How to Treat White Denim for Stains

White denim might have seemed like a good fashion choice until you spilled that chocolate or spaghetti sauce all over your pants. Treating white denim for stains is similar to treating other stains, although it’s a bit trickier since any residue is likely to stand out on the white fabric. The key to getting rid of any stain is to treat it as soon as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Stain pretreater
  • Denim detergent
  • White cloths

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Rinse the stain in cool water to help dilute it.

Identify the type of stain. If the stain just happened, you’ll likely know the culprit, but if you find the denim a few days later, or someone else wore the garment, it may be more difficult. Knowing the type of stain in the fabric helps determine the type of pretreater you should use. For example, you’ll treat greasy stains with a soapy pretreater, and treat chocolate or gravy with dry cleaning fluid.

Apply an appropriate pretreater to the fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions for quantity and application methods.

Soak the garment in water for at least 30 minutes. Some stains, such as tea and fruit juice, often come out after soaking alone.

Apply more pretreater and work it into the garment again with a clean cloth to ensure the cleaner gets deep into the fabric fibers. Some pretreaters may suggest that you let the cleaner work on the fabric a few minutes before washing it.

Hand wash the garment with a detergent made specifically for denim. Use cool-to-warm water while trying to get rid of stains. Scrub the stained area gently with a clean white cloth to help break down and remove the stain better.

Wring water from the garment and inspect the area for the stain or discolorations. Treat with more detergent as necessary, or allow to air dry. Don’t place a stained garment in the dryer or you may permanently set the stain.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult the fabric care instructions on your denim for tips on how to tackle stains. For example, instructions may indicate that you shouldn't use bleach on the denim.
  • Follow manufacturer's instructions carefully for detergent amounts. Too much or too little soap may cause your white denim to turn gray.
  • Use bleach sparingly; although it may help brighten the denim, the harsh chemicals break down fibers and may turn your denim slightly yellowish.


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