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How to save your wardrobe from every summer stain


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Pulling out your white jeans and sipping rosé at an outdoor café means summer is officially here—but with it comes the added threat of spilling said rosé on said jeans (happens to the best of us).

Instead of declaring them ruined, we tapped stain-removing experts Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd (the co-founders of chic, eco-friendly fabric and home-cleaning brand The Laundress) for all the need-to-know intel on how to remove summer-specific stains.

“Summertime brings about outdoor workouts, al fresco happy hours, and stickier, more colorful food groups—which creates the perfect storm for all kinds of stains,” Boyd says.

“Summertime brings about outdoor workouts, al fresco happy hours, and stickier, more colorful food groups—which creates the perfect storm for all kinds of stains.”

The biggest deterrent they’ve noticed when it comes to proper fabric care is a lack of education and confidence (Exhibit A: Chucking your jeans—or sending to the dry cleaner—instead of attempting to get the stain out yourself).

“This issue leads to the improper care of clothing or relying solely on the dry cleaner, which can lead to high dry cleaning bills, chemical-ridden clothes, and even damage,” Whiting says. “The Laundress empowers people to wash with confidence using fabric-specific formulas and comprehensive step-by-step laundering guides.” Summer spills got nothin’ on you.

Scroll down for expert advice on removing 4 different types of stains, starring Well+Good senior editor Jordan Galloway.


summer stains the laundress

1. Sweat stains

Keeping up your active lifestyle during the summer means double opportunities to get your sweat on—so your activewear will definitely need some extra love to keep them looking (and smelling) fresh.

“When dealing with sweat stains on athleticwear, t-shirts, or any washable shirts, one mistake we often see is not pre-treating,” Boyd says. “It’s important to pre-treat susceptible areas and prevent stains before each wash to remove buildup and avoid future or stubborn set-in stains.”

Follow the steps below to stop sweat stains in their tracks:

  1. Use the Wash & Stain Bar to treat yellowing around the collar and to remove sweat stains from straps and waistbands. Lather the bar using warm water and apply to the affected areas.
  2. Treat pit stains or other color-rich stains on your workout wear by applying Stain Solution directly to the fabric. Create a bath with warm water and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative to further lift the stain and revive dingy whites. Pre-soak before laundering with Sport Detergent. 
  3. Sweat can mean stink! Tackle odors by adding Scented Vinegar to the pre-soak.

summer stains the laundress

2. Ice cream stains

Drippy ice cream cones plus white pants is an accident waiting to happen. And though you might think just adding a splash of bleach to the wash would do the trick, Whiting says that’s a no-go.

“The biggest mistake you can make is using chlorine bleach or a stain remover containing bleach,” she says. “Bleach damages fabrics and can cause discoloration and fading.”

If you’re dealing with cotton, denim, linen, or other durable synthetic materials, you can easily remove colored stains at home by following these steps:

  1. Apply Stain Solution directly to the stain and work in with the Stain Brush. 
  2. Further work the stain by pouring hot water from a height on the affected area. You can also use a faucet at its highest water pressure output.
  3. Soak in a bath of warm water for denim, or hot water and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative for a cotton top or blanket. Allow items to each pre-soak for about 30 minutes.  
  4. Repeat the steps as needed and launder as normal. Use Denim Wash to properly clean and preserve your jeans. Add one capful of All-Purpose Bleach Alternative to the wash for an extra whitening and brightening boost. For colorful towels and blankets, wash with Signature Detergent.

summer stains the laundress

3. Sunscreen stains

Protecting your skin from the summer sun is a must, but turns out sunscreen and sundresses aren’t friends. “One mistake that’s easy to make when it comes to sunscreen stains is not being proactive!” Whiting says. “Always pre-treat items, especially susceptible areas like straps, waistlines, underwire, collars, and cuffs before each wash to prevent discoloration.”

To remove pesky sunscreen stains from a sundress (she suggests handwashing for delicate fabrics like silk, synthetics, and blends), just follow these instructions:

  1. Wet the Wash & Stain Bar and work into a lather, applying directly to stained areas. Allow the item to soak in a bath with cool to warm water for up to 30 minutes before laundering.
  2. If your item also smells like sunblock, add Scented Vinegar to the pre-soak.
  3. Fill a washbasin or sink with cool water, and add two capfuls of Delicate Wash. Turn the dress inside out and submerge into the bath, gently agitating the water. Allow to soak for up to 30 minutes.
  4. Run cool water through the dress until rinse water is no longer soapy, gently pressing out the water. No wringing!

summer stains the laundress

4. Rosé or sangria stains

You know your go-to trick of sprinkling salt on a wine spill (that never seems to work quite right?). Turns out it can actually make the stain worse. Mind. Blown.

“The biggest mistake you can make when treating spills is letting the mess stress you out,” Boyd says. “Attempting to treat on the spot can sometimes lead to bigger messes, so keep calm and party on!”

She suggests keeping a Wash & Stain bar in your purse for emergency spot treatments, and then following the steps below for removing wine from denim and cotton:

  1. Apply Stain Solution to the stain and work it in using your finger or the Stain Brush. For red wine and colorful cocktail spills, add All-Purpose Bleach Alternative to create a paste.
  2. Pour hot water from a height, or run the item under the faucet at its highest water pressure output.
  3. Soak in a bath of warm water for blue jeans, or hot water and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative for a cotton top. Allow items to each pre-soak for about 30 minutes.
  4. Repeat steps if necessary. Launder using Denim Wash for jeans or Signature Detergent for a cotton items.

In partnership with The Laundress

Photos: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

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