How to Remove Stains From Linen

The first rule about stain removal is to act quickly to keep the stain from setting into the linen; the material is very porous, making it prone to stains. Whether you launder it as usual or use a spot treatment method depends on the type of stain you're dealing with.

  1. Wet blood stains generally come out if you hold the linen under cold running water and let the pressure from water wash it away. Dried blood needs to be soaked in warm water that has a cleaning enzyme dissolved in it, then launder it as usual.

  2. For a coffee spill, blot the affected area on both sides of the cloth with thick paper towels to absorb the liquid. After the excess is removed, spray the spot with a stain remover, rinse it in cold water and hang it to dry. Older stains need to be spot-cleaned with baking soda applied to a damp cloth.

  3. Pour salt over a red wine spill to soak it up, then rinse the cloth in cold water until it runs clear. Spraying club soda and working at the stain with a cloth will pull out a stain that has dried.

  4. The first step to a chocolate-related accident is to carefully scrape off the solid pieces. Rinse it with club soda, then wash the spot with a toothbrush and soapy water. For a stain that has set, try putting a few drops of ammonia and laundry detergent on the stain, lightly brushing it with the toothbrush, blotting it and repeating as necessary.

  5. Candle wax spills need to chilled with ice to harden the wax, which you can do by sitting a cloth with ice cubes on the spot or putting the linen in the freezer. After the wax is firm, remove all the pieces you can with your fingers. For the remainder of the wax, put a sheet of wax paper on either side of stain and, with an iron set on medium heat, iron the top sheet to absorb it. Replace the paper as needed while you iron.


  • Never use hot water to wash out a stain. The heat will make it set. Don't dry your linen in a dryer either when treating a stain---hang the linen to dry.