August 2004

How to remove stains

This month I want to talk about removing stains. I always dread having stain on my favorite handmade garment, don't you? After so many long hours of work a stain ruins the whole look. So let's explore stain removal techniques.

Since stains come from various sources, they should be treated differently. For example, oil base stains can not be removed the same way as water base stains.

Stains such as coffee, tea, fruit juice or blood are water based. The worst thing to do with them is to let them dry out, or wash them off with warm water. Hot water will stabilize the stain. To remove such stains, run cold water over the stained area from inside toward the outside as soon as possible. Then wash the garment with mild soap, shampoo or hand dish washing liquid. If the stain persists, repeat the procedure. Remember, machine dishwashing products are too harsh for use on fabric.

On the other hand, treat oil base stains with warm water and mild detergent. While you might think about removing oil base stains with bleach, remember chlorine bleach ruins the fibers in wool, silk or similar products. You will damage your garment with bleach rather than saving it.

For removing a nasty gum stain, which is common with young children, rub the stained area with an ice cube. When gum freezes, it disintegrates and is easily removable.

Unfortunately some stains are permanent such as, acid products (toilet bowl cleaners), acne medication, drain and oven cleaners, bleaches and disinfectants, plant food, fertilizers and pesticides. Therefore, make sure to change your clothes before using any of the above products to avoid ruining your handmade garments.

For a comprehensive study on stain removing techniques, examine the following detailed document by Cornell University:
Also, the following link that our good friend Eileen has provided is another useful source:

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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