When you spill something on your favorite t-shirt, the first thing you think of is throwing yourself out of the nearest window. Life is not worth living anymore, right?
Wrong. You can save your life because you can save your shirt. Because nobody you know has pulled red wine or coffee or blood (yes, blood) from a t-shirt, doesn’t mean you won’t. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to know these protocols. By then it could be too late.
You’ll notice that most of these instructions start with something about “best when fresh.” Stains are like french fries. You’ve only got a small window for maximum results.
I’ve narrowed this list to the most common offenders and the best plan to remove them. Start memorizing.
This is the first stain you get on your clothes when you’re a kid. It’s usually reserved for the knees of your Sunday khakis, but sometimes grass gets on a good t-shirt.
The internets will tell you to use ammonia or bleach. Forget those options.
Grab a bottle of alcohol, the rubbing kind. The stain in the grass is chlorophyll, which the alcohol can dissolve. Let it air dry, then rinse and repeat if necessary.
Before you wash the shirt, pretreat your stain one last time to knock it all the way out.
Think you can’t remove wine stains? Think again. Actually, stop thinking and move. You need to get this one while it’s fresh.
First, flush the stain with soda water. Use a rag to blot as much as possible, mixing salt into the stain with your blotting.
White wine will dilute the red, but you’ll then have to remove the white wine. Best to get it all in one shot.
Only somewhat worse than spilling wine on your favorite t-shirt is a spot of oil. unlike fruit stains, oils from plants or your vehicle work the same. They get in the fabric and no amount of cold water will release them.
Your best chance is to act while the stain is fresh. First, blot with some cold water on a rag. After that, grab some white chalk like the kind one uses on a chalkboard.
Start at the center of the stain, working outwards with strong strokes. Cover the whole stain with chalk, then throw it in the wash.
As a substitute, you can use talc or baby powder, but chalk works best.
Coffee Or Tea
The coffee spill is a movie classic, but you don’t have to spill a whole cup to make a stain that’ll drive you nuts. In fact, the hardest thing about that tiny coffee drip is how much it ruins the t-shirt. It’s the tannins that do the damage.
Like wine, the faster you move the better. If you have the means to remove the shirt, then soak it in cold water. You can even soak it for a couple hours to be sure. Pretreat before washing to knock it out completely.
If you’re dealing with a recent stain, one that’s no yellowed, plop the offending shirt into a bath of white vinegar and water, two parts vinegar to one part water. Let it soak overnight, then launder as normal.
If the stains are set in, yellow and dry, mix up some baking soda and water in paste-like consistency. Slap that mess on the stains, then let them soak in overnight.
In the morning, rinse off the paste with white vinegar. Be ready for foamy goodness from your volcano pit stains.
Pretreat and launder as normal. Viola!
As a stain, blood gets only worse with wash if you don’t do something first. If it’s fresh, you can get most of it off with cold water. Either dunk the shirt in a bath of cold water or blot it off with a rag.
If the blood is more set in, try hydrogen peroxide, the 3% sort. Blot, then rinse with cold water. Pretreat and launder as normal. Some people recommend dunking the shirt in milk, but this introduces another stain so only try this if you’re desperate.
Okay, seriously, how did you get urine stains on your t-shirt? Don’t answer that. Hopefully or not hopefully, it’s fresh. New urine comes out easier. Rinse it off, then wash as normal.
That last one was for good humor, but if you spilled urine on your favorite t-shirt, you need to think about where your life is headed. Adults spill wine and coffee on their clothes, not pee. Your t-shirt collection is too important to you for this kind of thing.