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Spot the Stain Removal Cleaning Facts from Fiction

Spot the Stain Removal Cleaning Facts from Fiction 22 Aug

A third of Brits struggle to find time to look after their homes, a poll by appliance manufacturer Beko has revealed. It’s no wonder that the internet is full of cleaning tips and tricks that can help you remove stains or revolutionise the way you clean, with the promise to help us save time on housework. However, many of these cleaning hacks are nothing more than myths and can, in fact, double the amount of time spent cleaning your home. So, here are eight common stain removal tips for your home, to separate the cleaning facts from fiction to save you the trouble of putting them to test yourself.

Are these stain removal tips cleaning FACTS or FICTION

  • Pour salt onto a stain

It is a common thought that salt with soak up the stain or draw it out if it a liquid stain. However, this method is not advisable for stain removal as salt is not able to absorb everything. Therefore, it is likely that you will be left with residue that needs cleaning. The salt itself can prove challenging to remove once it is engrained into your carpet.

So, save yourself the salt and all the extra work of cleaning up the salt and treat all fresh stains immediately with water and blot with a clean dry towel. This will dilute the problem and provide more carrying agent to be absorbed giving you better transference onto the towel.

Answer: Cleaning fact – but messy

  • Hairspray removes ink stains

Whether it be on a hard surface or carpet, it has been said that hairspray can remove ink. This is true, but this hack used to be much more effective as hairsprays used to contain more alcohol content – the key ingredient. 

If you want to try this method, remember that hairsprays often contain low levels of alcohol or are alcohol free, meaning it won’t get rid of any ink and instead you’ll be left with a sticky mess. So, if you have an ink accident, the best thing you can do is look for rubbing alcohol.

Answer: Cleaning fiction – but sticky

  • Remove red wine with white wine

Have you ever heard that the best way to get rid of a stubborn red wine stain is to pour white wine (or any type of clear alcohol, such as gin) on top of it? This may seem logical, and many people swear by this method, but it is not effective. Even though once you begin you will see the colour of the red wine dispersing, creating the illusion that it will work, but it is highly likely that you will still be left with quite a substantial stain.  

Therefore, it is advisable to save your white wine for another occasion and use tried and tested methods for removing carpet stains instead. Salt is a better option for cleaning up freshly spilled red wine, as it will help to absorb the wine and give you some more time to think of a way to solve your stain dilemma.  

Answer: Cleaning fiction

Photo credit: Victoria 1 / Shutterstock
  • Bleach will get rid of anything

Even though bleach acts like the best all-purpose cleaner, in reality it isn’t as effective as you’d think. If you are trying to remove a stain, properties found within cleaning solutions can help to loosen the stain so that they can be removed easily, whereas the properties in bleach do not have this power.

As a general rule, remember that bleach is simply a solution for killing bacteria only, and are most effective when used on some of the dirtiest objects in your home, such as a toilet seat. Look for alternative methods to remove stains from your carpet or furniture instead, otherwise you may be left with a stain that is even worse – or a difficult to remove bleach stain.  

Answer: Cleaning fiction


  • Use salt or vinegar to balance the chemical reaction of stains

It is reasonable to believe that there may be some cases where this approach may aid the stain removal process, however, you would need to know the exact amount to use otherwise it may not be successful. It is advisable to use water and a blotting technique first.

In addition, vinegar is also known to etch natural stone and can damage the finish on hardwood floors, so be sure to steer clear of this cleaning tip if your property has this kind of flooring.

Answer: Cleaning fact – only if carried out properly

  • Shaving foam can remove stains

Shaving foam can be useful outside of the bathroom and off of your face and could act as a great impromptu stain remover. In short, the soapy, foamy nature of classic shaving creams can help lift up stubborn stains from even coarse fibres which are found on carpets.

Just dab on some shaving cream to the stained area, blot it down so it sinks in, and leave for around half an hour. Once you return to the stain, it should be easy to remove by wiping it away or, in some cases, with a little scrubbing.

Answer: Cleaning fact

Photo credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock
  • Use washing up liquid as a spot cleaner

Washing up liquid is sometimes recommended to use on stains due to being chemically mild and safe on a range of different fibres. However, using it as a spot cleaner will leave behind a sticky residue that can result in soiling on carpet because it is designed to be washed away with a substantial amount of water.

Therefore, if you don’t want to risk dampness damaging your carpets, stick to proper stain removal methods, or hire a professional!

Answer: Cleaning fiction – too sticky

  • Bicarbonate of soda removes stains

Just like salt, if you use bicarbonate of soda will soak some of the spill and leave a residue. But, the problem with putting it on your carpet, apart from it making a mess and leaving a residue, is it can actually chemically burn the carpet fibres.

For instance, some woollen carpets do not like anything with a high pH and it can be chemically burnt if used. Its alkalinity and the fact it remains damp from soaking up some of the spill can also promote cellulose browning (a different chemical reaction), which will require specialised knowledge to reverse. Unless you have this expertise, the best thing is to stick to the water and blotting method instead. After this, you will need to use a dilute detergent and water solution (such as water and washing up liquid) to sponge the area. You should do this whilst blotting the area, to ensure the stain doesn’t become to saturated with liquid.

Answer: Cleaning fiction 

“It must be OK, I read it on the internet”

This is a common statement we have found from our customers. Unfortunately you can’t believe everything you read on the internet and we advise you stick to a trusted source where possible, to avoid making matters worse. So, what should you do when removing stains instead?

The first thing to do with any spillage is to gently blot up as much liquid as possible, using paper towels or an absorbent cloth. What you must not do is rub the stain – this will cause the stain to sink further into the area making it harder to remove. Remember, some stains can take a while to remove so be patient.

If the stain is not lifting, it is advisable to hire a professional cleaning company. The last thing you want is to make the stain ten-times worse, or even having to fork out money to replace ruined furniture or carpets – a costly mistake!


How clean is your sponge? Here are our top tips for keeping your sponge clean between uses.

Feature image credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock


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