Accidental spills, drips, and stains can ruin your clothes if not addressed quickly enough. Since most of us don’t have an emergency washing machine available at all times, it can often feel as though permanent staining is inevitable.
The GOOD news is that there are options for treating those accidental spills and drips before they become permanent stains.
The following tips and tricks will help you save that favorite blouse or skirt the next time an accidental spill happens.
Stain Treating Pens
Stain treating pens, like the Tide To Go or Clorox Stain Fighter pens, are handy to have around in a stain emergency, but one treatment doesn’t necessarily treat all stains. So consider a stain treating pen to be like a PRE-pre-treatment, and use your favorite pre-treater when you’re ready to wash the garment.
Useful Tools in a Stain Emergency
Butter knife or spoon – It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of plastic spoons and knives in your desk drawer, and not just for lunches! The edge on a spoon or knife is a perfect tool for scraping drips and splatters (like ketchup and mustard stains) off your clothing before treating, so you don’t accidentally make it worse!
Eyedropper – An eyedropper is the perfect tool to use when applying bleach or a pre-treatment to a small stain. You’ll be able to target just the stain, without affecting the fabric around it.
Paper towel or rag – It’s also a good idea to place something absorbent underneath the stained area when applying a stain remover. The paper towel will help pull the stain out of the fabric, as well as keep it from spreading to other areas of the garment.
Soft toothbrush – If your container of stain remover doesn’t have a brush on it, you may want to use a spare soft-bristled toothbrush to help really work the stain remover into the stain, so it can work more effectively.
Tips for Treating Common “Emergency” Stains
Lipstick – Use a knife or spoon to scrape away any solid bits, then blot the area with a dry cloth to remove more of the stain without it dissolving into the fabric.
White bread can also help loosen and removing lipstick in a pinch. Just tear off the crust, bunch up the rest and blot the stain until it’s gone.
Ink – The next time one of your pens leaks in your pocket, grab the bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or on your desk and blot some onto the stain. The high alcohol content will cut through the grease. Be sure to rinse the spot. The alcohol in hair spray would work too. Click here for more information on removing ink stains.
Oils – Oil stains can ruin perfectly good clothes, as they become incredibly hard to treat if not addressed ASAP. Blot the spot with a dry napkin, then sprinkle a powdered substance (baking soda is great, but even artificial sweetener packets will work in a pinch) and let it absorb the liquid. Brush the powder off. With a little persistence you should be able to get most, if not all, of the stain off.
For more in depth details about removing oil stains (especially on dark clothing), click here.
Tea or coffee – Dab cold water onto the stain, then blot with a dry napkin until no more of the tea or coffee comes off.
If you have them on hand, club soda or seltzer water are also helpful at removing stains in a pinch when simple water won’t do it.
Grass – Work a small amount of hand soap into the stain with your fingers, then rinse with warm water over a sink. If you have access to some lemon wedges, using lemon juice and salt on a stain will lift nearly anything after a quick rinse.
Although stains always seem to end up happening at the most inopportune times, being prepared with these tips should help you save at least some of your clothing from the donation or trash bin.