Tea drinking is a habit. And an addicting one at that. I used to be very appreciative of tea till the day I forgot to drink it one day. I got a whopping headache, the kind which doubled me up and almost made me wish to do brain surgery on myself. And it has been the same, every time I forget.
Nevertheless, I drink it every day (It is addicting and I do not have the courage to stop) and every now and then, get tea stains on my clothes and household linen.
If the stain is fresh, the way it is made, is also fresh in your memory. You know exactly when those tea drops hit your favourite dress and the helplessness you felt and the curses you said. But sometimes you do not know whether a stain is from tea or some other more nasty things. Even I am not sure how to identify an old stain. But I know that tea stains can be brown or even a sickly grey color. Small consolation.
Here are the best ways to remove tea stains
Clothes with tea stains, which cannot be washed or you do not want to wash, can be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning can remove the toughest and the oldest of tea stains.
For all the other clothes which you have no intention of giving for dry cleaning, try these methods.
Try to blot clean the stain as soon as it is made. Use a clean cloth or sponge dipped in cold water to remove cream or fat in the tea from the fabric surface. Then blot with a clean cloth dipped in dishwashing liquid solution. Blot with another clean cloth to rinse away soap traces. Pat dry. You can do this if you will not be washing the cloth immediately.
Wash fabric with detergent containing enzymes. Biological detergents are best to treat tea stains, along with warm water (or the hottest water recommended for the fabric)
You can also buy and use Enzyme digestants available in the market – it is supposed to digest protein and organic stains and soils. It is also used as a spot cleaner. You can buy Stain Removers with enzyme digestants – works the same way. It can be used to remove tea stains from carpets, upholstery.
Rub the stain with some Borax powder (1 tsp) and then wash with warm water. For more effectiveness, you can pre-soak the clothing in a solution of warm water and Borax powder (1/4 cup for 2 liters of water/ 1/2 gallon water). Soak for 1/2 an hour. This will very effectively break down the stain. This is a proven stain removing remedy for fresh tea stain on almost all fabrics.
If the stain is old, rub some glycerin on the stain and then wash.
White clothes can be washed in boiling water, without any fear of color bleeding. You can even use some bleach like Clorox.
A dilute solution of sodium perborate is used as a stain remover for tea stains. It bleaches the stain, when used along with hot water wash. You can read about it here. ( It is toxic, as far as I know, so use only when unavoidable)
Denture cleaner tablets are said to be very effective on tea stains. They do clean those tea stains on dentures. Likewise from cloth too.
Some things you should know about tea stains
Tea stain is a vegetable stain, and is acidic in nature. So use alkaline solutions as stain removers.
Tea has tannin which is an acid. Acids are corrosive so you shouldnot be leaving tea stains un-attended for a long time. The stain can corrode the fibers little by little. Try to remove the tea stain as soon as it is made.
Do not use soap on tea stains. Soap can make the stain harder to remove. Check out this post on different types of cleaning agents for fabrics to know the difference between soap and detergents.
Ensure that the fabric is thoroughly rinsed. And avoid machine drying until the whole tea is rinsed and removed from the fabric. Sugar in the tea, if left on fabric can make your fabric turn brown.
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