How to get stains out of almost anything

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It can seem like half of the work of maintaining a clean home is the baffling challenge of stain removal. It would be easy if there was a single product that worked on every surface, but sadly such is not the case. Add in new materials such as synthetic workout gear and grandma’s go-to stain removers no longer pack the punch they used to.

However, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, as other people have already done the hard work of solving your stain dilemmas. So here’s a round-up of what they’ve discovered!

How to get stains out of anything


The beauty of a Sharpie pen is that it writes on almost anything and is permanent. Sadly, that’s also its downfall. Our own Alex Sadler discovered this list which should cover almost any disaster that your two-year-old can dish out:

  • Clothes: hand sanitizer.
  • Walls: toothpaste or hairspray.
  • Wood: rubbing alcohol.
  • Carpet: white vinegar.
  • Furniture: milk.
  • Ceramic or glass: One part toothpaste to one part baking soda.
  • Fiberglass: green and yellow sponge with Windex or alcohol.
  • Plastic: toothpaste and toothbrush or oil sheen hair spray and a cloth.

See the full list of how to remove Sharpie stains from pretty much anything

Driveway oil stains

Believe it or not, people swear by kitty litter for this task, and if you believe the members of the Laundry Love & Cleaning Science group, “the cheaper the better.” You’re then instructed to step on it, “grind it in” and let it sit. Finish with a Dawn detergent/water scrub and then hose it off.


It might be due to a misbehaving puppy or a potty training child, but most of us have been in the situation where we’re dealing with the sight and smell of a urine stain. Luckily, there are enzymatic cleansers that break down instead of simply masking this unwelcome scent. One cleaning product that both parents and pets owners swear by is Odoban. Whether you’re working on upholstered furniture, hard surfaces or laundry, they have a product for all types of biologically based stains.

White board

White boards work perfectly in their write-on-wipe-off functionality — until someone accidentally uses the wrong pen. Luckily, hand sanitizer such as Purell works wonders to remove ink stains. Need more proof of hand sanitizer’s power? You need only to view this inspiring post from a few months ago.

Accidentally dyed laundry

We all know the classic advice to separate colors when doing laundry, but sometimes a brand new red sock still gets mixed into a load of whites. Your newly pink clothing may be a delight to your 3 year old, but not everyone wants to embrace the Disney Princess aesthetic. Fear not, as an overnight soak in Oxyclean, (or the L.A.’s Totally Awesome Dollar store knock-off) should help to get your wardrobe back to normal. Repeat if necessary and do not put your laundry into the dryer until you’re satisfied with the result.

Workout clothing stench

You may feel all virtuous after a good workout, but traditionally laundered workout gear can retain unpleasant smells that are sure to ruin your endorphin high. However, an old stalwart cleaner has your sweaty back. Pine-Sol. That’s right, the same stuff your grandmother mopped her floors with has gained the respect of a new generation. The instructions for laundry are right on the bottle, instructing to “add ½ cup of Original Pine-Sol along with your regular detergent to boost a load of white or colorfast laundry.”


Blood stains can be a real pain to address. However, there’s one product that’s the #1 choice for removal. Hydrogen peroxide. Yup, just the regular cheap stuff in the brown bottle. Spray or pour the peroxide onto the stain and let it sit while it bubbles. Then rinse in cold water and repeat. Rub the fabric against itself for final stain removal and add in some Dawn detergent if necessary. Again, don’t put the piece through the dryer until the stain is fully removed.


Yellow armpit stains

Caused when “the aluminum in your antiperspirant or deodorant combines with the salt in your sweat,” yellow shirt stains can be a real embarrassment. However, a combination of baking soda, dish soap and hydrogen peroxide can bring your shirt back to life. Team Clark’s Mike Timmerman tested this technique, writing that it’s as simple as “applying the ingredients directly to the shirt, use an old toothbrush to work them in for a minute, and then let the shirt sit for at least an hour before putting it in the washing machine.”

Cheap and easy way to remove yellow sweat stains from your clothes

Hard water stains on toilets

It can be frustrating to have a perpetually dirty looking toilet despite regular cleanings. This phenomenon is usually due to hard water deposits, and even though you may have tried multiple cleaning products, a quick scrub with a pumice stone can remove the stain with minimal effort. Rave reviews such as this one have me convinced. “My pumice stone took all the nasty off and my potty looks brand new!”

Grass stains

Whether you’re the parent of a rambunctious pre-schooler or have a kid in sports, grass stains can be a challenge to address. Luckily there’s a powerful bar of soap that’s stocked in the laundry aside of most grocery stores. Fels-Naptha has been manufactured for over 100 years, and has been the go-to stain remover for multiple generations of launderers. Their website instructs that “All you’ve got to do is rub the stain with a wet bar of Purex Fels-Naptha and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wash your clothes as you normally would and say farewell to tough stains for good.” Users agree, sharing that “I use it on my son’s baseball pants and it works each time.”


However you address the stains in your life, make sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions and to never ever mix random cleansers. Especially bleach and ammonia, as the combination will create chlorine gas, a toxic vapor.

If my research for this article has taught me anything it’s that there’s a cleaning solution for just about every stain, especially if you catch it before it goes through the dryer.

Here are 37 more home cleaning hacks you wish you knew sooner!