Back To School Stain Tips

The children have gone back to school, but we know that their brand new school uniforms won’t stay spotless for very long. Our stain removal experts are on hand to help you to remove any stains that might occur. Check the manufacturers instructions before you begin cleaning to make sure you don’t damage the fabric.


If your child has been using chalk in an art class, it’s inevitable that they will end up with chalky mark on their sleeves or trousers. Most people will automatically apply water to the mark thinking that this will remove it, but this can often cause the chalk to smear, creating a bigger stain.

To remove the chalk, gently brush or shake the garment to release any chalk dust from the surface of the fabric. Place the garment stain-side down on a paper towel and blot the stain from behind with a soft cloth dipped in alcohol (vodka and gin work well). If the stain still hasn’t been fully removed, rub a little washing up liquid into the stain and wash it as per the manufacturers instructions.

Cuts and Grazes

A fall in the playground can cause cuts and grazes, which can leave marks on clothing. Acting quickly and soaking in cool water will minimise the risk of staining. Avoid using heat as this can cause the stain to go deeper into the fibres of the fabric, making it harder to remove.

Using a clean sponge or soft cloth, apply a small amount biological washing powder or washing up liquid to the marked area and gently dab. Remember to always dab at the stain rather than rub as rubbing can make a stain worse. Rinse with cold water and repeat until the stain has gone or been reduced and repeat if necessary. Wash as per the manufacturers instructions.

Greasy Fingers

Greasy marks can be extremely difficult to remove. Cover any marks with talcum powder or corn flour as quickly as possible to absorb the oil. Allow it to set for a few minutes, then remove it gently with a brush or a dry sponge.


It’s easy for your child to spill glue on their school trousers or to wipe their hands on their shirt during an art class. It’s easier to remove any glue whilst it’s still wet, especially superglue, so cleaning the garment quickly will lessen the chance of staining.

To remove PVA, animal-based and superglue, you’ll need a sink or bowl, laundry detergent or washing up liquid and cold water. First, try to remove any dried glue from the surface of the material. Then, soak in cold water for 10-15 minutes to loosen the stain. Rub a small amount of washing up liquid or laundry detergent over the stained area whilst soaking. Wash as normal using a cool cycle.

Superglue is harder to remove from fabrics than other types of glue, so we advice placing it in a bowl of cold water as soon as possible to harden the glue. This will make it easier to peel away from the material. The same method can be used to remove superglue, but as different manufacturers use different ingredients, check the manufacturers instructions.


A leaky pen can be a nightmare for a school shirt, but if you treat it quickly, you can minimise the chance of it staining. Most ink pens use water-based inks, which are relatively easy to remove form clothing if you use the correct method. In most cases, laundry detergent and warm water will remove the stain without the need for a special ink remover.

Don’t scrub the area, gently dab with a clean, dry cloth until the ink is dry and the ink stops transferring on to the cloth. If the ink stain is large, use a water-based stain remover and follow the manufacturers instructions. Blot the stain again – should be able to remove the mark easier after pre-treating with the stain remover. Wash the garment and dry as normal, preferably without any other items to avoid any colours transferring. If the ink mark is still noticeable after drying, repeat the process.

Tomato Ketchup or Pasta Sauce

Tomato-based sauces can be hard to remove and often leave a stain if not treated quickly. We reccomend removing any residue from the surface of your fabric with a blunt knife (avoid rubbing it as this could cause the stain to spread). Apply a small amount of washing up liquid or washing powder to a sponge dampened by cold water.

If your fabric is light, cut a fresh lemon in half and squeeze a small amount of the juice over the stain. Lemon has a bleaching and deodorising effect on the tomato stain, so it should help to remove the stain naturally.

Gently blot the stain, then use a clean tea towel or a paper towel to gently dry the material. Again, wash as per the manufacturer’s instructions and leave to dry naturally.

If you can’t remove the stain using the method above, dampen the fabric using cold water and old a clean white towel in half. Gently dab the damp towel over the stained area, and the stain should transfer on to the towel. Wash and dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.