Do You Know What to Do in a Stain Emergency?

It’s natural to panic when something is spilled, and fabrics or materials are stained, but keeping a cool head will help to ensure that you treat the stain correctly and therefore are less likely to end up with a permanent mark on your nice new dress, lounge suite or carpet.

So take this quiz to find out if you know what to do in a stain emergency:


1) You’ve just seen the last guest home after a rowdy dinner party and as you return to the living room, you’re horrified to notice several food and drink stains on the carpet and sofas. Do you:

  • a) grab a cloth and scrub at the stains half-heartedly, then give up and go to bed
  • b) decide you’re too tired to deal with it now and you’ll sort it out in the morning
  • c) get some stain remover, a clean cloth and some clean water – and get to work immediately

2) When you’re treating a stain, you always:

  • a) start from the outside of the stain and work your way towards the centre
  • b) start from the centre of the stain and work your way outwards
  • c) just work on any parts of the stain which look the darkest

3) The best way to get rid of a stain is:

  • a) scrubbing it as hard as you can with a brush or cloth and clean water
  • b) flushing it with as much water as possible
  • c) carefully and gently blotting with the right type of stain remover

4) Before treating a stain:

  • a) always try to find out what kind of stain it is (e.g. oily or water-based, organic or chemical)
  • b) always make sure you have some bleach handy
  • c) always try to wash the garment first in a normal wash

5) Once a stained garment has been washed –

  • a) you should dry it in the tumble dryer
  • b) you should check that the stain has been removed before putting it in the tumble dryer
  • c) you should dry it indoors

6) If there are several ways to treat a stain –

  • a) always go with the strongest method first – why waste time trying the milder methods when this is more likely to solve the problem?
  • b) always start with the mildest treatment and work your way up to the harsher treatments when the milder ones have failed
  • c) only try one way – never try to use more than one method to remove a stain

7) Items to keep around the house for stain removal include:

  • a) bleach
  • b) nothing – just go and buy commercial stain removers when you spill something
  • c) lemon juice, white vinegar, baking soda and bleach

8) If you get mud stains on the carpet –

  • a) you might as well leave them to dry and then vacuum up the dried mud
  • b) you must scrub them immediately with water
  • c) you must hire carpet-cleaners


1) C. It is always best to tackle stains immediately – this gives you the best chance of removing them. So even if you’re very tired or don’t have time to treat it properly, try to at least soak up as much of the stain as possible with paper towels, and then use clean water to soak, rinse and blot as much of the stain as you can. This will at least dilute the stain, so that you can tackle it again later with the appropriate stain remover.

2) A. Working from the outside of the stain inwards helps to prevent a stain from spreading.

3) C. Harsh, physical methods actually cause a stain to penetrate even deeper and spread further. 4) A. It is essential to find out what kind of stain you are dealing with, so you can be sure that you are using the right method of treatment. What might be effective for one type of stain can make things a lot worse for another.

5) B. Heat will set a stain permanently so it is crucial to make sure that a stain has been thoroughly removed before placing a garment in the tumble dryer. If there are still traces of the stain left, it is best to repeat the stain removal treatment (e.g. soak, wash) and examining again, before attempting to dry the garment.

6) B. When there are several ways to treat a stain, always start with the mildest method first and only work your way up to the harsher treatments when the milder ones have definitely failed.

7) C. Bleach is very harsh and can seriously damage many fabrics, so should be avoided if possible. Many other natural substances (e.g. lemon juice, vinegar) make very good, safe stain removers and it is a good idea to always have these around the house so you can act immediately when a stain occurs. Any delay in getting a stain remover can cause the stain to set deeper and be harder to remove.

8) A. Mud on carpets is the one exception to the “immediate treatment” rule – it is actually better to let it dry and use the vacuum to remove the dried particles.

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