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Getting out stains

Laundry can be tough to get clean. Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book : 4278 of Mom Central’s Tips — For Moms from Moms, shares tried-and-true tips to making stains disappear.

You will want to spot test all of the suggested stain remedies in this section, as their effectiveness will vary with the type of clothing. As the tips have been gathered from Moms across the country, we can’t vouch that each one will be foolproof for you. So be sure to test a small area of fabric first! You might even want to print out and post the stain treatment list right on the wall next to your washing machine for quick reference.

Washing new clothes

  • To set colors when washing new clothes for the first time, add half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of salt once the water is in. Wash with regular laundry detergent in cold water.
  • Always wash new clothes for your child before he wears them for the first time to remove any chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

Dealing with inevitable stains

Mom tip: “I use tons of baking soda on stains, to the point that I buy it in the 64-ounce size. I make it into a paste with water, apply it directly to stains, and then put the clothing through wash. It works wonders. It’s cheap and goes a long, long way.”
— Angela Stevens, mom of four.

Mom tip: “My secret for getting stains out of kids’ clothes is a great degreaser that you can find at any automotive department (I use Castrol super clean). The degreasers literally liquefy grease. I spray it on, throw the clothing in the wash, and it doesn’t affect the fabric.”
— Melissa Fortenbery, mom of two.

General tips

Keep a stain remover stick:

  • In your baby’s diaper bag to stop spills and accidents from setting into clothing.
  • In the bathroom or near to your baby’s changing table to rub on clothes as you remove them so you don’t have to search through the laundry as it heads into the washing machine
  • Use cold water to prevent setting blood, eggs, dairy, or other protein stains.
  • Use a nail scrub brush or an old toothbrush to scrub a stain.
  • Rub white soap like an eraser on the stain.
  • Add a quarter cup of baking soda or a cup of cider vinegar to your regular laundry detergent to brighten clothes.
  • Add one cup of ammonia or half a cup of pine disinfectant cleaner to your regular wash as an added stain and odor remover.
  • For small stains, place a rubber band around the outside of the stained area and soak the spot in bleach-water overnight.

Stubborn stains

  • Use denture tablets, moistened, rubbed on the stain and then soaked overnight.
  • Soak clothing overnight in a large sink filled with water, a quarter cup of dishwasher detergent, and a quarter cup of all-fabric bleach.

Stain treatment before washing

Alcohol: Soak in cool water, then wash in warm, sudsy water.

Blood: Soak in cold water and then rub with soap until stain almost disappears, then wash.

  • Apply a paste of cornstarch and water and allow it to dry.
  • Sprinkle a layer of table salt on top of the spot.
  • Rub on hydrogen peroxide, then soak in cold water for half an hour.
  • If all else fails, add ammonia to the wash cycle.

Chocolate or grape juice: Pre-treat it with an enzyme product.

  • Rub in club soda until the stain is gone.
  • Wash chocolate with sudsy water with a little ammonia.
  • Use a dry cleaning solvent.
  • Remove a fresh grape juice stain from cotton or linen by immediately pouring hot water through the material.

Coffee/tea: Sponge the stain with cool water.

  • Soak clothing in one quart lukewarm water, half a teaspoon dishwashing liquid, and one teaspoon white vinegar.

Cosmetics: Use a dry cleaning solvent.

Crayons: Place the fabric on an ironing board, then cover the stain with waxed paper (waxed side down). Place a wet rag on top of the paper and iron on high heat.

Diapers (cloth): Empty any excess matter into the toilet and flush to rinse the diaper.

  • Soak diapers in solution of warm water and a half cup of Borax per gallon.
  • Chlorine bleach will help remove stains, deodorize, and kill bacteria. Soak a quarter cup of chlorine per gallon of water for five minutes and rinse before washing.
  • Launder in hot water and mild detergent. Rinse two or three times.

Dirt, mud and grease: Rub on carpet cleaner before washing.

  • Rub grease with shortening or lard to absorb it, then scrape off lard and launder.
  • Boil stained white socks in water with lemon slices.

Food coloring stains: Rub with toothpaste and rinse in cold water.

Formula and spit-up: Keep a spray bottle of water mixed with baking soda handy to prevent spit up from setting on clothing.

  • Soak in a covered bucket of warm water mixed with one cup of Borax. Add another cup of Borax to the regular wash cycle.
  • For color safe clothes, add to warm water, half a cup of dishwashing detergent, and half a cup of color safe bleach and soak overnight.
  • Flush the stain with water immediately and spot-clean with diluted ammonia.

Grass: Rub with a solution of one part rubbing alcohol to two parts water on colorfast material.

  • Rub with liquid detergent or shampoo for oily hair.
  • Pre-treat stains on clothes by rubbing in non-gel white toothpaste with an old toothbrush. Let sit overnight, then wash

Gum: Put clothing in the freezer or freeze the spot with an ice cube.

  • Scrape off the gum once it’s hard.
  • Remove gum from hair with peanut butter.
  • Soften gum with egg white and then scrape it off.
  • Rub a little odorless paint thinner in to dissolve the gum, then wash separately.

Juice: Rub the stain with cold water then soak in a quart of warm water with a tablespoon of ammonia and half a teaspoon of liquid detergent.

Juice, ketchup and drool: Apply baking soda to the spot.

Ink: Loosen stain with hairspray.

  • Moisten with a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, one quart of warm water, and one tablespoon of white vinegar (don’t use vinegar on cotton or linen). Blot, repeat. Let sit 30 minutes.
  • Pre-soak the stain in milk.

Ink (ballpoint): Apply lukewarm glycerin, blot, and flush with water.

  • Add several drops of ammonia and blot.
  • Flush with water.
    Milk: Sprinkle on unflavored meat tenderizer, which breaks down the proteins, and rinse in cold water.
    • Presoak in enzyme product for 30 minutes if stain is new, several hours if stain is old.

    Nail polish: Sponge the stain with acetone-based nail polish remover and let it dry.

    • Flush with a dry cleaning solvent.

    Paint: Flush latex paint with warm water.

    • Flush oil-based paint with turpentine.

    Perspiration: Pre-treat by rubbing the area with baking soda.

    • Soak fabric for one hour in water in which you’ve dissolved three aspirin.

    Rust: Soak fabric in salt and lemon juice.

    Salad dressing and oil-based sauces: Apply cornstarch to the spot to absorb grease.

    Urine: Pre-soak clothing in one quart of warm water, half a teaspoon of mild liquid detergent, and one tablespoon of ammonia.

    • Do not treat urine with bleach, as it will react just as ammonia and bleach react.
    • Follow treatment of ammonia with vinegar or lemon.
    • If all else fails, try an enzyme paste for 20 minutes.

    Wine: Soak a red wine stain with white wine and rinse with cool water.

    • Use an enzyme laundry detergent.
    • Rinse white wine with cool water

    Yellow stains: Spray oven cleaner on the spot and let it dry. Take care not to get any on your skin.

    Yellowed white cottons or linens: Wash in hot water and twice as much detergent. Stop the cycle 15 minutes in and soak the clothing for 15 minutes. Start again and repeat the cycle.

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