Thursday , 23 May 2019

Get rid of uncommon stains

Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney

After an overwhelming response to my last article on how to remove stains, I thought of mentioning a few more stains that are not as common, but as onerous nonetheless. It turns out that I’m not the only person who broods over stained clothes. A stain on your favourite shirt can be quite disconcerting.

Before I begin, I would like to stress on how each fabric reacts to certain products differently. It is of upmost importance that you test your stain removal solution on a discreet area of your garment to make sure it won’t damage the fabric. It is also important to read the manufacturer’s wash care instructions on the garment. If it is a ‘dry clean only’ product, you are left with no choice but to send your garment to the dry cleaners. Also, the sooner you treat a stain, the easier it is for it to come off. Usually, old stains which are dried and set are next to impossible to get rid of.

Red wine: Cover the stain with a handful of salt. The salt should begin to absorb the colour turning it pink. Soak the garment in cold water and detergent. For tougher stains, allow it to soak overnight in three parts white vinegar and one part water. Then rinse. This works best on cotton fabrics.

Fruit juice: Rinse the garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Pour out liquid dishwashing soap or liquid laundry detergent onto the stain and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then rinse the stain in cold water.

Ice cream: An ice cream stain may seem harmless, but because it is a protein-based stain it is one of the most difficult stains to fully remove. That is also the reason why it should be washed in cold water. Avoid washing the stain in warm water as heat tends to set protein-based stains. Soak the garment in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes and rub liquid laundry detergent or liquid dishwashing soap onto the stained area. Gently rub the stained area between your fingers every three to five minutes in order to allow the liquid detergent to fully penetrate the stain. Make sure the stain is fully removed before you put the garment in a drier as the heat may set the stain forever.

Ketchup: Whenever possible rinse under cold running water right away. For dried stains, soak the garment in warm water and dab the stained spot with a sponge that has been coated with dishwashing soap.

Chewing gum: Test the garment for colour fastness. Apply hot vinegar to an inconspicuous area of the garment with a cotton swab, and let it sit for one to three minutes before applying a paper towel to the area. If no colour comes off on the towel the garment is colourfast and you can continue to pre-treat with vinegar. Soak the garment in hot vinegar for one to three minutes. Gently remove loose gum, and repeat the process until all the gum has been removed.

Perspiration: If there is yellowing on the garment due to sweat, it means the stain was set a while ago. You can avoid sweat stains altogether by using an aluminium-free deodorant. Make a solution of two parts white vinegar and one part water. Soak the stain in the solution for a couple of hours and then wash. Alternatively, sprinkle some salt and squeeze some lemon juice on the stain until it soaks the stain. Rub until the stain disappears and then wash. This can also be used preventatively before washing sweat-prone garments like your gym-wear even if you can’t see a stain just yet.

Oil paint: Steep the stain in turpentine till the stain comes off. Then soak the garment in a laundry detergent and rinse.

Shoe polish: Scrap off the stain if it is dry. Apply a little grease and then wash the garment with hot water and soap. Alternatively, steep the stain in turpentine till the stain comes off. Then soak the garment in laundry detergent and rinse.

Dye: It is always best to wash similar colours together. But in a not so rare case where a rogue garment leaches out dye colour onto another garment during a wash cycle, all is not lost. Soak the garment in oxygen bleach along with your regular detergent. For set stains soak the garment overnight and then rinse. This is not recommended for silks, woollens and natural dyed fabrics.

Hope this puts to rest some of your stain woes. Until next time, stay stylish!

(Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney is a fashion designer and is available at