Neri: A compilation of household tips

Nelia G. Neri

SOME Basic Stain Removal Rules:

• Deal with a stain as soon as possible, at once if you can.

• If you are not sure what created a stain, or what the fabric content of the garment is, take the garment to a professional cleaner.

• Scrape off any solid matter at once with a blunt knife or, if it has dried, loosen it with a solvent or pat it with a stiff bristle brush (don’t use a brushing action.)

• Dress fabrics with special surfaces like taffeta, velvet or satin should always be cleaned professionally or you may ruin the surface effect.

• Hold the fabric stain-down so the stain will go out the way it came in rather than trying to push it right through the fabric.

• Keep a pad of clean, white tissue or cotton material underneath the stained area to absorb stain remover and stain.

• Don’t apply heat to the fabric in any form before tackling a stain. Many foods contain albumen or similar protein which is “fixed” by heat. So don’t, for instance, wash the garment in hot water or hold it over the steam from a kettle.

• Do test any stain remover on a hidden piece of garment first—the inside hem, for instance, or an inside seam. Some treatments may make the colors run or fade, and some may damage the fibers.

• Don’t try to remove the last traces of stubborn stains. It’s often better to wear the thing with a residual stain barely showing than risk ruining the fabric by applying too much solvent or over-zealous rubbing.

• Dissolve any residual stain in a suitable fluid (water, water and detergent, or solvent).

• Upholstery and carpets must be sponged and dabbed dry alternatively so they don’t get too wet. Don’t let the liquid get into any padding or backing, where it may do irreparable damage.

· When the stain has dissolved, start flushing with water or solvent well outside the stained area, moving round and working toward the center. A plastic bottle with a fine spray nozzle is good for this.

• If you have used solvent, blot up any excess with a clean, dry cloth or sponge and drive off any remaining with a stream of warm air from a hair dryer, using a circular motion, as when cleaning.

• If you used bleach or detergent, finish by rinsing thoroughly and washing the garment as usual.

• Always rinse the area well between types of treatment if the first attempt doesn’t work.

• Never mix solvents before use.

Here are some kinds of stains:

Adhesive tape. Use a dull knife and scrape away the gummy stuff. Be careful so as not to damage the fabric. Place the stained area on a pad of soft cloth, stain side down, and dampen a pad of cotton with grease solvent. Sponge the back of the stain with solvent. Repeat using a small amount of solvent each time. Work from the outer edge of the stain to its center, sponging irregularly around the edge so there will be no definite line when the fabric dries. Keep changing the absorbent pad so the spot is not resting on a soiled area.

Antiperspirant. Go over the spot with liquid detergent and (exception to the general rule) wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric. If the stain is heavy, place the garment face down on paper towel and sponge the stain with dry-cleaning solvent. Rub with liquid detergent, rinse and launder in very hot water.

Beverages and fruit juices. Stretch material over a large bowl and pour boiling water through the stain. If some of the stain remains, use bleach if safe for the fabric.

Chewing gum. Hold an ice cube over the gum to harden it and scrape it off with a dull knife. Go over the back of the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent. Rinse well.

Chocolate. Use an enzyme soak, detergent, ammonia or hydrogen peroxide.

Cosmetics. Dampen the stain, then rub in a cake of soap, liquid detergent or detergent paste. Rinse off.

Cream. Soak in warm water with an enzyme pre-soak product.

Fruit. Remove before stain dries with cool water. Then work in a detergent and rinse. If safe for the fabric, use chlorine bleach when you launder.

Greasy stains. If you can’t get to the spot immediately, try sprinkling some talcum, salt or cornstarch on the spot to absorb the excess grease. Be sure to check to see that the fabric is pure before using the talc, salt or cornstarch. Then place the spot face down on paper towels and go over the back with full strength liquid detergent or dry-cleaning solvent, using a clean white cloth. Mechanics hand cleaners may also be used to remove the spot. Launder as usual.

Ink. Hair spray takes out some ballpoint ink stains. Alcohol, ammonia or bleach may also be used if safe for the fabric.

Mud. Let it dry then brush well and soak in cool water. If stain still shows, rub a detergent into it then rinse.