Summertime Stains: A Tough Problem (summerstain)

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Summertime Stains: A Tough Problem

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Stains, stains and more stains can certainly be the cry during the summer months with many outdoor and sports activities. Removing spots and stains from clothing is doable if taken care of immediately or as soon as possible.

Stain removal guidelines:

  • Treat stain promptly. Fresh stains are easier to remove.
  • Test stain remover on hidden part of a garment before treating the stain.
  • Avoid excessive rubbing, which may damage fibers or finishes, remove color or spread the stain.
  • Working from the wrong side of the fabric, forces the stain out of the fabric not through it.
  • Read and observe all warnings on the label of stain removal products.

Carry a stain stick with you. A stain stick can be used to treat the stain immediately and help with the removal when you are ready to launder the item.

The following suggestions are for use on washable fabrics only. Some common summer stains and suggested removal procedures are:

Grass: Pre-treat or pre-soak stains using a liquid laundry detergent or a pre-wash stain remover. Follow the directions on the product's label. Launder, using the hottest water safe for the fabric. If the stain persists, launder again using chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric, or oxygen bleach.

Mud and dirt: Let the mud dry thoroughly. Brush off as much dry mud/dirt as possible. Pre-treat with a paste of powder detergent and water, liquid laundry detergent or a liquid detergent booster. Launder. For heavy stains, pre-treat or pre-soak with a laundry detergent or a pre-soak product. Launder, using the hottest water safe for the fabric.

Pine Resin: Use a solvent to remove oily content, such as paint thinner, mineral spirits or a cleaning solvent (such as Goof Off or Goo Gone). Use laundry detergent and water on the remaining residue. Launder.

Pollen: Gently shake the stained item to remove as much pollen as you can. Use the sticky side of a piece of tape to lift off the remaining particles. Pre-treat with a pre-wash stain remover. Launder using chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric, or oxygen bleach.

Rust: Use a commercial rust remover, available in supermarkets and hardware stores. These products contain toxic acids, so be sure to read and follow the label directions carefully. Never use chlorine bleach or a product containing chorine bleach on a rust stain. It will permanently set the stain.

Paint, oil-based: Treat the stain while it is fresh. Use the same solvent the label on the paint can recommends as a thinner. If the label isn't available, use turpentine. Read the garment care instructions and test the solvent on an inconspicuous area of the garment before treating the stain. Rinse. Pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover or laundry detergent. Rinse and launder.

Paint, water-based: Rinse the fabric in warm water while the stains are still wet. Then launder. Once the paint is dry, it can't be removed.

Fruit & Berries: Soak in 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse. If stain remains, sponge with alcohol, rinse and launder. If color stains remains, launder using chlorine bleach if safe for fabric or use an oxygen bleach.

Tomato-based or catsup stains: Remove excess with a dull knife. Soak in cool water for 30 minutes. Work liquid dish detergent into the stain and launder in warm or hot water and chlorine bleach, if safe for fabric. If stain remains, soak 30 minutes in enzyme pre-soak (such as BIZ). Rinse and launder.

Mustard: Scrape off excess with a dull knife. Treat with a pre-wash stain remover. Launder.

Make sure you put garments with stains in a separate place so you remember to treat the stain before doing laundry. Always check the garment to see the stain is gone before putting the item in the dryer as heat may set a stain.

Don't let stains spoil your summer activities. Send a stain stick with the kids to camps or keep one in the car and everyone can enjoy their summer activities without the worry of stains.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated June 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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