Removing stains from shirts: Our top tips

Removing stains from shirts

Removing stains from shirts can be just as important for a mover and shaker as it is for a note taker. A drop of Shiraz down the front of your shirt. An errant kiss on your collar from the tipsy girl at the pub. Sweaty armpits whilst walking around the city in the midday sun. Taking notes or doodling away, you’ve smudged ink all over your shirt cuff.

All of us at some time have experienced one or all of the above situations (though we probably all prefer the Shiraz and the errant kiss). But sometimes the usual laundering process has troubles removing stains from shirts. Well, with a bit of know-how, you needn’t relegate your favourite shirt to the scrap heap.

Follow our tips on removing stains from shirts, including some of the more common situations you’re likely to encounter.

The key to removing stains from shirts is getting to the stain EARLY!

Firstly, if your shirt is made from 100% Egyptian cotton (like all Philippe Perzi Vienna shirts), your shirt can endure a fair amount of soaking, drying and heat without ruining the fabric. The key to removing stains from shirts is to make sure you attend to the stain as quickly as you can to keep the stain from setting. Tepid water (not hot, not cold) will go a long way towards removing many stains before you can concentrate on spot treating the offending stain later on.

Removing stains from shirts

Removing stains from shirts at home

Apply the cleaning agent to the back of the shirt i.e. the opposing side of the fabric to where the stain is located. This serves two purposes; it forces the stain back towards the surface of the shirt and if for any reason the cleaning agent discolours the fabric, it’s best that you’ve applied it to the underside of the shirt rather than the front. If in doubt, test the cleaning agent on an inconspicuous piece of fabric that won’t be seen.

Lay the shirt face down on a towel so that the stain has something to be absorbed into.

Removing stains from shirts

Tips on removing stains from shirts for some more common situations:

Lipstick/make-up: For make-up, try using a non-oily make-up remover or rub a little shampoo or dishwashing detergent, such as Morning Fresh into the stain and dab with a damp cloth.

For lipstick, place a soft white toweling fabric under the part of the fabric that has been stained. Massage a little olive oil into the stain. Gently dab the lipstick mark with another white toweling fabric, moving the toweling around to a clean spot as the lipstick ‘bleeds’ into the toweling fabric.  Wash as normal with laundry detergent in cold water.

Sweat and/or deodorant stains: Yellowing under the armpits are not a good look. Everyone sweats but it’s actually the chemical reaction of your sweat with the antiperspirant deodorant that causes yellowing on white shirts. Rub some dishwashing detergent like Morning Fresh on the underarms where the stains are, leave for 5 minutes and then let the shirt soak for an hour. This can be repeated if the stains remain.

Sard Wonder OxyPlus spray is an effective product for both yellow sweat and deodorant stains, which show up as a white stain on dark shirts. Failing that, another option is to scrub the stain with a mixture of bicarbonate soda (available in supermarkets) and hydrogen peroxide (available from chemists).

Red wine: The most important thing to re-iterate is to make sure you treat the stain as early as you can, preferably whilst the stain is still wet. Dry red wine stains are a nightmare. So, rinsing the stain with water or club soda in the first instance is a must. When you get home, spray Sard Wonder OxyPlus onto the stain. Another option is to mix dishwashing liquid and hydrogen peroxide together in equal quantities and pour onto the stain. Rub gently with your fingers and then let it sit for half an hour. Wash as normal in tepid water and repeat if necessary.

Ink from a pen: Isopropyl alcohol (available from a chemist) will often remove pen or biro stains from shirts but failing that, try spraying the stain with an alcohol-based hairspray, wait 30 seconds and wipe with a damp cloth; the alcohol in the hairspray neutralises the pigment in the ink.

Tomato sauce: Rinse with tepid water; not cold, not hot, as this will set the stain. Soak in a warm solution of dissolved Vanish NapiSan.

Candle wax: Place clothing in the freezer for 15-20 minutes and gently peel off the wax. Repeat until no wax is present. The remaining grease mark can be treated with a warm solution of dishwashing detergent (Morning Fresh).

Rust: The product “Rustiban” has been a godsend for many rust stains that would have otherwise relegated a shirt to the charity bin. Apply drop by drop onto the stain. If you can’t get Rustiban, aqueous hydrofluoric acid 10% can be made by a pharmacist. Note – do not use on camouflage material or khaki, as rusty metal is often used to colour khaki.

Failing all of the above, a good drycleaner who knows how to go about removing stains from shirts is worth their weight in gold. Good luck and remember, sometimes, despite best efforts, stains are there to stay. Luckily, you can always come to Philippe Perzi Vienna to purchase a brand new shirt as a replacement and update your wardrobe at the same time.