How to get pine tree sap out of clothes

How To Get Sap Out of Clothes & Hair

How To Get Sap Out of Clothes & Hair

Written by Grove Collaborative

Last Updated: September 7, 2021

Does tree sap have you in a sticky bind? Learn how to remove stubborn tree sap from just about everything from clothes to fur with these tips from Grove.

Whether you’re a bonafide tree hugger or a casual nature appreciator, sap is no laughing matter when you find it on your clothes — or worse, in your hair.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to get sap out of your favorite pullover or extract it from your tresses.

What is tree sap, and why is it so sticky?

Sap is a watery fluid found in certain plants or trees. Tree sap is full of nutrients, and when new buds start to grow out in the springtime, it carries energy to the tree’s branches.

Sap contains two main substances called xylem and phloem. Xylem carries water and minerals from the roots of the tree to its top. Phloem is the thick, sugary stuff created by photosynthesis that transports food to the whole tree and makes sap so sticky.

Sap adheres to just about anything it comes in contact with, and it takes more than machine washing and shampooing to get it out of your clothes and hair.

How do you remove sticky sap with household supplies?

Fortunately, removing sap from whatever it’s stuck to might be as simple as rummaging through your cabinets, so before you panic and toss your clothes into the washer in the hopes of a miracle — don’t!

The heat from your washer and dryer can make tree sap even more difficult to remove. And we’ve also figured out how to get sap out of hair too!

What will dissolve pine tree sap?

Several common household items that you may already have on hand can quickly dissolve pine sap on almost anything:

  • Hand sanitizer: To get tree sap off your skin, rub some hand sanitizer on the spot until the sap comes loose, then rinse thoroughly.
  • Grease-cutting natural dish soap: A couple drops of dish soap is also just as effective.
  • Nail polish remover: To remove sap from your vehicle (or other solid, durable surface,) soak a cotton ball or round with nail polish remover, and slowly dab the sap to dissolve it away. Rinse it off with a solution of baking soda and hot water, then wash your car as usual.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is commonly used to remove tree sap from clothes and hair. A powerful solvent, rubbing alcohol breaks up and dissolves sticky sap. Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, and dab away at the sap to dissolve it. Repeat the process until the sap is gone.
    • Want to see rubbing alcohol in action against sap? Check out this video!

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      Does vinegar remove sap?

      If you’re into natural cleaning, chances are you’ve used vinegar to clean a ton of surfaces in your home.

      Many DIY gurus swear by the combination of ice cubes and vinegar to remove stubborn sap from clothes:

      1. Place an ice cube over the sap until it freezes.
      2. Scrape off the frozen sap with a dull knife.
      3. Dip a clean rag in white vinegar, and rub the stained area until it’s no longer visible.
      4. Wash the item as usual.

      More natural ways to remove sap without rubbing alcohol

      Searching for more natural ways to tackle those different sap stains? If using harsh-smelling rubbing alcohol isn’t your thing, we totally get it! Fortunately, a variety of natural products are just as effective at curing your sappy blues! Use these tips to get rid of sap on pretty-much anything.

      Removing tree sap from...


      While rubbing alcohol is the fastest and easiest way to remove tree sap from clothes, the oils in peanut butter or cooking oil, like olive oil, can also break down sap, believe it or not!

      Use a dull knife to scrape off as much sap as possible. Apply a small amount of peanut butter or cooking oil to the sappy spots, and work it in with your fingers or a clean rag.

      Pre-treat the stains with your favorite natural laundry detergent, then wash your clothes as usual in the washing machine.


      Fill a plastic bag with ice, and place it over the stain until the sap completely freezes. Use a dull knife to scrape off as much sap as possible.

      Mix a couple teaspoons of natural dish soap or laundry detergent with a cup of hot water. Work the mixture into the stain with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Wait five minutes, then wipe the upholstery clean with a dry cloth. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.


      Removing tree sap from hair is similar to the process of removing it from clothes.

      Simply apply peanut butter to the sap, use a hair dryer to soften it, comb it out of your hair, then shampoo as usual. Finish with your favorite deep conditioner to keep your hair looking shiny and glamorous!


      Place smaller solid items covered in sap, like your shoes or hat, in a plastic bag and put the bag in the freezer for a few hours.

