How to Get Rid of Stains on White Clothes

Treat white clothing stains as soon as possible.
Treat white clothing stains as soon as possible. (Image: green grass, blue sky and white clothes image by Eric Isselée from

White clothing attracts dirt faster than any other colored garment in your wardrobe. The best stain removal process for your white outfit depends on the source of the stain and the fibers involved. While white wool, spandex and knits require a systematic method to remove dirt, you can clean soiled cotton fabrics with bleach and cold water. For the best possible outcome, treat the stain immediately at home or at a reputable dry cleaner.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Prewash stain remover
  • White paper towel
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ice cubes
  • Dull knife
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Liquid enzyme detergent

Read the manufacturer's label closely and determine the stain type. Before treating a stain, review the label for suggested cleaning instructions. Grease, butter, blood, ink, perspiration and gum stains all require different cleaning processes.

Clean cotton, linen and washable white silk with bleach. Create a cleaning mixture of 1 gallon of cold water with 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach. Soak the garment in the solution for five minutes. Launder the garment following the manufacturer's cleaning directions.

Treat blood stains with cold water. Wash the stain in cold running water. Douse the stain with hydrogen peroxide for five minutes or until bubbles form on the stain. Rinse the blood-stained area. Apply mild liquid soap to remove any traces of the remaining stain. Rinse again with cold water.

Use a prewash stain remover to clean butter, grease or oil stains. Blot the stain gently with a clean white paper towel. Treat the stain with a prewash stain remover. Launder as usual using the warm washing cycle.

Remove ink or ballpoint pen stains with alcohol. Sponge an ink stain with rubbing alcohol for five minutes. Wash the white garment with 1/4 cup of bleach to remove the ink completely.

Rid whites of gum with an ice cube. Apply an ice cube to harden the gum. Scrape off the gum gently with a dull knife. Soak the garment in a dry cleaning solvent to loosen remaining gum fragments. Scrape the gum again. Launder using a warm washing cycle.

Use liquid enzyme detergent to remove perspiration stains. Apply the detergent to the stain. Soak the white garment in a basin filled with cold water for one hour. Wash in warm water to remove the stain.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before attempting stain removal, first test the method on a hidden part of the fabric.
  • Treat stains immediately. The longer the stain remains on the fabric, the more likely it will set permanently.
  • According to Ohio State University's Stain Removal Guide, do not press, iron or place a stained garment in the dryer. Heat may set the stain.
  • If there are any doubts about cleaning your white clothes, take the items to a dry cleaner immediately.

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