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Ask Dr. Laundry

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Dr. Laundry

Nail Polish Stains on Corduroy Pants

January 25, 2017

Q: How do I get nail polish out of my corduroy pants? —Susan A: Hi Susan, I wish I had a solid recommendation for you, but in my experience, nail polish stains on fabric are generally permanent. Lots of websites recommend using nail polish remover to blot away nail polish… Read More

How do I get hair serum oil out?

February 2, 2016

Q: How do I get hair serum oil out?   A: Hair serum typically contains some oil in addition to polymers that smooth and de-frizz hair.  The oil is most likely the biggest problem when trying to remove a hair serum stain.  Some oils break up more easily than others,… Read More

How do you remove nail polish from shirt and pants?

January 29, 2016

Q: How do you remove nail polish from shirt and pants? A:  I wish I had a solid recommendation for you, but in my experience nail polish stains on fabric are generally permanent.  Lots of websites recommend using nail polish remover to blot away nail polish stains, but I have… Read More

How Do I Remove Sunscreen Stains From Towels And Sheets?

August 29, 2015

Q:  I am getting yellow stains left in my towels and sheets and I believe it is from a sunscreen. Can you give me any suggestions on how to remove these yellow stains? A: Thanks for reaching out with your question about hotel sheets and towels. … Read More

How do I remove lipstick from my sofa?

February 10, 2015

Q: How do I remove lipstick from my sofa? A: The technique I recommend for removing lipstick from a garment will only work on your sofa as long as the lipstick stain is on a cushion cover that can be removed. It is also necessary that the fabric be machine… Read More

Removing Foundation Marks on Towels

January 13, 2014

How do you clean makeup (foundation) stains from washcloths that have already been through the wash several times. Can they be restored to the original white color? This is a great question! How helpful that the washcloths are white—that gives you more options for getting the stains out! Since it… Read More

Removing Deodorant Stains Part Two

January 4, 2014

    I love white and wear a lot of white, but my roll-on deodorant stains quite badly under the armpits – it only takes a few wears before it starts to look really bad! I haven’t been able to get rid of them just by using bleach in the washing… Read More

Removing-Deodorant-Stains

January 3, 2014

I love white and wear a lot of white, but my roll-on deodorant stains quite badly under the armpits – it only takes a few wears before it starts to look really bad! I haven’t been able to get rid of them just by using bleach in the washing machine. Just… Read More

Removing Deodorant Stains

October 12, 2013

How can I remove the white deodorant marks out of a knit top? For a light smear of deodorant that happened when you were putting on the top, try pretreating the stain before washing. Your pretreating method depends on the shirt. For white, bleachable fabrics (100% cotton, 100%… Read More

Removing hair dye stains from a colored t-shirt

August 23, 2013

I had my hair dyed recently and some got on my green graphic tee. How can I remove this stain? Hair dye is quite a problem because it is so concentrated, and since your shirt is colored, you are limited to treating the stain with products that contain hydrogen… Read More

Removing hair dye stains from a rug

August 16, 2013

Any suggestions for removing semi-permanent hair dye from a rug? This is a pretty big challenge, rugs are harder to clean given they can’t fit in a clothes washer, and hair dye is a concentrated colorant. A good oxidant will help get the stain out, but it will likely… Read More

Stained Bath Towels

January 7, 2013

When I wash my bath cloths the dark stains don’t come out, what is the problem?I wish I had a little more information—do you mean wash cloths and/or towels? I realize you may not know what the stain is—this happens when you don’t notice a stain until later! But for a bath… Read More

Treating lipstick marks

December 28, 2012

Whether under the mistletoe, at midnight or just after a big kiss from Grandma, lipstick marks are a frequent holiday stain! Lipstick is a combination stain of a greasy/oil part and dye, and you have to treat the oil portion of the stain first. To start, pre-treat the stain with… Read More

Removing foundation from a white dress

November 21, 2012

I just noticed foundation all over my white dress. It has been there for more than a month. Can I still remove it?Make-up stains typically have both a color and an oily component, and it’s good to work on the oily component first by pretreating stains with a little liquid… Read More

