How To Remove Stains From A White Shirt

How to remove stains from a white shirt
How to remove stains from a white shirt

Table of Contents

White shirts are a classic wardrobe staple that blends in with almost every style & occasion. But many people avoid wearing white as they fear stains. If you are one of them, you might think your outfit is ruined once it catches a stain. But it can be saved if you know how to remove stains from a white shirt.

So, let us tell you everything about stain removal.

Things To Do Before Removing Stain From A White Shirt

Identify what caused the stain

To understand how to remove a stain from a white shirt you should first know what caused the stain. Mainly, you have to check whether the stain is oily or non-oily for the following reasons:

  • To take the right immediate action: It will help you take the right immediate action to the stained area. Because oily stains should not be washed as oil repels water. If you will rinse an oily stain (which is a common thing people do after noticing a stain) it will set even strongly.
  • To prepare the right homemade stain remover: Different ingredients work on different types of stains. So, if you are planning to make a stain remover at home, then you must know what caused the stain and whether it is oily or not.

What you should know

Some stains like ink can be oily or non-oily depending on the type of ink. 

  • Water-based ink: It is used in gel pens, rollerball pens, fountain pens, washable markers, etc.
  • Oil-based ink: It is used in ball-point pens, felt-tip pens, etc.
  • Alcohol-based ink: It is used in permanent markers.
Now, you can differentiate oil-based ink from the other categories. So, do not rinse ink stains coming from ball-point & felt-tip pens. Whereas, you can rinse water-based ink stains under water. 

Choose the right stain remover

You can use two types of stain removers:

  • Commercial stain removers
  • Homemade stain removers

Generally, commercial stain removers like Vanish, Dr Beckmann stain remover, Tide To Go Pen, etc. are formulated in a way that you can use them on all types of stains. However, if you are not willing to use a commercial stain remover then you should see which stain removers are effective on different types of stains:

Stain Removers
Apple Cider Vinegar, Corn starch + Baking Soda, Tannin Stain Remover, Soda Ash + Laundry detergent
Laundry Detergent, Milk, Hydrogen Peroxide, Distilled White Vinegar, Ammonia, Rubbing Alcohol
Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide, Borax, Distilled White Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Borax
Tea/ Coffee
Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda
Baking Soda, Distilled White Vinegar, Laundry Detergent
Baking Soda + Lemon Juice, Distilled White Vinegar, Ammonia, Bleach, Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing Alcohol, Glycerin + Dish wash liquid, Baking Soda, White Vinegar + Cornstarch, Milk, Nail Paint Remover, Ammonia
Colour Bleeding
White Distilled Vinegar, Oxygen Bleach, Baking Soda
Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, Bleach, Distilled White Vinegar, Dishwashing Detergent
Oil/ Grease
Dish Wash Soap, Liquid Detergent, Baby Powder or Talc
Baking Soda, Liquid Laundry Detergent, Paint Thinner
Protein Digester, Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda
Baking Soda, Lemon Juice

We will see how to remove stains from a white shirt using commercial as well as homemade stain removers in the upcoming section. 

Check the garment care label

To know how to remove stains from a white shirt it is crucial to check whether the fabric is washable or not. So, you must check the garment care label as it carries wash care instructions. If it says ‘hand wash”, “machine wash”, or “dry clean”, then you can try stain removal at home. But, if it says “dry clean only”, it is better to call dry cleaners. Especially if you will have to rinse the garment for removing stains. You can try using dryer sheets just in case you don’t have time to get the stain removed by dry cleaners.

Moreover, some fabrics are sensitive and they cannot tolerate all types of stain removers. For example, a garment labelled as “No bleach” is sensitive to bleaching agents. You have to be careful with stains on such garments if you are going to pre-treat with laundry detergent. Check the ingredients of the detergent as some of them carry oxy bleach. 

Got stain on “dry clean only” clothes? Don’t worry we will remove them.

Do a patch test of stain remover

No matter how you are planning to remove a stain from a white shirt, don’t forget doing a patch test. Apply a small quantity of the stain remover to an inconspicuous area of your shirt. It can be the insides of collar or inseams of the hem. Wait for 15-20 minutes to see how the fabric of your shirt reacts. If you see the fabric getting rough, shade variation, or anything unusual, don’t use it further.

Now, it’s time to see how to remove stains from a white shirt. 

How To Remove Stains From A White Shirt Using A Commercial Stain Remover

Removing stains from a white shirt using a commercial stain remover
Removing stains from a white shirt using a commercial stain remover

You can buy stain removers like Vanish, Godrej Ezee etc. from your local store. They are also easily available on sites like Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket, etc. Generally, they come in liquid form.

Apply stain remover on the stain

You can pour a tablespoon of liquid over the stained area. In case, you have a powder stain remover, you can mix 1 tbsp of powder with 1 tbsp of water and pour this mixture to the stain. Generally, there are usage instructions on the packaging, you can follow them.

Rub gently and rinse

Next, you should rub the stain gently until it vanishes or lightens. Do not be too harsh on the fabric. Then rinse it off with cold water. Repeat the process if the stain is not gone completely. Just in case the stains are too old or stubborn to leave, you can always get dry clean service. Professionals use specific chemicals and ensure 99% stain removal. 

How To Remove Stains From A White Shirt Using Chemicals

To make stain removers you can either use easily available chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. You can either find them at your nearest pharmacy stores or on online shopping platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. 

