From red wine to tomato sauce, here are some tricks to try.

By Julia Guerra
Updated May 25, 2020 @ 11:30 am
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If you purposely avoid wearing white out of fear for dropping food or spilling your drink on the fabric, you’re not alone. We get it: there aren’t many laundry dilemmas nearly as frustrating as trying to scrub a red pasta sauce or wine stain out of a crisp white shirt. The absolute worst case scenario? The stain can’t be tamed, and you have to make a replacement purchase. But don’t be so quick to grab your wallet.

Removing stains from a white shirt is tough, but it’s not mission impossible. As long as you act fast, the odds that this staple is still salvageable are in your favor. All you need to do is stay calm and follow these expert tricks, below, straight from Marilee Nelson, the co-founder of nontoxic cleaning brand Branch Basics.

How to Remove Coffee, Tea and Fruit Juice From a White Shirt

  • Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with one teaspoon of castile soap in a bowl and place stained shirt in the solution for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle baking soda or oxygen bleach on stain and agitate.
  • Wash in cold water.
  • Repeat if necessary.

How to Remove Red or Pink Wine From a White Shirt

  • Dab the red wine stain with a damp, white cotton cloth to absorb any excess wine.
  • Spray on a DIY cleaning solution consisting of ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide, 2 tbsp of castile soap, and lemon essential oil, and gently agitate.
  • If needed, sprinkle baking soda or hydrogen peroxide on the stain, spray again and agitate.
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with cold water.
  • If the stain is still visible, soak for an additional 15 minutes to overnight with 1 tsp of laundry detergent mixed with either ¼ cup of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or scoop of Branch Basics Oxygen Boost.

How to Remove Dirt, Mud, or Grass From a White Shirt

  • Spray your DIY all purpose cleaning solution (above) on the stained area and let it sit for five to 15 minutes.
  • Tougher stains may need to soak overnight in warm water with one tsp of laundry detergent mixed with ¼ cup baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or an oxygen booster.
  • Wash as normal in the washing machine the next day.

How to Remove Blood From a White Shirt

  • Treat as soon as possible by running cold water through the shirt from the back of the blood stain.
  • Continue running the water through the fabric for a minute or two while gently rubbing the fabric together under the running water to further help the blood dissipate.
  • If necessary, spray your all purpose stain remover on the stain and pour hydrogen peroxide over the stain.
  • Let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing in cold water.
  • Repeat if stain persist, or spray stain with all purpose cleaning solution, gently agitate with brush, and rinse with cold water.

How to Remove Fruit and Tomato Sauce From a White Shirt

  • The sooner you treat, the better! Wet the stain with cold water.
  • Spray cleaning solution on a clean rag and gently agitate fabric together with fingers.
  • Blot and rinse with cold water to lift the stain.
  • Keep a clean cloth behind the spot as you work to lift stain from the front.
  • Soak overnight if needed in ¼ cup baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or an oxygen booster.

How to Remove Chocolate From a White Shirt

  • Remove any excess chocolate from the material.
  • Spray the stain with an all purpose stain remover and agitate slightly with cloth until chocolate disappears.
  • Soak in ¼ cup baking soda, hydrogen peroxide or oxygen boost overnight and wash in the cold water cycle.

How to Remove Makeup From a White Shirt

  • Mix 1 tsp laundry detergent, baking soda, and cold water to make a paste together in a cup.
  • Dip a washcloth in the solution and rub the spot.
  • If the stain is difficult, soak the shirt overnight in a solution containing ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda.

How to Remove Lipstick From a White Shirt

  • Wipe excess with a damp cloth or paper towel.
  • Spray stain and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
  • Work into the stain and remove with a damp cloth.
  • Soak if necessary for 15 minutes to overnight in ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and oxygen booster, and/or vinegar.

How to Remove Sweat From a White Shirt

  • Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tsp cleaning concentrate or castile soap, and a quarter cup of water.
  • Apply the mixture to the stain and agitate, then let it sit for two hours before washing the shirt in a cold washing cycle.
  • If the stain is still visible, repeat the process again soaking in a scoop of oxygen boost and washing before throwing it in the dryer.

How to Remove Deodorant From a White Shirt

Using deodorants with aluminum or an antiperspirant daily can affect the bacterial microbiome in your armpits, and consistent use can actually make your sweat smellier, and cause yellow stains.

  • Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tsp cleaning concentrate and a quarter cup of water.
  • Apply the mixture to the stain and agitate.
  • Let sit for a couple of hours.
  • Wash the shirt in the cold washing cycle.
  • If the stain is still visible, soak in 1 tsp Branch Basics Concentrate, a scoop of Oxygen Boost, and water to cover 15 minutes to overnight before throwing it in the dryer.