The Ultimate Guide to Removing Stains From White Clothes

Getting a stain on your favorite (or most expensive!) white shirt feels like a tragedy. But before you start thinking about throwing out your once-immaculate white shirt, know that it is salvageable.

There are ways to remove stains from your shirt or dress, whether it’s sweat, rust, wine, blood, or a whole host of other nasty spots.

Here is a guide on how to erase the unsightly splotch from your white clothes.

How to get stains out of white clothes

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How To Remove Sweat Stains

Forgot your antiperspirant or undershirt today? Or maybe you just had a big meeting or a big date! Don’t let those embarrassing stains on your white shirts stick around.

Follow these instructions to wash your white shirt, ideally before the sweat dries.

Wash It Hot

Sweat stains should be easy to remove from your white clothes. Simply launder the white fabric with your favorite laundry detergent — but use hot water instead.

Soak in White Vinegar

If the hot-water laundering did not do the trick on your tough stains, try white vinegar. You’ll need 1 cup of white vinegar. In a big enough tub, mix that cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of warm water (not boiling).

Soak your sweat-stained white fabric in the tub for 30 minutes. Then wash or launder with hot water.

Hydrogen Peroxide

If the vinegar trick didn’t work, it’s time to resort to hydrogen peroxide. This method will bleach your white shirt — but don’t worry. It won’t damage it.

Blot generous amounts of hydrogen peroxide onto the stain. Let it sit for half an hour. Then wash or launder with hot water.

How To Remove Deodorant Stains

woman in white shirt, black shorts and hat

Most deodorants contain aluminum, which is the ingredient that causes yellow stains in the armpits. Although some deodorant stains can be permanent, you can still try to fix this discoloration issue by following the solutions below.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

Prepare 1 teaspoon of cleaning concentrate and a quarter cup of water. Then pour in ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and two tablespoons of baking soda. Mix well.

Apply the mixture on the armpit stains, then agitate. Let your white shirt sit for 2 hours, then launder in a washing machine using cold water.

Concentrate and Oxy Boost

If the deodorant stain remains despite the above method, time to use a concentrate combined with an oxygen-based cleaning powder. Mix together 1 teaspoon of the concentrate, 1 scoop of oxygen-based cleaning powder, and water. Soak the fabric overnight, then toss it in the dryer in the morning.

Mom and girl twirling in white clothes

How To Remove Grease Stains

So, you splashed grease on your favorite white shirt. Don’t fret. Grease stains are one of the easiest stains to remove, because it is an oily substance.

Laundry Detergent

Using a liquid laundry detergent with enzymes, dab gently onto the stained area. Then, depending on the care label attached to your clothing, wash on the hottest setting allowed on the instructions on the label.

When the grease stain is no longer visible, dry your white shirt. If not, repeat the process. Make sure the stain has been completely removed before drying the clothing.

Dishwashing Detergent

The great thing about dishwashing detergents is that it easily absorbs grease. Grab your regular dishwashing liquid and dilute it.

Lay out your white garment and apply the diluted solution on the grease stain. Rub or agitate the detergent into the fabric using your fingers until the stain dissolves.

Rinse the garment, then proceed to wash it the normal way using laundry detergent. If the stains are stubborn, you can simply repeat the process.

How To Remove Blood Stains

Whether it’s from a kid’s scraped knee, a nosebleed, or your period staining your favorite pair of white trousers, bloodstains can easily be removed.

Cool Water

Soak the white fabric with bloodstains in cool water for 1 hour. Cold water actually breaks up the stain, which makes it easier to remove.

Then wash the fabric the usual way in a washing machine. Next, air-dry instead of using the dryer.

white cardigan sweater and grey pants

Soap and Water

A simple hand-wash can do the trick. Scrub the garment using soap and water. This method proves to be successful even on sturdy fabrics, such as linen.

Run Water From the Back

Turn the fabric inside out and run water against the blood stain from the back. The water will push the blood off the fabric, loosening the stain. Then proceed with scrubbing with soap and water.

Enzymatic Cleaner

Except for wool or silk, use an enzymatic cleaner for stubborn blood stains. This method biodegrades the blood stain, making it easy to remove.

How To Remove Grass Stains

Those familiar green streaks are pesky, especially if you’re an outdoorsy person — or a mom with kids that enjoy rolling and sliding in the grass. Special shout out to the football and baseball moms out there! Here are some solutions to fix grass stains.

Before removing the stain, pre-treat it first. Soak your grass-stained white clothing in cold water. Don’t use hot water! Cold water will soften the stain.

Liquid Detergent

This one’s a simple solution! Just using a laundry detergent, you can remove the grass stain. With a small amount of liquid detergent, rub the stain until it dissolves. Then wash it the usual way.

Hairspray

Spray on the stain and leave until dry. Grab a brush (stiff-bristled, preferably) and scrub out the stain. Then apply liquid detergent and wash the regular way.

