7 Ways To Combat Summer Stains

Take Charge on 05.20.12
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Photo: Rene Syler

What an amazing weekend! For the first time this year, we took the cover off the grill and my husband got busy. He actually does all the cooking in our house since I ceded that territory to him long ago. He's better at it, enjoys it way more than I do, and what comes from his hands is mouthwatering, as is evidenced by the photo above.

For me, the best part is the eating and in my rush to get to the bottom of the plate (so I can get to dessert, of course) I sometimes end up wearing a portion of my plate (don't judge me).  But in my years of consuming cookout like a contestant at a hot dog contest, I've learned a few things. Some may be new to you, some you may already know; all will help, I hope. 

1. Mustard stains. Got hot dogs? Then you're bound to have this. Maddening, isn't it, when a glob of yellow goo lands on your freshly laundered polo shirt? Okay, think fast; scrape off as much as you can (notice I did not say rub). Flush the stain with cold water and then use a pre-treater. Wash in warm and bye-bye stain.

2. Red wine. It should be banned at parties, right? No, of course not. But if you come up against this stain, make sure to blot it out with a paper towel right away. After the excess is cleared, rub with cold water to dilute. Then place towels above and below the stained material and let it sit, as this should absorb most of it. If you happen to spill on the tablecloth and can't remove it for treating, putting a good amount of salt on the blotted and cold-water treated stain will absorb the wine as well.

3. Strawberries. Kids of all ages love them but wow, they can be messy! So here's how to handle this summertime stain: if the berries that land on your kid's clothes are not part of the print, remove the excess immediately. Mix a tablespoon of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of your liquid laundry detergent with a quart of cold water. Let it sit in the solution (good idea to keep a bit of this on hand) for about 15 minutes then rinse. Sponging with alcohol and rinsing again can remove any remaining, extra-stubborn spots. Wash the fabric as usual and if it can be washed with bleach, do it.

4. Lipstick. I seem to find a lot more lipstick stains in the summer;  light-colored fabric and bright lip color are not a match made in heaven. To remove these stains you can use alcohol, ammonia, or hairspray. Again, start by blotting out as much of the stain as possible first. Treat with one of the three items by applying it and then letting it sit for five to 15 minutes, rinse, pretreat, and launder according to the garment's instructions. Reminder: ammonia is a no-no on silk and wool.

5. Coffee stains. They always seem to fall in the most obvious of places, don't they? To get coffee stains out, mix cold water, powdered laundry detergent, and white vinegar in equal parts. Rub the paste on the stain, let sit, then launder.

6. Blood stains. You can fight these too: Just use a little bit of hydrogen peroxide, cold water rinse and then more peroxide if needed. Rinse and launder. The sooner the better, but in this case you might want to attend to whatever was bleeding first.

7. Greasy food stains. These aren't too tough to manage either. Use any dishwashing liquid that you trust to get out grease or make a paste with water and dry laundry detergent and let it sit. Wash and you should be ok.

Remember that the sooner you treat the stain the better, and if you can avoid using heat to dry the item that's also a good idea.  Line drying first will let you see if you have completely obliterated the stain. Heat sets stains and after you use it there's very little chance of removing it. Have a great - and stain-free - summer!

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