How To Remove Water Stains From Clothes [Proven Methods]

How To Remove Water Stains From Clothes

Last Updated on January 27, 2024 by Wahid

Typically, water is the key in fighting almost all stains, but what happens when water causes stains? As water is filled with impurities or minerals, any fabric it touches may get spots and rings.

Do you worry about how to remove water stains from clothes? Thankfully, these marks are generally light and easy to remove. Almost all fabrics can be rewetted or rewashed to remove water. In some cases, an iron can be used to eliminate water stains. However, stained fabrics may require special attention if they were stained by the water itself.

In this article, you’ll learn how to safely remove stubborn water stains from fabrics, upholstery, & carpet. This will prevent you from worrying about them in the future. Check out our cleaning tips if you’re willing to get started!

Before You Start- Check The Label & Test The Fabric

water stains from clothes Check The Label & Test The Fabric

Before trying the water stain cleaning method on clothes, make sure you check the manufacturer’s label for instructions. Textiles and clothing typically have washing instructions on the tag. In addition, couches, chairs, upholstered furniture, and others may have care instructions printed on the label. Whenever furniture fabric has the code “WS” or “W,” this indicates that it’s suitable for water-based cleaning. Labeled fabrics such as “S” or “X” cannot be cleaned using water & steam and also should be handled by a professional.

As a recap, furniture tags will include the following cleaning codes:

  • WS: Water can be used to clean it.
  • ​‌W:‌​ Water can be used to clean it.
  • S: Dry cleaning only.
  • ​‌X:‌​ Dry cleaning only.

As long as the label permits, try your cleaning agent on a hidden area. For colorfast fabrics, this is important to ensure that the cleaning will not damage them.

Testing Clothing & Other Loose Fabrics:

  • Lie a clean white towel on a flat surface then place the material on top.
  • Using a clean cloth, dampen it with whatever you plan to clean with (for example, straight water).
  • Spray an inconspicuous part in the solution, and press the fabric against the towel.
  • Check the towel after lifting up the fabric: if there are no signs of color transfer, move on to a cleaning solution. Any color that appears on the towel, no colorfast fabric, so don’t use that cleaning solution — look for another method that doesn’t involve liquids.

Testing Furniture Fabric & Drapery:

  • Your cleaning solution should be dampened on a clean white cloth.
  • Use the cloth to rub a small area inconspicuously.
  • Make sure the cloth does not show any signs of color transfer to the fabric. No color change indicates the solution is safe for use; otherwise, try another method — a liquid-free method may be needed.

How To Remove Water Stains From Clothes

Remove Water Stains From Clothes

Whenever you encounter what seems like water marks on washable clothing, bedding, or curtains, wash the items as usual after using a fabric stain remover. 

Supplies You’ll Need


  • Prepare The Cleaning Solution: Mix 2 cups of distilled water with 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar.
  • Test On A Hidden Area: Prior to treating the water-damaged area, use the vinegar/ water solution to clean a hidden area of the upholstery with a white cloth. Before continuing, let the test area air dry to ensure nothing has transferred or changed.
  • Blot The Spot: Spray the vinegar or water solution on a white cloth. If the cloth is still damp & not dripping, wring it out. The water-staining area should be completely blotted until it is dry. Prevent excessive damage to the fabric by not rubbing or scrubbing it.
  • Absorb The Moisture: Fold a white paper towel in a stack thick with several layers. After dampening the fabric, place the stack on it along with books or other heavy items to weigh them down. Moisture is absorbed by the towels, so they should be changed frequently.
  • Dry The Fabric: After the paper towels have absorbed all the moisture, dispose of them. Once the hair is completely dry, use a handheld blow dryer set to warm to cool air to complete the drying process. Keep the hair dryer about 2 inches away from the fabric surface and gently move it until it feels dry.

How To Remove Water Stains From Fabric – Different Techniques

To effectively remove water stains, it is important to identify the fabric type and the cause of the stain. Using an incorrect method or putting off the stain for longer than necessary can damage the fabric.

Before ironing or washing, check the care label of the fabric to ensure that it can be washed or ironed. For removing water stains, these are the best and fastest methods. I’ll explain each one below. Furthermore, I will share some alternative methods if these do not work or stains are caused by something other than water.

1. Ironing

  • Ironing can be done on almost any fabric that is iron-safe, and the fabric is stained only by water, which contains no minerals or chemicals. Among the fabrics that can be ironed are cotton and polyester. 
  • However, before ironing any other type of fabric, ensure that the instructions on the label are followed. As you use this method, turn on the iron at the appropriate temperature as recommended on the care label. 
  • Next, lay down a white towel over the ironing board, iron the garment inside out, placing it on top of the towel so the stained areas are on top.
  • Then, apply a damp washcloth to the water stain to re-wet it. Once the stain has dried completely, iron over it. 
  • Hopefully, the stain is gone, but if not, rub it over with a spoon. It will be easier to clean any remaining stains if you use a spoon.

