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We’ve all had a time when we are throwing clothes in the washer and come across that one piece of clothing with a mystery stain. Or, maybe you know what the stain is but have no idea how to remove it.

The good news is you don’t have to accept the stain, or even throw that article of clothing away. Here’s a list of five of the hardest stains to get out of clothes, and the best tactics to remove them.
Marker stains
It’s made to be permanent, so this can be a challenge to remove from clothes. However, you can still get it out of your clothes by using an ink solvent. Some cleaning products are designed for use on marker ink, so look for that on the label. Brush the cleaning product onto the stain with a stiff, bristled brush. Blot the ink until it’s nearly gone, and then rinse the area with clean, warm water.

Or, place the stain face down on top of some paper towels. Dip a cloth or sponge in rubbing alcohol and dab around the stain, then directly on it. You should see the ink transfer to the paper towel under the stain.  If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can try using hand sanitizer or hairspray.
Pasta sauce stains
First, remove as much of the tomato sauce as possible from the fabric. Run the stain through cold water, then soak the clothing in cold water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar. You can then use a spot treatment to lighten any remaining stain. Or, after soaking the clothing, you can rub a liquid detergent or dish soap into the stain, working gently in a circular motion. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.

If the sauce had meat in it, there may be a residual grease stain. After cleaning the tomato stain, use the hottest water you can with strong detergent on the remaining grease. Finally, machine wash normally. If there is still a stain after washing, rub detergent in again and soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Spot treat, then wash again.
Blood stains
While the proteins in blood make it tricky to treat, and the pigment can leave a rusty color behind, there is still hope for your favorite shirt. First, dab the blood using a damp towel or rag to remove as much as possible. Then, rinse the article immediately with cold water until you’ve removed as much of the visible blood as you can.

Then, fill a bowl or sink with a mixture of tepid water and mild detergent or stain remover. Or, use a stain treatment designed specifically for blood. (These treatments are enzyme-based and do a better job removing the spot.) Soak the clothing for at least one hour. Then, blot the stain with hydrogen peroxide and rinse thoroughly in cool water. Let the stain air dry to see if it’s gone. If it’s still visible, repeat these steps.
Kids making a mess
Pretreat the stain with lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Rinse with water. Then, with a solution of 1 part dishwashing detergent and 3 parts warm water, flush the underside of the stain. Machine wash as usual.

If the stain doesn’t wash out, do not dry the clothing. Try using an enzyme-based stain remover, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash again as usual.
Stains on pants
Grease is insoluble in water, so it’s more difficult to get out than most other stains. However, it’s not impossible. Lay the article of clothing flat, and place cardboard or an old towel underneath the stain.

If the stain is fresh (and hasn’t been washed and/or dried), sprinkle baking soda on the grease. If it’s set, pour dish soap onto the stain and cover it. Let it set for 5-10 minutes. Use a toothbrush or bristle brush to scrub the baking soda or soap, working it into the fabric. Scrape the baking soda away and repeat the process until it no longer turns brown. If still there, add dish detergent and scrub again, then let sit for 10-15 minutes. Wash clothing as you normally would with hot water.