Figuring out how to remove stains just got easier

Wash often for better-looking clothes

Wash your clothing often. Dirt destroys clothes. It's abrasive and can weaken fabric, fiber by fiber. Dirt also attracts fabric-eating insects such as moths. Antiperspirant and airborne hair styling products can also build up over time. These products yellow as they age or after being exposed to heat. Regular washing will prevent this build-up.

Liquid or powder?

In most circumstances, either type of laundry detergent works well. But if you live in an area with hard water, powder detergents will work best. If cool or cold water is all you have to wash with, choose a liquid detergent, as it will dissolve better than powder.

Hot, warm, or cold water?

The hotter the water, the cleaner your wash. Use the hot setting for whites and heavily soiled colors. Warm water works well for cleaning most other fabrics. Use a cold wash for lightly soiled items or bright colors. Always launder an item of clothing according to the instructions on the garment label.

Attack spills immediately.

The longer a stain remains on fabric, the harder it will be to remove. Any spill should be dealt with immediately; take a minute to use a packaged laundry pre-wash product such as Shout® Wipes. If you don't have Shout® Wipes on hand, douse a spill with cold water and then blot it dry. (If you don't know if a fabric is colorfast, test an unexposed seam with water or pre-soak first). Wash the garment as soon as possible. This is true even for spills from light-colored liquids such as white wine, soda or fruit juice. If not treated, these invisible stains will appear as yellow spots when exposed to heat or left over time. Spills that are mildly acid or alkaline can also cause fabric colors to gradually fade or change.

Avoid sunlight.

People used to bleach their whites in sunlight. But today many whites are actually dyed white or treated with fluorescent brighteners. Exposure to sunlight can cause such whites to yellow. Dyed fabric will often lighten in color-unpredictably at times-when exposed to sunlight. Hang-dry clothes indoors, if possible, and store clothes in closets, away from light.

Store clothes properly.

After use, hang clothes in a dry, well-ventilated closet to prevent wrinkles and allow air to circulate through fabrics. Mildew can grow on moist clothes. Examine each garment as you hang it; if you're in any doubt that the clothing is clean, wash it.

Always check the tag.

Whether you're cleaning comforters, curtains or carpets, always check the care tag first to determine if an item is washable. These days, manufacturers are generous in supplying care instructions. Also, pay attention to the instruction label on your cleaning product; it usually lists fabrics that you should absolutely avoid washing in water.

Conduct a colorfast test.

Labels that read "wash separately," "wash in cold water," "hand wash," "do not use detergent" or "turn inside out to launder" may indicate that the dyes in these items are not colorfast. To test, soak an inconspicuous corner of the material in a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of detergent for two to three minutes (less time for pre-treatment stain removers; follow instructions on the product label); then blot with a white paper towel. If the colors do not change, run or come off on the paper towel, and if the item is definitely washable, you may safely use Shout® products.

Don't try to remove a spot by rubbing hard.

You'll destroy the texture of the material. Your first step should be to remove any raised stain particles gently with a dull knife. Then blot lightly with a white paper towel before using a stain remover. For tough stains, try using Shout® Advanced Ultra Gel Brush. It combines a thick gel formula with a built-in, stain-lifting brush to penetrate and remove stains. For more on how to get out heavy-duty stains, visit our Shout® Stain Solver.

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