Removing hair dye from towels

October 15, 2012

While using an at-home hair dye, I accidentally got some of the hair dye on my bathroom towels. What can I do to remove the stains?I am really hoping the towels are white—for starters let’s just assume they are. For really concentrated stains like hair dye, you can try a… Read More

Removing grayish soap residue from white washcloths

August 8, 2012

How would I go about whitening washcloths that were grayed by liquid body wash soap?  I have washed these cloths several times in my (HE) washer using normal laundry detergent and have had no success in getting the washcloths back to white.There are some factors that affect cleaning, and changing… Read More

Removing baby oil from clothes

July 27, 2012

What is the best way to remove baby oil from clothing?For stains that are concentrated oils, you can pre-treat with a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent (like Dawn). Apply it directly to the stain, rub it in and then wait 5 minutes. This helps solubilize the oil. Then, if… Read More

Sunscreen stains on dark cotton t-shirts

July 23, 2012

How can I remove a sunscreen stain from red and navy cotton t-shirts that remained after washing?During summer, this is a very common stain! I suspect the oily part of the sunblock formula is what remains on your shirts, and you should be able to get this out as long… Read More

Removing wax lip balm from clothing

July 6, 2012

Is there a way to remove lip balm from clothing that it melted onto in the wash?Wax can be easily removed from many fabrics by heating it slightly so it will transfer from the fabric and absorb onto a brown paper bag. If the clothing has been through the dryer,… Read More

Underarm Stains

January 16, 2012

Q:  Over time I get a hard buildup of something in the underarm regions of my white T-shirts.  Is there a reaction with gel type antiperspirants and bleach that could cause this?A:  This is a great question – underarm stains are a big problem to treat because they are highly… Read More

Hand Washing White Gloves

December 14, 2011

Q: I have large brown stains on my white cotton gloves that are hand wash only. I believe the stains are from my moisturizer combining with dirt when wearing the gloves both indoors and out, running errands (i.e. from touching stair rails, items in stores, etc.).A:  First check to make… Read More

Sunscreen & Polyester

November 16, 2011

Q:  Will bleach remove sunscreen stains from polyester?A: I would like to break this question into two:  can you use bleach on polyester, and what’s the best way to remove a sunscreen stain.  Polyester fibers can be safely bleached, and usually colored polyester has the colorant applied before the fibers… Read More

Grayed Washcloths from Soap

October 24, 2011

Q:  How would I go about whitening washcloths that were grayed by liquid body wash soap?  I have washed these cloths several times in my (HE) washer using normal laundry detergent and have had no success in getting the washcloths back to white.A:  There are some factors that affect cleaning,… Read More

How to Remove Nail Polish From Clothes

September 12, 2011

Q:  How do you remove nail polish on children’s clothes? A:  I’m sorry I don’t have better news, but unfortunately nail polish is permanent when it gets on fabric.  For hard surfaces like fingernails, a weak acetone solution (i.e. nail polish remover) can dissolve nail polish, but textile fibers don’t… Read More

Sunscreen Stain Removal

August 5, 2011

Q: How can I remove sunscreen stains from shirts?A: For sunscreen stains, it’s best to treat the greasy portion first, so don’t apply any water to the shirt.  Instead, blot up any excess with a paper towel or cloth, and try not to rub hard to avoid pushing it further… Read More

Removing Sunscreen Stains

July 25, 2011

Q:  We have some Hawaiian Tropic® Sunscreen and it seems to stain all our whites orange when they come in contact with sweat.  Not the whole garment just around the neck or arms or sweat ‘zones’.  How do I get these stains out?A: For sunscreen stains, try pre-treating the stains… Read More

Yellow Armpit Stains

July 13, 2011

Q: How can I get yellow armpit stains out? I’ve tried everything, even using bleach pens! Any help would be greatly appreciated!A:  Arm pit stains can be quite variable.  If your shirts have stain build-up that some people say feels almost “crunchy” you can try this method:1. Working into a… Read More

