1. Stains: Spray and Care
*CAUTION* Whenever you apply any chemical to your articles, make sure to test the color-safeness. Some chemicals might not have any adverse reactions the first time, but by the second, third, or fourth use, the over-care is evident!
For simple, fresh stains, all-purpose stain removers like Shout or Stain Stick will generally work. The longer a stain has to set in a fabric, or the larger and more penetrating it is, the more challenging it will be to remove. For really tough stains, skip the all-purpose stain removers and go on the offensive. Here are some tips for those especially tough stains. As always, if you have a fine-washable, it’s best to consult your local cleaner.
Grass stains - like most plant stains, are acidic. You may recall from chemistry class that like removes like. A great acidic treatment for acidic stains is good old white vinegar. Simply use a clean cloth to blot the stain with full-strength vinegar, allow the vinegar to work for ten or fifteen minutes, then launder as usual. Back to chemistry class. Stain removal requires a chemical reaction to take place, so it’s very important to allow the stain remover to work. Often people are unsuccessful with stain removal, because they don't allow time for the reaction to take place.
Greasy Stains - Two excellent products for removing greasy, oily stains are Formula 409 – it cuts grease in the kitchen, and it will indeed work on your clothes – and Simple Green (Sandy’s Coin Wash Recommended!) The latter is a citrus-based solvent, and citrus is extremely tough on grease. We recommend these products over a commercial stain treatment like the aforementioned Shout or Stain Stick, because they are formulated specifically for breaking down grease and oils. As with any treatment, after you spray the stain with 409 or Simple Green, wait ten or fifteen minutes, then launder the garment as recommended by its manufacturer.
Condiments can be especially difficult to remove, because they contain a mixture of acids, oils, and proteins. An especially effective method for these stains is a good, long soak. Use a bucket, dishpan or sink filled with warm water and a good detergent. While it is hard to find anymore, Biz is an excellent choice for presoaking, because it has enzymes that are great at breaking down protein-based stains. Dissolve the Biz or other detergent in the warm water, soak the stained garments for an hour or so, being careful to completely submerge and saturate the stains, then launder as usual.
Blood, Fresh or Dried
Rinse fresh blood stains in cold running water and rub with soap. Repeat. For dried stains, first scrape or rub off as much dried blood as possible. Soak in warm water using a product which contains enzymes. Wash. If this doesn't work, rewash the item using a chlorine-free bleach. In the case of stubborn stains, rust removers may be helpful.
Coffee and Tea
Presoak item in liquid detergent with bleach. Wash using the hottest water temperature that is safe for the fabric.
Dampen stain and rub with liquid detergent. Rinse, then wash.
Dingy White Socks
Presoak in a liquid detergent solution for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wash in a liquid detergent which contains bleach. Food Coloring Soak in cool water. If stain remains, rub on detergent and rinse. Wash.
Fruit Juice, Wine and Soft Drinks
Soak stain in cool water as soon as possible. Then, soak in a laundry detergent which contains bleach, using the hottest water safe for the fabric. Wash.
Brush off as much as possible when garment is dry, then rinse under cold running water. Pretreat with a paste of powder detergent and water, or liquid laundry detergent. Wash using laundry detergent and a fabric-safe bleach.
The yellow, orange or brown spots we sometimes find on our clothes may be caused by rust. Iron content of over .2 parts per million in your water supply can cause these type of stains, so it's important to have your water supply checked. Two possible sources can be rust water pipes or water heaters. One way to combat this problem is by using a mechanical water softener with an iron filter. Also, using a non-chlorine bleach can help, as chlorine bleach may cause the iron in the water to precipitate on fabrics and leave stains.