How to get stains out of clothes – blood, ink, wine, oil & more

Need to know how to get stains out of clothes.. and fast? Well, we've rounded up the most common stains and how to get them out of clothing.

lipstick mark on white shirt collar - GettyImages-518979744
(Image credit: Getty)

If you're desperate to know how to get stains out of clothes, we've got you with our clothes stain removal guide.

We know all too well there's nothing worse than spilling red wine on a brand new dress or a nose-bleed on a crisp white shirt.

Looking to remove a stain from your upholstery or need the lowdown on the best stain removing products? Head over to our complete guide to stain removal.

The experts at Vanish agree, 'From mud stains on the kids’ P.E. kit to wine stains on your favorite white shirt, stains are a messy, inconvenient part of life. These ugly stains have the potential to ruin your day – not to mention your favorite clothing item.' Amen.

Cleaning and laundry experts from Dr. Beckmann say that, 'When it comes to removing any stain, the most important factor is time. A hasty reaction to any spillage will lessen the chances of the stain becoming a lasting mark, so it’s crucial to remember that acting quickly is key.'

So, no need to fret ... when there's a will to get a stain out, there's a way, and we've got the stain-busting scoop to save you the blood, sweat and tears. 

an adult putting a band aid on boy's ankle at car - GettyImages-1240331062

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove blood stains from clothes

From nose-bleeds to cuts and grazes, blood is easily spilled and we all need to know how to remove it. 

The short answer to getting blood out of clothes is, cold (never hot) water. Flush the stain as soon as you spot it by putting the garment under running cold water, gently working out the stain.

The experts at Persil explain, 'When you’re trying to get rid of a stain, the first reaction is often to put your clothes in the wash or treat the stain with hot water. This is a bad move if you’re trying to remove blood stains, since heat can make them much harder to shift, even if they’ve already dried.'

Follow the rinse with a dollop of detergent to work it out further with cold water, then finally put the garment in the washer on a normal cycle. 

What about how to get dried blood out of clothes?

The same applies, although you might need to add a pre-treatment, like Vanish Oxi Action before adding the item to your washer.

Warning: Always read the care instructions on the soiled garment before you try this out.

How to get blood stains out of delicate clothes

Experts at Persil share their expert tips on how to get blood stains out of delicate clothes:

  • Silk: 'Pour a cup of cold water into a spray bottle and stir in one teaspoon of salt. Apply the solution to the stain, rubbing it in with a clean cloth. Let it soak for about 10 minutes before rinsing with cold water. Wash according to the instructions on the label.'
  • Wool: 'Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide onto the dried blood stain, rubbing it in with a clean cloth. Let it sit for about five minutes before rinsing out with cold water. Repeat these steps until the stain has fully disappeared, then put it in the wash. This method can also be used to remove really stubborn dried blood stains on less delicate fabrics.

person holding stained jeans by a washing machine - GettyImages-1219375328

(Image credit: GettyImages-1219375328)

How to get oil stains out of clothes 

Of all the stains to tackle, oil stains are arguably the most difficult to treat. Thankfully there are a few different things you can try before pronouncing the garment forever spattered. The key really is to get at it quick, snap.

The experts at Persil share their tricks of the trade, 'The good news about everyday cottons is that they’re incredibly durable and hardwearing, which means these clothes can withstand practically anything that’s thrown at them without becoming damaged.'

'If you’ve spilt oil on your cotton shirt while cooking dinner, don’t panic – all you need is a solvent that can break down greasy particles and oil stain removal becomes a piece of cake. Rubbing alcohol, which you can buy from chemists, is a good choice, or even acetone-based nail varnish removers can be effective.'

Here's how to get oil stains out of clothes:

  • 'The trick is to apply the solvent to the back of the stain, not the front. 
  • 'Then use a clean cloth to blot from the back, pushing the oils out of the fabric, rather than encouraging them deeper into the material. (Remember to test any stain removing solution on a small hidden area of the garment first).'
  • 'Rinse in warm water, wash as normal following the instructions on the garment care label, and your shirt should look, feel, and smell much fresher.'

red wine spill on floor tiles - Getty

(Image credit: Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash)

How to remove wine stains from clothes

Red wine isn't just the culprit for a stained lip, it's also one of the biggest and most common party spillages – and it can be a nightmare to get out to boot.

Experts at Vanish explain more, 'Aside from the flavour notes, the main difference between red, white and rosé wine is the colour. White wine is traditionally clear and not such a problem when it comes to accidental spills.'

'However, the pink and purple hues in reds and rosés are created by stain-causing anthocyanins, a type of plant pigment and antioxidant. It’s these tricky little particles that can make red wine stains such a nightmare to remove!'

Laundry experts from Dr. Beckmann explain the best way to combat this stubborn stain: 'Blot the alcohol with a cloth until the majority of the liquid is absorbed. After sponging with cold water, use a stain remover to break up the remaining stain.'

grass stains on white jeans on boy with football - GettyImages-CA33547

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove grass stains from clothes 

Oh the picnic in the park, a play in the park or spontaneous game of baseball, you'll be no stranger to dreaded grass stains.

Laundry experts at Dr. Beckmann explain more:

'As the weather improves, it’s only natural that we find ourselves spending more time outdoors. However, grass stains are a recurring nuisance that catch us out every spring.'

