Learn how to remove stains from clothing with Colgate's Stain Removal Guide

Learn how to remove stains from clothing with Colgate's Stain Removal Guide. Our Stain Removal Guide will give you directions on how to treat and launder your fabric to remove stains- carpet stains, ink stains, sofa stains, wine stains, pet stains, coffee stains and blood stains.


Precautions and General Information

  1. Identify the stain and fabric before treatment
  3. ACT quickly
  4. PRE-TEST STAIN REMOVAL AGENTS on the inside of the fabric. Apply several drops of the recommended remover and rub gently with a clean white towel. If colour transfers to the cloth or a colour change occurs, a professional dry cleaner should be consulted.
  6. DO NOT USE metal spoons or metal containers with bleaches.
  7. DO NOT USE chlorine bleach on wool, silk or spandex.
  8. DO NOT OVERWET. Place absorbent pad under the stain. Use solvents sparingly. Blot frequently
  9. DO NOT RUB OR BRUSH. Feather liquids unevenly in the area surrounding the stain to avoid a ring.
  10. BE PATIENT. Some stains respond slowly. Procedures may need to be repeated several times. All stains cannot be removed from every fabric due to differences in age of stain, structure of materials, fibres, dyes and finishes. Professional dry cleaners have skills and resources not available to the consumer.


Stain Removal Chemicals

Bleach - kills mildew and mould, and is effective at removing coloured stains, but may fade or damage the item (chlorine bleach is particularly risky). After the stain has gone, wash the bleach out thoroughly. A mild bleach like hydrogen peroxide is less likely to damage if used correctly.

Solvents - remove stains by dissolving them. Nail polish remover containing acetone and/or amyl acetate works on lacquers and some paints and resins, as well as nail polish. Methylated spirits is good on adhesive tape, PVA, latex and water based paints, ballpoint ink, waxes, makeup, correction fluid, grass and chocolate. White spirits (used in lighter fluid), turpentine and Kerosene can cope with fat/oil stains, tar/asphalt and some adhesives. Many pre-wash spot treatments contain solvents.

Mild Acids - such as white vinegar, cream of tartar or lemon juice help remove rust and some food stains.

Eucalyptus Oil - can remove some adhesive glues, fat, wax, gum and tar.

Lubricating agents - such as glycerine and petroleum jelly (eg Vaseline) help soften old stains.

Washing agents - weaken the bond holding the stain so it can be washed away. Ammonia and Borax are all round cleaners. Enzyme laundry detergents and soakers target protein-based stains, such as grass, blood and egg-yolk.

Most of these chemicals are available from supermarkets, hardware shops and pharmacies. Store them in a dark place and out of reach of children.

Diluting Guide

  • Household ammonia:
    1 tablespoon of Household ammonia to ½ cup of water
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (Bleach)
    5 tsp to 0.5L water
  • White Vinegar
    1 part White Vinegar to 3 parts water
  • Borax
    Follow manufacturers’ guide

Stains Unlikely to be removed

  1. Acids - such as stomach acid, toilet bowl cleaners, tile grout cleaners, corn and callous removers, foot care preparations.
  2. Acne Medications and Skin Creams - products containing benzoyl peroxide such as acne medications, fade or age creams, foot care preparations, pet shampoos
  3. Strong Alkalis - such as drain cleaners, oven cleaners
  4. Bleaches - such as chlorine bleach, swimming pool chemicals, mildew stoppers
  5. Dimethyl sulfoxide - included in some arthritis medications
  6. Disinfectants and Germicides - some household cleaning products such as bathroom cleaners
  7. Pesticides
  8. Plant Foods and Fertilizers
  9. Old Urine Stains
  10. Miscellaneous - cement, furniture stain, black walnut, some yellow dyes


  1. Sort Laundry

    By Fabric Type: Delicate fabrics which require a gentle cycle will need to be separated from heavier items
    By Colour: Separate whites from colours, and pastels from dark colours

    By Soil Level: Since soil can travel from one garment to another in the laundry, it is also advisable to wash heavily soiled garments separately

