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A woman checking her lacy knickers as she removes them from the washing machine.

How to remove stains from White Clothes in the Machine

White clothes stain easily, but with these tips, a good washing machine, and Surf excel, it’s easy to get rid of those stains and keep your white shirts as good as new!


General Tips on How to Remove Stains from White Clothes


  • Act quickly once your clothes have been stained. The longer you wait to treat a stain, the harder it will be to remove it.
  • Use a knife or spoon to scoop away any excess dirt, sauce, or oil before you start to treat the stain itself.
  • Ideally place a clean cloth or paper towel underneath the stain, so it does not spread onto the fabric underneath.
  • Soak a cloth in water and the right detergent or stain remover (see below) and dab away at the stain. If you’re not sure, opt for cold water. Hot water can actually “set” stains like blood.
  • Always pre-treat a stain before using the washing machine. Just throwing the item into the wash won’t necessarily get rid of the stain.
  • Soak heavily stained garments in a water and detergent mixture before machine washing. Soak for at least 20 minutes. Some washing machines have a “Soak” option which you can use before running a wash cycle.
  • Only use bleach as a last resort. Bleach is most effective on stains like coffee, grass, or juice, and will have little effect on oil-based stains. Make sure the fabric is safe to use with bleach by checking the garment tag. Wool and silk cannot be used with bleach. Then, dilute the bleach with water and apply directly to the stain, dabbing away until the stain disappears. Make sure to machine wash the garment immediately afterward, or the bleach may cause further stains.


How to Remove Yellow Stains from White Clothes

Many white shirts develop yellow stains under the armpits or around the collar, where sweat and dirt have accumulated. First, wet the area of the stain and apply Surf excel directly onto the stain. Rub this into the stain and let it soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, toss the clothing into the washing machine and wash it at a high heat (or as high as advised on the garment tag).  


How to Remove Blood Stains from White Clothes

Blood is one of the scariest stains to find on clothing, but it can come out remarkably easily if you treat it right away. The key is to use cold water. Hot water will only help to set a blood stain! Use cold water and Surf excel – apply liquid detergent directly to the stain, gently rubbing it to remove the stain, and rinse it in cold water.

You can also let the garment soak in cold water and Surf excel detergent before washing it in the washing machine. Remove as much of the blood stain as possible before you use the washing machine. Do not wash at a hot water setting for any blood-stained clothing.  


How to Remove Colour Stains from White Clothes

In general, colour stains on white clothes can react well to a commercial stain remover or to white vinegar, if you use the methods above. Baking soda or lemon juice have also been recommended as generic stain removers for white clothing. If white clothes have had colour bled onto them by being washed with non-colourfast clothes, apply Surf excel liquid detergent or stain remover directly onto the stains and let it soak for 20 minutes.

Finally, create a solution of one part non-chlorine bleach and two parts water. Soak the garment in this, and be sure to machine wash the garment in cool water afterward.  


How to Remove Rust Stains from White Clothes

If white clothing has rubbed against rust, first use a knife to scrape away any rust flakes from the fabric. Soak the stain in white vinegar and rub the stain away. Alternatively, you can rub a lemon juice and salt mixture, and lay the fabric out in the direct sunlight for a few hours.  


Tips for Treating Stains on White Clothes

Our Moms have some great advice about treating stains on white clothes, too! Here are some of their favourite tips:

“If the stain is fresh and wet, dab the stain with an absorbent tissue as much as possible but without rubbing it, this will absorb the oil or liquid & further avoid it from spreading.”

“Take a lemon and some salt and rub it on stain for 3 min. You see it will become lighter. Then, wash in a machine and then dry it in direct sunlight.”

“Don't use bleach on white clothes often. It weakens the fabric of the cloth.”

“Soak the cloth in water immediately after the stain and then apply tricks.”

“Coffee or tea stains should be immediately put under a cold water tap for it to disappear thereafter. Blood stains too should be immediately washed under running tap water which is cold. To remove any kind of oil stains from a silk garment, dab talcum powder on the stain and let it stay for sometime. Then wash it off! Really helps.”

“We can use lemon water for strong stain. You can also apply bleach on yellow stains.”

“Soak the clothing in cold water with Surf excel and wash it in the washing machine.”

  Do you have any advice for removing stains from white clothes? Share your advice with us below!