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How to Pre-Treat Laundry Stains & Odors

January 17, 2024

Accidents happen. For example, that glass of wine you’re enjoying can easily spill onto your shirt.

Don’t worry, though, these stubborn stains can be removed. If anything, you just want to be quick about it. The longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to lift stains from the fabric.

What’s the best way to get rid of a laundry stain? Should you use cold water or hot water? Is pre-treating stains necessary?

For the answers, be sure to keep reading. We’ll be going over how to remove stains from clothes below.

The Key to Getting Rid of Stubborn Stains

how to pre-treat laundry stainsInstead of throwing your stained shirt in the washer, pre-treat it with some laundry detergent or stain remover.

Depending on the type of stain, you might even be able to use other things like nail polish remover or hydrogen peroxide.

Different Ways to Remove Stains From Your Clothes

Here are a few ways to get rid of those tough stains (e.g. rust stains, grease stains, dirt stains)

Making a Stain Remover with ACTIVE Detergent

Start by filling a container or bowl with some lukewarm water. Add a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and wait for the powder to dissolve.

Using a sponge or cloth, saturate the stain with the laundry detergent solution. Let it sit for at least an hour—that will allow the product to help lift the stain.

best detergent for pre-treating laundry stains

Note: ACTIVE Detergent is highly recommended if you need to pre-treat stains. However, you can also use a liquid laundry detergent in a pinch.

Rinse the stained garment with clean water afterward. Check to see if the blemish is still present on the material.

If it’s still visible, you might have to do another round of pre-treatment with ACTIVE detergent. Continue until the stain is no longer visible. From there, you can wash it normally.

Using Vinegar and Baking Soda as a Stain Remover

Vinegar is a great cleaning agent and can be used for stain removal – especially if you pair it with baking soda. It’s also the only stain remover that most of us already have in the house.

Start by creating a paste. In a small bowl, combine one part of lukewarm water with two parts baking soda. From there, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar; the baking soda will react with the white vinegar for the stain-removal process.

Apply the baking soda paste onto the stain using a sponge or soft brush.

Make sure to saturate the entire area, otherwise, the vinegar and baking soda might not be able to remove the stain efficiently.

Once you’ve spread the paste on the fabric, let it sit for at least one hour. Afterward, rinse the mixture off with water.

Wash the item normally once the stain is gone. If it’s still visible, you might have to repeat the steps again – continue until there’s no more discoloration on the item.

Using a Commercial Stain Remover

commercial laundry stain pre-treatingIn some cases, you may need to use a commercial product to get rid of that wine stain.

For example, you can get the ones that come as a spray. Simply apply it onto the fabric and rub it in. Let it sit for a few minutes and it should get rid of the spot.

Alternatively, you can get a stain remover stick. They’re small, compact, and great for light stains.

To use the stick, simply rub it onto the stained area. Let it sit for a few minutes, according to the directions, and rinse with cold water afterward.

Best Way to Pre-Treat Odors on Clothes

Stains are icky but so are odors in the laundry room.

Fortunately, the washing machine is capable of tackling most of these odors. In some cases, however, you might need to do a little bit of extra work. We’ll be going over a few methods below.

Using Baking Soda

Start by filling a sink or bucket with lukewarm water. Add two cups of baking soda, mix, and place your stained garment in; make sure that it’s completely submerged.

Leave the garment in the solution for several hours.

Alternatively, you can soak it in the washer. Add the clothes to the drum and fill it with water. Add two cups of baking soda and let it soak by pausing the cycle.

For the best results, you want to let it sit in there for at least a couple of hours. Afterwards, you can resume the wash cycle.

Using Vodka

can you pre-treat stains with vodkaPour some vodka into a spray bottle and apply it onto your clothes (do not dilute it with water). Keep in mind that you’ll need to saturate the area fully – just a couple of sprays won’t be enough.

Once you’ve wet the area, let it sit for 30 minutes. With a little bit of luck, the vodka will get rid of all the smell.

This method works because the alcohol content takes the offending smell with it as it evaporates into the air. The stronger the vodka, the more effective it will be as a deodorizer.

Using Aspirin

Crush a couple of Aspirin tablets in a small bowl (make sure that you use the uncoated type) and gradually mix in a small amount of warm water. Don’t add too much, though – the goal is to create a paste, not a solution.

Once you’ve got your paste, work it directly onto the sweat stain with your hand or a soft brush. Do not scrub the area with it; instead, rub it in gently.

Saturate the entire stained area and let the paste sit up for an hour. Launder the item as usual afterward.

Using Salt

pre-treating stains with saltFill a basin or tub with warm water. Add in a few spoonfuls of table salt and help it dissolve by agitating the water.

Once it’s completely dissolved, place the affected garment in.

Make sure the item is fully immersed in the salt solution and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Remove it from the mixture afterward and rinse with plain water.

Repeat the steps again if the odor is still noticeable. Otherwise, you can launder as usual.

Knowing how to pre-treat stains can make all the difference when washing your clothes. As you can see, there are several products that you can use, from commercial stain removers to liquid laundry detergent.

In terms of effectiveness, however, ACTIVE Detergent is the best choice for fresh stains (e.g. blood stains, grass stains) as it’s powered by enzymes and has the ability to break down dirt and odors.

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Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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