Tea can be a pain to remove from fabric. And, while there are a whole host of commercial products to remove stains, including tea, chances are you won’t have them on hand when tea gets spilled – and acting quickly is one of the keys to successful stain removal; the faster you act, the easier it is and the higher your chances of removing the stain completely. Also, many people would prefer to avoid harsh chemicals if they aren’t absolutely necessary.
If you act fast enough, often running cool water over the stain for a few minutes may be sufficient to remove the stain. Of course, chances are good a sink won’t be immediately handy, so, on to more intensive methods.
Like plain water, club soda for removing stains works best if used almost immediately. Pour liberally over the stain until it is gone.
One of the most unanimously recommended tea stain removers is plain table salt. It is gently abrasive and helps to neutralize the tannins which cause the stain. Apply a generous mound over the damp stain, and rub gently. Tougher stains, or ones that have begun to set, may take several applications.
Apply enough lemon juice to fully saturate the stain, then hang in the sun. Be cautious, however, as there is a chance this may bleach out colored clothing.
Besides salt, using vinegar is one of the most commonly referred tea stain removal tricks out there. However, when using tea to intentionally stain an entire garment, one of the final recommended steps is to soak in vinegar to set the stain; this calls into doubt using vinegar for either application.
If the other methods all fail, some claim this can get out even the toughest stains.
To the damp stain, apply a layer of baking soda. Rub in gently and set aside while making the rest of the formula.
In a small bowl, combine:
- 1 c vinegar
- 1 Tbsp white or clear (no dyes/coloring) dishwashing liquid
- ½ c cool water
Dab generously onto the stain using paper towel or a white dishrag (colored rags might shed their own color, making the matter worse.) Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cool water.
If all else fails, Borax powder, a salt of boric acid, can remove almost any stain. Gently stretch the stained cloth over a bowl or bucket and secure with a rubber band. Apply a thick layer of Borax on top of the stain, then pour hot water in a spiral motion around the stain, closing in on it, until all the powder is gone. Repeat as necessary to completely remove the stain.
What Not to Do
- Never use natural soap or laundry soap flakes, as these may set the stain and make it impossible to remove.
- Never run still-stained fabric through the dryer, as the heat may also set the stain.
- Be careful not to rub too hard in an effort to remove the stain. You may damage the fabric.
Finally, if all else fails, and the stain simply will not be removed… consider staining the entire garment in tea. It imparts a love ivory sort of color. See How to Tea Stain Fabric for more information on how to do this properly.