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Keep Your Wardrobe Spotless: Easy Removal for Common Stains

4/28/2015

Too many perfectly salvageable garments have been tossed away under the assumption that there was no hope of ever removing a stain from them. Don’t let your garments’ lives be cut short prematurely, when they could be revived using common household goods.

Coffee   Sweat   Ink   Cooking Oil   Red Sauce   Liquor   Gasoline   Blood

Did you get jostled in the elevator? Or maybe your daughter lunged at you for a hug. Coffee stains are probably the most common ones we face. Here’s how to deal with them:

  1. 1. As soon as possible, run cold water through the back of the stain (the side which was previously against your skin.)

  2. 2. Lay the garment flat and rub some liquid detergent into the spot with your fingers, using circular motions. Let it sit for 5 minutes—no longer than 10.

  3. 3. While the detergent is working, mix up some baking soda with water to make a thick, but spreadable, paste.

  4. 4. Rinse the detergent out of the stain completely. Spread the paste over the stain, and let it sit long enough to dry.

  5. 5. Brush the baking soda off and wash as instructed by the garment’s tags. This will usually take care of coffee stains, but before drying, check to make sure it's completely gone. If not, repeat steps 2 – 4 again.

Sweat stains under the arms or on the collar of your dress shirts can make them look grimy forever. As it turns out, aspirin can cure this headache too:

  1. 1. Crush up 2 aspirin and mix the resulting powder in ½ cup of the warmest water safe for your garment.

  2. 2. Lay out your shirt and pour the water on any sweat stains.

  3. 3. Let it soak for 2 – 3 hours, then wash as instructed on the tags.

  4. 4. Before drying, check to ensure that the stains are gone. If not, repeat steps 1 – 3.

You work hard, and you’ve got the ink stains to prove it. There are a few types of inks which require different treatments to remove.

Water-based inks are generally in non-permanent markers and highlighters. These are the easiest to remove:

  1. 1. Lay your garment flat on a clean, dry towel.

  2. 2. Apply warm water to the spot and blot it with another towel (or paper towel) until color no longer comes up on your blotting cloth.

  3. 3. Gently rub the spot with liquid laundry detergent, using your fingers. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

  4. 4. Rinse the spot with the hottest water safe for your garment. (Be sure to check the tags.)

  5. 5. Wash the garment normally in the hottest water safe for your garment.

Ballpoint pen stains are a bit harder than water-based markers, but not impossible.

  1. 1. Lay your garment flat on a clean, dry towel.

  2. 2. Pour isopropyl alcohol onto the stain. You might see the ink blotting onto the towel underneath. If so, wait a few minutes to let the alcohol run through the fibers. Then pick your garment straight up off the towel, (don’t slide it, as that may run clean parts of the fabric through the ink on the towel.)

  3. 3. Lay your garment on a new, clean part of the towel, and repeat step 2. Blot the stain from the top with another clean, dry towel.

  4. 4. Thoroughly rinse the alcohol from your shirt with cold water.

  5. 5. Wash as instructed on the garment’s tags.

Permanent inks can pose greatest problems, but the sooner you treat them, the better your chances are.

  1. 1. Lay your garment flat on a clean, dry towel.

  2. 2. Pour isopropyl alcohol onto the stain. You might see the ink blotting onto the towel underneath. If so, wait a few minutes to let the alcohol run through the fibers. Then pick your garment straight up off the towel, (don’t slide it, as that may run clean parts of the fabric through the ink on the towel.)

  3. 3. Lay your garment on a new, clean part of the towel, and repeat step 2 until ink stops appearing on the towel underneath.

  4. 4. Thoroughly rinse the alcohol from your shirt with cold water.

  5. 5. Wash as instructed on the garment’s tags.

There are two classic ways to impress your woman: dress sharply, and cook her a meal. Unfortunately, your smooth moves pose a risk to each other.

Cooking oils can stain a dress shirt for long after she goes home. Here’s how to get the stains out of your clothes:

  1. 1. Remove as much as you can, as soon as you can. Dab the excess oil out with a paper towel or napkin.

  2. 2. Pre-treat the stain with liquid dish soap by putting a few drops on and rubbing it in. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Dish soap is formulated to remove grease and oil stains from food, so that’s what you’ll want to use.

  3. 3. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes while the dish soap breaks down those oils.

