Answers to Clothing Stain Removal Questions

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Q. I was eating hot sauce and dropped some on my white t-shirt. What can I use to get the stain out?

A. Enzyme digester cleaner or pre-treatment products containing enzymes should be effective on organic stains in laundry. The key is to give the enzymes time to digest the stain. Fibers must be kept wet with cleaner and left to set. Repeat applications may be necessary. Follow-up by washing in all-fabric bleach and detergent.

Q. I have a pair of jeans that have a suede lace that ties at the side. It is natural-colored suede, or so I thought, and they are not new jeans, they have been washed several times. I washed the jeans with a light blue sweater made of a rayon/nylon blend. The laces must have been on the sweater during the spin cycle because now there are yellowish-brown stains from the suede all over the sweater. I tried re-washing it immediately. I soaked it with detergent. I treated it with Shout stain remover and soaked it some more. I am not sure what to try next. The stains have not budged one bit.

A. Dye bleed is difficult and sometimes impossible to remove. Do not dry fabric until all attempts to remove the dye bleed have been exhausted. Sometimes simply rewashing in hottest water appropriate for fabric and a cup of ammonia along with detergent is effective. Rewashing in detergent and all-fabric bleach is sometimes effective. There are commercial dye bleed remover products that may be effective and are available in laundry product aisles.

Q. Can anyone help me get a chocolate spot out of my cashmere sweater?

A. Chocolate can oxidize any fabric to cause a permanent stain. Cashmere wool is best sent to a professional cleaner for spotting and cleaning. While enzyme cleaners are often recommended for chocolate stains on fabrics, enzymes should not be used on wool. A solvent cleaner such as rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, or dry cleaning fluid can be used for spot cleaning wool. Test first in an inconspicuous place for ill effects. Do not use bleach on wool or hot water.

Q. I was wondering if anyone had any idea how to remove stains and scratches from beige shoes?

A. The cleaning method will depend upon whether shoes are vinyl, leather, etc. Sometimes a pencil eraser is all that is needed to remove scuffmarks. Scratches in material cannot be removed.

Q. Does anyone know how to remove iodine stains from washable clothing?

A. Iodine stains, when fresh, can be removed by laundering the garment in a bleach free laundry detergent. Detergents that contain chlorine or oxygen bleach can set the stain and make it more difficult or impossible to remove. If the stain persists, apply a solution consisting of 1 tablespoon sodium Thiosulfate, which is obtainable from photographic supply stores that sell film-developing chemicals, with 1 cup of warm water. Rinse well and launder the garment in the normal manner. Remember, whatever method or chemical you use, always test the pretreatment chemical in an inconspicuous part of the garment for ill effects.

Q. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to remove a wax stain from jeans?

A. Oil and grease stains require a solvent cleaner. Rubbing alcohol is usually the mildest solvent found in households and tends to work well on oil and grease stains. Denatured alcohol and dry cleaning fluid are excellent for blotting oil and grease stains before pre-treating with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. After treating with detergent, gently agitate with hands and let set. Then, wash in hottest water appropriate for fabric with detergent. Rinse. Let air dry and check for stains. Repeat if stains remain.

Never place laundry in a dryer that smells of solvent cleaner. Solvents are not only smelly, but also flammable. Always let laundry air dry to allow solvents to evaporate and the smell to dissipate.

Q. How do I get olive/canola oil out of denim jeans?

A. Grease and oil stains require a solvent cleaner. Blot stains with denatured alcohol, dry cleaning fluid, or your favorite household solvent cleaner. Test in an inconspicuous place first for ill effects on dye. Blot from the outside of the stain toward the middle to prevent spreading. Work in heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent and let set before tossing in the washer.

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