Stain Removal Guide: Make Your Family’s Clothes Last Longer!

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Kids are experts at getting stains on their clothing, which is why moms and dads must be experts at decimating them. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially in the case of tough grease spots or, even worse, unidentified stains. There are a few ways you can improve your chances, however. We’ve come up with a list of them in order to keep your kids’ clothes fresh and clean—at least until they start to outgrow them:

  • Act fast. The longer a stain has to set, the less likely it is that you’re ever going to get rid of it. You can’t keep tabs on your children all day long, but if you do notice a new stain (or witness its creation), pounce as soon as possible. Simply soaking a stained t-shirt in cold water or applying a pre-treatment could be enough to stave off a setting stain. If you have time, though, toss it right into the laundry to increase your chances of success.
  • Stock your arsenal. You might find it helpful to have a fully stocked stain-removal kit on-hand in case of a sudden visit from the ice cream man. It should encompass a variety of stain-fighting products and tools, including ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and, of course, liquid laundry detergent. You can also throw your favorite pretreatment stick or spray in there to round out your toolbox. See tip three on this list for a full rundown of what stain-fighters you should always have ready to go in your laundry room.
  • Know what’s what. Not all stains are created equal, so it shouldn’t be news to you that you can’t treat each stain exactly the same way. That’s where the Internet comes in. There are many websites that will help you determine what you should use to treat a certain stain, but there’s perhaps no better expert when it comes to clean clothes than Clorox. If you have a real doozy on your hands, check out its interactive list of potential staining agents and the solvents that can destroy them (though don’t feel inclined to go with the Clorox brand every single time).
  • Print this out. This chart takes stain-fighting one step further; it compiles virtually every item that could ever possibly stain your clothing, as well as the product or mixture to erase it. Print it out and keep it in your laundry room for quick reference.
  • DIY. If you’ve committed to going green in your home and, therefore, ousting all chemical products, you can still fight stains. Household items like white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can be combined to fight stains in a powerful way. Check out this list of DIY stain remover recipes to get started.
  • Accept defeat (eventually). Red wine. Burger grease. Chocolate syrup. These might simply be lost causes, and that’s okay. Don’t waste your time scrubbing a stain that’s determined to stay put. Throw it in the play clothes pile and move onto something that can still be saved.

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