6 Ways to Pre-Treat Your Clothing

Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

Let's face it; life is messy and stains happen. When it comes time to get those stains out, nothing is more important than knowing how to treat the different types of stains and fabrics. It's likely you won't remove that glob of chewing gum from your favorite sweatpants in the same way you'd clean spilled red wine from a linen shirt. Pre-treating your clothing appropriately and starting the stain-removal process on the right foot ensures the fabric stays fresh and your wardrobe looks brand new.

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Don't Forget to Pre-Wash or Pre-Soak

A 30-minute soak in a bucket or sink basin is usually long enough for most materials, although it's important to take into account the type of fabric and kind of stain. Egg, blood, milk and other protein stains have a better chance of release in plain, cold water—warm water would cook the protein and set the stain permanently. Wine, coffee, fruit juice and other tannin stains are better pre-treated in warm water mixed with a few drops of liquid dish or laundry detergent.

Most Samsung washing machines feature a pre-soak or pre-wash setting, which is a full-load pre-treating cycle that's great for a large load of extra dirty clothes. The process is simple and fully automated by your machine; just add the appropriate amount of laundry detergent to the dispenser and push the button. The clothing enjoys a lengthy soak in soapy water—in some cases, the machine agitates the load as well—and then, when the pre-treatment is complete, the water drains and the load washes normally. Another all-in-one solution is the activewash™ feature on some Samsung machines, which includes a built-in sink with a water jet and scrubbing surface within the laundry unit itself.

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Use a Commercial Pre-Treating Solution

The stain-remover spray bottles and sticks you find in the laundry section at your local grocery store are formulated to pre-treat stains on a variety of fabrics. A heavy concentration of laundry soap penetrates the stain and stays in contact with the fabric for a longer time than it would in a regular wash cycle. Some of these products can be applied up to a week before laundry day; others direct you to apply them immediately before washing.

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DIY Bar Soap Pre-Treatment

You can skip the line at the grocery store and create your own laundry pre-treatment with items you likely have lying around your house. Chop up a square or two of regular bar soap—this is a great time to use up all those little hotel soaps you've collected over the years—and add boiling water to cover and melt the soap. After it's dissolved and cooled, the mixture turns jellylike. Apply this DIY pre-treatment to stains five or 10 minutes before you launder them.

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The Many Uses of White Vinegar

For fabric that's 100 percent cotton, polyester or permanent press, white vinegar is a laundry room pre-treating powerhouse. Apply the liquid undiluted directly to a fresh stain to loosen nasty spots and then wash in the washing machine as directed by the manufacturer. Even if the fabric isn't stained, a quick soak in white vinegar before the wash cycle can keep bright colors bright and prevent the dyes from running.

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A Baking Soda Soak

Baking soda is an inexpensive laundry booster that reduces odor, softens clothes and increases the effects of bleach. While it's not suggested for use with bright colors because it can cause fading, it's ideal for stains or odors in light-colored athletic wear—like stinky gym socks or yellowed undershirts. Simply soak the garment in a gallon of warm water with 1/4 cup of baking soda for 30 minutes before laundering as usual.

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Use a Bleach Pen

Several chlorine bleach manufacturers market bleach gel in pen or tube form. These products typically have multiple applicators—a fine tip nozzle for precision cleanups and a wide scrubber for larger jobs, for example—that can be rubbed along stained white clothing. Rinse the garment in cold water to prevent the bleach from spreading and then toss it immediately into the washing machine with other white or mostly white items.

Photo Credits: Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

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