2. Rewashing

  • Our clothes are sometimes stained by water due to drips or spills, especially if they are made of silk or satin. 
  • When this happens, you can usually remove the stain by rewashing the textile, regardless of whether the stain has already dried.
  • It happens because the entire cloth gets wet, causing the stain to disappear once it dries. 
  • Simply wash and dry the fabric as you normally do, according to the instructions provided in the product care label.

3. Vinegar

  • You can use vinegar to remove nearly any stain, & water stains make no exception. This is an excellent option for fabrics that cannot be ironed or cannot be completely washed and dried. 
  • However, you should test the vinegar on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t discolor or fade the clothing.
  • When doing a spot test, soak a cotton ball in vinegar before testing. Apply it to a hidden area of the fabric, such as near the collar or inside the seam. 
  • Check for discolorations or stains after about 5 to 10 minutes. Follow the steps below if you can safely use vinegar.
  • First, dampen the washcloth with vinegar & dampen the stained fabric area again.
  • Next, lightly dampen another washcloth’s corner with vinegar and wipe the area with it to eliminate the stain. 
  • After that, re-wet the 1st washcloth, squeeze it out, then rub it over the stained spots once more to remove the vinegar. 
  • Repeat the cleaning procedure if necessary after letting the area dry completely.

4. Steam

  • When you use a handheld steamer, fabric can be quickly cleaned of water stains. If you need to get things done quickly, this is another great method. 
  • After the stained area has been blasted with steam, allow it to dry.
  • Instead of using a handheld steamer, your iron can also be used if it includes a steam function. 
  • Then, ensure that your iron emits only steam and not water because water could cause more stains on specific fabrics. 
  • If you are using an iron, let the fabric dry as you would if you were using a handheld steamer.

5. Rust Remover

  • The fabric might have stains or streaks of yellow, brown, or orange, probably caused by iron or other minerals within the water. 
  • Rural areas with well water are more likely to experience this problem, which can even occur during washing.
  • Water stains like this can appear on your garments, but rust removal products are available to help you get rid of them. 
  • They usually come in your regular laundry detergents, so you just use it as you normally would. 
  • To ensure you use the right amount, follow the instructions.
  • If your water comes from a well and these stains are recurring an effective water filter may be necessary. 
  • Filtering your water this way will remove any minerals discoloring it. In this way, the water will be able to effectively clean without staining.

Water Stains: Additional Tips

  • Aside from the methods listed above, you can dampen the stain with distilled water & white vinegar using a clothes steamer. 
  • Make sure the steamer is held far enough distance away to avoid splashing water. 
  • In many cases, water-spotted clothes can be cleaned simply by washing them again with regular laundry detergent. 
  • Using distilled water and detergent, you can continually wash one item by hand.
  • Clean the stain multiple times if necessary using your preferred method. 
  • Although it is most likely that water stains can be removed at home, you can talk to a professional if you are unable to remove the stain.
  • In the case of clothing or shoes heavily contaminated by floodwaters, more cleaning steps, including disinfection, will be required.

How To Clean Water Stains On “Walls”

How To Clean Water Stains On Walls

Getting rid of water stains on walls is trickier, but if done properly, you can do it quickly & easily. Prior to getting out the cleaning supplies, make sure that your roof and plumbing are free of leaks before getting out the cleaning supplies. 

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Chlorine bleach
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Two sponges
  • Two plastic buckets
  • Rubber gloves
  • Microfiber towel
  • Plastic tarp
  • Step stool or ladder (optional)


  • Make The Cleaning Solutions: Fill a bucket with warm water and add 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. The 2nd bucket should be filled with plain water for rinsing.
  • Set Up The Workspace: Lay out a plastic tarp or table cloth on the ground to catch any drips. A sturdy stepping stool or ladder may be needed if necessary.
  • Starting From The Top: Wet a sponge with soapy solution & wring it well so that it’s damp, but not dripping. Using small circular motions, scrub gently on the discolored area’s top. Keep the sponge clean by rinsing it frequently. Using a clean sponge, soak the freshly cleaned area under clean water, wring, and then “rinse” it to remove soap residue.
  • Wall Drying: Make sure the wall is dry with a lint-free towel. Ensure that the area is air-dried for around 2 hours to remove the stain. There is a possibility that a freshly cleaned part of the wall looks different from the rest. In this case, clean the entire wall or room using the same steps.
  • Then, Clean Stubborn Stains: If you still see the wall has water & mildew stains, use chlorine bleach to remove them. Using rubber gloves, combine 1 cup chlorine bleach with 3 cups of water. Ventilate the room properly by opening windows. Scrub the stained area gently with the bleach solution using a sponge. Wipe away any remaining moisture after 30 minutes after applying the solution to the wall. Drying the wall should take four to 5 hours with a fan. The process should be repeated if necessary.
  • Use Stain Blocking Primer: Whenever water stains are still present after cleaning, apply a stain blocking primer on the wall before repainting.