      When the sap is frozen solid, use a butter knife to remove it. If traces of sap remain, use oil or peanut butter.

      Grove Tip

      How to get sap out of dog hair

      When Fido gets into a sticky mess, use one of his favorite flavors to get rid of sap!

      Work peanut butter into his hair until the sap is gone, then give him a bath using your go-to dog shampoo.

      Shop Grove for more natural products that remove tree sap

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      How to Get Tree Sap Out of Clothing

      Getting Tree Sap Out of Clothing

      Whether you rescued the neighborhood cat from a tree, went on a refreshing forest hike, or just leaned against a pine tree while gazing at the clear blue sky, the result is the same: You’ve got sticky tree sap all over your clothes. It’s one of the most problematic outdoor stains precisely because of its gluey nature. As soon as tree sap makes its way onto your jacket, pants, or shoes, it turns them into a true dirt magnet, forming a thick layer that is really hard to get rid of, binding more and more grime to your garments. The only way to stop this is by dealing with the sap stain sooner, rather than later.

      Regardless if it’s a white shirt or your blue jeans you want to get the tree sap out of, you can follow the same tried-and-true steps: You start by removing excess tree sap from your garments, you pre-treat the stain with some liquid laundry detergent, add the detergent and the clothes to your washing machine, press start, and at the end of the cycle, unload your garments.

      Now, let’s unpack the complete stain removal process and see how you can get pine pitch out of clothing in five simple steps:

      Step 1

      Remove Excess Tree Sap from Fabric.

      Grab your spoon or dull knife and gently scrape off the excess sap. Once that’s done, you can test for colorfastness by applying alcohol or hand sanitizer to an inside seam. After one to three minutes, dab with a towel. If no color comes off, the item is colorfast. If the item is colorfast, add rubbing alcohol or clear, alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the spot, then blot with a paper towel.

      1 of 5

      Step 2

      Pre-treat the Stain.

      Pre-treat the tree sap stain with Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid by pouring directly onto the stain. Rub the fabric together gently or use a soft-bristled toothbrush to work the detergent into the fabric. Let the detergent sit for five minutes.

      2 of 5

      Step 3

      Dose Detergent.

      Use the cap to ensure you use the right amount of detergent, and pour it into the detergent dispenser if you have an HE machine, or directly into the drum before loading the clothes if you have a non-HE machine.

      3 of 5

      Step 4


      Without rinsing off the detergent, place your tree-sap-stained clothing inside the washer and wash on the usual cycle, on the hottest wash temperature indicated on the garment’s care label.

      4 of 5

      Step 5


      When the cycle is complete, unload the garments immediately.

      If the stain persists after washing, repeat the previous steps before tossing the garment in the dryer, as drying will set the stain.

      5 of 5

      How to Remove Tree Sap from Carpet and Upholstery?

      The best way to get tree sap stains out of your carpet or upholstery is to first remove any excess from the stained area. To do that, fill a plastic bag with ice, and place it over the stain. Once the sap is hardened, gently scrape off as much of it as you can with a dull knife or a spoon.

      Now comes the solution: Mix two teaspoons of Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid with one cup of hot water and work the solution into the fabric with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Let it sit for five minutes.

      Next, grab a paper towel and soak up the solution, then wipe the area clean with a damp cloth, then blot the whole thing dry with another paper towel.

      Finally, let your carpet or upholstery dry overnight, then bust out your vacuum cleaner and collect any stray fibers.

      Can Rubbing Alcohol Remove Tree Sap?

      Yes! Rubbing alcohol is a universal tree sap stain remover, which can spirit away the sticky substance without a trace. Be careful, though, as isopropyl alcohol can wreak serious havoc on your fabrics: It’s recommended to test it on a less visible area of your piece of clothing first, before applying it to the stain.

      Additional Tips on Removing Tree Sap

      You’re in the mood for experimenting? Here are two alternative tree sap stain removal methods to try at home:

      Some people swear by using sunscreen on their tree-sap-covered articles. Simply spray a small amount of sunscreen on the stained area and gently rub the fabric together, then launder as usual.

