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Removing Old Stains

WayneL5 | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m here from Breaktime.

I’m caring for my mom.  She is 86 and in assisted living.  They have laundry service there but she doesn’t like them doing hers, so I do it for her.  Often she’ll wear the same few tops for a few weeks then finally ask me to wash one.  They always have stains on the front from food.  The problem is that I can’t get the stains out.  I’ve tried different detergents, Biz, and Shout.  I’ve tried soaking, cold, warm, and hot water (on different items).

The stains bother both of us because she was a terrific mom and housekeeper, but I’m stuck about what to do.  I’ve tried, of course, to get ahold of the clothes more often but it’s not working.  Any advice on how to remove old food stains?


  1. Crazy K | | #1

    I'm not certain about OLD stains but I've had great luck with Spray 'n Wash Stain stick.  The trick is to rub the stain with the stick and let it stand for a bit.......in fact you can treat and leave it for days before washing.  I'm a klutz and since I've gain weight, I've also gained more of a 'front shelf' and I'm always splashing or spilling something.  I learned about the stain stick from my step-daughter and now I wouldn't be without!  I have run things through the wash only to find a stain after washing AND drying and the stain stick even took those out.  Pretty amazing if you ask me!  The worst stain I've had recently is when DH spilled Caribou coffee on a knit shirt.  That took a couple of tries but it finally all came out.

    Hope this helps you.  I had an aunt in a nursing home and the laundry there managed to set more stains than they removed!  Very discouraging.


  2. nettiebear | | #2

    Hello, I bought this cream from Canadian Tire called "Pink Solution" I rub it into the fabric with hot water and leave it overnight. Launder as normal the next day and 99% of the time it takes the stains out, including grease. My husband and I usually eat in front of the tv and we have these adult bibs that we wear to protect our clothes as we both have a "shelf" also. lol

    I decorated the bibs with funny sayings and/or floral designs or embroidered neckline designs and they are a hit with the seniors in our area. People have mentioned that they sometimes sell them on ebay. That would be my suggestion. They are great to keep in the car also for those A & W or McDonald's moments. Saved many a necktie and white shirt. lol

    Hope this helps


  3. meg | | #3

    There is a product which you can get at a quilt shop ~ it's a powder designed to remove stains from old quilts. "Quilt Soak" is what I remember it being called. I tried it on a table runner last year for my best friend. I was at the point of re-making the whole thing but the quilt shop owner suggested the quilt soak. It worked very well. Good luck!

  4. user-51823 | | #4

    first, bless you for what you are doing. i have elderly parents.

    i second the advice about now having her either wear a bib or tucking a napkin in at her neckline. don't let her be embarrassed about it. if you eat with her, you do it too.

    re stains, i find that the various brands of enzyme cleaners work great (usually "Oxy"-something, sold next to ordinary laundry soaps). if possible, i soak them for a day or 2 in a strong solution and then hang them in the sun for a few days without rinsing first. sun is a natural bleach and cleaner. spot treating with old fashioned 409 works very well too. remember to always check for the stain before you put garment into the dryer, as that will set the stain and make it harder to remove. if it is a "clear" stain, like grease, that doesn't show up on wet fabric, let it air dry and then check it.
    best wishes.

    1. WayneL5 | | #5

      Thank you everyone for your help.

  5. fabricholic | | #6

    Try Greased Lightning all purpose cleaner. I use it and Shout Stain Stick.

  6. Tatsy | | #7

    I teach junior high and have a long commute, so spills are common and usually have to wait until the evening for treatment.  Rubbing a little liquid hand soap into the stain usually keeps it from setting. If your mom is ambulatory, that's something she would have control over. 

    One thing I use all the time that's not mentioned above is medical grade hydrogen peroxide--the kind that's on the shelf next to the rubbing alcohol.  It's a safe bleach and does wonders on blood stains.

    1. WayneL5 | | #8

      The hydrogen peroxide suggestion is a good one.  I had bad acne as a teenager and found that peroxide and cold water was the key to removing blood. 

  7. jtsadler | | #9

    Have you tried soaking her things in Borax overnight.  You can get a big box of it cheap.  It is difficult when things are set in. 

  8. craftyjudy01 | | #10

    I've used the Stain Stick for a while now and it always takes the stain out - very impressive.  I too, leave it on .  If I see a stain, I just rub some on, throw it in the pile to be washed and don't even think about it again.  Sometimes, I'm really amazed that it works as well as it does.

  9. jgrue | | #11

    Try Oxo Brite. It's amazing--works on whites or colors--soak overnight--add more for a really stubborn stain. You can't use it on silk screened t-shirts--takes that away too.


  10. ineedaserger329 | | #12

      Club Soda is god's gift to stains.....and it is right up there with Oxi-Clean. I cared for my grandma this summer at my aunt's house and I know exactly what stains you mean, Now, I swear by these things and no laundry room is complete without both. 

  11. krichmond | | #13


    I've used products from Shaklee:  Basic Bright which removes stains from whites really well, and Basic I which is a grease remover.  The only problems are that they are only available from private distributors and they are really expensive (but you don't need much to be effective and they have other uses).

    An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.  I agree with the bib idea, but if that seems just a little don't-wanna-go-there, may I suggest your mother try wearing an apron (one with a chest protector part like a barbecue apron, not just an around-the-waist type) while dining.  There are so many nice styles/patterns that would be appropriate.

    Hope this helps.


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