Whether they come from coffee, wine, food, make-up or even blood, stains don’t have to mean the end of the line for your favorite linens. Time, patience and a commitment to taking care of your linens are all you need to save them from the rag bag (or the trash).
The earlier you see and treat a stain, the better your chance at removing it. That is why it is imperative that you and your staff inspect linens immediately upon cleaning a room, and treat stains upon discovery. We recommend keeping stain remover products with you when changing/cleaning a room. It is so much easier to see the stain on a sheet while still on the bed or a stain on a towel or wash cloth when removing it from bathroom.
Spot Stains Before the Wash
Always inspect linens before removing them from the room. If you see a stain, you can pre-treat it immediately before taking the linens to the laundry room. If you are not certain what type of stain it is, add masking tape to the stain and treat it when it gets to the laundry room.
If you recognize the type of stain but cannot treat it right away, add some tape, mark type of stain found on the item and treat in the laundry room. This way it does not go into the washing machine without pre-treating. You can also use a safety pin on the stained area to alert whoever is doing the laundry to pre-treat before adding to the washing machine.
This is especially important with a sheet, pillowcase, towel or washcloth, where most makeup stains will occur. You do not want to miss a stain before laundering your fabrics. It’s next to impossible to get a stain out once an item has been washed and dried.
Different Stains, Different Treatments
Different types of stains require different treatments. For example, oil-based stains are best treated with hot water, while blood and some foods are considered cold-water stains. The type of fabric you are dealing with makes a difference as well. Typically, it’s easier to get stains out of cotton than polyester or a cotton/poly mix, because synthetic fabrics are oil-based and hold onto stains.
Household solutions can often hold the key to removing stains. Vinegar, soda water, baking soda and salt can all be lifesavers in the right situation. One of our favorite stain remedies is combining cold water with a salt solution to remove blood from fabric. The first step after finding a blood stain is to run it under a strong blast of cold water. Then, soak the stain in a paste made of salt and water. If the stain is still there after the first soak, don’t worry. You may need to repeat the process a few times before the stain comes out.
We use a similar method for removing wine stains from tablecloths and napkins, only we use boiling hot water instead of cold water. If you have a wine stain on your tablecloth, take the tablecloth to your sink and run boiling water over it to let the wine run through the fabric. Then use the salt paste and let the fabric sit, repeating the process until the stain is out.
Seven Steps for Scrubbing Out Stains
- Determine what kind of stain you are seeing on linen, carpet, furniture, etc.
- Find stains immediately. Don’t let them get into the wash untreated or dried before stain is properly removed.
- Pre-treat oil-based and fresh stains before washing.
- If a stain lingers, treat it again, and repeat until it’s been removed. Avoid the washing machine and dryer if you are not certain the stain is out.
- Test all bleaches or non-chlorine bleaches on fabric before using them in the wash. Use chlorine bleach only as your last resort, and never on wool or silk.
- Don’t use vinegar on acetate material.
- Prevent stains from occurring by providing alternatives for removing make-up by using makeup cloths and/or black wash cloths.