The key to all of this is to recognize the stain as quickly as possible. After a ton of washings and drying, aluminum and zinc salts may be almost impossible to remove.

Mechanic with greasy hands from oil

No. 3: Motor oil/grease

The Situation: Deborah Marie just finished rehabbing her Harley. She's in the garage getting the hog ready for the road, when she slips and drags her jean jacket across the chain. Grease is the word!

The Solution: Deb, you have a problem. You better act fast, or you can just hang that jean jacket in the garage -- permanently.

The first thing to do is work some detergent into that stain. It can be liquid detergent or a pre-wash stain remover. Just make sure you work it!

After you do that, wash the jacket in the hottest water that particular fabric can handle. Rinse, and take a good look at the stain before you toss the jacket in the dryer. If it's not removed completely, repeat the treatment.

If you only have powdered detergent on hand, mix it with water to make a runny paste -- and work that into the stain.

Blood stains on laundry

No. 2: Blood stains

The Situation: Ric, in his 10,000th pro wrestling match, decides to cut his forehead again with a razor blade at a match in Nashville. It's called "wearing the crimson mask" in the business. But that blood gets everywhere. In this case, on his pristine blue wrestling robe -- which has to look good for tomorrow night's match in Memphis.

The Solution: Ric, who has been around the block a few thousand times, knows exactly what to do.

The second he gets back to the hotel, he grabs his robe and tosses it in cold water. Blood is a protein stain, which needs to be treated before the garment is washed. If you use hot water, that cooks the protein -- making the stain more difficult to remove.

In the pre-wash stage, apply liquid detergent into the stained area first. When you're done, then go ahead and wash it in warm water with detergent.

If the blood is still there, don't dry it. That'll just set the stain. Instead, soak it overnight (in cold water) and try washing the garment again in the morning.

Paint-covered boy

No. 1: Oil-based paint

The Situation: Sal is covering a fence panel with green paint. Being 13 years old, he's not exactly careful. By the end of the exercise, his yellow shirt is spotted with emerald hues. His mother wants to wring his neck.

The Solution: It may seem impossible, but zapping an oil-based paint stain can be done. The key is speed. Once paint is dry, it cannot be removed.

While paint is wet, use turpentine or paint thinner to get it out as much as you can and then rinse. Next, you'll want to use a pre-wash stain remover to get more of it out -- and then you're ready to wash the garment.