How to Pre-Treat Clothing Stains


Red wine and chocolates might be synonymous with love, but there’s nothing lovely about the stains they can leave on clothing. Whether it’s wine, chocolate or something else that’s causing your laundry blues, showing your clothes a little love before you throw them in the washer could help them go from blah to bright again.

For successful stain removal, Kenmore suggests you follow these simple steps.


  • Treat stains promptly.
  • Determine the kind of stain and follow the specific stain treatment recommended below.
  • Use a pre-wash product, liquid detergent or a paste made from powder detergent and water to pre-treat stains.
  • Use cold water on unknown stains because hot water can set stains.
  • Check the care label on your garment for specific instructions.
  • Check for colorfastness by testing stain removal products on an inside seam.
  • Rinse and wash items after stain removal.

Cycle features

Many washers also come with features, such as pre-soak, pre-wash or soak, that add soaking and/or agitation time before the main wash cycle. Here are other unique features offered on today’s washers.


  • A steam cycle that allows hot steam to interact with fabrics to help remove tough stains. Don’t use the steam cycle with delicate fabrics such as wool, silk or easily discolored fabrics.
  • A "stain removal guide" button that allows you to indicate the type of stain on a garment (tomato, wine, grass or dirt). The duration or intensity of agitation changes, as does the water temperature, depending on the stain setting you choose.
  • A pre-treat/bleach cycle that adds liquid pre-treaters or liquid bleach at the correct time during the wash cycle. 

Specific Stain Treatments

The most important thing you can do for a stain? Pre-treat it as soon as possible by removing the clothing and flushing the stained area with cold water. 


Then, treat stains using these methods suggested on and in your Kenmore owner’s manual.

Red wine: Coat the stain with salt. Stretch fabric over a bowl or sink and pour a stream of boiling water over the stain.

White wine: Rinse the stain with cold water. Spray with a solution of dish soap mixed with water (1 tablespoon clear dish soap mixed with 10 ounces water).

Baby formula, dairy products, eggs: Use product containing enzymes to pre-treat or soak stains. (Enzymes are a type of protein used to break down other protein or grease stains and dirt. Enzymes can be found in detergents and stain removal products.) Soak for 30 minutes or more. Wash.

Beverages (coffee, tea, soda, juice, alcohol): Pre-treat stain and wash using cold water and bleach safe for fabric.

Blood: Rinse with cold water and rub stain with bar soap. Or, pre-treat or soak with product containing enzymes. Wash using bleach safe for fabric.

Candle wax, crayon: Scrape off excess wax and place stain facing down between paper towels. Press with warm iron until wax is absorbed. Replace paper towels frequently. Treat remaining stain with pre-wash stain remover or nonflammable dry cleaning fluid. Hand wash to remove solvent. Wash using bleach safe for fabric.

Chocolate: Scrape off any dried chocolate and spray with dish soap solution before washing.

Cosmetics: Pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover or rub with bar soap.

Grass: Pre-treat or soak in warm water using product containing enzymes. Wash using bleach safe for fabric.

Grease, oil: Scrape residue from fabric and pre-treat. Wash using hottest water safe for fabric. For heavy stains and tar, put towel under stain and apply nonflammable dry cleaning fluid to back of stain. Rinse thoroughly. Wash using hottest water safe to fabric.

Gum, adhesive tape, rubber cement: Apply ice cube to harden the gum and scrape away as much as possible. Place stain face down on paper towels. Saturate with a pre-wash stain remover or nonflammable dry cleaning fluid.


Ink: Some inks may be impossible to remove. Washing may set some inks. Use pre-wash stain remover, denatured alcohol or nonflammable dry cleaning fluid.

Ketchup: Apply a stain pre-treater before washing.

Mud: Brush off dry mud. Pre-treat or soak with product containing enzymes.

Mustard: Stretch the stain over a bowl and pour white wine vinegar through the fabric. Then apply the dish soap solution to the stain and let sit for 15 minutes.

Nail polish: May be impossible to remove. Place stain face down on paper towels. Apply nail polish remover to back of stain. Repeat, replacing paper towels frequently. Do not use on acetate fabrics.

Paint, varnish: For water-based paint, rinse fabric in cool water while stain is wet and then wash. (Once paint is dry, you can’t remove it.) For oil-based paint or varnish, use solvent recommended on can label. Rinse thoroughly before washing.

Perspiration: Use pre-wash stain remover or rub with bar soap. Rinse, then wash using non-chlorine bleach in hottest water safe for fabric.

Rust, brown or yellow discoloration: Use rust remove safe for fabric. Do not use chlorine bleach because it may intensify discoloration.

Salad dressing: Apply cornstarch to the stain to absorb the oil. Rinse with cold water and apply a small amount of laundry detergent directly to the stain.

Shoe polish: For liquid shoe polish, pre-treat with a paste of powder detergent and water. For shoe paste, scrape residue from fabric and pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover or nonflammable dry cleaning fluid. Rinse, and then rub detergent into dampened area. Wash using bleach safe for fabric.

For more guidance on using your washer, plus troubleshooting tips and step-by-step repair guides to help fix problems, check out our washer repair help page.

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