The ultimate stain removal guide

Chocolate smudges on your sofa? Red wine on yourfavourite rug? Tackle those pesky everyday stains with our expert advice

 

Nail varnish

Nail polish

The old-fashioned way

Blot up excess. Apply a small amount of acetone (but not if fabric contains acetate, as the acetone might melt it!). Blot immediately with a soft white cloth. Repeat until stain is no longer transferred on to the cloth, then sponge with cold water and blot dry.

The new-fashioned best buy

Leave the varnish to dry completely, then remove with Sticky Stuff Remover (from £4.98, Lakeland, Amazon, Halfords, Homebase). This also works on stains from other ‘sticky’ items such as chewing gum, tar, oil and residue from labels.

 

Chocolate stainChocolate, grease and oils

The old-fashioned way

If the fabric is washable, putting it through a regular cycle should do the trick. “Otherwise, sprinkle some talc on the chocolate or oil stain – leave for 24 hours to give it time to absorb the grease, then blot with a soft white cloth dipped in diluted meths (the ratio should be around 1tbsp meths to half a cup of water),” says Julie Beckham from cleaning professionals, Molly Maid.

The new-fashioned best buy

Stain Devils Survival Kit, £3.99, Tesco. Quick and effective – leave for around three minutes for small stains and up to ten minutes for larger or more stubborn ones.

Expert tip

“The key to any stain removal is to blot – never rub,” says Julie. “And always use a soft, clean white cloth so you don’t make the problem worse with colour or dirt transfer. White terry towelling is ideal.”

 

Wine stainRed wine and blackcurrant juice

The old-fashioned way

Blot up the spilt wine or juice (don’t rub!). Mix 1tbsp washing-up liquid with two cups of cool water. Sponge the stain with the detergent solution, then blot until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the stain disappears. Don’t try the old wives tale of ‘cancelling out’ the red wine stain by pouring white wine over it – in tests, this method simply created a larger, pink stain!

The new-fashioned best buy

Wine No More, £6.99, Lakeland. Just spray and dab it off – this removed red wine from a cream carpet with no hint of a stain left behind.

Expert tip

“When using stain removers, always work from the outer edge to the centre of the stain,” says Paul Fildes from carpet-cleaning specialists Rug Doctor. “This keeps the stain from spreading and prevents rings from forming.”

 

Curry stainsCurry

The old-fashioned way

Press glycerine (available from most chemists) into the stain and leave for a few minutes. Rinse with cool water.

The new-fashioned best buy

White Wonder Cleaning Cream, £4.99, Lakeland. Just apply this cream to the curry stain, then gently wipe it off. Ideal for non-washable and non-colour-fast fabrics, as you don’t need water. “It also works on the yellow stains caused by lily pollen,” adds Wendy Miranda, Customer Ambassador from Lakeland (who gets to test every single one of their cleaning products!).

Expert tip

No glycerine or White Wonder to hand? Dab at the stain with lemon juice, suggests Wendy. “Then pop the item in the sunshine to dry. Sunlight is a natural bleach, and will fade out the curry stain.”

 

Felt tip stainsPen, permanent marker and crayon marks

The old-fashioned way

On walls and furniture: Try hairspray for felt-tip and biro – leave for a few minutes, then gently wipe away. For crayon, rub with a pencil eraser, a little bicarbonate of soda on a cloth, or spray with WD-40, leave for a few minutes and wipe off (this also works for permanent marker stains).

For fabrics: Rub glycerine on to the pen stain. Next treat with a gentle detergent like Woolite (around £3.50 from supermarkets). Apply to a cloth, dilute with a little water, gently rub until suds form then rinse. If the fabric is unwashable, follow the steps above but instead of rinsing suds, dab a little water on the area until the suds are gone.

The new-fashioned best buy

JML Doktor Power Magic Eraser, £4.99, ASDA and Wilkinson. Removes pen, crayon, paint and scuffs from walls – just add cold water and rub. The big block is very economical too – just cut bits off as and when you need them.

 

Sainsbury's CleanerGround in dirt on carpets and upholstery

The old-fashioned way

Brush away any excess mud or dirt and vacuum up. For the remaining stain, mix some bicarbonate of soda with a little water to form a paste and gently apply. Blot and repeat if necessary. No bicarb handy? Apply a solution made from 1tbsp washing-up liquid to one cup of water with a clean white cloth. Gently blot, rinse with cold water and repeat if necessary.

The new-fashioned best buy

If ground-in dirt in your carpet is a real problem, rent a carpet cleaner (try rugdoctor.co.uk, from £30 for a 24-hour rental). Otherwise, lift dirt and mud from sofas and carpets with Sainsbury’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner (£2.55, pictured). Effectively remove muddy footprint stains from a beige stair carpet with just one use.

Expert tip

“Always find an inconspicuous spot to test your carpet or upholstery cleaner first to check for colour fastness,” says Rug Doctor’s Paul Fildes. “And don’t over-wet the fabric you’re treating – let the foam of the solution do most of the work for you.’’

 

Sweat stainsSweat

The old-fashioned way

On upholstery: Mix 1tbsp washing-up liquid and 1tbsp white wine vinegar with 2 cups cool water. Sponge stain with the solution and blot until the liquid is absorbed, sponge with cold water and blot dry. Repeat if necessary.

On clothing and washable fabrics: Apply white wine vinegar to stains. Rinse, then launder using the hottest wash that’s safe enough for use with your fabric.

The new-fashioned best buy

Stain Remover Bar from Astonish, £2, available from supermarkets. Use as a pre-laundry treatment on clothes and washable fabrics – can also be used on upholstery – apply to a moist cloth, gently rub into the stain, and blot with a soft, dry cloth.

 

Grubby stainsFood splats/grubby fingerprints on walls, switches and door frames

The old (and new-fashioned) way

All our experts agreed that for general grime and splats on walls, nothing works more effectively than a weak solution of washing up liquid and water applied with a sponge. But if your wall is painted, do test for colour-fastness first.

Expert tip

“If your wall isn’t colour-fast, or for general grubby fingerprints on walls and light switches, try rubbing the mark with a piece of white bread,” says Julie Beckham.

 

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