Bleach

Oh, you’re a brave soul! Bleach can damage certain fabrics such as polyester and cotton. If you insist on using bleach, strictly follow the instructions on the label. Do not leave your white fabric soaking in bleach for more than 5 minutes.

Rubbing Alcohol

Grab a clean sponge, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol in it and gently dab across the stain. To avoid spreading the grass stain, do not wipe or scrub. Just dab, dab, dab. Rinse in cold water.

After rinsing in cold water, apply a dollop of liquid detergent onto the stain, agitate it into the fabric, then leave for 5 minutes. Wash the usual way in your washer.

How To Remove Food and Drink Stains

The best advice really depends on the food that stained your white clothes! But here are the general solutions to fixing the problem. The first rule: Don’t panic and try to wipe it off. The food will smear and spread all over your clothes!

Before removing the stain, scrape off the food first using a knife, or anything flat and hard. You can even use your credit card. Then blot the stain with a paper towel.

white tshirt with paper bag pants

(want paper bag outfit ideas? head here!)

Vinegar

With a vinegar-soaked sponge, dab on the stain. Use only white vinegar. Then wash normally. If the stain has not been completely removed, make a solution of 3 parts vinegar to one part water, then soak the garment in it. Leave overnight before washing.

Lemon Juice

This works great in removing fruit juice or curry stains. Simply squeeze lemon juice into the stain and leave it overnight. The following morning, launder in a normal wash cycle.

Toothpaste

Apply toothpaste into the food stain, then leave it for 2 to 3 hours. Then wash normally.

Baby Powder, Cornstarch, and Flour

This is the method to use if you are dealing with butter or any oily food stains. Apply talcum powder, flour, and cornstarch on both sides of the stain. If you have no cornstarch, use an artificial sweetener.

Leave it for 30 minutes, then brush off all the powder. Then wash with a mild detergent in warm water.

How To Remove Coffee Stains

Casual spring outfit - coffee graphic tee, distressed denim jacket and black denim.

I see you over there, drink dribbler! Don’t worry — coffee stains are fairly easy to remove.

Mix ⅓ cup of white vinegar and ⅔ cup water. Soak your coffee-stained white fabric in the solution. Then air- or sun-dry the clothing (do not use a dryer). Then wash as usual.

How To Remove Wine Stains

Red wine lovers, here’s the trick to fix that accidental spill on your white fabric.

Dishwashing Detergent and Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix the two components together in equal parts. Then pour the solution over the wine stain. Let the solution soak into the fabric until the red wine stains fade away. Then launder the normal way.

Bleach

Risky, but it works especially on white clothes. Soak the fabric in bleach for 5 minutes. Then wash it in the hottest water allowed according to your shirt’s care label.

How To Remove Rust Stains

Rust stains can be best removed using vinegar. Get a cotton ball and soak in white vinegar. Gently blot or dab on the stain.

woman in white henley shirt and jeans

(find white bootie outfits here)

The next step is to sprinkle salt all over the stain — make sure the stain is entirely covered in salt. Then rub or agitate.

When the rust stain has faded, let it dry under direct sunlight until the stain is completely gone. Then wash your white shirt the regular way.

Best Stain Removers for White Clothes

Home remedies are great, but sometimes you just want the quickest answer! If you’re looking for effective solutions you can buy in the store, here are my two recommendations for stain remover products:

1. OxiClean

I love this product as it works perfectly with your detergent. The OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener and Stain remover not only removes the stain from your white clothing, but it even brightens and whitens it. Also, it’s chlorine-free and phosphate-free!

2. Tide To Go

This is really a powerful solution — and it’s portable! Looking like a pen or marker, you can take it anywhere, especially if you know you’re clumsy with food and you’re going to dine out or eat at your desk.

It easily removes ketchup, chocolate, wine, tea, BBQ sauce, and just about any food. The best part? It doesn’t contain bleach!

Always Test First

white button up shirt with black jeans and a denim jacket

Just a note: Before removing the stain on your white clothes using any of the above methods, it’s best to try it first in the hem or cuff of your clothing. That way you can make sure it’s made from colorfast fabrics and the solution won’t do damage to your clothes.

And I mentioned it a few times in terms of hot water settings, but always read the fabric care instructions on your white clothing, especially delicate fabrics. Not every material can be treated equally!

Now get out there in your favorite shirt, white dress or white jeans! You don’t need to be afraid of messing them up now that you know how to get all kinds of stains out.

Now that you know how to clean your white clothes, let’s chat about how to clean white Converse!

About Jen

Jen is a mom of 3 who loves frozen cookie dough, plants and a generous pour of creamer in her coffee. Her biggest joy is helping others find joy in their life, style and home through tips, tutorials and encouragement. She also runs 2 additional blogs. Feel free to send Jen a message or join the fun on Instagram!

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