Greasy stuff
cooking oil, salad dressing, mayo
Pretreat the item with a stain remover to dig out big stains. Wash it in hot water, but make sure the spot is gone before drying – heat will make a temporary spot permanent.

Dye jobs
mustard, ink, grass
Pour a detergent that contains bleach on the stain and leave it for five minutes. Then rinse well. If that doesn’t work, soak it in a bleach solution (30ml per four litres of water). If the stain’s still there after a 15-minute soak, it’s not going anywhere.

Tannin stains
wine, coffee, tea
Wash the item in a hot-water cycle with detergent. No need for pretreatment
– these stains won’t set unless they’ve been subjected to intense heat. Avoid soap, which may react with some soils to form larger compounds or bigger stains.

Saucy stains
barbecue, tomato sauce
Combination stains like these have grease and dyes. First, blot off excess sauce (don’t rub!), using a white paper towel to avoid colour bleeding. Tackle the oil with a stain-removal stick, spray or detergent, and wash the item in hot water.