How to Remove Faded-on Stains From Clothes

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Things You'll Need

  • Pretreatment spray or stick

  • Heavy duty liquid laundry detergent

  • Color safe bleach

  • Chlorine bleach

  • Nail polish remover

  • Cotton swab

Removing old stains is difficult, but not impossible.

Removing faded-on old stains is difficult for two reasons. First, the stains have probably been heat-set in a dryer or by an iron. Secondly, you may not know what the original stain was, which makes treating it more difficult. Before you give up, try a few basic stain removing tricks.


Step 1

Dab a bit of nail polish remover on the stain with a cotton swab if the stain is ink or permanent marker. Rub the stain with the pretreatment stick or spray it. Pour 1/8 cup of heavy duty liquid detergent on the stain.

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Step 2

Fill a sink or bucket with warm water. Add 1/2 cup color safe bleach to the water if the garment is colored. Or add 1/2 cup chlorine bleach to the water if the garment is white.

Step 3

Soak a colored garment for 30 minutes, but soak the white garment for only 15 minutes. Chlorine bleach probably won't remove more stains after 15 minutes, but it may damage and weaken fabric fibers.

Step 4

Drain the water and rinse. Repeat the above steps if necessary. Wash the garment in warm water in a regular wash cycle.


Step 5

Place a white garment on a towel in the sun. The sun doesn't remove the stain, but it may fade it so you can't see it. This technique works especially well on old baby formula stains. Don't try this with colored items.


Always treat stains immediately for best results. Keep a pretreatment stick in your bedroom closet to treat stains as soon as you take clothing off. Check garment labels before using chlorine bleach.


Chlorine bleach can stain clothing and irritate the skin and eyes. Use care and keep it out of children's reach.


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