Treating Common Stains On The Go

Accidental spills, drips, and stains can ruin your clothes if not addressed quickly enough. Since most of us don’t have an emergency washing machine available at all times, it can often feel as though permanent staining is inevitable. The GOOD news is that there are options for treating those accidental spills and drips before they become permanent stains.

The following tips and tricks will help you save that favorite blouse or skirt the next time an accidental spill happens.

treating stains

Stain Treating Pens

Stain treating pens, like the Tide To Go or Clorox Stain Fighter pens, are handy to have around in a stain emergency, but one treatment doesn’t necessarily treat all stains. So consider a stain treating pen to be like a PRE-pre-treatment, and use your favorite pre-treater when you’re ready to wash the garment.

Click here for instructions on how to make your own bleach gel pen.

Click here for instructions on how to make my favorite DIY stain remover.

treating stains

Useful Tools in a Stain Emergency

Butter knife or spoon – It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of plastic spoons and knives in your desk drawer, and not just for lunches! The edge on a spoon or knife is a perfect tool for scraping drips and splatters (like ketchup and mustard stains) off your clothing before treating, so you don’t accidentally make it worse!

Eyedropper – An eyedropper is the perfect tool to use when applying bleach or a pre-treatment to a small stain. You’ll be able to target just the stain, without affecting the fabric around it.

Paper towel or rag – It’s also a good idea to place something absorbent underneath the stained area when applying a stain remover. The paper towel will help pull the stain out of the fabric, as well as keep it from spreading to other areas of the garment.

Soft toothbrush – If your container of stain remover doesn’t have a brush on it, you may want to use a spare soft-bristled toothbrush to help really work the stain remover into the stain, so it can work more effectively.

Tips for Treating Common “Emergency” Stains

Lipstick – Use a knife or spoon to scrape away any solid bits, then blot the area with a dry cloth to remove more of the stain without it dissolving into the fabric.

White bread can also help loosen and removing lipstick in a pinch. Just tear off the crust, bunch up the rest and blot the stain until it’s gone.

Ink – The next time one of your pens leaks in your pocket, grab the bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or on your desk and blot some onto the stain. The high alcohol content will cut through the grease. Be sure to rinse the spot. The alcohol in hair spray would work too. Click here for more information on removing ink stains.

Oils – Oil stains can ruin perfectly good clothes, as they become incredibly hard to treat if not addressed ASAP. Blot the spot with a dry napkin, then sprinkle a powdered substance (baking soda is great, but even artificial sweetener packets will work in a pinch) and let it absorb the liquid. Brush the powder off. With a little persistence you should be able to get most, if not all, of the stain off.

For more in depth details about removing oil stains (especially on dark clothing), click here.

Tea or coffee – Dab cold water onto the stain, then blot with a dry napkin until no more of the tea or coffee comes off.

If you have them on hand, club soda or seltzer water are also helpful at removing stains in a pinch when simple water won’t do it.

Grass – Work a small amount of hand soap into the stain with your fingers, then rinse with warm water over a sink. If you have access to some lemon wedges, using lemon juice and salt on a stain will lift nearly anything after a quick rinse.

Although stains always seem to end up happening at the most inopportune times, being prepared with these tips should help you save at least some of your clothing from the donation or trash bin.

Treating stains

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • If I get a grease spot on clothing when I am away from home, I pull out a white piece of chalk. I rub a small amount on the stain and gently rub with another part of the same piece of clothing or a soft brush. Repeat if the spot is still darker than the surrounding fabric. The goal is to temporarily camouflage the stain.

  • I have been recieving your emails for quite sometime. Thank you for all the tips on cleaning, plus a million more things you share. This site has saved me time and money

  • I hydrogen peroxide to remove nearly all organic stains-coffee, blood, food stains, etc. Quick and easy. Pour it on the stain, let it sit for a moment, then blot until the stain is gone. Only caveat is, be careful with items that you don’t want bleached.

  • For years I have used 409 plus dish soap on most any stain I have ever encountered and it takes everything out. I have even used this method on old “set in” stains that have been through the dryer and even though it may have taken more than one attempt it still took the stain out. Of course for blood I use peroxide first then Spot Shot and if necessary then I use the dish soap and 409 and that also takes all the blood out. For rust and ink stains I have also used a product called Whink and it will dissolve and remove the rust right before your eyes but you also must be careful of the fabric you are using it on. I have used it on mainly cottons or cotton blends like Tshirts or denim. I have used a product called Goo Gone to remove roofing tar and the oily greasy mess that comes along with that out of my floor board carpet in my car and it came out smelling and looking as good as new. I love to hear of other methods that people have found to remove stains because hey life is messy so its nice to have good options to keep things looking and smelling great.

  • I usually have a tide go pen in a bigger makeup bag for when I’m working. My other favorite on the go tool are the shout wipe and go individual packets. My only problem with the packets is they can be hard to find in stores. But Walmart has been the only place I can buy a box.

  • I have discovered the joys of dish soap. I just dribble it onto any stain and it’s taken out in the wash. So simple, yet so effective. I use Dawn blue, but imagine any other would work too.

    Seltzer will take any stain out too. I always have it because I use it to clean my stainless steel (restaurant trick).

  • For stains on the go, I still use the tried and true method of peroxide and dawn. I keep a spray bottle of peroxide and some dawn in a pill bottle. Both comes in very handy, sometimes there is no soap in washrooms etc etc.

  • >