You're out to dinner, and you drop a sauce-covered fork on your white dress. You're playing outside and realize your knees are covered in grass stains. You're giving your sweetie a few extra kisses, but you get lipstick on his collar.
We spend so much time in our favorite clothes, it's impossible that we're never, ever going to mess them up. You never see stains coming, but they seem to have you targeted (like the grease that jumps right out of the pan onto your shirt!).
If it's your favorite top or that dress your best friend doesn't know you borrowed, or even if it's just that you're tired of buying your kids new shorts that'll inevitably get stained again, don't sigh in frustration just yet. Those seemingly impossible stains -- red wine, blood, tea -- aren't so tough when you attack them from the right angle. We've got 10 tips and tricks for knocking those unwanted spots right off your fabrics.
What? You don't believe that we can help you get the ink out of your favorite jeans? You'll just have to click ahead and see it for yourself. We'll start with attacking on-the-spot.
10: Emergency Spot Remover
You planned your outfit for tonight so well, but you didn't have that in mind when you ordered that red wine or tomato soup. If you spill something on your clothes while you're out and about, don't panic. Your night doesn't have to be ruined as long as you have club soda around.
Used straight from the bottle, club soda is a great emergency spot cleaner and stain remover. Apply it with a clean, damp cloth.
If you're near a laundry machine -- say, a romantic dinner at home? -- you can create a simple but powerful stain remover by combining lemon juice with cream of tartar. Wash it like normal, and those marks you thought would be there forever will be long gone.
9: Grass Stains
It's all fun and games when you're sliding into third base at your annual family baseball game, but your smile may fade when you see the grass stain on your favorite pair of shorts. If you cringe at the thought of your kids roughhousing in the yard because of the work you'll have to put into their clothes afterwards, worry no more. Grass stains aren't as invincible as they seem.
Grass stains on clothes can be removed with an old toothbrush and plain white toothpaste; just make sure you use a paste variety and not a gel. Squeeze a small amount of the toothpaste onto the stain, then dip the toothbrush in clean water and use it to scrub away the stain. Repeat this process as needed to treat all of the stain(s). Rinse the area and launder the clothing as usual. Now you can steal home plate without a second thought.
8: Blood Stains
If you cut yourself, the last thing you're thinking about is avoiding staining your clothes -- you're focused on finding a bandage and possibly on not fainting. Getting wounded is bad enough; you shouldn't have to slave for hours trying to get the blood stain out of a shirt -- and now you don't have to. Just use our quick and easy trick.
To remove spots of blood from clothing, use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide -- the kind you find in the first-aid section of the store. Soak the stain with the peroxide, use your fingernail or the blade of a butter knife to help loosen and scrape away the blood, then rinse it away with more hydrogen peroxide. In most cases, you'll have better luck removing stains -- especially blood stains -- if you treat them immediately after they happen, before the stains have a chance to dry.
Another method for removing blood from clothing is to wet the stained area of the fabric with water, sprinkle it with plain old table salt, rub one half of the stain against the other to work in the salt and loosen the stain, then immediately launder the garment the way you usually do.
7: Collar Stains
You don't need a special stain remover or laundry pretreater to banish a ring around the collar.
Whether it's on work shirts or Sunday best, staining around the collar can be easily vanquished with a touch of something you're pretty much guaranteed to have in the house -- shampoo. Just pour a little shampoo -- any shampoo will do, even the inexpensive, generic kind -- onto the collar, rub the collar together to work the shampoo in well, and rinse thoroughly. Then launder as usual.
For a convenient twist on this traditional tip, bring home the complimentary bottles of shampoo from hotels for a free package of ring-around-the-collar remover!
6: Lipstick Stains
If you've been kissing too much on your sweetheart's collar, we've got just the laundry trick for you! To remove lipstick from dark fabrics, grab a piece of white bread and remove the crust. You don't have to forgo a sandwich; you can use the heel of the loaf -- no one likes that piece anyway. Wad up the soft center and rub it gently on the stain until it picks up all of the lipstick. Sweep away any leftover crumbs with a clean, soft-bristled brush.
If this seems all too easy, put on your best shade and kiss away; after you go through a whole loaf (and all your dark clothes), you'll see that it really does work!
5: Grease Spots
If clothing tends to be used as a napkin around your house, you have your work cut out for you on laundry day. With fried chicken as a favorite dinner dish, you probably know how impossible grease stains can be. Not only do they refuse to come out, they also never seem to blend into the fabric, so you can't just pretend they're not there.
Don't worry; if this sounds like your life, try this trick: Sprinkle the spot with cornstarch. Allow the cornstarch to soak up the grease for a few minutes, and then brush it away. The grease spot will lift right out, and you can get back to trying to convince everyone to use napkins instead of their clothes.
4: Oil Stains
If you have unsightly stains on your pillowcase, don't worry. Pillows often get stained by sweat and natural body oils. Sometimes, simply tossing them in the washer will do the trick and lift the stain right out. But if you can only dream of such an easy life -- if trying to get oil stains off your bed is keeping you up all night -- listen up.
Oily stains on pillowcases can be removed with plain shampoo (just like oil in your hair). It's that easy. Just pour some on the stained areas, rub it in, rinse thoroughly and launder the pillowcases as usual.
Now you can sleep safe and sound, knowing you'll be able to get that stain out in the morning.
3: Ink Stains
If you've ever been naïve enough to stick a ballpoint pen in your pocket for safe keeping, you probably learned there's nothing safe about ink exploding all over your clothes. Don't give up on those jeans yet --they may not be beyond repair.
If you get ink on a piece of clothing, try soaking the ink mark with rubbing alcohol and wiping it away with a clean, white cloth. Another old-fashioned remedy for removing ink marks from clothes and other fabrics is to wet a sponge with milk and rub the ink stain until it disappears.
2: Red Wine
You might love your glass of red wine, but not once you spill it on your clothes! Try soaking the stained area in water and then making a pouch in the cloth where the wine stain is. Next, pour cream of tartar into the pouched area. Tie the ends of the pouch and then let the garment soak. After soaking, dip it in and out of hot water and then launder as usual.
If the red wine stain is fresh, soak up the spill by immediately sprinkling it with baking soda. Next, as soon as possible, stretch the stained fabric over a large bowl or kettle, secure the fabric and pour boiling water through the stain.
Similarly, you can use salt for this purpose by sprinkling it on a spill immediately and letting it soak up the stain. Afterward, soak the stained area in cold water and then launder the garment as usual.
1: Tea Stains
If you have fabrics with tea stains, don't despair. As long as you didn't burn yourself when you spilt the mug, there's nothing to worry about. The stain will come out if you give it a little sugar. No, not love -- although a little extra TLC never hurt anything -- but actual sugar.
Mix up a concoction of heavily sugared water by stirring the water as you add sugar to it. Keep adding sugar until it no longer dissolves (warm water makes it easier for sugar to dissolve). To remove tea stains from clothing or table linens, submerge the stained area for several minutes in a small container of the heavily sugared water, then launder as usual.
See? No need to cry over spilt tea.
Adapted from "101 Old-Time Country Household Hints," © 2008 Publications International, Ltd.