They share their tried-and-tested method of getting rid of grass stains below:

  • 'The best way to treat a grass stain is to soak the stain for fifteen minutes in water with a dash of white vinegar, then take a white cloth and gently dab.'
  • 'Finish by washing the item of clothing as you usually would, on a warm wash.'

a blue ink stain from a pen on pocket of white shirt - GettyImages-522063338

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove ink stains from clothes 

We've got the good news and the bad news. Ballpoint pen ink is usually water soluble, and sometimes oil based, so it can be removed, albeit with a touch of elbow grease. 

However, permanent marker unfortunately is, you guessed it, permanent. Although, you may be able to fade the mark with a drop of a solvent, such as rubbing alcohol. If the garment in question is white, a dash of oxygen-based bleach before putting in the wash could fade it further.

If you're lucky enough to spot the ink stain before it dries, it's time to act fast.  

Experts at Tide explain, 'The pen is mightier than the sword, but it can also leave mighty stains. And, because stains can come from water-based ink or oil-based ballpoint pen ink, some are easier to remove than others.'

'Whether you're concerned with how to remove ink from clothes like jeans, shirts, or other cottons, you’ll just need a good solvent, like rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or hand sanitizer.'

Here's the best way to get rid of ink stains via the experts at Tide:

  • 'Apply a solvent like rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or hand sanitizer to an inconspicuous area of the garment with a Q-tip, and let it sit for 1-3 minutes. Blot with a paper towel, and if no color comes off on the towel, continue to pre-treat.'
  • 'Blot excess ink with a paper towel. Place the paper towel underneath the stain, then pour your solvent directly onto the stain. Rinse off with cold water.'
  • Pre-treat the stain with a pre-treatment of your choice, before tossing the garment in the wash with a stain-busting laundry detergent. 

How to remove chocolate stains

With Easter around the corner, out comes the chocolate in all its yumminess, and in turn, some messy stains to tackle too.

Experts at Dr. Beckmann explain more:

'Spring time is usually spent enjoying those Easter treats that we’ll never outgrow. It’s hardly surprising that chocolate is one of the most common stains we experience during the spring months.'

Here's how to get chocolate stains out of clothes:

  • Firstly, get a butter knife and remove any remnant chocolate debris from the stain, making sure not to spread the chocolate to make an even bigger stain.
  • Turn the item inside out and rinse the stain from the back with cold water thoroughly. Avoid using hot water at all costs as it may well set the stain further into the fabric.
  • Use a heavy-duty laundry detergent or even liquid dish soap and work it into the stain. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
  • Soak the garment in cold water for a further 10 minutes.
  • Rub the stain to work it out and then rinse thoroughly.
  • If you've still got a stain, next, pre-treat the garment with a stain remover, treating both sides.
  • Finally, put the item through a normal wash cycle and with any luck, the stain will be gone!

lipstick mark on white shirt collar - GettyImages-518979744

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove lipstick from clothes 

Lipstick on your collar? Or maybe you're all dressed up, with your lippy on and then decide to change last minute, resulting in a lipstick stain fiasco. We've all been there.

Like nearly all stain removal, it's important to act fast and for lipstick in particular, it's important to use a cleaner with grease removing properties (either liquid laundry detergent or dish soap), working it from the inside-out, before popping it in the washer as usual. 

Washing machine not up to scratch? Consider giving it a thorough clean with our guide to how to clean a washing machine, or go one better by checking out our best washing machines guide to invest in a sparkly new one.

The mix of dry, oil and wax substances can be an absolute pain to get rid of and the experts at Cleanipediaagree:

'Many of us would agree that removing make-up stains from clothes is a hassle we could do without. But lipstick stain removal, thanks to its greasy and highly pigmented properties, is that little bit more difficult to shift.'

Here's how to get lipstick stains out of clothes:

  • Start by scraping off any excess lipstick with a butter knife, making sure to direct it away from your body to avoid any accidents.
  • Apply a little liquid detergent or stain removal spray on the stain on both sides of the stain.
  • Rinse it in warm (not hot) water making sure not to rub which could make things even worse. 
  • Toss the item in the washer on a cool cycle before air-drying the garment (tumble drying can set the stain further.)
  • If the lipstick stain is still visible, try using a solvent like hand sanitizer, hairspray or rubbing alcohol.
  • Lay the garment on top of a paper towel and apply the solvent to the stain.
  • Blot the area, before rinsing with cool water, before washing the item as usual in the washing machine.
Jenny McFarlane
Senior Digital Editor

Jenny is Senior Digital Editor and joined the team in January 2021. She also works on the homes brands' video show, on the Future Homes Network, which is packed full of ideas to help you make the most of your own home and garden. Since getting on the property market with her first apartment and then more recently a house, her passion for interior design and gardening has taken on a new lease of life. Jenny's currently on the lookout for a doer-upper to put her stamp on. She loves collecting and salvaging unique items (much to her other half's despair) but sniffing out stylish home bargains is her one true love. When she has a spare minute, she loves to do a spot of crafting, having studied textiles at Uni – although she hardly gets the chance with a toddler who keeps her permanently on her toes.