How to get set stains out of white linens

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How to get set stains out of white linens

As vacation rental hosts, we often face the challenge of how to remove set-in stains from linens. This becomes especially problematic for crisp white sheets, which are the favorite choice (and what we recommend) for most vacation rental hosts.

Ideally, stains should be treated immediately to prevent them from soaking deeply into the fabric. However, reality often means we can’t treat these stains until guests have checked out or requested new linens. This delay means we’re typically working with stains that have been sitting on the fabric for hours, days, or even weeks (yikes!)…

But have no fear, we’re here to help–this guide covers effective linen stain removal techniques, focusing on how to get stains out of white sheets and how to remove set-in stains that are most common in vacation rentals. Whether it’s blood, red wine, coffee or other stubborn stains, these cleaning tips will keep your linens spotless.

Essential Cleaning Supplies for Stain Removal

Before diving into stain removal techniques, make sure that your rental is stocked with these pantry staples and cleaning supplies, so you can treat stains as soon as you get the opportunity:

  • Dawn dish soap: Effective for removing grease and oil stains.
  • Salt: Useful for various stain removal techniques.
  • Distilled white vinegar: A natural cleaner that can help with many types of stains.
  • Baking soda: Useful for soaking up wine and freshening fabrics.
  • Cornstarch or baby powder: Helps absorb oil and grease stains.
  • Sponges: Ideal for applying cleaners and scrubbing stains.
  • Microfiber cloth: Gentle on fabrics and effective for blotting stains.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Excellent for treating blood and makeup stains.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Helps remove ink and coffee stains.
  • Laundry Detergent: Both a strong detergent and one with enzymes for washing (check out Wirecutter’s best laundry detergents).

Click here for a full Airbnb cleaning checklist and cleaning supply list.

How to Remove Common Types of Stains: An Airbnb Cleaning Guide

Downloadable cleaning guide on how to remove set in stains from white linens with tips for blood stains, wine stains, makeup stains, coffee stains, food stains, and grease and oil stains.

Download and print out this guide to hang in your vacation rental’s laundry room or pass it off to your cleaners for reference!

How To Remove Makeup Stains

Gently rub in a coin size amount of dishwashing soap (original Dawn is the best) or liquid detergent directly on the stain. From the back of the fabric, rinse the soap and stain with cold water.

If the stain persists, blot 3% hydrogen peroxide on the stain and rinse again with cold water. Wash the fabric in the normal cycle in your washing machine, air dry, and repeat until the makeup stains are gone.

How To Remove Coffee and Tea Stains

Create a DIY solution of ½ tsp. dishwashing detergent (ex. Dawn Dish Soap), 1 tbsp. of distilled white vinegar, and 1 qt. hot water. 

Soak the stained fabric in the solution for 15-30 minutes. Rinse the stained area with warm water. Then use a sponge and rubbing alcohol to blot up any remaining stain. Rinse the fabric again with warm water.

How to Remove Food and Drink Stains

Mix equal parts warm water and distilled white vinegar, and soak fabric for 15-30 minutes. Then wash the linen as usual and air dry. Repeat as necessary.

How to Remove Wine Stains

Pretreat the stain with a small amount of water to rehydrate it. Soak the garment in white vinegar for 30 minutes. Cover the stain with a paste made of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide—let it sit for another 30 minutes.

Gently scrub the stain with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse the garment thoroughly with cold water. Wash the sheets with a detergent that contains enzymes.

How to Remove Blood Stains

Dab hydrogen peroxide on the stain, then rinse. For old blood stains, mix cold water with salt and soak the fabric for 30 minutes. Wash the linens in a normal cycle with cold water.

How to Remove Grease and Oil Stains

Apply a paste made from one part cornstarch and one part water to both sides of the stain. Let this set for an hour then brush it away. Dab the area with dish soap on both sides, rub it in with your fingers, then rinse stain-side down under running water. Launder as recommended and air dry.

How to Remove Ink Stains

Dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol and blot the stained area, gradually increasing the pressure to help lift the ink. If that doesn’t work, use a commercial stain remover designed for ink stains (i.e. Amodex). Wash immediately after treatment.

Persistent Stains and Replacement Options

Since these common stains may have been sitting for a while in your vacation rental, you may need to repeat the above steps multiple times. If the stain persists, then it could be time to throw in the towel (quite literally). 

Some stains may be permanent and abrasive stain removal methods can alter the appearance and structure of the fabric. For this reason, we always recommend always using hospitality grade linens which are meant to undergo the wear and tear of guests, so they are more durable and have better stain lifting capabilities.

To purchase Standard Textile’s hospitality grade linens, which are not available to the general public, for your short-term rental, log into your HostGPO account or sign up to join HostGPO.

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