Judith A. Wakefield
December 21, 2003

Help for 12 Stains of Christmas

“Tis the season for entertaining.  Unfortunately, spills often come along with our family, friends, and neighbors.  Try these tips to handle every drip and drizzle of the 12 stains of holiday entertaining.

12 Candles Dripping: Scrape off excess wax with a dull knife.  Place stain between white paper towels.  Press with a warm iron from the back of the fabric to melt wax and push it into the paper towels.  Then, place stain face down on clean paper towels and sponge with a dry-cleaning solvent (again from the back of the stain).  Air-dry and launder as usual.  If traces of color remain, launder again, use color-safe bleach according to fabric instructions.

11 Aunties Kissing: To remove lipstick, scrape fabric stain with a dull knife.  Use a dry-cleaning solvent or pre-treat with detergent or stain treatment.  Wash in warm water.  Air dry.

10 Chocolates Melting: Pre-treat with a liquid laundry detergent or soak fabric in warm water using a detergent containing enzymes.  Difficult stains may require using a bleach safe for the garment.

9 Toasts a-Tipping: To remove wine, rinse in cold water to dilute stain.  Soak up to 30 minutes in detergent.  Launder in hottest water suitable for the fabric and color.  Air dry and repeat if necessary.

8 Hosts Perspiring: Dampen stain with warm water and rub with bar soap.  Launder in hot water with chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric.  If perspiration has changed color of the fabric, apply ammonia to fresh stains or vinegar to old stains and rinse.  Launder in the hottest water safe for the fabric.

7 Fruits a-Falling: Rinse in cold water to dilute stain.  Soak for 30 minutes in detergent, keeping fabric submerged.  Launder in warm water.  Air-dry and repeat if necessary.

6 Cups of Coffee or Tea: Sponge or rinse stain promptly in cold water.  Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent, launder using bleach (chlorine or color-safe) and hottest water safe for fabric.

5 Candy Canes: To remove colored candy stains, rinse in warm water to dilute stain.  Wash in warm to hot water and dry as usual.

4 Meat Slices: To remove grease or cooking oil, use a dry-cleaning solvent or pre-treat with a laundry product by gently rubbing it into the stain until it is saturated.  Wash in warm to hot water.  Air-dry and repeat if necessary.

3 Trees-a-Tipping: To remove tree sap, use dry-cleaning solution and then wash in detergent in warm to hot water.  Air dry and repeat if necessary.

2 Upset Egg Nogs: To remove milk or other dairy products, soak in cold water to dilute stain.  Soak up to 30 minutes with detergent, keeping fabric submerged.  Wash in warm to hot water and air-dry.

And 1 Gravy Boat Splashing: Scrape off excess with a dull knife if dried.  Pre-treat by soaking with a laundry product containing enzymes or gently rubbing with liquid laundry detergent or     

of powder laundry detergent and water.  Launder and dry as usual.

This column is a repeat of one this writer did a few years ago but worth repeating.  It includes a couple of standard rules for stain removal. 

1.  When you are attempting to remove a stain don’t dry it in the dryer.  If any stain is left the dryer will set it and can make some stains permanent.

2.  When stains occur, act quickly.  Keep paper towels handy for soaking up spills.  3.  When you are trying to remove a stain, push it out from the back of the fabric instead of pushing it through the fabric.  Place the stained area face down on several layers of paper towels or white fabric towels, work from the back.  4.  Many stains that have dried on the item are easier to remove if you soak the item in cool water before laundering to dilute and soften the stain.

Happy Holidays!