How to Remove Water Stains from Fabric: Step by Step

Accidents happen, especially When food and kids are involved! Staining a perfectly good fabric because of an inevitable incident is a common problem. Whether it is the table cloth, carpets, the favourite sofa or freshly washed sheets, removing a water stain can get tricky but not impossible!

To remove water stains from fabric, you need to act quickly. The longer the stain is left to sit on the material, the harder it gets to remove. While ordinary bleach and soap can dilute the water stain, it could also ruin and permanently damage the fibres and it can sometimes leave a discoloured patch on the fabric and worsen the matter.

So if you have water-stained fabric that needs immediate attention, here are a few easy steps to remove even the most prominent stains from any material.

What Causes Water Stains on Fabric?

To permanently remove water stains from any fabric, you need to know the reason why these stains occur. You can identify the cause of the problem by distinguishing the types of water stain based on the colour of the stain.

Here are the leading causes of water stains:

Black Water Stain

If you find the water stain on the fabric is dark in colour, it is probably due to excess minerals in the water. Regular water contains mineral deposits such as iron, magnesium and hydrogen sulphates.

When water contains a higher composite of these minerals, it tends to darken fabrics. This stain is most prominent on white fabrics. It can leave a patch of dark and round stain or dull the colour of the material.

To prevent such black water stains due to excessive minerals in water from recurring, treat the water with mineral water filters. Water filters with reverse osmosis system remove excess minerals and turn even hard water from ponds and lakes to soft, drinkable water.

Pink Water Stains

If the watermark on the fabric is pinkish in colour, it is probably due to organic contaminants. Bacteria found in food, water, wine and fruits often leave a pink stain.

Natural bacterial growth due to low chlorine in the water from well water and city water also discolours fabric.

To balance out the chlorine content in the water, treat it with a periodic bleach treatment or add chlorine. This step will increase the alkaline content and prevent bacterial growth.

Bluewater Stain

When there is an imbalance in the PH level in the water, it can leave a bluish mark on fabrics. The PH level gets disrupted when there is too much carbon dioxide in it due to photosynthesis, respiration, and decomposition of organic matters.

When pH balance is disrupted, it becomes acidic and causes the fabric to lighten or discolour with a blue tint. To prevent blue water stains for returning, treat the water with sodium bisulphate or baking soda and some muriatic acid.

Red or Light Brown Water Stains


When there is too much iron in the water, it leaves a reddish stain on the fabric. Water is mostly prone to cause rust-like stains on clothes if iron minerals get oxidized. If this is a recurring problem, it is best to treat it with a water softener or through reverse osmosis filters.

You can remove iron water stain on fabric by using bleach and detergent. But to remove a patch of stain from coloured fabric without ruining it, you will need to follow the detailed procedure below.

Can Dry Cleaners Remove Water Stains?

While it is easy on washable fabric, removing water stains from non-washable laundry requires spot treatment.

Some dry cleaners provide customized service that entails spot treatment for an extra fee. However, these services are often exceptional. Most dry cleaners miss the spot unless you instruct them, especially when the stain is in a hidden area.

The practice used by dry cleaners to remove water stain is a chemically treated method. It is pretty simple and easy to follow, even at home, using common laundry and household items.

If you prefer treating the fabric by yourself, read on for some simple tips and tricks. Firstly, there are different mixtures you can use to remove water stains.

For earthy stains like fruit juice, colas, tea, red wine and coffee, the solution is a mixture of these ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of dishwashing detergent and a degreaser
  • 2 ounces white vinegar
  • Two ounces of water

For body stains such as protein, mucus, blood, milk, or perspiration use the following mixture:

  • Two tablespoons of water
  • A teaspoon of ammonia
  • A teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • Teaspoon of detergent

Step by Step Method to Remove Water Stains From Fabric

  1. Place a clean towel or white cloth below the stained fabric.
  2. Wet the stained spot with a sprayer, concentrating on the outline of the stain.
  3. Spread the solution on the spot and lightly scrub it with another clean cloth or a brush.
  4. Dab off the excess solution by patting it with a dry cloth.
  5. Blot it immediately with a wet and absorbing towel to remove the definition from the edge of the stain.
  6. Once the edges blend with the rest of the fabric, place a dry cotton fabric over it and iron over it.
  7. Make sure the iron is set at medium heat to expedite the drying process by evaporating the wet part of the fabric.

Once the fabric is dry, you can proceed with the usual cleaning instructions.

Points to Remember While Removing Water Stains

Before following the simple steps, test the solution on an inconspicuous area of the fabric to make sure that the colour doesn’t bleed.

Another tip to ensure that the water stain does not recur is to rinse it thoroughly with cold water before putting it in the washer if the fabric is washable.

By following these simple tips, you can save expenditure on laundry service fees. Removing stains at home not only prevents you from exposure to harsh chemicals but also expedites the process.

So next time you have an unavoidable incident, simply get a clean towel and dab away the stain on any fabrics.