Tricks to get stains out of anything. / James Woodson/Getty Images
You were sipping coffee in your car, and next thing you know, your white blouse has a brown spot on it. Sound familiar? Undoing a stain’s damage can be daunting. “When in doubt, soak the item in cold water first,” says Erin Bried, author of How to Sew a Button. “And instead of bleaching it, try sunshine. It’s free, cheerful and can often whiten better than bleach.” For other common no-fail stain removals, follow Bried’s advice:
Grease, red wine or coffee
Mix together ¼ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup cold water and 1 tsp. laundry detergent. Dip paper towel in mixture and dab on spot. Rinse with cold water.
Mix together 1 tsp. mild laundry detergent, ½ tsp. clear ammonia and ½ cup ice-cold water. Dunk a paper towel in the solution, then dab it on the blood. Rinse with cold water. Still there? Add 1 cup salt to 2 quarts cold water and soak garment in it. Toss in laundry machine with detergent.
Bring kettle of water to a boil. Spread stained clothing over top of a bucket. Holding kettle a foot above bucket, pour water through the stain. The heat, coupled with the force, should drive berry dyes out.
Squeeze lemon on stain. Set garment out in sunshine. Repeat as necessary.
Apply a dab of clear petroleum jelly on the spot. Blot with a paper towel. Rinse with mineral spirits or, if the fabric is color-safe, hydrogen peroxide.
Allow mud to dry. Gently scrape it off with flat edge, such as a credit card or dull knife. Soak remaining dirt on garment in rubbing alcohol. Dab with a paper towel.
Place item in freezer overnight, with gum side facing out. Remove from freezer and scrape the gum gently with a flat edge.