Young boy splashing in the mud with another boy and dog in the background. Young boy splashing in the mud with another boy and dog in the background.

How to Remove Set-in Stains and Old Stains on Clothes

Don’t let set-in stains prevent you from rocking your favorite clothes! Learn how to pre-treat and remove set-in stains on clothes to bring your laundry items back to life.

What Are Set-in Stains?

When a stain “sets in,” it latches onto clothing fibers and absorbs into the fabric upon exposure to heat. This can occur when stained clothes are left lying around or put into the dryer without the stains being fully removed during the wash.

If you’re a parent, you may find yourself constantly emptying your children’s hampers in the summer, when they spend all day outside playing in the grass. Or maybe, despite your efforts, you couldn’t remove the spit-up or food stains from your baby’s clothes before throwing them in the wash.

Stains are bound to happen, and sometimes they set because you don’t have the time or patience to address them immediately. After all, you’ve got a busy schedule! But fear not, OxiClean™ has the stain solutions to get old, pesky stains out of clothes.

How to Get Old Stains Out of Clothes

Have you left your favorite shirt “out to dry” (pun intended) after accidentally spilling wine on it during a night on the town? With OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover, you can get rid of those old, set-in stains and get that shirt back into your rotation.

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1. Mix

Fill scoop with OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover powder to line 4 per 1 gallon of water. Wait until the powder fully dissolves in the solution.

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2. Soak

Soak clothes for 1-6 hours, depending on the severity of the stain. Some stains may require more time to soak. For best results, soak for 6 hours.

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3. Wash

Wash as normal with your regular detergent.

Always test OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover on an inconspicuous area first. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the item for water temperature and for cleaning. Do not use on wool, wool blends, silk, silk blends, leather, or any fabrics labeled dry clean only.

Maybe you’re finding remnants of juice stains on your kiddo’s sweatshirt or an ink stain on their pants. With OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover powder, you can remove old stains from clothes even after they have dried, grease and oil stains included. Plus, VSR is color safe, so you can use it to restore the life of old clothes and avoid having to buy new ones!

Close-up of a set-in stain on white piece of clothing Close-up of a set-in stain on white piece of clothing

Is it Bad to Let a Stain Sit?

The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove. You should try your best to treat stains promptly, including the ones you notice after they have already set.

Pretreating old and fresh stains can play a massive role in getting stains out of clothes. Laundry pretreatment helps remove stains in the wash the first time around. Using stain removers as pretreaters can also help you remove old set-in stains from clothes.

How to Pretreat Set-in Stains

OxiClean™ Max Force™ Laundry Stain Remover Spray is another laundry stain remover you need to help get rid of old stains. It can surround and loosen some of the toughest set-in stains. Still seeing a little bit of dried blood on your shorts after scraping your knee during a hiking trip? Max Force™ Spray can help you power it out.

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1. Rinse

Rinse stain in cold water.

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2. Spray

Spray OxiClean™ Max Force™ Spray directly onto the set-in stain until the area is fully saturated.

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3. Wait

Let stand for 5 minutes or up to a week, depending on the severity of the stain. For set-in stains, allow the spray to penetrate overnight or up to a week. For fabrics prone to color change, do not let stand longer than 5 minutes. Do not treat the garment while wearing it.

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4. Wash

Wash with laundry detergent in the warmest water possible according to the fabric care label.

Always test OxiClean™ Max Force™ Spray on an inconspicuous area first. Do not use on wool, silk, leather, or any fabrics labeled dry clean only.

Whether at home or on-the-go, Max Force™ sets you up for success in the laundry room because you can pre-treat old stains for up to a week before washing! That means there’s no need to panic if a stain sets after you spilled coffee on yourself at your favorite café while on vacation. Max Force™ also comes in a refill size that allows you to reuse your spray bottle, plus a 2oz size you can bring with you on the road!

Now you know how to remove dried-on stains from your laundry items. But how do you prevent set-in stains from happening in the first place?

How to Prevent Stains from Setting

While you’d probably prefer to avoid set-in stains altogether, having the right resources to remove stains and help extend the life of your clothes is essential. Here are some laundry tips for how to avoid stains from setting—to the best of your ability:

  1. Add OxiClean™ to every load of laundry: Boost the stain-fighting power in every load of laundry by adding a scoop of OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover powder to the drum. Or, you can also add a capful of our liquids or a laundry pak before washing.
  2. Pretreat stains as soon as they happen: While it’s not always possible, immediate laundry pretreatment is one of the best ways to get stains out the first time and prevent them from setting.
  3. Ensure items are clean before storing: While it’s normal to keep that sleek winter thrift coat or summery romper stored away until you’re ready to wear it, avoid doing so if they have stains. A warm closet or bin and exposure to natural or artificial light may cause any existing stains on those items to set.
  4. Check items before drying or ironing: Remember that heat can dry out stains and result in them setting. Inspect items before transferring them from the washer to the dryer and lay them out on the ironing board to check. You may choose to air dry your items after treating the stain.

OxiClean™ Helps You Remove Old Stains

Dealing with set-in stains can be challenging. Finding the same marks or smudges on your clothes after washing can be confusing, while keeping track of every stain is difficult.

However, there’s good news! Using OxiClean™ products on your clothes can help save the items you love, even those stained items that have been buried at the bottom of the laundry bin forever. Whether you’re hoping to preserve hand-me-downs for the grandkids or revitalize an antique item, breathe new life into your clothes and use OxiClean™ laundry stain removers to get rid of set-in stains!

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