By Priya Rao
Updated Jan 27, 2016 @ 3:45 pm
Oil Stains
Credit: Getty Images

We’ve all been there: You’re in the middle of eating a salad at your desk for lunch (props for you for getting a salad!), and it happens—you drop kale soaked in balsamic vinaigrette all over your new silk blouse. While your first impulse may be to take your paper napkin and rub it into your shirt—stop, put the napkin down, and read The Laundress founder Lindsey Boyd's tips on how to get those annoying stains out of your clothes in a pinch, regardless of whether the culprit is soy sauce, ketchup, or, my personal favorite, Tabasco sauce.

Consider the fabric.

The first step in quick stain removal is to identify the fabric, Boyd says. "If you stain a cotton, linen, or a durable synthetic, like polyester, you treat that differently than if you stain a silk, wool or cashmere," she explains. "Cottons, linens, and polyesters need extremely hot water, but silks, wools, and cashmeres have to be treated with cold or room temperature water."

Don’t rub the stain.

"Yes, you need to get rid of the excess sauce or oil, but do not rub it into the fabric," Boyd says. "Instead, blot or pat the stain."

Don’t use a colored or paper napkin.

"When blotting, never reach for a paper napkin, even if it’s the first thing nearby," Boyd says. "A paper napkin will leave excess lint, and if it’s colored, forget about it—it can and will bleed into the fabric. It's best to grab a cloth napkin and run into the bathroom. If a cloth napkin isn't on hand, just use your finger to wet the stain."

Don’t use the soap in the bathroom.

Like the colored napkin, Boyd advises against using the soap in the bathroom. "It’s usually tinted like a pink or blue color, and you don’t know what’s in it." If you are prepared, try a product like The Laundress’s Wash & Stain Bar or Stain Solution to pretreat the stain before you get home, otherwise, just use hot or cold water. Then wash at home as you normally would.