Strain remover tips using your washing machine

It is very common to think if you have a stain on an item of clothing that there is nothing you can do to get rid of it.  Set out below are tips for how to get rid of the most common stains, and some not so common.

You will always get the best results if you follow the tips below, and then wash in the correct cycle for the particular garment, as identified on the care label.

Glues and Adhesives

You may be surprised to know that you can remove most adhesives by using acetone, otherwise known as Nail Varnish Remover.  You should then follow the washing instructions on the garment concerned. It may be necessary to repeat this process if all the adhesive is not removed the first time.

Ball point or felt tip pens

Mix up a solution of your normal washing detergent in cold water, and soak the affected garment overnight.  Rinse the garment and then wash in the correct programme as per the washing label.

Beetroot, Blackcurrant, Coffee, Fruit, Tea or Wine

Soak the garment in cold water for about an hour, then handwash using your normal washing detergent.  You can then rewash through your normal washing machine cycle.  This may seem a bit fiddly and time-consuming but if you remove the stains from your garment it is worthwhile.


If the blood is fresh you should rinse immediately under cold running water, and then wash as per normal in your washing machine.  If the blood has dried or is an older stain, the best thing you can use is a branded stain remover and follow the instructions on the label.  


Rub the stain with a liquid detergent, and then soak in a warm water solution with a biological washing product.  Following this you should wash the garment in the normal way.

Grease, cooking oil, mascara, lipstick or suntan cream or oil

The best method for removing this sort of stain is to rub in a liquid detergent and leave for about an hour.  You will need to check the wash label and select the highest temperature your garment will take.  It is really important you do not wash the garment in a temperature that is too high, as you may well remove the stain but the garment may be spoilt by the high temperature.

Lager, ale and beer

For heavy staining you should start by dabbing with a solution of 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water, after which you should rinse thoroughly.  If the stain is not too bad you can pre-treat by rubbing your normal liquid detergent into the affected area.  In both of the above cases, you should use your normal washing programme.  Not only should this remove the stain, but you should also not be left with a vague vinegar smell.

Candle Wax

This one is quite interesting, first of all peel off as much of the wax as possible, secondly heat up your iron and place some kitchen roll under and over the stain and press down with a warm iron on to the back of the fabric.  The balance of any marks should be removed during your normal wash cycle.

Chewing gum

Surprisingly enough what you should do is either apply ice as soon as possible, or place the garment in a bag and put it into the freezer, which will harden the gum.  You should then be able to break off as much of the gum as possible.  Then all you need to do is to pre-treat with your normal liquid detergent and wash in the correct cycle for the garment.

Collars and Cuffs

If you notice staining is not being removed from collars, cuffs and any item you wear regularly, these can be removed by just pre-treating the areas with your normal liquid detergent, leave for about an hour, and then wash in your normal way.  You should begin to see an improvement, and if you do this on a regular basis, the marks should be removed for good.  Not only do you feel better as your clothes look cleaner, but you will extend the life of the garment as well.

Condiment stains – mustard, chilli and even curry

Although these often look bad, if you make up a warm water solution with your normal liquid detergent and leave for about an hour before washing, you will be surprised how easily these stains are removed.

Pudding stains – chocolate, cream, egg, ice cream, jam or even grass

You can use this warm water solution with your liquid detergent for very many stains, and it is a godsend with children’s clothes.  Depending on the strength and spread of the stain, pre-soak in this solution for about an hour and then wash garments in the normal cycle.  You may need to repeat this if the stain is either dried on or more stubborn than usual.

Mould and rust

Unfortunately, this kind of stain can be more difficult to remove on delicate fabrics such as woollen or silks.  For most other fabrics you should cover the mark with salt and then squeeze lemon juice on top of the salt, and leave overnight.  The stain should simply be removed once you have put the garments through a normal wash.  For your more delicate items it may be prudent to purchase a branded stain remover and follow the instructions.


Apart from children’s clothes, you are more than likely to find mud on sports clothes but either way the method is the same.  Let the mud completely dry and then scrape off as much as possible.  Pre-treat the affected area with a liquid detergent and then wash in your normal programme.  To be fair it is far more likely that the stains will be removed completely first time if you use a hotter wash, but please take note of the washing labels in each garment, otherwise the garments may be damaged if the temperature is too high.


For water-based latex, acrylic and emulsion paints, you should rinse the paint off whilst it is still wet under running water then you should be able to get rid of the stains by washing in your normal wash cycle.  For oil-based paints and varnish, you should sponge with white spirit or paint brush cleaner before washing in the normal wash cycle.

Tar and oil from the beach

You should first of all scrape off as much of the sticky tar as possible.  Once you have done this you should spread the area with butter or margarine to soften the tar, and then wipe away with a clean rag.  If there is still any stain left, you will need to resort to a branded stain remover and follow the instructions, before washing the garments according to the wash labels.

Sauces, including tomato

These stains are not that easy to remove, surprise surprise.  You should initially soak for an hour in cold water.  You will then have to resort to using a branded stain remover on the stain before washing in your normal wash cycle.


Soak in cold water as soon as possible, then wash in your normal wash cycle.  You may also treat with a branded stain removed, following the instructions, and then wash through your normal wash cycle.


Rinse under running cold water as soon as possible, soak in a warm water solution with your liquid detergent, and then you will need to use a branded stain remover.  After all this, you will then need to wash the item in your normal wash cycle.

The most important thing with any stain is to try to remove them as soon as possible, as the faster you get the item to water, the better the overall result with be.  If the stain does not completely go away after the first cycle of treatment, you should repeat the whole process and this should bring the garment back to its original look.

Basic principles are rinse in cold water, add the garment to a warm water solution to which you have added your normal liquid detergent.  Depending on the severity of the stain you should leave the garment in soak for anywhere between an hour and overnight.  If you can still see some marking after this process, before putting into your washing machine, you should rub the affected area with a liquid detergent.

Sometimes, with the best will in the world, it is not possible to totally remove all stains, and it is always a good idea to have a branded stain remover to hand.

Be very careful if you are trying to remove a stain from a delicate fabric, as you should only use gentle methods for removal, including soaking in the warm water solution.






























Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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