      Other DIY pros prefer the combination solution of an ice cube plus vinegar: First, hold an ice cube against the sap stain until it’s completely frozen, then scrape it off with a spoon. Next, dip a cloth in vinegar, and gently rub the stain until it’s no longer visible, then give it a rinse under running water, and run the item through a washing machine cycle.

      Be warned, though, a high-quality laundry detergent will always be more efficient at cleaning your clothes than using vinegar or baking soda. Read our article on how vinegar and baking soda compare to laundry detergents for more info on this topic.

      Effective Stain Removal for a Variety of Stains

      There is no need to fear enjoying life outdoors. Sure, things can get messy with tree sap stains or other outdoor stains from dirt or grass, but the good news is, Tide can help you remove the toughest stains from your favorite garments, so you don’t need to worry. So, get some fresh air to clear your head, and let Tide clean your clothes.

      Products to treat tree sap stains

      Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid Laundry Detergent

      Tide Original Scent Liquid Laundry Detergent

      10 ways to clean fresh and old stains


      1. Preparation for cleaning
      2. Type of resin - wood (natural) or epoxy
      3. Fabric material
      4. Fresh or old stain?
      5. How to prepare things for stain removal?
      6. Methods for removing tar
      7. Heat treatment
      8. Liquid solvents and tools
      9. How to get rid of epoxy?
      10. Remove stains and odor after cleaning

      Wood stains and epoxy stains are not accidentally classified as stubborn stains. The sticky, viscous substance tightly glues the fibers of the material, and it seems that there is no way to remove the resin from the clothes without leaving a mark. But do not despair and send your favorite jeans or jacket to the scrap. There are many effective ways to get rid of tar stains at home. The choice of cleaning agent depends on the degree and age of contamination, the type of resin and the composition of the material from which the affected clothing is made.

      Preparing for cleaning

      If you find a dark tar stain on the leg or sleeve of your blouse, you first need to remember how it could have appeared. If the trouble arose after a walk in a park planted with coniferous trees, or while picking mushrooms in a pine forest, then we are talking about tree resin. Another thing is if the stain appeared during the repair or after going to the construction site. In this case, it can be assumed that the resin is epoxy.

      Resin type - wood (natural) or epoxy

      There are two types of resins: natural, or woody, and synthetic. But all of them are distinguished by incredible stickiness, the ability to quickly penetrate into the fibers of the fabric and glue them together.

      The type of resin must be correctly identified before cleaning can begin.

      1. Wood tar (tar) is a dark brown viscous oily liquid. It is formed as a result of hardening of the juice of some trees. Pine, spruce, larch, poplar buds, thuja and other plants emit resin.
      2. Epoxy resin is a representative of synthetic substances, since it is produced by a chemical process. Such resins are widely used in the household, construction, and manufacturing. Epoxy exhibits its binding properties only in combination with a hardener and is resistant to acids and alkalis.

      Vegetable stains are much easier to remove than epoxy stains.

      Fabric material

      When choosing a cleaning agent, it is important to know what fabric the soiled jacket or blouse is made of. Otherwise, a hole may form at the site of the stain, the paint will peel off, or some other trouble will happen.

      Material composition and care instructions are indicated on the label. If the information is erased or the label is cut off immediately after purchase, you should be guided by the following rules:

      1. Wool and natural silk do not tolerate strong alkaline solutions. To clean the surface of these materials from resin, ammonia or a mixture of starch (1 tsp) and turpentine (5-6 drops) are used.
      2. Turpentine or acetone will help to remove the viscous substance from cotton fabric . When the resin dissolves, the contaminated area is wiped with alcohol and washed with water.
      3. Acetate silk and bologna fabric are treated with refined gasoline. Acetic acid and acetone should not be used to process these materials.
      4. Nylon and nylon do not tolerate treatment with gasoline, benzene and alkaline solutions. Resin stains from these materials should be removed with warm water and laundry soap.
      5. Leather items do not tolerate solvents. For them, the best cleaning agent is vegetable oil.
      6. Jeans soiled in wood resin can be easily cleaned with turpentine and ammonia in equal amounts. Potato starch is added to the solution, achieving a thick paste, and the place of contamination is smeared. After drying, the remnants of the paste are shaken off with a brush, and the pants are washed.
      7. Membrane jacket can be cleaned with turpentine and laundry soap. Turpentine is diluted with water in a ratio of 1:2, grated soap is added to the mixture and the soiled part of the clothes is washed.

