Quick-and-dirty ways to fight common stains

Washington Post
Friday, September 29, 2017

There was a bad run of salad dressing spills recently at my house.

And when several of my husband’s shirts came back from the cleaners with the oil and vinegar stains still showing, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. I picked up one of my go-to pre-treat sprays and spritzed and then washed. Sadly, there was no improvement.

So I called my personal oracle for housekeeping tips, a friend who was raised in a Southern home where learning to care for everything correctly was paramount. She swears by OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick, which has “stain-grabbing nubs” that help you gently rub in the blue gel after you squeeze it onto the fabric. I bought a bottle, applied the gel and let it soak into the shirts overnight. I washed them in hot water. The stains were gone.

Sometimes it pays to add new stain-fighting tools to your cleaning arsenal. I asked experts to share techniques for common scenarios.

Your pet pees on a rug: Don’t panic, said Cameron Capel, a vice president of Capel Rugs, a 100-year-old rug company based in North Carolina. And keep a bottle of liquid laundry detergent on hand. She recommended Tide Free and Gentle Liquid or All Free Clear, with no perfumes or dyes. Blot the area with a dry cloth, then mix two cups of water with two teaspoons of liquid detergent and apply directly to the stain with a white, absorbent cloth or paper towel, working from the edges of the spot to the center. Keep blotting, never overwetting the stain, until your cloth comes away clean. Use plain water at the end to remove detergent residue.

Birds and falling leaves have done a number on your outdoor cushions: Most stains come out with simple soap and water, said Hal Hunnicutt, vice president of marketing at Glen Raven, which manufactures Sunbrella, an indoor-outdoor fabric many retailers use on their outdoor cushions.