Laundry Stain Detective Work

I have some white cotton cloth with brown stains on it. I have washed them in hot water and bleached them within an inch of their lives, but the brown remains. I don’t know which of the many uses to which I’ve put them have caused it.

This started me thinking: Is that enough information to determine what -sort- of stains they are, and therefore what would get them out?

i.e. if chlorine doesn’t work it’s not a, b, or c, therefore it must be x-type of stain which responds to ________.

I’ll add the fact that I’m certain they are not blood stains.

Just a WAG: Is this an undergarment?

What happens when you put peroxide on the stains? Does it bubble?

I was thinking blood. It turns brown when it dries.

Also, since you’ve already washed it, you’ve presumably dried it as well and likely set the stain forever.

Try Goop or Go-Jo (mechanic’s hand cleaner) as directed on the can. If the stain doesn’t come out the first time, air-dry and try another method. A can of the stuff is good to have around for laundry stains and cleaning gook off your hands.

yeah, my initial guess was blood until I saw your disclaimer.

As an FYI, I find that using hydrogen peroxide on blood stains to be an amazing stain remover. It almost never fails, as long as you get it before the stain is set. And I’ve never ruined anything.

Yes, I’ve used that too, and it works a treat. But these aren’t blood. Are there any other kinds of stains peroxide works on? Or is it not worth a try if I know they are not blood.

Is there a stain remover which works differently from chlorine that would be worth a try?

And Panache, I’m sure you meant well, but I added that specifically so that we wouldn’t all have to be grossed out by the thread.

Did you try putting peroxide on it? I am asking because if you put peroxide on blood…and maybe other protein-based stains? … it bubbles. If it bubbles, we can know if it’s protein or not. If it doesn’t bubble, it doesn’t bubble. I am not sure why you wouldn’t just try it.

I agree with Joey P that washing it in hot water (well, he said drying it) will set the stain. You may be out of luck anyway.

Rust stains won’t respond to bleach. My usual go-to for serious rust is oxalic acid, but that is both hard to find and requires significant caution in its use. Many commercial rust stain removers contain it. Lemon juice and sunlight seems to be a homespun favourite - assuming you can find some sunlight.

Straight eucalyptus oil on the stains prior to washing can work; as can a paste of bi-carb soda and white vinegar. Let it dry before brushing off. I reckon though, as others have said, you might have set the stain by washing it in hot water.

I wonder if dry cleaning fluid would work?

A few weeks ago, I was working with someone to identify brown stains on white towels. I did some Raman spectroscopy on it and determined it to be lepidocrocite.

You can look it up…basically oxidized iron that forms under water…probably from the washing machine.

Are you sure it’s not a scortch mark? I found a couple of white shirts and they had very light brown stains, then I found the dryer I was using was getting way too hot and in reality these weren’t stains at all but scortch marks from that dryer