stain on white clothes

How to Remove Old Stains from White Clothes

No matter how careful you are, you’re bound to stain a white item of clothing at one point or another.

Sometimes these spillages are noticed immediately and dealt with relatively quickly. But when stains are missed and become old, it can be tricky to get your top back to its normal, pristine state.

If you’re dealing with old stains, don’t lose hope just yet. With patience and the right cleaning products, even the toughest stains can be removed!

We’re here to teach you how to remove old stains from white clothes using various cleaning products.

There is sure to be something on our list that works for you, so why not try one of our methods and see the fantastic results yourself?


Methods to Remove Old Stains from White Clothes

Everyone misses a stain at some point in their lives. For many people, an old stain is impossible to remove, and the item of clothing finds itself in the bin sooner rather than later. 

This is especially true with white garments, with no hiding marks and blemishes on light-coloured materials. 

However, this doesn’t have to be the case! Below are our top eight ways of removing even the most stubborn stains from your white clothes. 

Whether dealing with food, blood, sweat, or grass stains, we are sure to have a method that works for you.

1. Stain remover

using stain remover to whiten clothes

Perhaps the most obvious way to remove stains from your white clothes is by using a store-bought stain remover. There are many options out there, but we recommend looking for one specifically formulated for white garments if possible.

To use, follow these simple steps:

  1. Rinse the stain under cold water, positioning the fabric so that the back of the stain is face up. If your stain is oil-based (e.g., grease stains or lipstick), skip this step and instead blot the stain with a dry paper towel.
  2. Apply your stain remover according to the packet instructions
  3. Place the item of clothing in the washing machine and put it on its normal spin cycle. Some stain removers recommend a specific temperature, so be sure to check the label of the cleaner and your garments before starting the cycle.


2. Bicarbonate of soda (AKA baking powder)

bicarbonate of soda for stains

If you’re looking for a more natural alternative to stain remover, why not try bicarbonate of soda?

This household ingredient is a miracle worker for stains and is a classic go-to when a last-minute fix is needed. To use for stain removal, follow the below steps:

  1. Create a paste by combining two parts bicarbonate of soda with one part cold water
  2. Gently scrub the paste into the stain and leave it to sit for up to 10 minutes
  3. Once the time is up, rinse the item of clothing in cold water
  4. Repeat as necessary and then wash the garment as usual


3. White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda

Baking Soda and White Vinegar

White vinegar is another household ingredient that is highly versatile when it comes to cleaning due to its acidic nature.

When combined with the bicarbonate of soda, it can work wonders and remove even the toughest stains from the whitest clothes. To use, you need to:

  1. Soak the stained section of clothing in white vinegar
  2. While your garments are soaking, mix white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda in a separate bowl until a paste is formed
  3. Apply the paste directly to the stain, gently rub it in using a cloth or old toothbrush, and then leave it to sit for up to 30 minutes
  4. Rinse off the remaining paste and then soak the item of clothing in white vinegar again for a few hours
  5. Thoroughly rinse the garment and then run it through the wash as normal


4. Bicarbonate of soda, glycerine and washing up liquid

shirt with stain and stain removal products

This next DIY cleaning solution uses washing up liquid and bicarbonate of soda, making it especially good at removing old oil-based stains.

You also need glycerine for this method which can easily be bought online. To get started, you need to:

  1. Combine one tablespoon of washing-up liquid, one tablespoon of glycerine, and 350 ml of warm water in a spray bottle
  2. Spritz the stain with the cleaner until the area is fully saturated
  3. Let the cleaner sit for up to 20 minutes
  4. Add a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to the stain and gently rub it into the fabric
  5. Wash the clothing in cold water, making sure all traces of the cleaner are removed


5. White vinegar and washing up liquid

remove stains with vinegar and washing up liquid

If you don’t have bicarbonate of soda lying around your house, why not try white vinegar and washing up liquid instead?

The acidic nature of the vinegar mixed with the grease-fighting washing liquid is sure to cut through even the toughest stains and has been tested by thousands of people with excellent results!

To try it out yourself, you need to:

  1. Rinse the stained fabric in cold water until it is wet through
  2. Spray or dab the white vinegar onto the stain
  3. Cover the stain in washing-up liquid and lightly scrub the stained area using an old toothbrush
  4. Leave the cleaner to sit for up to 30 minutes
  5. Put the garment into the washing machine and wash it as usual


6. Hydrogen peroxide and washing up liquid

remove stains with hydrogen peroxide and washing up liquid

Hydrogen peroxide and washing-up liquid is another excellent combination for removing tough stains.

The hydrogen peroxide effectively bleaches the fabric while the washing-up liquid cuts through grease and oil.

This cleaner can be pretty strong, so it is always best to do a spot test on an inside seam or cuff before treating the stain.

Assuming your clothes come out damage-free, you can follow the below instructions to get started:

  1. Mix one part washing-up liquid with two parts hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle
  2. Spritz the cleaning solution onto the stain until it is fully covered, and then let it soak in for a few minutes
  3. Rinse the fabric under cold water and repeat if necessary

For big stains that take ages to spray, it is better to soak the clothing instead. Simply add the same cleaning mixture as above to a bucket of hot water and leave your clothes to soak overnight.


7. Lemon juice

using lemon juice to whiten clothes

The next stain-buster on this list is lemon juice. The high levels of citric acid in the juice help to remove stains naturally and can be used to whiten clothes that have become dull as well! This means it is an outstanding option for stains caused by sweat.

There are many different ways to use lemon juice as a stain remover depending on the type of stain you’re dealing with, but the method below is a good option for almost any stain:

  1. Combine equal parts lemon juice and water in a bowl
  2. Using a sponge, lightly rub the cleaner into the stained fabric
  3. Leave the garment in a sunny spot for a few hours until the cleaner has fully dried
  4. Wash the clothing as usual, either in the washing machine or by hand


8. Bleach

laundry bleach

Our final method of removing old stains from white clothing is by using bleach.

This is one of the most effective options for removing stains and brightening white clothes, but when used incorrectly, it can be toxic, so always take great care when using this cleaning method.

Before you start, ensure you are in a well-ventilated room, are wearing rubber gloves, and that you don’t have any other cleaning products at hand that the bleach could mix with.

Once you’ve taken these precautions, follow the below steps:

  1. Fill a container large enough to fit your garment and cleaning solution with hot water
  2. Add bleach according to the product instructions and stir so that the bleach and water are properly mixed
  3. Soak your clothing in the diluted bleach for roughly five hours, checking on the garment from time to time and giving it the occasional stir to make sure the bleach doesn’t settle
  4. Run the item of clothing through the wash as usual