How To: Remove Almost Any Stain Using Alcohol

Remove Almost Any Stain Using Alcohol

There are countless methods and cleaners aimed at eliminating stubborn stains from everything to clothing, carpet, and furniture. But completely removing every last trace of a stain doesn't require an arsenal of chemical cleaners and repeated cycles in the washing machine. Most stains can disappear in a matter of minutes with a dose of alcohol.

What You Can Use Instead of Regular Cleaning Products

Before you resort to ready-made chemical cleansers, consider reaching for some hairspray, hand sanitizer, bug repellant, or even an old bottle of isopropyl alcohol. When applied to tricky stains like ink and grass, they can be considerably more effective.

Image via Shutterstock

These products, along with rubbing alcohol itself, make for effective laundry products thanks to their alcohol content. Why? It's because alcohol is a degreasing agent. The toughest stains, the ones that your laundry detergent and other soaps can't eliminate, are greasy and oily in their makeup. As a result, alcohol can break down the components of the stain better.

Alcohol-based products—even straight, plain vodka (which also helps combat smelly jeans)—can be equally effective at battling what your average soap cannot. Just make sure the products you choose have a healthy amount of alcohol included. Many common hairsprays have fewer than 10 percent alcohol content, which won't work.

What Kind of Stains Can You Get Out

As One Good Thing with Jillee proves, alcohol-based hairspray and hand sanitizer does an incredible job removing ink stains. With very little scrubbing and setting, a large ink stain can disappear after one round in the washing machine. Simply apply the alcohol of your choice to the stuck-on stain, waiting about 10 minutes as Jillee suggests, and toss the clothes into the wash. When fresh and clean, you'll find your clothing perfectly stain free.

Images via One Good Thing by Jillee

There are many more types of stains that alcohol can tackle, too. As The Maids team and Rachael Ray offer on their websites, it can be a helpful ally in removing:

  • Grass, both on clothing and carpet
  • Grease, on carpet and rugs
  • Lipstick, foundation, and other makeup products
  • Permanent markers
  • Mustard
  • Gravy

The tougher the stain, the better alcohol can work to break down the colorful adherents left behind.

Alcohol Isn't Always the Best Solution

Although it's a strong stain solution, alcohol isn't the best choice for certain fabrics. Its strength can also lead to faded color on some fabrics, and even damage. Use alcohol-based products only on fabrics and items that don't fall into these categories: acetate, triacetate, modacrylic, and acrylic fibers.

Remember to stick with colorless items, too—soaking your clothes in bright blue hand sanitizer, or splashing dark beer or red wine on a fabric will leave behind a colorful stain of its own. Instead, aim for a colorless, scent-free solution instead.

For tricky stains that appear on fabrics and items unsuitable for alcohol, try making your own homemade stain remover. Or, if your laundry is often riddled with stains that aren't greasy or oily in nature, try these different DIY solutions.

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