It happens to the best of us. A cup of coffee splatters, a wine glass tumbles, we cut our finger, or a hot iron scorches a shirt.
Suddenly we have to deal with an unsightly stain or scorch mark.
The number-one line of defense is to act quickly. Run the coffee, wine, or blood stain under cool, running water and then treat it with a stain remover or with white distilled vinegar.
Don’t let the fabric dry until you are sure the stain is gone. You may have to repeat stain-removing techniques several times before the stain disappears and only then should you let the cloth dry, either by air or by the heat of the dryer.
We have come up with eight common stains and strategies for dealing with them. These tricks may work but there are always those stubborn stains that refuse to vanish:
- Coffee and Tea: Soak the stained area with vinegar. Rinse and repeat as needed. Or, pretreat with a stain remover and launder right away in hot water.
- Tomato: Soak the stained area in vinegar until the vinegar saturates the fabric and then launder. Or, presoak the garment or tablecloth in an enzyme-based stain remover (such as Clorox 2, Oxyclean, Spray and Wash) and laundry detergent. Launder as usual.
- Wine: Saturate the fabric with white distilled vinegar and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Launder and repeat, if necessary. Or, pretreat with an enzyme-based stain remover (such as Clorox 2, Oxyclean, Spray and Wash) and launder in hot water.
- Fruit and Fruit Juices: Soak the garment in cool water and then rub it with a bar of soap. Wash in hot water, using an enzyme-based of laundry booster (such as Oxyclean or Clorox 2).
- Grass: Dampen the area with a vinegar-soaked sponge, dabbing to lift the stain. If this does not work, make a paste with vinegar and baking soda and brush it over the affected area. Wash as usual.
- Blood: Soak the stained area for about 15 minutes in white distilled vinegar and then rinse with cool water. Repeat if necessary and then wash right away. Or, rinse the blood-stained fabric in cool water and then pretreat with a stain remover. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Launder in cool water.
- Sweat: First pour vinegar over the stain and then rub salt over it. Let the clothing dry in the sun. Launder as usual.
- Scorch marks: Dab the scorch mark with a piece of cloth soaked with white distilled vinegar. Blot the mark with a dry cloth, which should lift if off the fabric. Repeat as necessary.
Bleach is one of the best stain removers on the market, but it cannot be used with abandon because it will strip many fabrics of color. Use bleach on white clothes, or add it in diluted forms to the laundry, following instructions on the bottle. Always use bleach sparingly.
Before applying any stain remover to fabric, test it first on a seam or other hidden area. You want to be sure it’s color safe. When you treat stains, lay the garment, napkin or tablecloth on a white cloth, inside out or upside down so that you treat the stain from the back.
Here's to clean, stain-free clothes!