Some of the most common household stains are protein-based stains, which are the result of organic materials or bodily fluids. Protein stain sources include blood, vomit and pretty much any type of food, including eggs, dairy products and baby food. Mud stains are also considered protein stains. It is important to follow the right steps when cleaning protein stains, which can otherwise set and become tougher to remove.
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Tips for Removing Protein Stains
As with any stain, the earlier you treat a protein-based stain, the better your chances of removing it entirely, though dried stains can still be treated. The first step when it comes to removing any fresh protein stain is to remove as much of the stain as possible with paper towels. You can also use a dull butter knife or a spatula to scrape off the stain.
The most important rule to keep in mind when dealing with protein stains is not to use hot water. Any kind of heat can cause the protein stain to coagulate within the fibers of the fabric. When this happens, the stain becomes much more difficult to remove. Therefore, if you encounter a stain but you don't know what substance you are dealing with, avoid hot water in case it is a protein stain.
Protein Stain Remover for Clothing
If you find yourself having to clean a protein-stained clothing item that can be washed, you should first soak it in cold water with a product that contains enzymes meant to help break down protein stains. However, note that some fabrics, like wool and silk, can become damaged if exposed to enzymes.
After soaking the clothing item for at least 30 minutes, launder it with a laundry detergent in either warm or cold water depending on what the washing instructions for the item indicate. You may need to soak the piece for a few hours if the stain is really old.
Some protein stains can be stubborn, so it may be necessary to repeat the soaking and laundering process if the stain isn't completely gone after one wash. In some cases, particularly those involving red stains, like blood or beets, it may be necessary to use fabric-safe bleach to completely remove the stain.
Protein Stain Remover for Carpets
As in the laundry aisle, you can also find carpet cleaners on the market that contain enzymes that break down protein-based stains and come with instructions. If you don't have such a product on hand, you can make a carpet protein stain remover with some common household items.
For example, you can mix 1/2 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1/4 cup of borax powder. The result is a paste that you can apply directly to the stain. Leave the paste on the stain for at least 24 hours and then vacuum it once it is completely dry. A perk of using this mixture to treat protein-based stains is that it will also kill any bacteria in the stained area.