided to take my advice and make a fabulous gallon of sweet tea.
You are thrilled with your tasty treat, however it has left its mark on your favorite shirt: a huge, unsightly stain. Ugh.
What do you do now?
Thankfully, there are several options.
Tea is by far one of the hardest stains to remove once it has set. So you’ll need to move quickly.
First, run the fabric under cold water in the sink. Handwash it to the best of your ability, rubbing the fabric together only lightly. Don’t rub harshly at all, even if the fabric is cotton and can take it.
If you are unable to deal with the stain when it occurs, run the sink full of water and let it soak until you can work on it.
So here are where things get a little tricky and you have to trouble-shoot.
If it is a white cotton garment or a hearty color-fast garment, I would try using chlorine bleach (ie: Clorox). I haven’t had much success with Oxi-Clean and tea stains, but you can certainly try the Oxi Soak. A good ratio of Clorox is 5 cups of water to 1/2 cup of bleach. You can use the sink, a bucket or dishpan to let your item soak awhile. Every 15-30 minutes, pull the garment from the water and look at it under a bright light.
Do you still see the stain? Is it fading at all? If your item is colored, is the general color fading? Evaluate your item, and then soak another 15 minutes if you think it is needed.
Then wash your garment as you usually would in your washer. Be careful if this is a colored item. Make sure not to wash it with other colored items that might be bleached by the Clorox.
If your garment is not color-fast when using bleach, you can try a vinegar rub. Vinegar is such a benign substance in the laundry world. I’ve used it for years in many varied scenarios and it has never discolored an item of clothing for me. Make a paste of equal parts of vinegar and salt. Very gently rub the paste onto the stain with your finger. If the garment has a grain, ensure that you rub with the grain. If not, you can permanently alter the look of the fabric. Gentle is definitely the name of the game here.
Rinse well under cold tap water and take a look at the stain under a bright light. Is it still there? If so, try using the vinegar rub again. After you’ve rinsed, wash the garment as you normally would in the washer. Don’t worry – the vinegar smell will easily wash out.
As long as the fabric is wet, you can continue to work with it. Once it dries in the dryer, it is set in the fabric for life!