Stain Removal Techniques

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated April 5, 2021)

Have you ever been confused by the many different methods that there are for removing stains? Despite what many people think, there are actually ten main stain removal techniques that are used for cleaning just about everything. While many of these techniques may sound similar, they are in fact vastly different in reality. Here is a list of the ten most common stain removal techniques, and a brief description of how each one is actually employed.

  • Blotting. When you are told to blot a stain away, you are basically being told that you need to try and lift a stain from what it is currently on. This is typically done by placing a stain removing agent (such as water) onto the stain, and then waiting a short period of time. After about a minute, you gently press down on the stain with a clean towel or piece of cloth. In order to keep from spreading the stain, start from the outer edge of the stain and work your way to the middle.
  • Brushing. Brushing is usually used when you are trying to remove dry, caked on stains from some type of fabric. When brushing a stain from fabric, you don't want to use brush that has too hard of bristles, but rather one that is about medium strength, along the lines of a tooth brush. In order to brush stains away, you want to gently flick up and away from the stain. This will help break up the material and help remove the excess before you actually treat the remaining stain.
  • Flushing. When you flush a stain, your goal is to transfer a stain from surface to another, hopefully to a surface that you can then discard. For example, you can start flushing a stain by putting a clean absorbent pad or cloth underneath the stain. Apply a fluid or stain removal agent to the stain slowly. This will allow the absorbent material the opportunity to absorb the fluid, and the stain. Be sure to check the pad or cloth often, and change it when you begin to see the stain on it.
  • Freezing. Typically freezing is used in conjunction with brushing and scraping, so that you can remove soft pliable materials. Some of these materials will include things like wax, gum, rubber cement, modeling glue, and so on. Simply apply really cold water or an ice cube to the stain, and allow the staining material to harden. Once it has hardened sufficiently, either scrape or brush the material away.
  • Presoaking. If you have a heavily soiled garment, such as a child's pants that have grass stains, then you should use presoaking before you actually wash them. Presoaking is more than just placing the soiled clothes into a bunch of water though, you will also need to add a cleaning agent as well. Popular choices for this are things like detergent, bleach, or a presoaking agent that has been specifically designed for this process. When presoaking something, the minimum amount of time that you need to use is 30 minutes, so do not use a chemical that will be too harsh on your clothes.
  • Pretreating. Pretreating, though it may sound similar to presoaking, is a vastly different technique. In this technique rather than soaking the entire garment, you apply a stain removal agent directly to the stain itself. Usually this works best with smaller stains. While you can always purchase some specially made pretreatment products, you can also do the job by using liquid laundry detergent or soap or rubbing a bar of soap across the stain.
  • Scraping. This method for stain removal is usually used when you have a three dimensional stain, such as eggs, dried spaghetti noodles, and so on. The goal of this method is similar in nature to brushing, in that you want to get rid of the excess staining material before you actually begin cleaning the stain itself. The best tools to use when scraping a stain are either a dull knife, spoon, or even credit card.
  • Sponging. To sponge something clean, you will need to first place an absorbent pad or cloth under the stain itself (if you can). Use a sponge or clean cloth that has already been treated with a cleaning agent, and gently blot or dab the stain. This will help the stain migrate from the garment to your cloth or absorbent pad. Be sure that you change the pad often in order to prevent restaining what you have just cleaned. You can also use the sponging technique to help "rinse" the other cleaning agents that you may have used to clean your garment, carpeting, or even upholstery.
  • Tamping. Tamping is a stain removal technique that is particularly good on upholstery or carpeting. In this method you move a brush in an up and down motion in order to break up the excessive staining material. This method is different though than scrubbing or brushing since you are moving the brush in an up and down motion as opposed to a back and forth motion that you typically use. Tamping is more likely to break up a stain, where scrubbing is more likely to grind the stain into cloth.
  • Vacuuming. For particularly fine particle stains, there is nothing that can beat a good vacuuming. This is how you can easily get things like pollen or sand from your clothing, carpeting, or even upholstery without running the risk of rubbing them in further.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


Ensuring Your Heater and Defroster Works Properly

As the weather starts to get cold, we tend to turn up the heater in our car. Don't wait until the last minute to find out ...

Discover More

Recycling Old Carpet

If there is one drawback to replacing old carpet flooring, it is trying to figure out what you are going to do with that ...

Discover More

Creating a Fun and Neat Playroom

Is there really a parent out there that wouldn't love to have a room dedicated to their children to play in? Creating a ...

Discover More

Tough Cleaning Jobs Require Brawny! Brawny paper towels provide the versatility you need: the strength for demanding jobs and the softness to clean up your child's messy face. This 24-roll pack of pick-a-size sheets can handle just about every cleaning task in your home. Check out Brawny 24-Pack Giant Paper Towels today!

More Cleaning Tips

Removing Rug Stains from Bathrooms

Despite the fact that bathroom rugs are supposed to help protect our floors from stains (while looking good doing it), ...

Discover More

Removing Hair Gel Stains from Fabric

How to remove a hair gel stain depends on the fabric the stain is in. For clothes a stain removing pretreatment and a run ...

Discover More

Removing Melted Crayon from Car Upholstery

If you have children then you may have experienced the wonderful task of trying to remove melted crayon from car ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is six less than 9?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.