Remove most stains from your laundry with a long soak and stain treatment prior to washing. Soak stained items in cold water for 30 minutes as soon as possible after you discover the stain. Rub a heavy-duty laundry detergent directly into the stain, and let it soak into the fabric for another 30 minutes. After soaking, wash the stained item in warm or hot water in your washing machine. Always examine stained clothing before placing it in the dryer. Drying a stain may set it permanently.
Remove discolored and unsightly perspiration stains on shirts by spraying an enzyme pretreatment product directly onto the stain or blotting it with ammonia before washing. You can remove old, dried sweat stains by dabbing vinegar onto the discolored spot according to the Michigan.gov website.
A diluted bleach solution may remove stubborn stains on your laundry, but only use bleach on white or colorfast clothing. Test clothing for colorfastness by mixing 1 tbsp. of bleach into 1/4 cup of water. Apply one drop of this solution to a hidden area on the garment, and let it dry for two minutes. If the fabric does not change colors, it is probably colorfast. If the clothing is safe to bleach, soak it in a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 1/4 cup of liquid chlorine bleach for 15 minutes. The Ohio State University Information Extension advises that soaking clothing in bleach for longer than 15 minutes can damage the fabric.
While treating carpet stains quickly makes stain removal easier, avoid the temptation to scrub at spills on your carpet. Instead of scrubbing, gently blot the fresh stain with a clean towel or a thick pad of paper towels. Apply soapy water or carpet cleaner to the stain using the same blotting motion until the stain is removed. After cleaning, the University of Illinois Extension's Stain Solutions website recommends rinsing the carpet by blotting it with clean water. Leaving soap in the carpet fibers can cause a stiff texture or the soap can stick to dirt and lint to make your carpet appear dirty or discolored.