Having recently purchased a cream colored rug, and then promptly spilling a glass of red wine on it, I’m always looking for a quick rundown of stain removal tricks. I can never remember if you’re supposed to use warm or cold water, if vinegar sets stains or lifts, and if an ink spot means your shirt is heading for the trash can. But, Pia Catton and Califia Suntree’s Be Thrifty gives easy tricks to get out commonly smudged, smeared, and spilled substances. My impractical-colored rug will thank me…
To prevent stains from sticking around for good, you need to be quick and targeted. The following formulas work on clothes, furniture and carpets, though each type of material will respond to different tricks in its own way.
Antiperspirant: Combine half a teaspoon dish detergent (or castile soap), a few drops of white vinegar, and a half-cup water. Press into the stain with a rag. Flush with water and blot.
Blood: Spit on it. It’s true—your own saliva is the best thing for getting your own blood out fast. Next line of defense: Soak the stained item in cold water mixed with a handful of salt, or apply equal parts ammonia and water with a sponge. Weirdly, bleach doesn’t work well on bloodstains.
Chocolate: Rinse the stain thoroughly, from the back if possible, with cold water.
Coffee: With a sponge, apply a mixture of half a teaspoon of white vinegar to 2 cups of cold water.
Gum: Freeze it by applying an ice cube to the gum. The frozen gum should break off.
Hair dye: Use a little shampoo—it gets it off your skin, and it should work on your clothes.
Ink: Gently massage some aerosol hairspray into the stain, then run it under cold water.
Makeup: Regular detergent should do the trick. First pretreat the stain with alcohol or a stain remover. (This should work on any grease.)
Red wine: Apply a little white wine if available. Then sprinkle liberally with salt (it absorbs) and rinse immediately, rubbing the stain out.
Sweat: Apply a mixture of water and baking soda or a few teaspoons of white vinegar. If this doesn’t work, soak in salt water.
Vegetable oil: Use a liquid dish detergent that cuts grease.
Wax: Scrape off what you can. Put a paper towel over the wax and iron until all the wax is absorbed.