Yesterday I found a translucent, sticky residue on the back of my shorts. It smelt faintly of pine, so I assumed it was pine resin from leaning against a tree somewhere. After washing, however (machine wash in cold water), the stain turned white and opaque. Ideally I should have tried to remove the stain before washing, but it's too late now.

Does this sound like a varnish stain? (I don't want to accidentally use the wrong method.)
How can I fix things?

The shorts are black polyester (I think) and quite thin, and I'm worried about melting the fabric with the wrong cleaner.

  • Considering the faint pine smell and it turning white, I would suspect pine resin. Can you include a photo of the stain?
    – MiG
    Jun 19, 2022 at 15:35
  • @MiG is correct, we can't know without a picture, so any advise would be futile. Jul 24, 2022 at 8:34
  • Black Sharpie marker? Jul 27, 2022 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


Naphtha (e.g., charcoal lighter fluid) is solvent that can dissolve pine tar (which readily drips from branches onto grass or benches below the tree), without harming most fabrics (test in an area hidden inside, first). Caution! naphtha is flammable. Solvent-based cleaners, such as Lestoil, should also be effective -- with the same caution on flammability and checking for possible damage to fabric.

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