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Getting out those post-party stains. December 31, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Between today’s New Year’s Eve parties and tomorrow’s TV football marathons, there’s gonna be a whole lot of eating and drinking going on. And where there’s serious partying, there are usually serious stains: champagne or (worse) red wine spilled on sofas and rugs; greasy dips and chips dumped on laps and ground into upholstery; mustard, ketchup, mayo, barbecue sauce, and relish; chocolate. Need I say more?

Fortunately, the situation’s not hopeless, even if you, ahem, fail to notice the stains until the next morning. (But bear in mind that the sooner you can tackle a stain, the easier it is to get out.) I recommend a quick trip to your laundry room to see if you already happen to have any of the stain-busters I’m about to list. If you don’t, it’s not a bad idea to stop at the grocery en route home from work and arm yourself with a bottle or two. You probably need to pick up a few last-minute party items anyway, right?

Here are stain-busting’s heavy hitters:

Wine Out. Originally created to remove red wine stains (these are among the toughest of all stains to get out), Wine Out works wonders on pretty much any stain. You can even buy a small portable size to slip into your purse, so you’ll be prepared if you’re out partying and get wine (or something) on your clothes. But as the package notes, don’t use it if you’re wearing corduroy, silk, or velvet. An alternative is Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover.

Tuff Stuff. This is our friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders’s all-time favorite stain and spot remover. He insisted on giving our friend Ben and me a can of it when our dog Molly was battling an infection and having accidents in the house, and he was right, it does seem to work on everything, from dog urine and cat vomit to red wine and grass stains. Let’s hope you don’t have to confront anybody’s vomit after your New Year’s Eve party, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Zout Stain Remover. Zout is a laundry pre-treatment product: Apply it to the offending spot(s) before you wash your clothes. The Queen of Clean (we’ll talk more about her in a moment) loves Zout, and that’s good enough for me.

Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover. Another of the Queen’s favorites, you can also use Spot Shot to pre-treat spots on fabrics before popping them in the washing machine.  

Biz All Fabric Bleach. If you cut your hand while chopping up veggies for those party dips and end up with bloodstained clothing or dishtowels, nothing works to get blood out of fabric like Biz. Apply a paste of Biz and cold water to the bloodstain, let it dry for several hours, and wash. This works for grillin’ guys who get blood from steaks on their aprons, too.

Wieman’s Wax Away. Candlelight may be romantic, but there’s nothing romantic about candle wax dripping all over a tablecloth or bare table (or mantel). Use Wax Away to get it off with ease. 

Fine, you may be thinking, but what if I don’t have any of this stuff and need to get stains out with ordinary household products? Or what if I want to use the most natural products I can? Not to worry. Over the years, I’ve read a whole lot about how to use household products to remove stains, and I find some claims a lot more believable than others. But sometimes the most outlandish-sounding things are the ones that actually work. (Would it occur to you to spray WD-40 on an old grease stain?!)

So when I want to know if I can really use lemon juice or Epsom salts or club soda to get out stains, I turn to my ultimate authority, Linda Cobb, aka The Queen of Clean. I have and love The Queen’s classic cleaning guides, Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean and Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean. But when I’m fighting stains, I want to be able to get information ASAP, so I turn to The Queen of Clean: The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal. Linda has actually been there, done that. She ran her own successful cleaning service for bazillion years before taking her hard-won knowledge to the general public. If she says it works, it works. I’d recommend keeping this inexpensive ($5.99) little paperback in your laundry room; it will pay for itself the first time you save a tee-shirt! Here are a few of the Queen’s favorite household stain-busters:

Club soda. Dab club soda on clothing, linens, or upholstery and blot to keep a spill from becoming a stain. Linda points out that if you’re eating out and spill something on yourself, you can always ask your server for some club soda. Good idea! Our friend Ben and I don’t drink club soda, but you can bet I have a few bottles in the laundry room just in case!

Lemon juice. Linda recommends putting lemon juice on stains on white fabrics and setting them in the sun to bleach naturally before laundering. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be trying to find and squeeze a fresh lemon at a time like this. It makes sense to keep a bottle of real lemon juice on hand.

Salt. Ahem. As faithful readers know, salt is one thing that’s never in short supply here at Hawk’s Haven. But who’d have thought it was a natural stain fighter? The Queen of Clean sprinkles salt on red wine stains to keep them from setting, and mixes salt with lemon juice to combat mildew stains.

Meat tenderizer. Use it to fight protein-based stains like blood and milk, but make sure you’re using unseasoned tenderizer! 

Shampoo. Rub it in to fight “ring around the collar” before doing the wash.

Shaving cream. A great spot-treatment for stains on clothing, fabric, and carpeting. The Queen carries a small sample can in her suitcase to combat stains on the road! Use cream, not gel.

Rubbing alcohol. Use it to fight grass stains.

Toothpaste. Use plain white (non-gel) toothpaste to get out makeup stains and ink. But guys, if you’ve got lipstick on your collar, you are in deep trouble! Lipstick’s notoriously difficult to get out. If the stain is fresh, try rubbing it with a slice of white bread (and yes, you read that right). 

The Queen of Clean lists plenty of other ingenious stain-busting uses for household products from denture-cleaning tablets to hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar, and yes, that can of WD-40. She also recommends many commercial products for combating stains, and includes a stain-by-stain guide as to what works best for removing everything from infant formula to the dreaded (by me, anyway) spaghetti sauce. But hopefully, this is enough to get you through New Year’s and into the new year! And if you have any stain-fighting secrets you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear them!

           ‘Til next time,