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Tricks to get stains out of anything.
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

Clean it:

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.


Clean it:

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.


Clean it:

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.


Clean it:

Squeeze lemon on stain. Set garment out in sunshine. Repeat as necessary.


Clean it:

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.


Clean it:

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.

Chewing gum

Clean it:

Place item in freezer overnight, with gum side facing out. Remove from freezer and scrape the gum gently with a flat edge.

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