Three Common Stain Removal Chemicals


You have no doubt encountered a stain at some point. Whether it be wine on your carpet, ketchup on your blouse or a grease stain on your coat, you know that stains can often be stubborn, and removing them can take a bit of time, not to mention elbow grease. Thankfully, there are many chemicals that can be used to treat stains, including three common ones that you probably already have in your home.


  • It's important to tackle the task of stain removal with specific chemicals because standard laundry detergents won't always get the job done. In fact, laundry detergents and additives such as generic stain removers and liquid fabric softener can often make matters worse. Before tossing stained articles of clothing into the washer or subjecting fabrics and upholstery to cleaning machines, take advantage of the benefits of certain chemicals that can often get the job done, and remove the stain before it has time to set.


  • Before applying any type of stain-removing chemical to a stained fabric or article of clothing, remove any excess stain using a damp paper towel or rag. Next, make sure the chemical is safe to use. Most chemicals are highly flammable, so extinguish any candles or other sources of open flames, and put out any lit cigarettes. Second, be sure that the chemical is compatible with the type of fabric you are looking to treat. Acetone (nail polish remover), for example, is one stain-fighting chemical, but it will dissolve acetate fabrics. In most cases, you should be able to find the contents of a fabric and any specific warnings on its label.

Isopropyl (Rubbing Alcohol)

  • Isopropyl, better known as rubbing alcohol, is a common household item that can be found in kitchen cabinets and bathroom medicine cabinets. Rubbing alcohol is used to disinfect a variety of surfaces, and can be used to clean wounds or prepare an injection site. When used to combat stains, it is often most effective when applied to the offending stain through blotting. Use a damp paper towel or sponge to help spread the rubbing alcohol on the surface of the stain. Rubbing alcohol is a great choice for removing ink stains, as well as the dreaded "ring around the collar" caused by perspiration and skin oils.

Acetic Acid (White Vinegar)

  • You can find acetic acid, or white vinegar, in just about any kitchen. Typically used in marinating meats, preparing salads or sauteing vegetables, white vinegar can also be handy if you need to tackle stains. In fact, many "old time" remedies for laundering clothing will call for the use of white vinegar. While not used as commonly today for laundering purposes, it is nevertheless still quite effective at removing stains. Apply white vinegar sparingly. Test first on a hidden seam, and avoid use with cotton fabrics. White vinegar can be used to remove coffee, tea, fruit, berries and grass stains.

Acetone (Nail Polish Remover)

  • Acetone can be used for more than the removal of nail polish. It is handy when used as a spot treatment for stubborn stains, particularly ink stains, rust stains and stains on laminate and other hard surfaces. Oil stains can also be successfully combated and removed with acetone. When used with care and sparingly, acetone can also be used to remove stains from fabrics. Caution: always use acetone in a well-ventilated area.

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