How To Clean Water Stains From “Carpets”

How To Clean Water Stains From Carpets

Water stains are left on carpets after a leak. A professional recommends soaking up as much water as possible immediately. If the water cannot be mopped up, suction it up using a wet or dry shop vacuum. The carpet may have to be lifted away from the wall if the leak was extensive. Under the carpet, this will assist in drying the padding.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Old towels
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Small bowl or bucket
  • Distilled water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Paper towels
  • Baking soda
  • Heavy books


  • Create A Cleaning Solution: Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, & 1 cup distilled of water in a small bowl or bucket.
  • Using The Cleaner: Using a microfiber cloth, dip it into the cleaning solution and wring it out until it’s damp. Use a damp cloth to dab stained areas while applying gentle pressure. Ensure the stain does not spread by starting at the outside edge and working into the center. The cloth should be rinsed frequently as the spot will transfer to it.
  • Carpet Drying: Cover wet areas with old dry paper towels or rags. To weigh down the towels, place some books over them. Moisture is transferred to the towels, so they need to be changed frequently. The carpet should feel dry to touch, so take the towels off and allow it to dry completely for at least 24 hours. The carpet can dry more quickly with the help of a fan.
  • Carpet Freshening: Sprinkle dry baking soda liberally over the damp carpet. It is recommended to leave baking soda on carpets for at least 8 hours, but it can be left overnight if necessary. To remove odors, vacuum the powder.

How To Remove Old Water Stains From “Fabric”

How To Remove Old Water Stains From Fabric
  • You can still remove old water stains from fabrics, no matter how old or dry they are.
  • However, it will depend on if the stain is simply water, or if it is a discolored water stain. Sometimes, the stain may be removed, but the colored stain will remain.
  • It should be possible to remove the stain pretty effectively by ironing & rewashing the stained fabric, depending on the type of stain. 
  • The best way to remove the stain is by ironing it first. The method should work regardless of the stain’s color. If, for whatever reason, ironing does not remove the mark completely, rewashing should finish the job. 
  • The stain may be discolored by minerals, apply rust remover in the laundry to remove it as effectively as possible.
  • Older stains on fabric can also be removed with vinegar, regardless of stain type.
  • Vinegar’s powerful acidity makes it effective at getting rid of rust stains or discolorations from fabrics. Remember to test vinegar on fabric first.

Pro Tips On Stain Prevention 

  • Immediately repair roof leaks & plumbing leaks.
  • Make sure your windows & doors are weatherproofed to prevent moisture from getting in.
  • You can quickly absorb water or spills from boots & shoes by using towels or shoe trays.
  • Any carpet should not be directly touched by potted plants.
  • Bathrooms and kitchens should be ventilated to prevent stains caused by moisture condensation.
  • You should not ignore water stains. Be cautious, particularly when it comes to non-washable & non-ironable clothing. Stains resulting from water are best removed by professional dry cleaners.
  • This should not be used on waxed jackets, suede, or heavily embellished clothes.
  • Alternatively, if the stain seems old or very tough, spray rust remover on it first. Spritz rust remover lightly over stained parts to dampen it. Let it sit for 10-15 seconds and then wash it as usual.


01. When to Call a Professional?

Answer: If you have water-stained or silk vintage clothing and upholstery, contact a professional cleaner or restoration expert instead of attempting to clean them yourself. Your item could be permanently damaged if it is not cleaned properly. You can protect your upholstery by hiring a specialized cleaner.

02. Do water marks stain clothes?

Answer: Stains are not caused by water, they are caused by chemicals. However, stains caused by water on clothing, such as shirts, dresses, & other clothing are very common in hard water areas. The process of getting rid of the stains is essential, especially for white clothing.

03. Are water stains permanent?

Answer: It is possible for hard water stains to become permanent if they are not treated timely. If you notice hard water stains, it’s best to remove them right away. Despite the temptation to wait until cleaning day to remove a mild stain, it becomes harder to remove as time passes.

04. How do you remove dried water stains?

Answer: Yes, you can do it with vinegar. In addition to its amazing ability to remove hard water stains, vinegar is also a safe, natural household cleaner. Squirt some on any hard water stains on a surface using a spray bottle. Allow the vinegar to sit for 5 to 15 minutes in order for the minerals of the chalky stain to soften and dissolve.

05. Can baking soda and water remove stains from clothes?

Answer: When mixed with water, baking soda is the most effective and powerful stain remover. As a result, the paste works to draw stains out of fabrics, and the baking soda essentially traps pigment and odor.

06. Can hydrogen peroxide remove stains?

Answer: Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent stain remover for both protein & plant-based stains. Additionally, it can be used to remove mildew, blood, fruit, and vegetable stains, as well as dye-transfer stains.

One Last Word

Hopefully, this guide was helpful in how to remove water stains from clothes and upholstery and other fabric. Most often, removing water stains is as simple as rewetting the material and allowing it to dry. However, in the case of discoloration, vinegar & rust removal laundry products may be necessary to remove it. 

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