Everyone knows a thing or two about a stain that’s baked itself into a piece of clothing. We’ve come to accept that some stains are harder to remove than others, but we’ve never really questioned why. But before you can understand why some stains are harder to remove than others, you need to understand the different types that exist.
Types of Stains
- Enzymatic Stains: these stains are caused by organic substances such as eggs, meat or baby food.
- Greasy Stains: these stains are the result of clothes coming into contact with oily substances such as lotion or cooking oil.
- Oxidisable Stains: these are stains caused by beverages such as coffee, soft drinks and alcohol.
- Particulate Stains: these stains are caused by mud and dirt.
- Combinations: a type of stain that combines elements from substances such as tomato sauce to lipstick.
Stain removers rarely rely on a single method for stain removal, but rather, use a combination of techniques to remove or mask stains.
Most stain removers are either surfactant, solvents or enzymes and use one of the following mechanisms to remove a stain:
- Dissolution: Most stain removers contain solvents (substances that dissolve chemicals). These solvents are usually alcohol-based, as alcohol dissolves water-based and oil-based stains.
- Emulsifying: Emulsifiers cover a stain and lift it off of a surface while chemicals called surfactants increase the moisture in a substance, making it easier for a stain to be removed.
- Digestion: Enzymes and other proteins break stain molecules by digesting the proteins and fats in stains in a manner similar to the way humans digest food. Enzyme-based stain removers work best on stains like blood or chocolate.
- Masking: Some stain removers contain whiteners which don’t have any cleaning power but can render a stain invisible or make it less prominent.
What is the Best Stain Remover?
Regardless of the house cleaning tips you follow, all your efforts to remove stains will be in vain if you don’t use the right stain remover. A good stain remover should remove stains without damaging the stain or surface. It’s also worth noting that the wrong cleaning or washing procedure could make a stain worse. Heating certain stains can actually make them set in instead of removing them and using bleach can make certain stains more visible. This is why it’s important to take note of laundry tips, bathroom cleaning tips and other types of cleaning advice before attempting to remove a stain.
Stubborn stains are an inconvenient part of modern life. Luckily, following the right cleaning advice and using the right stain remover can make cleaning less tedious than it has to be.