Like any good girl born and raised in the South, I love a glass of sweet tea. What I don’t love are tea stains on my clothes, because they can be difficult to remove.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a glass of tea in my hand and one of my favorite little people has knocked it all over me.
Sigh. I do love them so, but they are little mess makers, I tell you!
Here is a step-by-step guide for how to remove tea stains when you accidentally spill your favorite drink.
By the way – my little site here is about All Things Laundry. Way back in the day when blogs used to be like a Facebook News Feed, I posted how I make my favorite sweet tea. Go try it. You will love it.
How to Remove Tea Stains
Tea is by far one of the hardest stains to remove once it has set. It was used for staining cloth for centuries for a good reason!
So you’ll need to move quickly if you want to have any success in removing tea stains from your item.
Here’s a step-by-step (because my brain works in numbers and bullets):
- First, run the fabric under cold water in the sink. Hand wash it to the best of your ability, rubbing the fabric together only lightly under the running water. Don’t rub harshly at all, even if the fabric is cotton and can take it.
THIS IS THE BEST ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TO REMOVE THE STAIN.
- If you are unable to deal with the stain when it occurs, run the sink full of cold water and let it soak until you can work on it.
So here in the next step is where things get a little tricky and you have to troubleshoot.
Try a Chlorine Bleach Soak
As you all know, I’m a huge fan of The Soak, however, I’ve never had much luck with Oxi Clean and tea stains.
If it is a white cotton garment or a hearty color-fast clothing item, you can try using a chlorine bleach soak (ie: Clorox).
A good ratio of Clorox is 5 cups of water to 1/2 cup of bleach. Fill a sink, a bucket, or dishpan with the aforementioned ratio. Swirl the mixture gently with a spoon to ensure the Clorox is mixed in well.
Now place the clothing item in the Clorox/water mix and completely submerge it in the water. 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.
Try a Vinegar and Salt Rub
If your garment is not color-fast when using bleach – meaning chlorine bleach would remove the color, 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 there is a grain and you don’t rub with the grain, 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 the item thoroughly under running cold water, wash the garment as you normally would in the washer.
Don’t worry – the vinegar smell will easily wash out.
Make Sure You Hang the Fabric to Dry
As long as the fabric hasn’t been dried with heat, you can continue to work with it.
Once it dries in the dryer, it is probably set in the fabric for life.
It’s preferable to dry this tea stained item in the sunlight since the sun has such amazing stain removal properties.
If the fabric dries and you are unhappy with result, you can continue to try to remove it. You can use the same chlorine bleach method for a longer period of time, you could try washing the garment again, or you could try drying in direct, hot sunlight.
Have more stains?
Browse through all of the Stain Removal posts here at Mama’s Laundry Talk.