The Stain Buster Guide

Tackle any laundry stain with the help of AEG's stain buster guide.

How many times have you spilt coffee down your crisp white work shirt? Or red wine over your favourite pair of jeans?

Fear not! We have enlisted the help of a professional laundry expert to create a comprehensive guide to stain-busting.

This guide covers everything from cleaning methods to washing frequency – and even de-coding wash settings and cycles – to help you tackle any stain with ease.

The UK’s most searched-for laundry stains

Previous findings from our Washing Literacy Study highlighted that a third of Brits turn to Google for their laundry queries. So, we’ve analysed which stains baffle Brits the most.

According to the data, Brits are searching for ‘How to remove blood stains’ the most, with 200,000 searches since 2020.

This is followed by grass stains with 72,000 searches, coffee stains with 54,000 searches, and grease stains with 50,000 searches.

The infamous red wine stain has racked up 49,000 ‘How to remove’ searches, whilst turmeric has made the top ten list with 40,000 searches.

What are the toughest stains to remove?  

AEG spoke to Colin Holmes, laundry cleaning expert at Oxwash, to discover which stains are hardest to remove and the recommended methods for removing them.

Stain

Difficulty

What to use

Cleaning solution

Grease

Hard

Dish Soap

Apply some grease-cutting dishwashing soap to the stain and rinse with warm water.

Oil

Hard

Baking Soda

Sprinkle some baking soda to absorb the oil then run under water with some detergent.

Ink

Hard

Rubbing Alcohol

Blot the stain with some rubbing alcohol then rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Curry

Hard

Vinegar & Water

Soak the garment in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and cold water then rinse.

Paint

Hard

Dish Soap

Rinse the stain under warm water before blotting on some dish soap and rinsing again.

Rust

Hard

Lemon Juice & Salt

Dab some lemon juice on the stain before sprinkling it with salt. Let this sit before rinsing with cold water.

Lipstick

Hard

Rubbing Alcohol

Gently dab the stain with some rubbing alcohol before rinsing under warm water.

Blood

Hard

Hydrogen Peroxide

Soak the stain in cold water before blotting it with some hydrogen peroxide.

Red Wine

Medium

Soda Water

Blot out the stain using a dry cloth before soaking in some soda water. Afterwards, rinse with cold water.

Grass

Medium

Laundry Detergent

Apply liquid laundry detergent straight onto the stain before rinsing under cold water.

Turmeric

Medium

Vinegar & Water

Soak the garment in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and cold water then rinse.

Chocolate

Medium

Laundry Detergent

Apply liquid laundry detergent straight onto the stain before rinsing under cold water.

Makeup

Medium

Dish Soap

Pre-treat the stain with some dish soap before rinsing under cold water.

Sun Cream

Medium

Baking Soda

Sprinkle some baking soda onto the stain and leave to sit before rinsing under cold water.

Coffee

Easy

Vinegar & Water

Soak the garment in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.

Food Sauce

Easy

Laundry Detergent

Scrape off the excess sauce before applying detergent and rinsing under cold water.

Sweat

Easy

Baking Soda

Sprinkle some baking soda onto the stain and leave to sit before rinsing under cold water.

Mud

Easy

Laundry Detergent

Remove as much excess mud as possible before applying detergent. Let it sit before rinsing with cold water.

Bird Poo

Easy

Laundry Detergent

Apply liquid laundry detergent straight onto the stain before rinsing under cold water.

Tea

Easy

Vinegar & Water

Soak the garment in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.

How often should we wash our clothes?

We’ve all been guilty of wearing a T-shirt one too many times before washing it. But how often should we wash our clothes? Colin shares some insight.

He recommends washing socks, underwear, and gym wear after every wear, as these garments can accumulate a lot of sweat and cause bacteria to grow rapidly.

T-shirts, shirts, and dresses can be worn a couple of times before being washed, but this is at the wearer’s discretion as these items still come into contact with the skin.

Pyjamas, trousers, and jumpers don’t need to be washed until after two to three wears. Meanwhile, you should wash joggers and bras every three to four wears. Bras should always be placed in a mesh laundry bag for washing to prevent tangling or stretching.

When it comes to jeans, the less you wash them, the better. They typically don’t need to be washed until their tenth wear; overwashing can cause the denim fibres to break down and become thinner.

Winter coats and jackets don’t need to be washed until their twentieth wear as these garments are worn fairly infrequently.

As for bedding and towels, Colin recommends washing these once a week, whereas bathmats and blankets should be washed bi-weekly.

Washing machine settings explained 

Results from the Washing Literacy Study illustrated that almost half of Brits do not understand the different wash cycles on their washing machines.

Hariette Jarman, AEG’s laundry product manager, has shared a guide to navigate the different wash cycles on your machine.

Fabric-specific wash settings General wash settings Wash temperature overview
Cotton wash – a high-speed, hot wash ideal for particularly dirty clothes. It’s most suitable for T-shirts, pyjamas, towels, and bedding. Quick wash – this has a fast spin cycle that uses a warm wash temperature. It often takes half the time of a standard wash and should only be used for lightly dirty laundry. Hot wash – this is typically 60 to 90 degrees and should be used to combat particularly dirty laundry. The high temperature kills bacteria and germs.
Synthetic wash – a medium-speed, warm wash that offers a slightly gentler everyday clean. It should be used for jeans, dresses, and gym wear. Hand wash – this has a slow spin cycle that uses a warm wash temperature. It offers the gentlest wash cycle on a machine. Warm wash – this is typically 30 to 40 degrees and is the ‘standard wash’ option on most machines, removing everyday stains.
Wool wash – a low-speed, very gentle cold wash. It’s typically used for jumpers, blankets, and coats. Eco wash – this has a moderate spin cycle that uses a cold wash temperature. It’s often the longest cycle on a machine but also the cheapest to run. Cold wash – this is typically 15 to 20 degrees and used for lightly dirty items. The low temperature helps protect a fabric's colour and material.
Delicates wash – a low-speed, cold wash for slightly dirty items. It’s ideal for bras, underwear, and tights.    

 

Three expert tips for stain removal

1.      Always check the fabric label – Every laundry item has a fabric label on it somewhere. This should be your first port of call as it details the item’s fibre content and wash temperature so you don’t damage it.

 

2.      Act as soon as possible – You want to act fast before the stain has a chance to set into the fabric. Dried stains are much harder to remove than fresh ones. Even if it’s just dabbing cold water on it if you’re out and about, doing so will help when you get home.

 

3.      Blot the stain, don’t rub – While your immediate response may be to scrub out a stain, you should try and blot it instead. Blotting helps to draw out the stain, whereas rubbing can push it deeper into the fabric.

Hopefully, you now feel capable of tackling the toughest of laundry stains. But did you know our washing machines have built-in features to make stain-busting a breeze?

For more information, explore our handy buying guide to help you find the perfect machine.

 

Methodology

AEG analysed Google Search data from 2019 onwards to determine which laundry stains Brits struggle with the most.

Expert insights from Hariette Jarman, laundry product manager at AEG, and Colin Holmes, laundry cleaning expert at Oxwash, were also sourced to create the guide.