Cleaning Fabric

by Karen Bates
(last updated November 8, 2021)

It can be very disheartening to look down at a new shirt or a favorite pair of pants only to notice you have accidentally spilled something on the fabric. You might try frantically to wipe at the spill with a napkin, just to spread the stain around and making it worse than before. In cases like this, you may be tempted just to throw the garment out and give up.

Although some spots wipe away easily, many require specific cleaning methods. In many cases, stains on fabric can be successfully removed or reduced by using an appropriate cleaning method. Whether you need to clean a stain on a table cloth, furniture upholstery, or your shirt, there are certain methods you can use to get the best, most successful cleaning results.

To clean fabrics and remove stains, follow these instructions:

  • Begin by blotting fresh stains with a clean rag to absorb as much of the spill as possible. Remember not to rub the stain—this will only spread the stain and push it deeper into the fibers, making it more difficult to remove.
  • Figure out the type of stain you are dealing with before trying a cleaning method. Was it caused by grease, ink, wine, coffee, or another substance?
  • Many food and drink stains can be cleaned by blotting with cold water, sprinkling the spot with salt to absorb the stain, wiping with club soda, then tossing in the washing machine.
  • Use a pre-treat stain remover on most fabrics before washing, allowing it to sit for a few minutes. Then wash as normal, checking to make sure the stain is gone before putting the garment in the dryer.
  • If you find ink stains on fabric, pour a little rubbing alcohol over the stained portion of the fabric. Rinse, then wash like normal.
  • If you are dealing with grease staining, scrape any remaining solid particles from the fabric prior to cleaning. Apply some soap, such as dish soap, to the stain to help break down the grease on the fabric. Wash in the washing machine on a hot setting.

Whatever kind of fabric you are dealing with, be sure you don't dry it in the dryer unless you are certain the stain is gone (or as gone as it can get). Once you put stained fabric through the dryer, the stain will be set in and may be impossible to remove.

Author Bio

Karen Bates

An English student who enjoys writing and art, Karen has had her poetry published in her university's literary journal and has several novels in the works. ...

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