    Lint: Check pockets and remove tissues before washing. Wash heavy lint shedders, especially blankets, chenille bedspreads or rugs & woollens separately and clean out the lint filter in your washing machine regularly.
  2. Pre-treat Obvious Stains

    How to remove stains
    Most stains can be removed completely, provided that they are handled promptly and properly:

    Follow these general tips:
    1. The Number 1 rule - ACT FAST if possible! Rinse stains before they have a chance to set, using cold water.
    2. Before removing any stain, check the fabric. Silks, wools and many Permanent Press fabrics require special care, while stains on white and coloured cottons, linen and washable fabrics are more easily removed.
    3. Do not rub stains as rubbing may push the stain further into the fabric.
    4. Avoid hot water on an unknown stain - hot water sets many stains.
    5. Avoid the use of any chlorine bleach unless the garment tag says it may be used.
      Different treatments for different stains
      Fabrics react differently to different stains and stain removal treatments, so it is important to identify the stain to treat it properly.

      Stain Removal Guide
      The stain removal guide covers most of the common stains, but if you have a problem stain that is not featured, please call the Colgate-Palmolive Laundry Advisory Service on (Free Call) 1800 800 617.
  3. Choose the Right Water Temperature

    Cold or Hot water?
    The care label on your clothes recommends which water temperature to use:

    Cold (20°C)
    Ideal for fabrics that might shrink or fade in warm water and recommended for typical wash-and-wear items. Cold Power is specially formulated for cold water washing.

    Warm (35°C)
    Recommended for permanent press items including light to medium colours. For perfect results first time, every time use Dynamo Liquid.

    Hot (55°C)
    Provides maximum cleaning for items that can stand hot water without losing colour or shrinking; especially baby clothes & nappies and heavily soiled work or sport outfits. Excellent for whites, sheets, towels and other household items. For perfect results first time, every time use Dynamo Liquid.

    For Dark and Black Colours
    Use cool water. Use Dynamo Dark Colours liquid to help protect darks and colours and keep clothes looking newer longer.
  4. Add Laundry Detergent and Fabric Conditioner
    We recommend that the detergent be pre-dissolved before commencing the wash. The easiest way to do this is to fill the washing machine approx half way with water, add the detergent, then keep filling the machine. Once full, stop, load the clothes and commence the wash.

    Choosing & using Detergent
    1. For an unbeatable clean in cold that revels the true vibrancy of your colours and whites use Cold Power Advanced Concentrated Powder
    2. For people who like their clothes clean and soft on their skin use Cold Power Aloe Vera, specially formulated with natural Aloe Vera extract
    3. For a detergent that's tough on stains, gentle on clothes and leaves no residue use Dynamo Liquid
    4. For Dark and Black clohes use Dynamo Black to keep your clothes looking newer longer
    5. For Front Loader washing machines use Dynamo Matic Liquid or Concentrated Powder - specially formulated for front loaders

    Fabric Conditioner
    Looking after your clothes in the wash is as simple as adding Cuddly to the Fabric Softener dispenser fitted to your washing machine. If a dispenser is not fitted simply add to the final rinse cycle of each wash.
    Cuddly can also provide the finishing touch to your hand washing. Simply wash garments as usual, then add Cuddly to the final rinse water. For more information on Fabric Softeners click here

  5. Drying
    Most Australians line dry their washing for that fresh outdoor feeling. If drying in direct sunlight turn clothes inside out to minimise fading. If line drying is not possible then use a dryer.
    The dryer should be on cool or warm unless drying heavy items like towels as the hot cycle sets creases and can shrink some clothes. Tumble drying on cool or warm may make ironing easier.
    Some items such as woollens lose their shape if hung on the line and will shrink if put in the dryer. For these items it is best to lay them flat on a towel out of direct sunlight.

  6. Ironing
    Before ironing it is important to check the care instructions on the garment to ensure an optimal result and avoid damaging the fabric.
    Using a fabric conditioner such as Cuddly in your wash will reduce the static cling of fabrics making them much easier to iron. Tumble drying on cool or warm may also make ironing easier but once again be careful to first check the garments care instructions.