Indian River County Extension Service
                                     1028 20th Pl, Suite D
                                     Vero Beach, FL 32960


Judith A. Wakefield

Help For Holiday Stains

  With holiday entertaining, spills, sloshes,  spots and stains are a definite possibilities.  Here are some tips for dealing with these small disasters. 

  First, donít make them worse.  Donít delay in taking care of a stain. Fresh spots are much easier to remove than old ones that have penetrated the fabric and set. According to studies by the International Fabricare Institute, after one week, 20 percent of difficult stains could not be removed by dry cleaners; after 3 weeks, 47 percent were permanent.

  Second, work from the back side of the stain. Apply stain removers and solutions to the underside of the stain with the soiled area face down on a clean paper towel.  You want to force the stain off, not through the fabric.

  If laundering a stained washable garment, donít dry it in the dryer until you see that all of the stain has been removed.  The heat can set any remaining stain and make it impossible to remove.  Let the garment air dry.

  For BEVERAGE SPILLS (including coffee, milk, wine) on washable fabrics blot up the liquid with paper towels and rinse area with cool water as soon as possible.  Once you have the garment home, soak it in cool water for 30 minutes then rub laundry detergent into the stain and wash as usual.

  Soda spills on clothing may dry and not leave a stain but over time the sugars will caramelize and form a stain that is difficult to remove.  Wash garments that have had spills even if a stain doesnít show.

  On dry clean-only garments flush the area immediately with cool water.  Blot with a clean, white cloth or white paper towels, donít rub.  Take the garment to a reputable drycleaner as soon as possible. Point out the stain and tell the attendant what it is.

  CANDLE WAX can splash if you bump into a burning candle or are moving a candle around.  Be sure to place candles carefully where they are not around flammable items.  To remove candle wax,  first scrape off what you can with a dull knife.  Then place the stain between paper towels and press with a warm iron from the back of the fabric.  The heat melts the wax and itís absorbed into the paper towel.  As wax is absorbed, move clean towel areas over and under the spot so as much as possible can be absorbed.  Sponge any remaining stain with a non-flammable dry cleaning fluid.  Air dry then rub with detergent and  launder as usual.  If traces of color remain, launder again using bleach (chlorine or color-safe) according to fabric instructions.  If on dry cleanable garment,  follow the same steps of pressing to melt and absorb wax then take the garment to the drycleaner.  Point out the stain to the attendant, tell them what the stain was and what you have done so they will know what and where it is and they can treat it accordingly. 


For greasy stains like GRAVY, CHOCOLATE, MEAT JUICE, SALAD DRESSING  OR EGG scrape off the excess with a dull knife if it is dried. If itís still liquid blot the excess with absorbent paper towel or tissue.  Use a pretreatment soil or stain remover on the greasy stain.  Follow label directions.  Then wash in hottest water safe for the fabric.  Or Sponge with dry cleaning solvent then let it air dry.   Apply liquid detergent to area and launder as usual. Or treat the stain with a liquid detergent (or make a detergent paste and rub on the stain). Wash.

  For CRANBERRIES AND OTHER FRUIT STAINS: Caution.  To prevent setting of stains, do not use soap on fruit or fruit juice spots.  Soak stained item immediately in cold water.  Wash as usual, but donít dry automatically until item has been checked.  If stain remains, cover it with a paste made of an all-fabric or oxygen-type bleach, a few drops of hot water and a few drops of ammonia.  Wait 15 to 30 minutes.  Wash and dry as usual.

  For garments that must be dry cleaned  blot excess with absorbent paper towels or tissues.  Sponge with dry cleaning solvent and take to the drycleaner.

  If you get PINE TREE SAP on clothing apply acetone.  Let it air dry then wash the garment.

  If children get FELT TIP PEN INK on clothing or bedding,  soak the stain in rubbing alcohol for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight. Since alcohol evaporates quickly it may be a good idea to put the garment and alcohol in a plastic bag and seal the bag.  Once it has soaked wash the garment as usual, add an appropriate bleach.

  If you get LIPSTICK on a washable garment, sponge the stain with glycerin, then launder in hot suds.

  Other tips:

  Donít use hair spray after youíve dressed.  The lacquer in some sprays absorbs dirt during dry cleaning, leaving black spots.  Protect the garmentís shoulders and neckline from hair spray droplets.

  Donít apply heat.  Ironing or blow-drying sets stains.

  By having paper towels in a handy location you can easily take the first steps to remove stains as they occur.