We all know the story, you have a big night out, get home and just roll into bed. The next morning through a haze of asprin and carbs you find out that your favourite white shirt has a red wine stain! From BBQ sauce to a leaky pen, there are so many unpredictable ways we manage to stain our clothing, it’s just a fact of life. Rather than throwing money out the window along with your stained clothes, here are a few tips to help you tackle common stains.
The first thing you need to do to any stain is to prevent it from seeping into the material and forming a chemical bond- that’s when you’re really scr*wed. If you’re lucky enough to notice a stain right when it happens the first thing you should do is dab water on the spot, don’t rub. Rubbing will only apply more pressure on the fabric which will then bond even faster with the stain. Don’t worry about soaking the area and use lots of water to prevent the stain from setting in.
Once you’ve done this it’s likely that you’re out somewhere and can’t run to the grocery store for stain remover. That’s fine, let the spot dry and once you’re home figure out what solvent you need to use for this particular mark. Also consider what fabric the stain is on and what kind of solvent this fabric can handle.
Here are tips based on the different kinds of fabric you would be wearing.
Cotton: Cotton is pretty durable so you should use warm water to prevent the stain from setting and then bleach, lemon juice, vinegar or detergent when you get home.
Wool: Wool is more sensitive than cotton so you should avoid using hot water and bleach on wool garments. Use a good wool detergent and send this product to the dry cleaners before you do any more damage.
Synthetic: If you are finding stains on your rayon or polyester- definitely don’t use bleach. This will totally destroy the fibres. Try dish soap for these garments.
Silk: This is unfortunately the hardest to clean because silk is so delicate. Look for a natural glycerin stain remover which is neutral and will do less damage than a chemical cleaner.
The solvent is the cleaner that you will use for the stain. Here are common stains and what cleaner works best.
Butter or oil: Oil is one of the worst things to get on clothing because it’s quite difficult to remove. If you find spots of grease on your clothing immediately dab with lukewarm water and immerse in warm water with detergent as soon as you have access. If the stain is very deep then you can try bleach.
Coffee: Spilling your morning coffee on your trousers is the worst! Not only are you losing your caffeine kick but you’re risking burns as well. Wash the fabric with warm water and then dab vinegar diluted with water on the spot. Avoid soapy detergents here.
Sweat Stains: Sweat stains are the biggest boon to white shirts everywhere. Getting rid of these isn’t easy but try washing the shirt in hot water and detergent. If this doesn’t work, then soak the product in warm water and apply an enzyme cleaner.
Tomato Sauce: If you’re finding more Pomodoro sauce on your pants than your trousers, you need to learn how to use a napkin! Spoon up the excess sauce and then wash the spot with cold water. Don’t apply any pressure here or it will seep in even deeper.
Red Wine: This has to be one of the most common problems but the fix is exceedingly simple. The moment you spot the stain, grab a can of soda water and generously douse the area in question with soda. This will not only prevent the stain from setting but also lighten it up for when you wash the garment the next day.
The best way to deal with stains is to pre-empt them by keeping a Tide To Go pen in your car. When you notice a stain try to deal with it as soon as possible, even if it’s only with water.