How to … safely remove embarrassing stains

Tips and tricks on removing red wine or pasta sauce stains from clothing are readily exchanged between family and friends, but people aren’t quite so forthcoming when the stains come from bodily fluids. Unfortunately, these stains are something we all have to tackle every once in a while, and having the know-how has never hurt anyone. When removing stains from urine, vomit, poo or blood, it’s crucial to keep things safe and sanitised.

First things first, make sure you’re wearing disposable gloves before you try to tackle the stain. Make sure the clothing or bedding is in a secure place where no-one else could unwittingly come into contact with them. Like other types of stain, make sure you work from the outside in, to keep the mess contained.

Rinse blood stains on clothing under cold water as soon as possible. Rub soap or detergent into the stain while water runs over it. Repeat with soap before allowing the clothing to sit in cold water for half an hour. If this does not successfully remove the stain, then WebMD recommends putting a small amount of hydrogen peroxide onto the stain for a few minutes before rinsing off.

If you get blood stains on a carpet, mix a teaspoon of detergent with a cup of cold water and apply to the stained area using a paper towel or cloth. Repeating this process should lift the stain. However, for best results consult the manufacturers’ instructions, as it will give advice specific to your carpet.

Faeces and vomit
Remember to put on disposable gloves before trying to tackle these stains. Begin by removing what you can with a paper towel. You can machine wash clothing on a long, hot cycle with detergent and disinfectant. If the mess is on your carpet or upholstery, soak up the remaining liquids using baking soda or kitty litter. Use a cup of bleach mixed with four litres of water to clean the surrounding area. Be mindful of discolouration.

Urine, baby formula and mucus
All three are commonly associated with babies, and all three – luckily – have the same solution. Begin by removing any caked-on residue from the clothing. Soak the clothing for 15 minutes in a solution made up of a tablespoon of ammonia and half a teaspoon of liquid dish soap mixed into a litre of lukewarm water. Gently scrub the stain before allowing to soak for another 15 minutes in the solution. Now transfer the clothing to a solution of a cleaning product that contains enzymes and lukewarm water to soak for half an hour. Machine wash clothing as normal.

When grandkids come to play, it’s likely that at some stage baby formula, mucus or urine will end up on your carpets. To remove these stains, soak up as much of the liquid as possible using a cloth or paper towel before blotting the area with cold water. Then, mix a solution of one part white vinegar to one part cold water and blot the area until the stain disappears.

Sweat stains are more common than you’d think, so don’t be embarrassed to find them on your clothing. Luckily, there is a simple solution. Soak or dampen the stain in cold water before soaking in warm water containing a cleaner with enzymes for half an hour. Next, make a solution containing a tablespoon of ammonia, half a teaspoon of liquid soap and one litre of warm water, and spray it over the stain. Rub the stain with laundry detergent before putting it in the washing machine on a hot cycle and allowing to air dry.

Once you’ve finished cleaning, make sure you gather any towels or clothes that you used in the process to wash in a separate load later. Wash and disinfect your hands and forearms, even if you wore disposable gloves.

In general, make sure you never mix ammonia with chlorine bleach, which can release toxic gases capable of causing serious health issues.

How often do you have to clean these types of stains? What advice would you share with other readers on how best to tackle them?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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