From ink spills to splatters of cooking oil, "Stain Rescue" from the Good Housekeeping Institute offers an A to Z guide on removing your toughest marks from every type of fabric. The following is an excerpt.
Here is a general guide to choosing the right cleaning method for your garments. Care varies based on colorfastness, weight, trimmings, linings, special finishes, and fabric and garment construction. Always read and follow the manufacturer's care label recommendations before cleaning garments.
ACETATE: Synthetic fiber. Dry-clean.
ACRYLIC: Synthetic fiber. Machine wash knits in warm water on gentle setting. Wash inside out to reduce pilling. Roll in a towel to absorb extra moisture, and dry flat; or dry at low setting in a dryer. Dry-clean woven acrylic fabrics.
BLENDS: Fabrics of combined fibers: cotton/polyester, cotton/linen, silk/polyester, wool/polyester, and so on. Follow care guidelines for the more delicate or most prominent fiber in the blend.
CANVAS: Heavy, firm, tightly woven fabric, originally cotton or linen, now also made of synthetics or blends. Machine wash in cold water and tumble dry on low setting. Dry-clean if not colorfast.
CASHMERE: Undercoat hair of the cashmere goat. Treat as wool, and follow the care label. Sweaters may be hand washed with care, but it's best to dry-clean both knits and wovens.
CHIFFON: Thin, transparent fabric, usually silk; can be made of synthetic fibers. Hand wash for best results.
CHINTZ: Glazed cotton, often printed. Dry-clean unless label states that glaze is durable and fabric can be washed; if so, wash as directed on labels.
CORDUROY: Ridged-pile fabric that may be cotton, cotton/polyester, or rayon. Turn inside out and use warm water. Dry at regular setting; remove from dryer while slightly damp; smooth pockets and seams with hands. Hang until dry.
COTTON: Natural vegetable fiber woven and knitted into fabrics of many weights and textures. Hand wash lightweight fabrics, such as batiste, organdy, and voile, and hang to air-dry (or iron damp with a hot iron). Machine wash light-colored and white medium- and heavyweight cottons with warm or hot water. Use cold water for bright colors that may bleed. Dry at regular or low setting. Remove from dryer while still damp. Iron damp with hot iron. Cottons like towels and underwear can be washed and dried on hot settings if desired.
DAMASK: Jacquard-weave fabric; may be cotton, linen, silk, viscose, wool, or a blend. Hand wash lightweight fabrics (see individual fiber listings for care). Dry-clean silk, wool, and all heavier-weight fabrics.
DENIM: Strong, heavy twill-weave fabric, usually cotton, but can be a cotton/synthetic blend. Prone to shrinkage unless purchased preshrunk. Machine wash in warm water. Traditional blue and other deep colors bleed the first several washings, so wash separately, as necessary. Dry at low setting to avoid shrinkage. Iron while damp with a hot iron, as needed.
DOWN: Soft underplumage of water fowl, often combined with adult feathers (should be so labeled). Both machine-washable and dry-cleanable, but treatment depends on the fabric shell of the item; follow manufacturer's instructions carefully. Do not air dry. Tumble dry on gentle setting (temperature no higher than 140°F or 60°C ). Fluff and turn often during drying.