There are no avoiding stains, no matter how mature you get. And food is simply an essential part of people’s daily routine so spilling some on the clothes you’re wearing is not unusual. The unfortunate part is if it leaves a stain huge enough that you’d have to throw your favorite shirt away. Before you do, know that there are more ways to remove stains than the common commercial stain remover. Always consider the type of fabric that got stained, the solvent you’ll have to use, and the type of stain you have in removing stains. Here are six common food stains and how to remove them.

Coffee

If you’re one of those people who are always fuelled by coffee, then you must have experienced spilling coffee on your clothes once or twice.

• If the coffee stain is fresh, soak immediately in lukewarm water. Dab the stain with detergent or diluted vinegar to avoid any long-term yellowish marks. Rinse in hot water and repeat as needed.

• For a slightly older stain, soak in dishwashing liquid or use a commercial spot remover.
• If the stain is old and set, try pouring 2 tablespoons of borax mixed with a cup of water on the stain. Leave for 10 minutes, rinse, and then wash as usual.

Tomato-based Sauces

Tomato-based stains are one of the most persistent stains on clothes. If you get them, remember not to use hot water to treat them and don’t put your clothes in the dryer just yet. The heat will set the tomato stain permanently.

• Dab liquid detergent onto the stain and rinse with cold water from underneath. This would prevent the stain from getting pushed back further into the fabric. Wash as usual.

• Alternatively, soak the stain in a mixture of 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid. Leave for at least 30 minutes. Rub the spot to release any lingering stain and rinse.

You can repeat any of the processes above if the stain is still there, so long as you haven’t applied heat to the clothes yet.

Grease/Butter/Cooking Oil

Here’s another tough spot to fix. The first solution you should try is to apply dishwashing detergent on the stain, let it stand, and rinse. Dishwashing detergents were originally made to get rid of grease from dishes and it would work just as well on your clothes. You can also immerse the stain in warm water with dishwashing detergent instead. If that doesn’t work, try rubbing it with alcohol.

Chewing Gum

The first step in getting rid of gum is by freezing the fabric in a freezer. If that’s not possible, use ice cubes or cold packs instead and apply directly to the gum spot. Once it freezes, scrape off as much of the gum as possible with the use of butter knife or any hard object with a dull edge. After most of the gum is gone, rub the spot gently with white vinegar to liquefy any remaining gum residue. Dab off any remainder with tissue paper. You can then wash your item as usual.

Wine

Wine is great at saturating and staining fabrics. The first step you must follow is to soak it up to prevent it from spreading. Applying salt or baking soda at freshly wine-spilled-on-fabric is a great way to do this. Also put either ingredient on paper towel and layer it under the stain to absorb any excess liquid. You can also add another layer of salt and paper towel on top for large stains. Leave for 10 minutes and wash as usual.

Chocolate

Chocolate stains can come in two forms: chocolate and chocolate milk. Much like tomato-based stains, heating can set the stain permanently.

• For chocolate, work from underneath to keep the stain from pushing back further into the fabric. Dab the area with a mixture of 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid, ½ teaspoon ammonia, and 1 cup cold water using toilet paper. Don’t rub. The goal is to simply transfer the chocolate to the toilet paper.

• As for chocolate milk, apply a diluted cleaning solution using an enzyme detergent. Leave for 30 minutes and wash as usual.