Don’t let a stain win without putting up a fight. Battle five common culprits with this spot-on advice.
Everyone’s favorite a.m. upper becomes an instant downer once it trickles down the front of a shirt. If the coffee stain’s just a tiny drip on a white blouse, dab it with a purse-friendly laundry pen and deal with it later. For bigger spills, rinse the garment under cold water, aiming the water stream at the back of the stain. If the fabric’s bleach-safe, add a dose to your machine, then wash the garment. If not, use a stain pretreatment on the spot before laundering.
If a napkin tucked in your neckline couldn’t save your blouse from spaghetti night, act fast! Rinse the stain under water, or dab it with a wet cloth. Attack the blob immediately by spot-treating with stain remover or diluted dish soap (what’s good enough for baked-on lasagna is good enough for your shirt!). Rinse with warm water. If the stain remains, blot on hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar or lemon juice. Use the strongest stuff that’s safe for the fabric.
If you’re drinking white, you’re lucky. Spilled chardonnay requires just a little water and mild soap. A robust red wine stain needs more work. Blot the stain immediately, or better yet, soak it, with cold water, club soda or white wine (really!) to dilute it. If the fabric’s delicate, rinse the stained spot with white vinegar before laundering. For durable fabrics such as denim, sprinkle salt or baking soda on the stain and let sit five minutes. Then, stretch the fabric over a large bowl, and pour boiling water directly onto the stain.
Somebody passed the gravy—right onto your lap. Stains from anything fatty, like gravy, salad dressing or melted butter, use their grease to cling to fabric fibers. Resist the urge to wipe; that’ll only drive the stain deeper. Sprinkle baby powder or cornmeal over the spot, and let it sit until the spot no longer looks wet. Brush it off, then apply a stain removal solution to the back of the stain; let sit 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Apply a pretreatment to the front of the stain and machine-wash the garment in the hottest water the fabric can handle.
So your kiddo’s skinned knee ruined her play date and her leggings? How do you remove the blood stains? If the spot’s still wet, soak the garment in cold water; if it’s dry, apply a stain pretreatment containing enzymes first. Then, mix a little water with a squeeze of dish soap and gently rub it on the stain—yep, the same stuff that gives you dishpan hands breaks down the protein in blood. Blot with a cotton ball soaked in diluted ammonia, then machine-wash the garment as usual. Heat will set the stain, so make sure it’s gone before putting the duds in the dryer.