Eradicating Underarm Stains

June 17, 2011

Q:   My husband and I recently purchased our first washer and dryer.  With them came some tips on stain removal; however the application instructions were vague.  My husband has some shirts that are stained in the armpit area, I believe due to the combination of his deodorant and perspiration.  The… Read More

Sunscreen Oil Stains

October 15, 2009

Q. Your 800 number just seemed to address an oil or cream stain from sunscreens. My problem is the pinkish stains from the sunscreen reacting with my body oils and/or sweat. These new SPF screens at 55 and above have really made a mess of my white shirts. I have… Read More

Removing Hair Dye

September 15, 2009

Q. I just went to the hairdresser wearing a bright white 100% cotton shirt, and brown hair dye from the previous client got on the back of my shirt. The label says only non-chlorine bleach and warm water wash. I’m not sure what to use, and thought you might have… Read More

Removing Dinginess

February 19, 2009

Q. I live in an eternal summer climate and have trouble keeping my clothes fresh-looking. How can I keep summer whites bright? Does bleach yellow cotton fabrics? And, do you have any suggestions for underarm deodorant stains on clothing? A. With the very cold winter we have had, I wish… Read More

Soap Stains

February 12, 2009

Q. I use Aveeno Daily Moisturizing body wash. All of the washcloths that I use with it have recently become discolored. I conducted an experiment to prove this: I color-coded two washcloths. One I used with the Aveeno, and the other one my husband used with his soap. So far,… Read More

Lipstick Stains

January 29, 2009

Q. My husband decided to help around the house, and accidentally washed a load of clothes with one of my lipsticks. He didn’t notice until after the dryer had set the stains in good. Is there any product that will remove this mess from a whole load of his dress… Read More

Nail Polish Stains

January 13, 2009

Q. How can I remove dark red nail polish color from my jeans and pink shirt? A. Nail polish is tricky to remove once it has dried on clothes. If it is dry, you will need to try the same thing you use to remove it from your nails —… Read More

Chapstick Stains

December 2, 2008

Q. I’ve washed and dried my Chapstick inside my pants. Other clothes were also affected. What should I do to remove the oily spots? A. Not so good news for you here. That solid Chapstick that melted in the dryer is now a “permanent” part of the pants and other… Read More

Perspiration Stains from Mixed Blend Shirts: Your Questions

September 30, 2008

Q: How do I remove perspiration stains from cotton and mixed blend shirts? A: I hear this question a lot — how do I get rid of the dreaded “pit” stains. The stain is simply a build-up of the underarm deodorant/antiperspirant that has not been removed wash-after-wash-after-wash. It… Read More

Getting Rid of Underarm Stains: Your Questions

September 17, 2008

Q: My husband wears cotton white T-shirts. I use Clorox in hot water each time I launder them and rinse them twice. They are fairly new (Christmas) and they have developed stiffness in the under arms. He has asked me to buy him new ones. But that is… Read More

Make-up Out of White Towels: Your Questions

September 17, 2008

Q: Can you tell me how to get black make-up out of new white towels? A: A little more info would have been helpful; like name/brand, whether you have tried something to remove it, and the results. The reason is that, unfortunately, these days most make-up is made… Read More

Your Questions: Tanning Lotion on Clothes

April 29, 2008

Q: I own a tanning salon and a bottle of tanning lotion exploded on my new blouse. I rinsed it out but now I have a white ring around the stain. Is there anything I can do to get these stains out? Your response would be appreciated.A: Tanning… Read More

Lip gloss stains: Your questions

January 25, 2007

Another reader question – this one about lip gloss left in a pocket during the wash.“I washed a load of jeans with some cargo pants at the laundromat. Everything was fine with the pants after I looked at them when they finished washing, so I put them into the dryer. Read More

Stains: Nuts & Bolts

June 12, 2006

I look at a bad stain as a challenge that can usually be overcome. One of my most memorable stain-saving situations occurred the night before the Berkeley Ballet Theater’s performance of The Nutcracker, near San Francisco. One of the volunteers had hand sewn a gown for “Mother Ginger” with black… Read More