How to make a chemical stain remover at home?

Where to use:

  • Stains: Oily stains, Dirt and Non-oily food stains
  • Fabric: Cotton, Polyester, Rayon, Acetate, Spandex
  • Where not to use: Silk, Wool, Velvet, Fur, Nylon

Preparing hydrogen peroxide-based stain remover at home

How to use hydrogen peroxide in laundry
How to use hydrogen peroxide in laundry

Things you need:

  • Mug
  • Spray Bottle
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Dishwashing Liquid

Pour 2 tablespoons of low-strength (3/4%) hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid into a mug. You can increase the quantity depending on the area of the stain. Just keep the proportion 2:1.

Mix the liquid together and pour it into a spray bottle. Once you have mixed hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing liquid together in the mug, take a clean empty spray bottle. Carefully pour the liquid into the bottle. You can use a funnel for this, especially if you are pouring it out of a large mug.

How to remove stains from a white shirt using hydrogen peroxide

Spray the cleaning solution on the stain. Leave the stained area damp for 10 minutes. Then, rinse it off in cool water. Repeat the process if necessary. You can also rub the affected area gently while it is damp to loosen the stain.

Now, let’s see how to make & use ammonia-based stain remover.

Preparing an ammonia-based stain remover at home

Remove stains from a white shirt using ammonia
Remove stains from a white shirt using ammonia

Things you need:

  • Mug
  • Spray Bottle
  • Ammonia
  • Dishwashing Liquid

Fill a large mug with two cups of hot water. Mix one tablespoon of hand dishwashing liquid. Now, add 1 tablespoon of ammonia. That’s it, your stain remover is ready.

Ammonia is an alkaline solution that can be very good at tackling grease and dirt stains. You can use it in a similar way to bleach, by adding a small amount to your normal wash cycle along with laundry detergent. But make sure the detergent does not contain bleach.

Ammonia can help you in keeping your laundry sorted in various other ways, to know other uses of ammonia, click here.

Caution: You should NEVER mix bleach with ammonia as the reaction causes highly toxic and potentially deadly fumes. Work in a well-ventilated room and wear rubber gloves while using ammonia.

How to remove stain from a white shirt using ammonia

Lay the garment flat on a microfiber cloth. Dip a brush in the liquid (ammonia + dishwashing liquid) and spray it onto the stain. You can use a spray bottle for this purpose too. Keep spraying until the stain gets damp. Then blot it using a dry paper towel or microfiber cloth until the stain vanishes.


Ammonia is an alkaline solution that can be very good at tackling grease and dirt stains. You can use it in a similar way to bleach, by adding a small amount to your normal wash cycle along with laundry detergent. Ammonia can help you in keeping your laundry sorted in various other ways, to know other uses of ammonia, click here.

This was all about using chemical stain removers. Now, we will see how to remove stains from a white shirt using other easily available products at home.

There’s a super quick way to remove stains – send your stained shirt to Tumbledry.

How to Remove Stains From A White Shirt Using Homemade Stain Removers

Homemade stain removers can remove yellow stains from white clothes

The chemicals in store-bought stain removal products can be very effective, but can also irritate the skin and some people might prefer a more natural alternative. In this section, you will see how to prepare stain removers using ingredients that are more on the natural side and often used in our kitchen.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is known as a particularly effective way to tackle unpleasant sweat stains on your white shirts and tee shirts, especially under the armpits. Mix up a solution that is equal parts water and lemon juice (2 tablespoons each), and then rub it into the affected area of the garment.

You can also rub 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt on mildew and rust stains on white clothes. The quantity of both the ingredients can be increased depending on the size of stain.

Baking Soda

Add 2 tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoon of baking soda and make a loose paste. You can increase the quantity depending on the stained area. The key is to keep the ratio 2:1 and cover the whole stain with the paste.

Apply the paste of baking soda and water on the stain with the help of a cotton ball and dab it. Dab until you see the stain lifting up. Stop when the stain goes away or it is no longer lifting up on the cotton ball. Use a microfiber clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off the residue. Repeat the process if necessary.

White Wine or Rubbing Alcohol

One of the worst things to spill all over your white clothes is red wine, but, perhaps surprisingly, a good remedy for this is to spill more wine on yourself. Take a little white wine this time, and carefully pour it onto the stain and it will work against the red wine. Dab the edges of the stain gently with a kitchen towel to prevent it from spreading.

This won’t make the stain disappear but can help it come out in a normal wash subsequently.

You can use rubbing alcohol in the same manner to treat wine stains.

White Chalk

Oily stains are particularly tricky to deal with as water can make the problem worse. One easy method for oily stains is to use white chalk. Rub some white chalk onto the fabric without being too rough. By doing this, it is the chalk which will be absorbing the oil rather than the clothes.

  • Dust off any excess chalk before putting the garment in the wash.
  • Only wash it in cold water, and don’t put it in the dryer as this can cause the oil to set.

You can refer to our guide on stain removal if you want some more details about stains.

Why don’t you try the best dry clean service for your favorite shirts?

Key Takeaway

In order to remove stains from a white shirt, you should first identify the type of stain. Because there are different ways to remove oily and non-oily stains. Then move ahead to you can use a specific stain remover depending on the stain (we have explained this in the sections above). You should always be gentle on the fabric, rubbing a stain harshly may not remove the stain but there are high chances that it will ruin your fabric. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily purport to reflect the values or views of Tumbledry.

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