  4. 4. Wash the garment in the hottest water safe for the fabric (be sure to check the tags.)

  5. 5. Check the spot to be sure the stain is removed before drying it. If it’s not completely gone, repeat steps 2 – 5 again.

Tomato stains, whether from pasta sauce or a Bloody Mary, stand out.

  1. 1. Immediately remove the excess with a spoon or butter knife. Don’t press the stain in deeper by trying to dab it up.

  2. 2. As quickly as possible, remove the garment and run cold water through the back side of the stain. Don’t run water through the side on which you spilled—that will just drive the pigment deeper into the fibers.

  3. 3. Once the water is running clear through the fabric, use your fingers to apply laundry detergent to the spot in circular motions. Start at the outermost borders of the stain and work your way in—this ensures that you won’t make the spot bigger by spreading the stain out.

  4. 4. Apply a common household bleaching agent. Hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar are best, because they tend to remove stains without fading the color of the fabric. Just pour it on, let it sit for 5 minutes, and rinse it out; don’t rub the bleaching agent in.

  5. 5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until the stain is gone. Hold it up to the light to ensure that it’s completely out.

  6. 6. If the stain is very stubborn, the tomato was probably in a mixture with other staining agents (such as oil.) Apply some liquid dish detergent the same way you applied the laundry detergent and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then run cold water through it again and give the bleaching agent another shot.

Did you get a little sloppy at the bar last night? Or maybe someone else sloshed a bit of liquor on your shirt. There’s not much you can do about it when you’re out on the town, but here’s how to deal with it the next morning.

  1. 1. Run cold water through the back side of the spot (the side which was against your skin while you were wearing it) through the front. This prevents driving the stain further into the fibers.

  2. 2. Gently rub some liquid laundry detergent into the spot with your fingers, and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.

  3. 3. Run cold water through the back side of your shirt again, rinsing all the detergent out.

  4. 4. If the stain remains, repeat step 2 again and let it soak in cold water for about 30 minutes.

  5. 5. Wash according to the instructions on the tags.

Working on cars is a fairly common hobby, and presumably not one you do while dressed in your best shirt. But sometimes circumstances necessitate that you be a hero… a hero covered in gasoline. Here’s how to restore your clothes back to Clark Kent suitable.

  1. 1. If you can get to the gas-stain while it’s still wet, blot up as much of the excess as possible with a clean, dry towel.

  2. 2. Next, shake some baking soda over it—go ahead and give it a generous dusting, since baking soda won’t damage fabrics. Let it sit and absorb the smell for 3 – 5 minutes, then shake it off the garment. Repeat this step as many times as you need to knock the smell down.

  3. 3. Use your fingers to rub liquid dish soap into the stain, using circular motions to really lather it.

  4. 4. Let the dish soap sit on the stain for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse it out in the hottest water safe for your garment.

  5. 5. Re-apply dish soap to the stain and let it sit while you fill a sink with the hottest water safe for your garment. Put your garment into the water and let it soak for no less than 30 minutes.

  6. 6. In the meantime, mix up some baking soda with enough water to make a thick, but spreadable, paste.

  7. 7. Once you pull your garment from the water, spread the baking soda paste onto the stain. Let it sit until the paste has dried, and then brush it off. This can be repeated as many times as necessary to remove the smell.

If you’ve done this several times, and it still hasn’t completely removed the smell, soak the garment in white vinegar for 30 minutes. Then apply the paste again.

Once the smell is completely gone, wash normally in the hottest water safe for the garment.

 

 

So you’re a feisty one, eh? Whether it’s your blood or someone else’s, removing the stain can be less painful than the injury.

  1. 1. Rinse the back side of the stain with cold water. Let the water wash through it until it runs clear.

  2. 2. Lay the stain out flat and douse it in hydrogen peroxide. Wait until it stops foaming to rinse in cold water again. Repeat this step until the peroxide stops foaming.

  3. 3. Sometimes peroxide is enough to remove a blood stain completely. If not, run a quart of lukewarm water into your sink. Mix in a few drops of (bleach-free) laundry detergent and a tablespoon of ammonia.

  4. 4. Soak the garment in the above mixture for a minimum of 15 minutes, or until the stain is completely gone.

  5. 5. Rinse the garment completely, and wash as instructed on the tags.

After years of clumsiness, those are all the tricks up my sleeve. How did they work for you? Do you have a few of your own? Share what you know in the comments.

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