      Fresh or old stain?

      A fresh stain that has just appeared is always easier to remove than an old one. Therefore, as soon as a resin blot is detected, it is necessary to immediately start cleaning:

      1. Wipe the resin with a paper towel or handkerchief, trying to collect a thick mass from the surface of the material.
      2. Do not wash or soak the item. This will not help the case, the stain will spread even more.
      3. If you don't have a stain remover on hand, you can try removing the stain with vegetable oil. In case of failure, you will have to start processing with other substances suitable for the composition of the tissue.

      Fresh stains are usually blurry and darker than the tissue. Old pollution has a clear contour, they are lighter than the fabric, appear both from the face and from the inside.

      How do I prepare things for stain removal?

      Before applying the cleaning agent, the affected article must be prepared as follows:

      1. Shake out the dust, clean the surface of the clothing with a brush.
      2. Test the durability of the fabric in an inconspicuous area such as a pocket or inseam on the side.
      3. Lay out the product on a table or floor, place a board wrapped in cotton material under the stain.
      4. If the item is lined, rip it off beforehand so that the plank can be placed between the top and the lining.
      5. Moisten the cloth around the stain with water. This will prevent the formation of divorces.

      The product is ready for cleaning. Now it remains to choose the appropriate tool - and you can get to work.

      Ways to remove wood tar

      Cleaning stains and removing tar from clothes without leaving a trace is not easy, but possible. To do this, there are many proven folk remedies and methods, as well as a number of industrial stain removers.

      Heat treatment

      Having found a fresh stain from pine or spruce resin on clothes, the first thing to do is to try to remove the bulk of the viscous substance with a cotton napkin or some improvised means (for example, the end of a branch), moving from the edge to the center.

      If possible, the resin should be frozen. To do this, the soiled product is placed in a plastic bag and placed in the freezer for two hours. The hardened substance can be broken by hand and shaken off the surface of the material. In addition, the stain can be removed with a knife or blade, the main thing is not to damage the fabric structure.

      Ice cubes can be used to freeze resin on bulky items that are difficult to fit in the freezer (such as jackets, down jackets or coats).

      The freeze method is not suitable for fine silks, cambric, nylon and other delicate fabrics. In this case, it is better to resort to heating with an iron. To do this, the contaminated part of the clothing is placed between two white paper napkins and ironed with a hot iron. The heating temperature should not be higher than the maximum possible for this type of fabric.

      Most of the melted viscous substance will be absorbed into the tissue. It remains only to finally get rid of traces of pollution with the help of washing or a special stain remover.

      Liquid solvents and improvised products

      Many modern housewives prefer to use specialized stain removers to clean difficult stains. Of course, if a person every day faces the danger of getting dirty in resin, buying an expensive product makes sense.

      The compounds below will easily cope with tar, bitumen, wax stains:

      • Beckmann EXPERT;
      • Plex Antispot 1;
      • Koch Chemie Flecken Wasser;
      • Udalix Oxi Ultra.

      Before using a stain remover, carefully read the instructions and determine whether the selected product is suitable for the particular fabric from which the affected product is made.

      In addition to heating, cooling and industrial stain removers, tar stains can be cleaned with improvised means, one of which is sure to be in every household:

        • Alcohol. Ordinary rubbing alcohol is an excellent tool with which you can completely wipe the stain from pine resin from dense fabrics: cotton, denim, linen. Delicate fabrics should not be treated with alcohol, as thin fibers can dissolve. The stain is removed as follows: pour a little alcohol on the place of contamination or moisten the blot with a swab, after 10-15 minutes, the remaining resin is removed with a napkin, and the product is washed in the usual way.
        • Kerosene. Moisten the place of contamination with pure kerosene, then wipe it with ammonia until the stain disappears completely.
        • Ammonia. To remove tar stains from clothes, you can use a 10% ammonium hydroxide solution - that is, ammonia, which is sold in any pharmacy. The ammonia-based composition will cope even with long-dried resin on clothes. For its preparation, ammonia (10%), warm water and glycerin are mixed in equal amounts and applied to the site of contamination.
        • White spirit. Especially suitable for synthetics. With the help of a cotton swab dipped in white spirit, the contaminated area of ​​clothing is treated, allowed to soak in, waiting for 20-30 minutes, then washed by hand or in a typewriter.
        • Acetone. The agent is applicable to dense materials dyed with permanent dyes. A cotton swab is moistened in acetone and applied to the area of ​​contamination for several minutes, after which the residual resin is rubbed off by hand and the product is washed.
        • Turpentine. Turpentine is applied with a pipette to the stain and left for 30-40 minutes. The dissolved resin is washed in hot water, adding 1 tbsp. l. soda for 5 liters.
        • Petrol. For self-cleaning stains of any origin, you must use special refined gasoline, sold in hardware stores, but not fuel. The stain is wiped with a piece of cloth soaked in gasoline until it completely disappears.

