Being a caregiver means dealing with a lot of literal blood, sweat, tears, and—in many cases—urine and feces.

These bodily by-products have an unpleasant tendency to get everywhere, including clothing, furniture, and mattresses—particularly if you are caring for a loved one who is incontinent, or is prone to accidental scrapes and cuts.

Here are a few tips for getting stubborn stains out of everyday fabrics:

  • In general, the sooner you locate and treat a stain, the easier it will be to remove it. This is particularly true for blood, urine and fecal stains.
  • If you treat a stain with ammonia, you should avoid using bleach when you wash it. The mixture of ammonia and bleach can produce toxic fumes, which may be hazardous to the health of both you and your loved one.
  • Clothing: There are a variety of things that you can use to get stains out of clothing. Windex, white vinegar, WD-40, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia diluted with water, and a paste made up of cornstarch and cold water, are all viable options for spot-treating a garment that has been soiled. When spot-treating, you'll want to let whichever substance you decide to use sit on the spot for anywhere between ten and thirty minutes before washing the clothing as you normally would. For particularly stubborn stains, you may need to repeat the cycle of spot-treating and washing more than once. Prior to drying the clothing, make sure that the stain has been removed to your satisfaction. Drying will set any existing stain, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
  • Mattresses and upholstered furniture: If your loved one has wet the bed and their mattress has been stained, try applying a liberal amount of vinegar to the area and then blot any excess away with a clean, dry cloth. Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and let it sit. This will help soak up the odor so that the mattress doesn't end up smelling like urine. After letting the baking soda sit on the stain overnight, vacuum up the excess. For other stains, like blood, feces, and sweat, you can apply one of several different variations of soap and water mixtures to the spot. You can combine water with laundry detergent, dish soap, or even non-seasoned meat tenderizer and dab at the stain until it has disappeared. Other possible stain-lifters that are safe to use on a mattress include: ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. After you're satisfied with the results, take a clean, damp cloth to the area to soak up any excess cleaning agents from the mattress fabric. To prevent mold from forming, let the moist part of the mattress air dry before replacing your loved one's bed linens. These same techniques can also be used to clean stains off of upholstered furniture.

If you've tried more common stain removing techniques to no avail, go the less-traditional stain-removal route. Here are a few additional suggestions that may help you get spots out of fabric:

  • Soaking a bloodstained garment in cola overnight may help erase a stubborn spot. On the following morning, wash the garment as you normally would.
  • If an outfit is dry-clean only, you can try to lift a still-wet stain by removing the doughy insides from a loaf of bread, rolling it into a ball, and blotting the affected area with it. Wash the outfit as soon as you can after blotting.
  • To remove offending blotches from colored clothes, try soaking them overnight in milk. The next day, just throw the clothing in the wash to get it completely clean.