Practical Stain Removal Tips

One of the chores a mother finds stressful is the laundry. If you are taking care of several kids like me, you know how hard it is to keep the clothes clean and fresh. You also know that no matter what detergent commercials claim, your kids’ shirts never look as clean as they do on TV. And nothing makes you want to pull all your hair out like chocolate, grease, and mud stains.

For all those mothers out there who meticulously and religiously keep the family’s clothes spic and span, here are some practical tips your own mother told you about (and more) to help you get those ugly stains your kids believe can be removed with your magic wand.

1. Grease Stains – Prepare a grease stain remover by mixing 1 tbsp glycerin (available at drugstores), 1 tbsp liquid dishwashing soap, and 8 tbsps water in a squeeze bottle and shake before using (not applicable for acetate, triacetate, & rayon fabrics). Apply the solution on the stained spot only and let stand a few minutes before flushing with water. If the stain is still new or fresh, apply absorbents such as cornstarch, cornmeal, or talcum powder immediately on the spot and let stand before brushing off.

2. Mud Stains – Allow the mud to dry, then wash with a bar soap. You can also rub a solution of 1 tbsp borax in a cup of water before laundering as usual. If the stain persists, use an enzyme soak or soak the item in a gallon of water with a cup of ammonia before washing (for whites, replace ammonia with bleach).

3. Fruit Stains – If the stain is still fresh, rinse it immediately with water. Otherwise, stretch the stained area over a bowl and pour boiling water from a height of a few feet through the stain. You can also prepare a solution with equal parts vinegar, water, and liquid dishwashing soap to treat the stain.

4. Gum – Freeze the item and chip off as much as you can with a dull knife. As soon as the item has reached room temperature, dampen a cloth with dry cleaning solution or lighter fluid and rub the stain before laundering as usual. You can also saturate the area with salad oil or peanut butter, remove as much as you can, then wash.

5. Ink Stains – Rinse the fabric with cold water until it runs clear. Then place the fabric on a paper towel and saturate the stain with alcohol using a cotton ball as blotter. Make sure to change paper towels as it absorbs the color. Then wash the clothing in hot water with laundry detergent and powdered bleach (for colored) and rinse with warm water. You can also call 1-800- CRAYOLA to get advice for ink and crayon stains.

To summarize, just remember that with any stain, it is best to blot or clean them while they are fresh. And remember that before using any anti-stain solution, test a hidden area of the fabric first to make sure it doesn’t cause more problems.

For mothers like me, try to relax and remember that it’s only a stain. Nagging the kids about it isn’t going to help – there will always be stain in your laundry. Focus more on the wound that caused the stain or the heartbreak that comes from a spilt ice cream or pizza. You can always buy a new shirt, but a rough scolding or hurting words can never be taken back or cleaned by any stain remover.

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