      • Starch paste. A very effective remedy for dried pine resin is a paste of potato starch (1 tsp), ammonia (5 drops) and turpentine (5 drops). The mass obtained after mixing the ingredients is applied to the stain and wait until completely dry, after which the powder that has absorbed dirt particles is shaken off and the product is washed in a typewriter.
      • Soda. If you do not have a liquid solvent or a suitable stain remover on hand, you can get rid of the tar stain with Cola or Fanta. These carbonated drinks contain a fair amount of phosphoric acid, which can dissolve many of the most stable substances. A soiled sleeve or trouser leg is abundantly watered with soda and left for several hours, then washed with powder. The method is not suitable for white fabrics.
      • Vegetable oil. The method is effective for removing tar stains from leather clothes and shoes. With a cotton swab dipped in sunflower or olive oil, wipe the surface of the product. If the stain is very old, you can cover it with a piece of oil-soaked material and leave it for an hour. At the end of the treatment, to remove greasy traces, the skin is wiped with a damp cloth with detergent.

      Regardless of the chosen product and method, stain removal always ends with washing. If there are still traces of contamination on the washed and dried clothes, it is necessary to repeat the treatment.

      How to get rid of epoxy?

      Epoxy resin dissolves well with alcohol. Before cleaning, it is necessary to remove the frozen top layer with a knife, and then treat the contaminated area with a mixture of alcohol and turpentine, taking them in equal amounts.

      A piece of cotton is soaked in the prepared composition and applied to the stain. After an hour, wipe off the remnants of epoxy and send the clothes to the wash.

      We remove stains and smell after cleaning

      Fabrics quickly absorb odors, and solvents, turpentine and ammonia, which are suggested for cleaning clothes, do not have a refined aroma. Therefore, the question arises of how, after removing stains, to rid the product of an unpleasant odor.

      There are several ways to do this:

      • Mustard powder is brewed with boiling water and stirred until a thick mass is obtained. When the mixture cools down a little, it is coated with a problem area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe clothing, after which the product is washed. You can simply dissolve a little powder in a basin of water and soak the little thing for several hours, then wash it.
      • Dissolve half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 10 liters of water and soak the product for half an hour. The method is only suitable for white fabrics!
      • To remove odors, you can soak the clothes in a solution of soda ash for half an hour, and then wash them in the machine, turning on the extra rinse mode.
      • Specialty odor eliminators such as DoctorWax or Antismel are available from the auto shop.
      • When rinsing, use twice the amount of conditioner.

      If an unsightly tar stain appears on your favorite blouse or trousers, do not despair and throw your clothes in the trash. There are many ways to clean the pollution so that there is no trace left. The main thing is to choose the right tool and carefully carry out the processing.

      How to remove tar from clothes: a step-by-step guide at home

      To get a tar stain, it is not necessary to hug pine trees in the forest: it is quite unfortunate to take out a fir tree after the New Year holidays, sit on a fresh pine log at a picnic or hang things to dry next to the cedars on vacation. Household stains that we encounter daily are not as difficult to remove as removing tar from clothes, so you may simply not have the necessary knowledge. That's exactly what we're going to fix with this step-by-step guide to bringing your items back to their original state.

      What not to do?

      Let's first talk about what not to do, either because it might make things worse, or because it's unlikely to help.

