18 Tips for Removing Common Household Stains

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

That pesky stain doesn't have to be permanent. Turn to these handy tips for quick removal.

Coffee Spilling From Cup On Carpet
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Remove Coffee Stains

Blot the stain with a clean white cloth (dyed fabric can transfer color to the carpet), working from the outside in. Your goal is to move the carpet fibers, spread the cleaner slightly and soak up the stain.

Avoid aggressive blotting, scrubbing and stomping on the blotter. That just drives the stain deeper into the pile, backing and padding, making removal even more difficult. After blotting, use your wet/dry vac again to remove as much cleaning solution as possible.

tide to go pen resting on an upholstered dining room chair next to a wet spot where a stain has been removed
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Spot-Clean Food and Drink Spills

Treat spills immediately to prevent a stain from setting. Pros love stain pens like Tide to Go and the Clorox Bleach Pen Gel, which remove small stains from upholstery, grout, caulk, porcelain and clothing. Just don’t use bleach pens on colored fabric.

Just press the tip into the stain to release the solution, then rub the tip across the stain. Inexpensive and portable, they’re great at removing food and drink spills. Before applying, test it on a hard-to-see area to make sure it won’t damage or discolor the finish.

using hand sanitizer to remove permanent marker on a chair
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Instant Ink Remover

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do a good job removing permanent marker ink. Cover the entire ink stain with hand sanitizer — this reactivates the ink. Let it sit for about a minute. then wipe it off with a soft rag.

removing highlighter marks in a book with lemon and q tip
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Remove Highlighter Stains

Ever wish you could remove highlighter marks from a book? Lemon juice fades highlighter enough to make it virtually undetectable.

Cut a lemon in half and put some juice on a cotton swab. Run the swab over the highlighted text and watch the color fade. Lemon juice from a container also seems to do the trick, though not quite as well on the pieces we tested. The older the mark, the more stubborn it is to remove.

Spilled pink Paint with paint brush on Carpet
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Paint in Carpet

I used to think dropping a loaded paint brush on the carpet meant replacing the carpet, until a former foreman told me this little tip. Pour some denatured alcohol onto a rag and scrub away the paint. Use a rag that’s close in color to the carpet, because the alcohol can transfer some color from the rag to the carpet. – Tom Gerdowsky.

Faucet Cleaning in bathroom with a toothbrush
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Hard Water Stains From Faucets

To remove tough mineral scale buildup on chrome faucets, try a product such as Lime-A-Way according to label directions. For weekly use, an all-purpose cleaner Comet Bathroom or Scrubbing Bubbles will work fine. To ensure your crusty faucet will shine again — aside a vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush — apply and remove the proper cleaner as directed on its label.

If scrubbing doesn’t remove hardened mineral deposits on the aerator screen, unscrew the spout tip by turning it counterclockwise. Soak it overnight in vinegar, then scrub it with the toothbrush and flush with water before reinstalling.

cleaning burnt pan with dryer sheets
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Clean a Burnt Pan

Have you ever cooked something and totally scorched the pan? The burnt remnants seem impossible to clean. Here’s one kitchen hack that helps with the burnt-on grime: Fill the pan with hot water, then add a little dish soap and a couple of dryer sheets. Let it sit for an hour and wipe clean with a scrubbing pad. Then wash the pan with soap and water as usual to remove any dryer sheet residue.

cleaning a Stained Coffee thermos with denture cleaning tablet
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Tough Stains from a Coffee Thermos

Got stubborn coffee stains on a pot, thermos or mug? Denture cleaner is the best product we’ve ever found to remove these tough stains.

Dissolve one denture cleaning tablet per two cups of hot water. Pour it in the stained vessel and let it sit for several hours. Then use a scrub brush to clean off the stains and all the loosened bits. Pour the solution out and rinse thoroughly.

removing super glue from finger with nail polish remover
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Super Glue Removal

Removing super glue is a hassle. But if you act quickly, you can lessen how long you’re stuck to yourself or the item you’re gluing.

Soak the glue spot in warm soapy water as soon as possible to soften it, then pat dry. Rub the glue with an acetone-based nail polish remover; acetone breaks down the glue’s adhesive agents. The glue will turn white and easily peel off.

green slime in a carpet
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Slime Out of Carpet

If you or your little one love slime, you’re bound to make a few messes with it, especially in your carpet. But don’t worry. Slime is primarily made up of glue, and most glue is washable. Plain old white vinegar will remove it just about everything. It might take some elbow grease and patience, but you can get slime out of your carpet!

removing Pet Stain on carpet with Bissell
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Pet Messes

Buy a handheld extractor to get dog pee out of carpet. It works much better than trying to absorb a mess with paper towels or rags. An extractor sucks up liquids, and unlike a shop vacuum it’s easy to clean. Check out these carpet cleaning tips for pet owners.

Nail Polish on carpet
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Nail Polish Out of Carpet

Don’t panic if you’ve accidentally spilled nail polish on your carpet, we’re here to help! With our expert guide, we’ll show you a tried-and-true method for getting it out.

using foaming spray cleaner to remove shower scum from glass shower door
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Scum-Proof Your Shower Doors

Keeping shower doors clean and streak free is a challenge, unless you know the secrets of the pros. Start by cleaning any mold, mildew or streaks off the glass with a glass cleaner. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get into the cracks in textured glass. Scrape off tough buildup with a razor blade. Dry the doors with a cloth.

To prevent soap scum buildup, stop using real soap and start using a synthetic. Chemically speaking, any soap in liquid or gel form is actually synthetic soap and much less likely to leave a tough film in your sink, shower or tub.

baby Spilled juice white counter
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Stains From Plastic Laminate Countertops

Got tough stains on your plastic laminate countertops? The right cleaner and some patience will remove even the most stubborn stains. Follow our advice and you’ll get rid of those ugly stains for good.

Coffee Cup with coffee ring stains on a white kitchen counter
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Clear Up Coffee Rings

Your guests should have used a coaster. Now you have a coffee stain on your table.  That’s OK — you’ve got this.

Dab a little white toothpaste (not the gel kind) directly on the stain and rub it in with a clean cloth. It will remove the stain just like it removes coffee stains on your teeth.

person using toilet bowl cleaner to clean the inside of a garbage can in a basement utility room
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Trash Can Cleanup

Try a liquid toilet bowl cleaner to wash the inside of a dirty trash can. It will cling to the sides for better cleaning. A toilet brush will help you reach down inside the trash can. Then rinse well.

Stains of car oil drips and spots on concrete
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Use Sawdust to Soak Up Spills

Pick up used oil spills on the driveway or in the garage with sawdust. It’s readily available in most home workshops — just open up the dust collection bags on your orbital sander, miter saw, etc. Pour sawdust over the spill, let it soak up the liquid for about 20 minutes, then sweep it up.

Bloodstains on a white sheet
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Remove Blood Stains With Ammonia

Rub out blood stains on clothing by dabbing the area with a half-strength solution of ammonia and water before laundering. This can also help get rid of perspiration and urine. Learn how to clean up blood spills.