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Cotton is everywhere, so knowing how to care for it is key! We’ll show you how it’s done in the comprehensive cotton stain removal guide here.

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Cotton clothes hanging out to dry.

Fabric Care Guide: How to Remove Stains and Wash Cotton

Open up pretty much any closet and you’re bound to see cotton: it’s in your fluffy towels, your soft bedsheets, and probably most of your t-shirts, too. Cotton is used for so many different things, in fact, that most of the stain removal you do over the course of the year will probably be cotton stain removal, whether you’re dealing with ink on your kids’ school uniforms or red wine on your summer dresses.

So: how do you take proper care of cotton, and what’s the secret to effective cotton stain removal? Here’s the lowdown. 


Cotton stain removal: The basics

Before you start thinking about how to get oil stains out of cotton, remove wine spills, or tackle ink splatter, you need to know the rules of cotton care. Luckily, there aren’t many – cotton can usually be machine washed with very little effort on your part. 

Washing cotton clothes:

If you’re about to put a new t-shirt in the machine, you might be wondering: does cotton shrink in the wash? Generally not – but if you’re worried, just choose a relatively low temperature setting (30°C is fine). Use a quality detergent like OMO Ultimate Liquid to make sure that your clothes are still washed effectively. Line dry, or pop in the tumble dryer on a low heat setting.

If you’re particularly worried about shrinkage, you always wash 100% cotton items by hand. This really shouldn’t be necessary, though, as cotton is pretty robust.


Washing cotton sheets and towels:

If you’re washing cotton sheets or towels, consider a 60°C setting, especially if someone in the family has been ill. This high temperature will help to kill any germs and bacteria on the fabric.

A non-bio detergent like OMO Sensitive is the best option if you’re doing a hot wash. The stain-removing enzymes used in bio laundry detergents don’t tend to work as well at higher temperatures. 


How to remove stains from cotton

Wondering how to get rid of ink stains on cotton tablecloths, or blood stains on cotton sheets? Let’s take a look at a few common cotton stain removal problems, and how to fix them. 


How to remove blood stains from cotton

  1. Rinse in cold water.
  2. Pre-treat the blood stain. Apply a small amount of OMO Ultimate Liquid to the stained area, or a solution made up of two parts lemon juice and one part water instead. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Wash as normal. Wash at the hottest temperature the care label permits. If the blood stain is still there when you take the garment out of the machine, try both steps again.  

Find a detailed explanation of how to remove blood stains from cotton and other fabrics here.


How to remove ink stains from cotton

  1. Lightly blot the stained area. Try not to rub the stain in – just gently press on it with a clean cloth to soak up excess ink.
  2. Apply a small amount of OMO Ultimate to the stain. Use the Stain Eraser Ball to rub the detergent into the stain, then leave it for a few minutes. If the ink stain is water-based, this should do the job. If you’re looking at an oil-based stain, treat it with rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based hairspray instead.
  3. Wash as normal. Check the label for washing machine setting instructions.

Need more information? Find a complete guide to getting rid of ink stains on cotton here


How to remove red wine stains from cotton

  1. Keep it wet. Move fast! Rinse the stain with cold water, or dab it with a damp, clean cloth. 
  2. Salt it. Sprinkle a little salt on the stain to soak up the wine, then brush it off.
  3. Pre-treat the stain. Gently work OMO Ultimate Liquid into the fabric using the Stain Eraser Ball. 
  4. Wash on a low temperature. Any temperature higher than 30°C could set the stain further. 
  5. Check, rinse, and repeat. Still looking at a red wine mark? Try soaking the item in cold water mixed with OMO Ultimate Liquid for a few hours before washing it again. 

Find out more about removing red wine stains on cotton and other fabrics right here.


That’s it for this cotton stain removal guide – check out our laundry tips section for more stain-busting advice and fabric care pointers. Whatever stain life throws at you, we can help!