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A pair of white jeans, a striped top and plain white t-shirt hang on a clothesline.
Tackle spills and splatters with confidence. We’re sharing top laundry stain removal techniques.

Washing wonders

Life is messy: Oil stains, spilt coffee, beetroot falling from a burger – we've all been there. However, stains don’t have to stick around. With a few handy tips and the right household supplies and cleaning products, you’ll be able to deal with the most challenging food stains and stubborn marks.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, ear muffs and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment. Before using any stain removing product, always check your fabric’s instructions. If in doubt, test patch the stain remover on an inconspicuous spot (such as the seam allowance inside the garment) before using. If the item is labelled ‘dry clean only’, blot the stain, then take the garment straight to the professionals.

Jump on the stains immediately

The best general advice for shifting stains is to act fast – you want to start the process of stain removal straight away before it has time to set into the fabric. Keep a general purpose stain remover spray, stick or powder in the home. (There is a wide range of fabric cleaners and stain removal products to choose from.)

Another option is to use household ingredients. “You'll be surprised what equal parts dishwashing liquid, [cleaning] vinegar and warm water can do,” says Carmen Strong of Little Strong Home (@littlestronghome and @strongcleaningco).

Not all stains are created equal – some stubborn marks may require a repeat soaking and pretreatment to help lift the stain. Before you put the item in the dryer or on the line, check if the stain has been removed. If it’s still there, you’ll need to treat it again. Once the fabric is dry, it’s much harder to achieve a successful stain removal.

Hands washing pink clothing in bucket with soapy water.

What’s best for stains: hot or cold water?

Some stains respond better to hot water, while others are better doused in cold water. First, get the stain soaking before it dries and sets. Use cold water for blood, grass and most food stains to help loosen the marks without ‘cooking’ it into the material. This also protects the fabric. Warm or hot water is better for grease, oil and sweat stains.

Remove grease marks and oil stains

“Anything greasy can usually be removed by rubbing in a grease-cutting dish soap with a toothbrush,” says Beth McGee, author of Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master (bethmcgeebooks.com). “Do the same on the underside of the stain where the grease settles. Let it sit for a bit to do its magic, then rinse with warm water and wash normally. Be sure to air dry rather than put in the dryer until you know the stain is gone. If it’s not, repeat the process until it is.”

If you’re looking for a specific product to target grease stains, try Mom’s Goop, which was originally released in the United States in 1949 as a hand cleaner for mechanics – so you know it’s effective at busting oily grime!

Hands holding white fabric with brown stain on with running water in background.

Blood stain removal

Look for a stain treatment with enzymes, which will help break down protein-based stains like blood. However, cleaning and organising expert Chantel Mila Ibbotson (@mama_mila_au) also recommends a commonly found household cleaning supply for effective blood stain removal. “For blood stains, cleaning vinegar is your best friend!” she says. “Just cover the stain in cleaning vinegar and then wash as usual.” The acetic acid in white vinegar helps break down blood stains, making them easier to wash out.

Clean sweat-stained yellow pillows

Yellow stains on pillows are far from attractive – or healthy. The yellow colour is caused by sweat and other moisture from saliva, face creams and hair oil. As sweat stains are protein-based, try treating them with oxygen bleach, the active ingredient in products like The Pink Stuff.

Shot of a cream-coloured room with carpets and fresh bedding.

Remove tea and coffee stains

For tea and coffee stains, get straight onto it with cool water. This alone might do the trick; if not, pre-treat with a stain remover spray and wash as usual.

Get rid of red food stains

The day you wear that crisp white shirt to your next family barbecue is sure to be the day you spill on it – and there’s nothing worse than red food stains from culprits like tomato and beetroot. For both of these, pre-treat with white vinegar, which will help break down the stain. Leave for five minutes, then rinse well so the acid doesn’t damage the fabric. Wash as usual. Check before drying. If the stain is still visible, use an oxygen bleach product.

Hands holding piece of white fabric with red stains on it.

Red wine stain removal

For red wine stains, rinse in cold water, then cover with white vinegar and a dash of dishwashing soap. The vinegar will help neutralise the red and purple pigments in the wine stain. Keep blotting to help lift the stain, then rinse and wash. 

Looking for more stain removal advice?

We’re sharing 10 common household stains and how to clean them.


Photo Credit: Getty Images, Alex Reinders

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.