How To Remove Water Stains From Clothes

How to remove water stains from clothes
How to remove water stains from clothes

Table of Contents

If you have never had a water stain on your clothes, this may sound absurd to you, but yes water can leave a stain behind too.

Municipal corporations add natural minerals to water supplies for purifying water. However, sometimes the mineral content gets too high which makes the water “hard”. When this hard water gets spilled on clothes it can leave brownish stains or spots behind. It is better to remove water stains as soon as you can. Because if you will wash such garments without treating the stains first or leave them untreated for a long time, they can set permanently on the fabric.

Sometimes people can’t identify water stains. You can look at the picture below to see how a water stain looks.

How to remove water stains from clothes
Water stains on fabric

Pro-tip: Just like any other stain, treat water stains as soon as you can. It is best if you start treating it immediately after you notice the stain. The sooner you will work, the easier it will come out.

In this article, we will see 3 ways to remove water stains from clothes:

  • Remove water stains from clothes by ironing
  • Remove stains from clothes by washing them
  • Remove stains from clothes by steaming

Remove Water Stains From Clothes By Ironing

Where to use: You can use this method to remove water stains on polyester, canvas, cotton, modal, satin, linen, tweed, and chenille.

Where not to use: You should not use this method to remove water stains from velvet, spandex, leather, muslin or suede leather.

Pro-tip: It is always better to use distilled water for washing clothes. It does not contain added minerals and impurity unlike regular tap water. This will help you in removing water stains easily.

Steps to remove water stains by ironing

Remove water stains from clothes by ironing
Remove water stains from clothes by ironing

Spread a lint-free cloth on ironing board

You should take a white, clean towel or sheet and spread it on your ironing board. Coloured towels and clothes are not recommended as the process involves dampening and ironing. If the coloured towel will bleed colour it will easily set on the fabric.

Lay the towel/ cloth flat. Make sure there are no wrinkles in it. This will help the towel to absorb extra liquid and iron will glide smoothly too.

Pro-tip: You can use this method to remove water stains from curtains, bed sheets and other such things as well.

Spread the stained area on towel

Turn the garment inside out and lay the stained area on the towel. You should ensure that the stains are placed next to the towel/cloth. If you cannot see the water stain while the garment is turned inside out, try to memorize its position.

Dampen the stain with water

Take distilled water in a bowl. Find a lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth. Dip this cloth in clean water and start dabbing the stained area until it is completely damp. Remember you do not have to make it excessively wet. If the garment looks soaked, press on it with your hands so the towel underneath absorbs some of the water.

Iron dampened stain until it is dry

Fill your steam iron with clean distilled water. Turn it on to a recommended heat setting for the fabric. Generally irons have a temperature guideline. Check the garment care label for ironing instructions because sometimes manufacturers give a clear warning regarding ironing temperature.

Thereafter, you can iron over the water-stained area until it is completely dry. Do not put the iron in the same place, keep moving it all over the stain to prevent burning of the garment and iron scorch marks.

Repeat the process until stain goes

If the stain remains after your first go with the iron, shift the garment so the stain is laying on a dry part of the towel. Dampen it again with a clean cloth and water, then iron it dry. Keep repeating until the stain has almost entirely disappeared.

Don’t have enough time to remove water stains right after you notice them? Don’t worry. 

Rub remaining water stains with spoon

Remove water stain using a spoon
Remove water stain using a spoon

In case you notice a ring-like figure around the stain, turn the garment to another side. Lay it flat on the dry part of the ironing board. Take a clean spoon and start rubbing it with some pressure in a circular motion to reduce the stain.

Keep doing with for 5-7 minutes and the stain will get vanished completely.

Remove Stains From Clothes By Washing Them

In case the water stains are not very old, they will get out with a normal wash. Hence, you can definitely go ahead and wash the water-stained garment as usual. Make sure to check the garment care label, it should not say “dry-clean only”. Such clothes are not supposed to be washed even if they have a stain.

Steps to remove water stains by machine wash

Remove water stains by washing them
Remove water stains by washing them in a machine

You can pre-treat the water stain with your regular laundry detergent.

  • Put the garment in your washing machine.
  • Set the machine on a gentle cycle.
  • Add your regular detergent. You can also add a commercial water softener.
  • Run the machine.
  • Once the garment is washed, take it out.
  • Leave it to air-dry

Just in case you have a hard water supply in your area, you must use a water softener. If you don’t have a commercial softener, you can use baking soda in the laundry as well. It does the same job by regulating the pH level of hard water and reducing the mineral deposits.

Pro-tip: If you feel the stain is very old or tough, you can pre-treat the stain with a rust remover instead of your regular detergent. Just sprinkle rust remover slightly to dampen the stained area. Leave it for 10-15 seconds and launder the garment as usual.

We do not recommend using any kind of bleach to remove water stains from clothes, especially if there is discolouration on the garment. Bleach is harsh in nature and it may further aggravate the discolouration.

Got water stains on non-washable clothes? You’ll need dry cleaning service.

Steps to remove water stains by hand wash

Remove water stains from clothes by hand washing
Remove water stains from clothes by hand washing

There are certain fabrics that you are not supposed to wash in the machine. Some of them are silk, wool, satin, etc. To remove water stains from such garments you can simply hand wash them. Here is how you can do this:

  • Half-fill a bucket with clean water. If the garment can tolerate it, use lukewarm water.
  • Add ½ tablespoon of your regular mild detergent and swish through the water.
  • Soak the garment in this water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Now, take out the stained area and rub it gently using your fingers. The stain will steadily start disappearing.
  • Once the stain goes away, you can squeeze the excess water gently. (Avoid twisting or wringing harshly).
  • Rinse the garment 2-3 times in lukewarm water if the fabric can tolerate it. Otherwise, rinse with normal water until residue is gone.
  • Leave the garment to air-dry.

Pro-tip: You can add vinegar to your last rinse water to get rid of the residue completely.

Remove Water Stains By Steaming

Remove water stains from clothes by steaming
Remove water stains from clothes by steaming

Use a clothes steamer to get rid of the stain completely. Turn your garment inside out, and hang it on a steady hanger. And start steaming the stain from top to bottom. Thereafter you can flip the side of the garment and repeat the steps.

If you don’t have a clothes steamer, you can also use a regular iron with a steam setting.

Pro-tip: Do not try this on suede, waxed jackets or heavily embellished clothes.

Keep your focus on the stain while working, it will start disappearing soon. Once the stain leaves, let the garment air-dry. It is even better to dry it under the sun before you wear it again.

Key Takeaway

We recommend you not to take water stains lightly. Be cautious, especially in case of non-washable and non-ironable clothes. If they have water stains, it is better to take them to professional dry cleaners for stain removal.

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