Cherish Your Investment: Part 2 Removing Stains

It inevitable that we will spill something or just end up with a stain we don’t know how it got there.  Getting rid of stains is an art but can save you tons of money if you are able to save your clothes from being ruined.  Bottom line, when you get a stain act quickly and do not complete the cleaning cycle until you know the stain is out.  Drying heat sets a stain.  If you are prone to spilling things on your clothes you might consider carrying a Tide cleaning stick that is available at your grocery store.  They are great for most fabric stains when they happen.  As with any spot remover, test the fabric in a hidden area first to make sure it doesn’t fade or harm it. Here are some tips that help deal with removing stains.

Pencil: Use a prewash stain remover on the stain, allow it to set in and then wash.

Ink:  If you get an ink stain apply hairspray or rubbing alcohol to it.

Ketchup: blot the excess ketchup, rinse in cool water with mild detergent.  Use a prewash spot remover and then run it through the wash cycle.  Let it air dry and check to see if the stain is gone.  If not go through the steps again.

Gum: Put the garment in the freezer for about 6 hours and then chip it off.  Or apply ice cubes to harden the gum so it can be easily removed.

Protein based stains: Examples include blood, cheese sauce, gelatin, baby formula and milk.  Soak and agitate these items in cold water before washing.

Tannin Stains: Examples include alcoholic drinks, beer, coffee, cologne, berries, tea and soft drinks. Use detergent, not bar soap, in the hottest water possible for the fabric and soak the item before running it through the wash cycle.

Oil-based Stains: Examples include automotive oil, salad dressings, mayonnaise, face cream, and body lotions.  Pre treat these stains with a heavy duty detergent applied to the stain or apply a powder detergent paste to the stain before washing.

Dye Stains: Examples include Kool-Aid, grass, cherries, and blueberries. Pretreat these stains with a heavy duty detergent or soak the item in a diluted solution of all-fabric power bleach for a maximum of 15 minutes.  (more information is available at

Deodorant and Perspiration Stains:  These are the yellow stains under the arms in shirts and blouses and are the result of the formula still being wet when the garment is put on as well as the aluminum salts found in antiperspirants.  To remove these stains soak shirts in warm water with an enzyme presoak or rub the area with white vinegar.  After that wash the item in the hottest temperature possible that is safe for the fabric.  If the stain remains dampen it and sprinkle with meat tenderizer and let it stand for an hour.  Then wash.

Caring for what you wear will ensure that your clothing looks its best for years to come.  In this day and time, clothing is a major investment especially when it comes to what we wear for work.  Take care of your clothes and they will take care of you.



About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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