Ketchup Mustard Shirt

Avoiding staining your clothes while you’re eating a massive burger that is overflowing with condiments is pretty much impossible. It’s even more difficult when you are sitting in a lounge chair and your bun is way too small for your burger. If you’re lucky enough to avoid getting ketchup down your front, you’ll probably end up with watermelon juice or melted sundae wrecking your clothes. Don’t forget about the red wine. Stains happen. They don’t just happen to people wearing white, although their chances are definitely higher. That’s just one of the rules of life.

(Related: Everything You Need To Know To Do Laundry Like A Grown-Up)

Here’s how to get rid of those pesky stains without ruining your clothes:

1. Try to remove it ASAP.

For the majority stains, it is better to try to remove them as soon as possible. Don’t allow the offending mark to dry and figure it will come out when you do laundry next Tuesday.

2. Consider the fabric.

Your initial reaction may be to run your stained piece of clothing under water but that could also cause damage. Take a look at the care tag. If you are wearing something that is labeled “dry clean only” or it is made of suede, if may be best to leave it and go to your dry cleaner. Be careful treating delicate items like silk or lace. Harsh chemicals can eat away at the fabrics or alter them permanently.

3. Always spot treat the stain before laundering.

First try and wipe away any excess sauce/puree/whatever. Use a damp cloth run under cool or warm water (read: never use hot) to blot away the rest. Turn the garment inside out and repeat on the reverse then rinse.

4. Blot the stain, do NOT rub it.

Yes, there is a difference. Blot the stain in the same manner that you would apply a blotting sheet to your greasy t-zone. If you rub it back and forth you are just making things worse.

5. Ensure the stain is completely removed before you stick that item in the dryer.

If you want to set a stain, putting that item of clothing in the dryer is the way to do it. That is why you should inspect your garment carefully after you wash it before you toss it in the dryer.

Click the next page to see how to remove specific stains including blood, oil and wine.

For Removing Specific Stains

1. Ketchup/Condiments

Scrape off any excess sauce from your clothing. Rise the stain under cold water and treat with liquid laundry detergent or white vinegar on the front of the stain. (You can also try alternating the two.) When the stain fades, apply stain remover before putting the garment in the wash.

2. Red Wine 

If you’re at a barbecue, grab that salt shaker and cover the offending wine stain with it. Club soda will also work. Soak it in cold water and blot the stain then wash it in the machine.

3. Oils

Don’t attempt to treat oil stains with water, instead immediately apply talcum powder (or baby powder) to the spot. Leave it on there for approximately half an hour. Brush it off, then apply a stain remover before you put it in the wash.

4. Blood

If you’ve had another accident with the steak knife and the blood is still fresh, blot the stain with cold water or Club Soda. Apply a pre-wash stain remover before putting it in the wash. If the blood stain has dried, try to gently scrape some of it off then apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the area, if it is safe to use on the fabric, before washing it.

5. Fruit

Scrape off any excess. Run cold water over the stain. Next, apply liquid laundry detergent to the area and allow it to soak in for around 15 minutes. If the stain is gone, proceed to washing the item in the machine. If not, you can try leaving the liquid laundry detergent on longer or you can use hydrogen peroxide, if it is allowed on the fabric.

(Photo: Generistock/iStock)