Monday, September 21, 2009

Stain Removal!

Before we begin, as a shoutout to Kenton Larsen: Get-rich-quick ideas!

Melanie, thanks for helping out a student! Melanie Lee Lockhart, my Public Relations instructor, kindly lent me her copy of Haley's Hints. For anyone who (like me) isn't familiar with Rosemary and Graham Haley, they're the authors of a book (and Graham is the host of a TV series) detailing a wide range of helpful solutions for common problems - all using items many people have on hand at home. I'm jumping into the middle, since stain-removing tips start at about page 94 in the book, but with chapters like "Kitchen Magic" and "Laundry Day Helpers" this book will get revisited! (You can all hold me accountable to return it to Melanie!)

And now...stain removal solutions that work!

P. 111: Remove chewing gum: "Hold an ice cube against the chewing gum until it hardens. Then chip the gum away." If the item can withstand cold temperatures without breaking, cracking or otherwise coming to harm, I can also recommend putting it in the freezer for about 1o minutes (or more if needed and possible) and then chipping the gum away. Works well on clothing.

P. 109: Cleaning Carpets. A diluted solution of vinegar, soap, and water can help remove stains that weren't found immediately. Wet a cloth with the mixture, hold against the stain for several minutes, then blot dry with a dishcloth. Also remember, when dealing with a liquid spill, DO NOT rub the spill. That will push the spilled liquid further into the carpet. Instead, blot with dry cloths.

P. 94: I wish I'd come across this one sooner! Badly stained tubs: use a scrub brush and a mixture of cream of tartar (a baking ingredient!) and hydrogen peroxide. Other bathtub tips: if you get bathtub ring, it can often be minimized by softening the water - so add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your next bath! "Yellow water stains"? Try making a paste of lemon juice and borax (can also work for toilet cleaning!). What's borax? Look HERE. Bathtub mold? Try scrubbing with vinegar and rinsing with clean water. No dice? Place bleach-soaked rags on the mold-affected area and let sit overnight, then wash off with warm water and liquid detergent. (If the problem is very serious, however, I'd recommend consulting with an expert. Molds can be a health issue.)

P. 95: Porcelain sinks? Fill with hot water and drop in 2 denture tablets! Leave for a while for gleaming sinks! I'd like to add that baking soda helps polish sinks and tubs, not to mention any rusty cutlery or sink/tub spouts! Haley's Hints adds that petroleum jelly keeps shower doors from sticking, and shower rods from rusting. Who knew?

P. 106: Chronic nosebleeds? Papercut led to a stain on your favourite reading chair? Haley's Hints recommends treating blood stains with a paste of cornstarch and water - but NOT for velvet or velour upholstery. If the item is easily and safely soaked in boiling water very soon after it is stained, that's the best way I've found. Popcorn grease stains on the couch after movie night? Sprinkle liberally with salt as soon as the stain occurs, then just brush the salt off once it has absorbed the grease.

P. 114: Scuffed linoleum: Use toothpaste on persistent scuff marks, but try using a rubber (gum) eraser first! If you have any of that 'sticky tack' around - the blue gummy stuff for holding posters on walls without harming paint or paper - it works wonders too!

Other interesting tips from the Haleys that I haven't tried, but gladly will if the occasion arises:
**Clean marks from wallpaper with an eraser OR rye bread!
**Cold tea cleans woodwork!
**Shine brass items with Worcestershire sauce! Or toothpaste, or a lemon-juice-and-salt mixture.

We all know baking soda works wonders as a deodorizer: in the fridge, in the microwave, in the oven...but how about vanilla extract? Vegetarian Times' now-defunct Fridge Notes section supplied this tip as well. More fridge-friendly tips from VT’s March 2008 article “10 ways to green your fridge” by Jacqueline R. Renfrow: "a one-to-one solution of white vinegar and water" for dried-on liquid stains or general cleaning; where an abrasive cleaner is needed: "baking soda and a damp sponge."

Commercials train us to trust that only tough anti-bacterial chemicals can save us from evil bacteria and other nasties. But many such industrial-strength chemicals pose serious hazards themselves. Why not try natural cleaners? They've been around much longer, with good track records and no risk to you, or the environment. Plus, since you've probably got vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice around anyways, they're cheaper!

The last word is for those pesky red-pen stains on clothing: Hairspray. No, I'm not kidding.


  1. I once got wax out of a microfiber ottoman. My husband was convinced it was ruined and we'd have to live with the wax stain forever but I got it out, completely!

  2. I once committed a grave sin on the carpet in our house. I walked from the garage with my shoes on and some auto grease happened to be on the bottom of them. Our carpet is light beige and the grease was totally noticeable. Not wanting separation papers, I immediately went to Google and tried to find a solution. Weeding through all the advice I came across one suggestion that sounded like it would do the least harm if it didn't work. The solution? Corn starch. Yep, plain old bland cornstarch. I took the lady's advice on the web and generously covered the area, rubbed it in lightly with my finger and let sit. After a couple of hours I went over it with the vacuum and to my pleasant surprise, voila! The grease was 90% disappeared! The second application took care of the rest. "Simply" amazing. Just be patient and let the corn starch sit or it could smear. The starch needs to absorb the grease in its own time, but it works like a charm. (and I didn't get read the riot act for not taking off my shoes)

  3. Yay: get rich quick! Thanks for that...