Products and methods help bust stains
Never use chlorine bleach to remove a rust stain. It will only set the stain.
BY REBECCA SLOAN
If you thought the Internet was good only for rumor-mongering, celebrity stalking and dirty pictures, you're wrong.
Expert Web sites can also help you clean up just about any spill, stain or spot.
After cruising through www.cleanuppages.com, www.momsonline.com and www.bhg.com (the Better Homes and Gardens site), a concensus emerges about how best to conquer those ugly splotches.
First, identify whether the stained fabric is washable or dry clean only. Next evaluate what type of stain it is and how long the stain has been there.
Breaking them down: Most stains belong in one of five categories: Protein; fruit or beverage; greasy, nonfood; greasy food; and special problem stains.
Protein stains include aftershave, blood, urine, lotion, fish slime, antiperspirant, gelatin, baby food, mouthwash, mucus, sherbet, soups with meat, egg white, vomit, eye drops, feces and white glue. Remember this rule of thumb for a protein stain: Cold water will soften and loosen the stain, while hot water will set the stain.
The fix: To remove protein-based stains from washable fabrics: Soak the stained item in a mixture of cold water, 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon of ammonia. Rinse and soak in an enzyme-cleaning product for at least 30 minutes. Enzyme-cleaning products contain special proteins that & quot;eat away & quot; at the stain. Read the label of the product if you are in doubt about whether it contains enzymes. Pretreatment laundry products such as Shout or Spray N' Wash contain enzymes. Launder the item using chlorine bleach, if appropriate for the fabric.
Bloodstains are one of the most common and bewildering types of protein stains to remove. Bloodstains should be treated immediately. Dry-blot the stain to remove any excess. Soak a white towel in cold water and cover the stain with the wet towel. Leave the towel in place for several hours or overnight. Remove towel and treat with hydrogen peroxide or bleach and rinse again with cold water.
Pet urine stains are another common and frustrating type of protein stain. Do not attempt to cover up urine stains and odors with perfumed sprays. Don't assume that ordinary soap and water will clean up the mess.
For a fresh, wet stain, blot away excess and then apply a product made especially for pet accidents that contains live bacteria or enzymes. Pet supply stores sell these types of products.
Fruit stains: Fruit or beverage stains include coffee, tea, fruit juice, shaving cream, water-based makeup, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, cough syrup, berries, maple syrup, corn syrup and preserves. To remove such stains from washable fabric, soak the fabric for 15 minutes in a mixture of one quart lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon white vinegar. Rinse and soak again in one quart warm water with one tablespoon of an enzyme cleaning product. If the stain remains, launder in chlorine bleach if appropriate for the fabric.
To remove dried red wine stains, use club soda and cold water.
Greasy, but not food: Greasy, nonfood stains include oil-based makeup, lard, auto wax, calamine lotion, castor oil, chewing gum, peanut oil, cod liver oil, shoe polish, furniture polish, crayon, rubber cement, epoxy glue, smoke, floor wax, soot, tree sap and grease.
To remove these stains from washable fabric, rub the area with ice and scrape with the side of a dull knife. Saturate the area with a pretreatment laundry stain remover. For really stubborn stains, apply a heavy-duty liquid detergent and launder immediately.
To remove heavy grease or motor oil from washable fabrics, rub lard or Vaseline into stain or treat dry fabric with a laundry pre-soak spot stain remover and wash in a quality laundry detergent.
Crayon stains? Scrape off excess crayon with a knife and wash clothing in hot water with a laundry detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda for 10 minutes. If the stain remains, work a paste of laundry detergent and baking soda into the stain and launder again. Use bleach if it's safe for the fabric.
Smoke and soot stains resulting from a fire are best dealt with by a professional.
Greasy food types: Greasy food stains include cake frosting, gravy, catsup, margarine, cheese sauce, pudding, mayonnaise, chili sauce, chocolate, salad dressing, coffee with cream, soups containing vegetables, dairy products, egg yolks, tomato sauces and vegetable oils.
To remove these stains, saturate the area with a pretreatment stain remover and allow the product to penetrate for at least one minute before laundering. If the stain remains, soak or wash in chlorine bleach if it's safe for the fabric.
Problem areas: Special problem stains include candle wax, grass stains, ink, pencil, nail polish, rust, mustard and perspiration. They require specific, individual treatment for successful removal.
To remove candle wax from washable fabric, rub with ice and scrape off excess wax with a dull knife. Next, place a folded paper towels over and under the stained area and press towels with a warm (not hot) iron. Repeat using clean towels until wax has melted and transferred onto the towels.
To remove a grass stain, sponge the stain with cool water and rub the stained area with a liquid detergent. Rinse and let dry before soaking in one quart warm water and one tablespoon enzyme product for 30 minutes. Rinse and launder in hot water using chlorine bleach if it's appropriate for the fabric.
Although removing permanent ink is almost impossible, removing ball-point pen ink or nonpermanent types of ink shouldn't be a problem. Simply pretreat the ink stain with a prewash stain remover and launder.
Nail polish: Don't use nail polish remover on stains on fabrics containing acetate, triacetate or modacrylic fibers. The remover will cause these fabrics to dissolve, so send these types of fabrics to a professional dry cleaner. On other fabrics, apply nail polish remover to the back, rinse and launder.
To remove pencil, use a soft eraser to gently remove excess. Spray with a pretreatment laundry product, rinse and launder.