We love our pets, but they all come with some unique problems for clothing. Stains from muddy paws and worse, hair and dander, feathers and if you’re into more exotic pets, scales – all need to be occasionally removed from clothing.

Identify the Material or Fabric

Knowing what you are working with is the first step – each type of fabric must be treated in a slightly different way. Synthetic fabrics include Acrylic Fabric, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin or Polyester and are sensitive to heat and fabric softener. Natural fabrics would include wool, cotton, muslin or leather.

Pre-Treating

A stain is a lot like a cavity – the sooner you deal with it the less of a problem it becomes. If you can’t wash a garment immediately, pre-treat it! You can use the fabric-appropriate treatment of your choice, but don’t let it sit. Some stains can dig in rapidly, so soaking them overnight isn’t a bad idea. 

For Synthetic Fabrics

  1. Immediately remove the staining solids. Be gentle or you risk grinding the stain into the material.
  2. With a wet sponge or towel, dab the stain with a solution of 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon liquid detergent and 1 tablespoon ammonia. Remember when using mixtures that include vinegar or ammonia to gently test the fabric first in a hidden area such as under the collar.
  3. Blot the stain with a towel rinsed in the solution
  4. Remove any bit of ammonia by rinsing the garment with fresh, cool water.

Detergent Selection

With pet stains, like many other stains, use a detergent that breaks down enzymes.

Washing

If your fabric will allow it, use chlorine bleach and hot water or color safe bleach. Be sure the stain is gone before you dry it! Drying clothes with a pet stain may set the stain and ruin the garment for good.

Upholstery and carpet can be treated in much the same way. Using a mixture of water and peroxide, gently dab the area after removing excess solids. Be sure to test the solution on the fabric to avoid fading.

Pet Hair

This is the best trick to remove pet hair from furniture – use a dampened rubber glove and run your hand over the affected area. Then simply wash off the glove when it’s full of pet hair. Repeat as needed! An old-fashioned lint roller is the best for clothing.

Image credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / ESIGHT csp7914783