Stain removal tips for food and drinks

Stains come in a variety of shapes, sizes and types. Just about any liquid or solid from the refrigerator or pantry can stain. Here's how to deal with them.

Stain removal tips for food and drinks
  • Remove beer stains with a thin soap solution containing a little ammonia, then rinse with water.
  • Wash bloodstains on clothing immediately in cold water — hot water will cause the protein in the blood to congeal and attach firmly to the fibres. For particularly stubborn stains, moisten the clothing in cold salt water. Dry bloodstains should be soaked in cold water, then treated with salt water or soda water. When cleaning delicate fabrics, use a paste of water and potato flour or cornstarch: spread it on the stain, let it work for a few minutes, rub it off and rinse thoroughly with tap water.
  • Grease stains can include butter, margarine, mayonnaise, cooking oil and engine oil. Promptly sprinkle grease stains with cornstarch or healing earth to absorb the grease, then brush away the saturated starch. You can also try rubbing the stains off using hot water mixed with a little dish soap to dissolve the grease. For delicate fabrics, place a paper towel on both sides of the stain and iron it. Stains are best removed from wool fabrics by rubbing them off with a little mineral water and a terry cloth towel.
  • Soak coffee stains on table linens or clothing in cold salt water while they're still fresh. Dab older stains with glycerin and wash them out, or, in the case of upholstery and rugs, pat them dry.
  • Soak dried cocoa stains in warm milk, then wash with detergent containing enzymes.
  • Remove chewing gum by placing the affected clothing in the freezer in a plastic bag. Once the gum is frozen, it's easy to scrape off.
  • Rinse milk spots with cold water before throwing the stained clothing into the washing machine. Dab non-washable fabrics first with cold water, then with ammonia, and finally with warm water.
  • Treat fruit stains when they are still fresh by holding the soiled item over a bowl and dribbling very hot water onto it. Alternatively, soak it in buttermilk and launder as usual. You can also use buttermilk to remove stubborn fruit stains from your hands. For dried fruit stains, dribble with lemon juice and rinse after 30 minutes. If the stain still doesn't come out, try treating it with an ammonia solution (25 millilitres/two tablespoons of ammonia in one litre/quart of water) or a glycerin solution (equal parts of glycerin and water).
  • For red wine stains, apply lemon juice, vinegar or soda water before laundering fabric.
  • Red dye stains from cherry popsicles or maraschino cherries can turn a favourite treat into a laundry conundrum. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and cool water in a spray bottle; spray on the stain and leave for 30 minutes, then rinse with equal parts vinegar and water. Peroxide is a bleach, so always test a spot first. If the technique doesn't work the first time, try again.
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