by Amy Gordon
(last updated September 15, 2014)
Tea can be a very calming drink, but it is not as calming when you've poured some on your shirt or spilled it on your tablecloth. Tea makes an excellent light dye for some materials, so this type of stain should be dealt with quickly.
If your shirt is dry-clean only, you need to take it to the drycleaners and show them the stain. For machine washable shirts or linens, if you have a stain removal product that is safe for your shirt or linens, start by blotting out as much of the tea as you can. Sponge the tea stain with water and blot some more. Add a bit more water, and then apply a stain removal product. Let the product sit for five to ten minutes, and then wash the garment normally.
If you do not have a stain removal product, dab some liquid laundry detergent into the stain. You may also apply a paste of dry laundry detergent and water and let it sit for five minutes. Wash the garment in a normal wash cycle, but let it air dry instead of putting it in the dryer. If the stain is still there and your shirt is colorfast or white, mix 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of ammonia in a bowl, and dab at the stain by dipping a clean white cloth into the mixture and then sponging it onto the stained area of the shirt or cloth. You can also try sponging lemon juice into the stain, then hanging the shirt out to dry. This will need to be repeated several times, but the stain will eventually fade.
If you are out and about when you notice the stain and cannot immediately wash your shirt, simply rinse out the shirt with cool water or club soda. If you cannot rinse the shirt, sponge the water or club soda onto the shirt.
To remove tea stains from carpet, start by blotting away as much of the stain as possible. Then dab at the stain with lemon juice. If you have lemon juice drink mix crystals in the house, pour these onto the stain, let them sit for an hour, then vacuum them up. You could also try pouring salt on the mark and vacuuming, or dabbing liquid laundry detergent into the stain. Sponge cool water into the stain to rinse out the detergent. Blot the area to remove as much water as possible, then, if the stain is still there, begin again with laundry detergent or a stain removal product.
Don't let your shirt or tablecloth go into the dryer or be ironed with a tea stain on it—this will set the stain and make it nearly impossible to remove.
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