How to Remove Varnish Stains in Clothes

Varnish is a commonly used protective finish for wood and other hard surfaces. When applied to an object, the varnish interacts with oxygen to form a strong chemical bond resistant to scratches, heat, water, acids and other solvents. Unfortunately, those same chemical properties that make varnish so effective as a protective film also make it difficult to remove from objects such as clothing. If you do happen to get a varnish stain on your clothes, here are some methods for removing it, or at least making it less noticeable.

Woman with laundry
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Step 1

Scrape off excess varnish with a flat-edged tool, utensil or gloved finger, if necessary.

Step 2

Place a sponge or other absorbent pad under the stained fabric.

Step 3

Rinse the stain as many times as needed with acetone (obtainable at any hardware store, or often sold alongside nail polish removers, which themselves contain acetone). Launder as normal.

Step 4

Try turpentine in place of acetone. Sponge it onto the stain, mix in a little laundry detergent, and then soak in hot water. Wash in a normal laundry cycle.

Step 5

Resort to a dry-cleaning solvent such as Afta Cleaning Fluid if either of the above methods fail to get out the stain. Flush the stain with the solvent and allow to dry. Then launder as usual.