      • Do not toss the garment into the washing machine as if you had just soiled your clothes. Resin is not the easiest contamination, and without the help of solvents, neither washing machine nor soaking will help to remove it.
      • Don't rub the stain: this will only help the resin to soak into the structure of the fabric, making it harder for you to clean up the stain. And from light fabrics after such washing, you generally run the risk of not removing the stain completely.
      • If you decide to use non-trivial ways to remove resin at home, such as soda or vegetable oil, do not count on speed and efficiency. Firstly, these methods are mentioned as an option for dealing with the stain left by the resin, and secondly, there are other more effective means for removing stains. To be fair, vegetable oil can actually help loosen tar if the stain is on a non-fibrous surface like leather. And in mind are both the material and your hands. But for cotton, terry cloth, and for synthetics, it has a dubious effect.


      Resin tends to harden, so if you want to clean the item without much effort later, try to remove as much resin as possible now.

      Removing resin

      Want to know how to get tar out of clothes? The secret is that you don't need to wash it! The first step on the path to clean clothes will be the mechanical removal of contamination.

      • Removing dirt will be easier the more resin you can remove before using solvents. Make your job easier by picking off as much resin as possible with a sharp object or, in the absence of anything sharp at hand, with your nails.
      • If you have removed almost all of the resin, you can skip this step, but if you still cannot see the fabric structure through the resin, you need to reduce the amount even more. To do this, throw clothes in the freezer for an hour or put something cold on the stain, such as frozen vegetables or meat. After freezing, some more resin can be cleaned by rubbing the stain: the resin should crack and fall off, leaving behind a less intimidating stain.
      • Another mechanical way to remove the resin can be considered as heating the contamination with an iron, so that the resin, having taken on a viscous state, passes to the prepared substrates in the form of a sheet of paper napkins or a strip of cotton fabric. This method is useful if you have already tried both of the previous ones, but there is still a lot of resin left in the structure of the fabric, and if you do not want to remove the stain with solvents from a delicate or dyed fabric. For those who are still going to resort to less sparing methods, this stage is not at all necessary.


      To keep dirt from spreading through clothing while you are trying to clean it off, dust the area around with talcum powder, wet with water or oil.

      Washing the stain

      No matter how gentle ways to get rid of resin from pine and other coniferous trees you find on the Internet, their effectiveness and speed of action cannot be compared with the power of solvents. Of course, all of these substances are quite aggressive, and we advise you to try them on a small inconspicuous area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe clothing before flooding the stain with them. But it is they who are able to remove the resin almost instantly and save a lot of time, and in a world with a frantic pace of life, this is quite a valuable property.

      Let's start with the product that has the most positive reviews, and this is ordinary alcohol. By soaking a cotton swab or Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and rubbing the stain a little, you can clean your clothes in just a few minutes. But this is if you did not neglect the preparatory stage and removed the maximum amount of resin mechanically. You can try to remove a thick layer of resin with alcohol for days and weeks - that's how important the first stage is. If your pollution is not too old and you did everything according to our instructions, then most likely you will not have to do anything else. In this case, alcohol will have the least destructive effect on the color and structure of the fabric.

      What to do with a stain that cannot be removed with alcohol? More aggressive products will help to wipe it off, which will not stand on ceremony with pollution:

      • "White spirit";
      • acetone;
      • ammonia;
      • refined gasoline;
      • turpentine.

      Resin can be removed with nail polish remover if nothing else is available. True, it is worth mentioning that it will not work to wipe off the stain with ordinary gasoline, which you fill your car with: you just put a new stain on your clothes. In addition, it is better to apply any of these products with a cotton swab, without touching a clean area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe fabric, so as not to damage its structure.


      Solvent is the quickest way to clean clothes, but it's worth considering the damage it can potentially cause. If the fabric is too thin, and its paint is not too resistant, it is better to spend more time and remove the stain with alcohol than to cry over an irretrievably damaged thing.

      Remove marks and odors

      You managed to clean the item from the stain, but now there are stains on the clothes, and the smell of the solvent is so persistent that it does not disappear in any way? In order to remove stains and odors, you need to wash the item in a washing machine with the addition of dishwashing detergent or stain remover. You can also use liquid laundry detergents to enhance the effect.


      Do not forget about such a useful thing as air conditioning.

      Learn more