A.G. Blog: Before you go outTuesday, February 12th, 2013
Amongst many special days of the year, there is one particularly personal celebration when we put extra care in our appearance: Valentine’s Day. To improve the way we look, some of us go to the haridresser’s or buy a new piece of jewellery to make them shine through the night. Myself, what I especially care about is what I wear. I always want to look stunning for my partner, so I save my best clothes for the night. But what if the garments I take out of my wardrobe happen to have some stains that haven’t been properly removed after the last time I used them? It had happened to me a few times and I was really desperate to eliminate the stains quickly, as I didn’t have time to go to the dry cleaner’s (there’s not as many of them in London as it might seem). I admit, first time, a few years ago, I was completely unexperienced and simply put bleach directly onto the fabric, which sure, helped me get rid of the stain, but also left a massive discoloured spot on my favourite shirt. I felt quite silly, but quickly made the decision: as the head of a cleaning company, I shall not let such situation ever happen again! I did a bit of research on quick, safe and efficient ways of removing stains from even the most delicate fabrics. Let me now guide you through some of my findings.
To begin with the easy ones, fresh stains should be treated immediately. Whether it’s oil, lipstick, wine or chocolate, the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be to remove the stain. You normally treat different kinds of stains in a different way, according to what they are caused by. For grease, it’s a good idea to use washing up liquid – the very thing that is usually applied in treating oils in your kitchen. First, it is advisable to remove any excess solids as you don’t want them to spread all over your fabric. Then, place the stain on a piece of paper towel and squeeze some washing up liquid onto the underside. After a minute, launder it normally in the highest temperature that this particular piece of garment can bear.
Another marks that occur quite often are caused by wine, juices, coffee and sauces. It is advisable to first put such stains in in cold water. This is important, as some of them can set in warm water and we don’t want that to happen. When they’re soaked nicely, you’re going to use another ingredient that’s probably in every kitchen – salt. You might not have known this, but salt is capable of absorbing the liquid. After that, treat the stain with regular sparkling water and wash it normally. Remember never to rub fresh stains, as this will only spread them and could even damage the material, especially when it’s a delicate one. Instead, sponge your fabric carefully, if at all needed.
Moving on, what if – as it had happened to me many times – we suddenly find out about an old stain? Aren’t they harder to remove? Will it take more time? Well, yes, they generally are slightly tougher and can sometimes require a few takes to remove, but there’s a few quite efficient ways of dealing with them.
If the label on your garment says you ought never use any bleach or stain removers, do not do this, even if it’s a color-safe one. Otherwise, for any sort of old stains, you can soak them in warm water (again, make it as warm as your fabric can tolerate in accordance to the label) for a few hours with enzyme-containing detergent. Then, launder it, again putting a small amount of the detergent in the washing machine. Remember to adjust how much of the chemical you use on the fabric, as these can really damage your clothes. It’s normally safer to wash them a few times with a smaller amount of the liquid, than damage your valentine outfit with too much strong chemicals.
Now, what about the most delicate fabrics? They might also require treating them with bleach? Fortunately, most of them tolerate and react well on a weak bleach solution. To make it, mix half a cup of hydrogen peroxide and 4 cups of cold water. Just put the fabric in this mixture for about thirty minutes. Try not to exceed this time, as this may damage the material. If possible, avoid heat dryers after treating stains with detergents. This can additionaly damage the fabric, which is already more vulnerable after applying bleach on them, as well as if the stain has not been removed completely – such dryers can set the remains of the stain in the fabric.
A great alternative to bleach (for extra delicate clothes) thing that can break up grease is baking soda (how many times have I mentioned different uses of baking soda before?). Prepare a paste by mixing a few tablespoons of it with an equal amount of water and apply on the stain. After a few minutes wash it normally and see if the stain has been removed. If needed, repeat the action.
Finally, should everything else fail, you can turn for help to a pre wash. If you make a solution of 2 pints of warm water, two tea spoons of liquid detergent and four table spoons of ammonia and pour a bit of it on stains before you launder the cloth, it should remove any stain! Although, I recommend using this only when everything else fails or when you really don’t have any time for more than one take.
That’s it, hope this helps you in case of a pre-valentine emergency and in any other stained situation!
Happy Valentine’s Day! x
All the best,