Home > Chemical Stains > Cleaning Products that Can Make Stains Worse

Cleaning Products that Can Make Stains Worse

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 4 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Stain Removers Stain Removal Chlorine

Ever applied a stain remover to a stain, only to find that instead of removing the mark, it actually created an even bigger, uglier stain? Don't worry - you're not alone. There are many products which - if not used with care - can actually make a stain worse instead of better. For example, using bleach on a perspiration stain can cause the stain to become even darker! Here is a selection, to help you avoid any future stain-removing mistakes:

Hydrogen peroxide - a very popular stain remover, particularly for blood stains, this is a powerful bleaching agent due to its strong oxidizing properties. This means that it may remove not only the stain but also the colour in the fabric or surface that the stain was on, ie. leaving a "reverse stain". Thus, always spot test in an inconspicuous area first, before using hydrogen peroxide solution and try to use as mild and dilute a solution as possible (never use it undiluted - always dilute it with at least six times its volume of water). In addition, never soak any item in hydrogen peroxide solution for longer than 15mins as this will cause colour fading.

Note: there is some debate over whether it is safe to use on wool and silk - if in doubt, it is best to consult dry-cleaning professionals. However, do not use it on nylon.

Chlorine bleach - similar to hydrogen peroxide but even stronger, bleach can remove colour from the surface of fabric that the stain is embedded in, leaving a "bald patch" that can be as ugly as the original stain - and cannot be reversed. Generally, bleach is only really used as a last resort, due to its strong, permanent properties and as with hydrogen peroxide, start with as dilute a solution as possible and always spot-test first. Again, it should never be used on silk or wool and it is also not suitable for use on many other fabrics, particularly coloured. It is best reserved for white cotton or linens.

If you spill some bleach onto carpets, quick action can save you from nasty stain spots - blot up the excess bleach using white paper towels (wear rubber gloves) and then dampen-blot-rinse with water. Next, gently blot on some detergent solution (1/4 tsp mild dishwashing liquid in 1 cup of warm water) using a clean cloth or paper towel, working from the outside of the stain inwards, then leave it for 5 minutes. Now blot again with paper towels, until you do not lift up anymore bleach and the bleach smell has almost disappeared. Finally, rinse thoroughly with cold water and blot dry.

Never use bleach on a perspiration stain, especially on white cotton fabrics. The bleach will have a chemical reaction with the proteins in sweat which can make the stain even darker.

Acetone - this is very powerful and can physically damage some fabrics, particularly synthetic fabrics such as acetate, triacetate or modacrylic, which will dissolve. Thus, not only will you remove the stain but also some of the fabric as well, leaving a hole where the stain once was! Acetone will also bleach any dyes already in the fabric, causing the colour to fade. Amyl acetate can be a safer alternative to acetone as it will not damage fabric fibres, although it still carries the risk of fading the colour from the fabric.

Methylated Spirit - this has a similar action to acetone, in that it can remove the dye in some fabrics and damage the fabric itself if it contains acetate fibres.

Alcohol - alcohol will also cause the colour in a fabric to fade, resulting in a "reverse-stain". If this happens, you can repair things a bit by sponging the area gently with a cheesecloth moistened with denatured alcohol, to try and redistribute the remaining colour evenly. There will still be a discolouration and lightening of colour in that area but at least, it will not be such a pronounced mark.

For washable fabrics, rinse the alcohol stain immediately in warm water and then immediately wash as normal. For older stain stains, wet the area and then apply some glycerine and then rinse thoroughly. This is especially useful for carpets and furnishings. Blot the excess liquid after rinsing then follow with the appropriate furniture shampoo if necessary. For non-washable fabrics, it is best to just sponge with warm water and then take to the dry cleaners as soon as possible.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Help! I have just used De-solvit spray to remove a grease stain from a dark navy canvas jacket. I have now got a wider stain from the De-solvit. Has anyone else overcome this or have any suggestions? Thank you
Fenella - 4-Aug-15 @ 4:15 PM
@chid - 'oven pride' you may have to elaborate here? All I do know is that, it's hard to get stains of stone floors because it is porous. You would also have to specify what sort of stone floor it was, concrete slabs, etc? Lise.
Lise - 27-Feb-15 @ 1:03 PM
Hello could anyone advice me hiow to get an oven pride stain of my stone kitchen floor thankyou ASlison /
chid - 25-Feb-15 @ 6:45 PM
I think I have stains on my new toilet seat from bleach.Ironically, having moved into this house, I wanted to change the loo seat as it had unsightly (similar) stains under the seat.It would appear that the loo has a very lively flush which probably sends up my cleaning fluids, sometimes bleach.I have tried to remove staining with bleach, just in case the staining is anything less hygienic than bleach, but has made it worse.The new toilet seat is a Wenko which I believe is made of some sort of treated wood.Help!What do I do?
home cleaner - 9-Jul-13 @ 3:32 PM
I got yellow stain from using bleach products on countertops and my toilet seat. I found a web site that said to use silver jewelry cleaner. I worked great for the countertops. When I used it on the plastic toilet seat it turned almost a red rust color. Do you have any sugestions on what to try to fix this problem? Thanks!
cleaner - 16-May-12 @ 7:31 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Karen
    Re: Removing Pollen Stains
    I managed to get Lilly pollen into cream carpet, tried to remove it with a wet cloth, now it's even worse! What do I do?
    13 April 2017
  • StainExpert
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    Thepassey - Your Question:I googled this because my son can back from school with it all splattered across his blazer. I washed it then…
    17 March 2017
  • Thepassey
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    I googled this because my son can back from school with it all splattered across his blazer. I washed it then while it was wet I picked…
    12 March 2017
  • StainExpert
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    dalila - Your Question:Nail Polish Remover.It did work perfect!! ThanksOur Response:Great. We're
    18 January 2017
  • dalila
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    Nail Polish Remover.....It did work perfect!! Thanks
    18 January 2017
  • janine
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    How to get tip ex off wall paper
    3 January 2017
  • Mum
    Re: Fruit, Vegetable and Food Colouring Stains
    Please can anyone tell me how to remove a pollen stain from the silicone in my kitchen. Thanks
    25 November 2016
  • StainExpert
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    Simpledalrymple - Your Question:Thank you - I used the above WD40 tip. My son's dark green blazer was liberally splattered with Tippex, so…
    8 November 2016
  • Simpledalrymple
    Re: Removing Tippex Stains
    Thank you - I used the above WD40 tip. My son's dark green blazer was liberally splattered with Tippex, so my husband scrubbed it with…
    5 November 2016
  • Nat
    Re: Removing Pollen Stains
    Hi, I managed to get Lilly pollen around the plastic sealant on my sink at home! It's gone yellow! Any ideas how to remove it? Thanks and…
    21 October 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the StainExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.