Commercial Laundry Setting’s Guide to Removing Stubborn Stains

4 April 2018


If you work with commercial laundry machines, chances are you work in a healthcare, animal, or hospitality setting. And the chances are also high that you have had to deal with some pretty stubborn stains and substances to remove.

Here at Goodman Sparks, we supply commercial laundry machines and supplies to a variety of settings and have seen almost every stain, so we have compiled our tried and tested tips for removing stubborn substances.

Why is Clean Laundry Important?

Obviously, if you work in a hospitality setting, you want your linen to look, and smell, clean and to be stain free. It is the hallmark of cleanliness.

But not only that, clean laundry is hygienic.

Cross-contamination in your laundry of hazardous substances is a very real threat, especially in nursing homes and hospitals, where infected bodily fluids can seep into linen.

Using a commercial washing machine is such an important part of hygiene and contamination control.

So, thinking more broadly about the types of stains and substances that sheets, towels, and tablecloths, and clothes could come into contact with, here is how to remove the top 3 common substances before they stain.

1) Chocolate

Its just been Easter, so you might be facing the prospect of removing chocolate stains from sheets, resident clothes, or towels.

Chocolate is a funny one because it has both protein and oil in, so needs to be treated carefully to make sure you get all of it out, otherwise, it will bake on and stain forever more.

Image of chocolate brownie to illustrate blog by Goodman Sparks on stain removal for commercial laundry settings.

First of all, you need to remove the excess chocolate. Use a butter knife or a spoon to gently scrape away the chocolate. Be careful if you are dealing with a particularly delicate fabric or loosely woven fibres.

Next, you want to rinse the fabric from the back of the stain. Running water through the top will only force the stain further into the fibres. It is tempting to use hot water for this, as you would think it would melt the oil, but all you will actually do is set the protein part of it. So, use cold water, and deal with the oil once the protein has gone.

Make sure you rinse for a good while. About 10 minutes should be fine.

Once you have done this, add some laundry detergent or dish soap. You want to break down the enzymes in the oil, so letting some detergent sit on the stain for 5 minutes or so will break the oil down.

After 5 minutes you need to soak the garment in cold water for about 15 minutes. Agitate the fabric every few minutes and very gently rub the stain with your fingers. Keep doing this until the stain is removed. Then you can wash as normal. 

2) Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is notoriously difficult to get out of fabric, and if it has been mixed with oil, for example, a bolognese sauce, you are dealing with a double nightmare.

Oil on its own leaves a nasty stain, which can be removed with hot water. However, tomato needs cold water to prevent the stain ‘cooking’ in.

If this is the case, rub a little dish soap onto the stain and let it soak for a short while to remove the oil.

To remove tomato sauce, such as ketchup, scrape as much of the sauce of the fabric as possible in a flat motion, a bit like buttering soft bread, to prevent pushing it into the fabric.  

Then, gently blot the stain, without rubbing, to remove any liquid. Once you have got most of the residue off, run cold water through the back of the stain. You should do this for around 5 minutes to make sure you have thoroughly flushed it through.

Next, work a little neat detergent into the stain from the top, starting at the outside and slowly working in towards the centre. Leave that to sit for a short while, before rinsing thoroughly.

If you know your fabric is colourfast, or you are doing white laundry, you can add a little stain remover or white vinegar to the area for extra oomph.

If you are sure the stain has gone, you can put the garment in the washing machine.

Be 100% sure the stain is gone before you put it in the dryer, or you will be forever sealing the stain into the fabric.

3) Blood

Blood can leave a very stubborn stain and is a contaminant, so it is important to wash your linens at the highest temperature the fabric can withstand and with proper detergent to prevent cross-contamination.

Clean white towels to illustrate commercial laundry blog from Goodman Sparks on stain removal.

In care homes and health care settings, it is important that the contaminated bedding does not come into contact with the other laundry, so sealing it is soluble or impermeable bag is vital. If you are regularly dealing with very heavily contaminated sheets then a washer, such as this Primus FX135, have a dedicated thermal disinfectant cycle.

Otherwise, if you are dealing with a small amount of blood on a rare occasion, you need to prevent a stain.

Flush the garment with cold water to prevent the stain from setting. If the blood has already dried, soak it in a saline solution first, and then flush with cold water. Make sure you don’t just put it in a hot wash, as that will seal the stain in the fabric.

If you can, use a treatment detergent, and leave the stain to soak with a little concentrated detergent first, then wash as usual.

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If you want to find out more about commercial laundry equipment, or how the right commercial washing machine can help your workplace, contact us here send us an email on

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