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Out, out dirty spot ... seven stain-fighting rules

1. Take care of stains as soon as possible. Fresh stains are much easier to remove than those more than 24 hours old. 2. Blot up any excess stain liquid with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry-cl...

1. Take care of stains as soon as possible. Fresh stains are much easier to remove than those more than 24 hours old.

2. Blot up any excess stain liquid with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry-cloth towel or dark-colored cloth. You may make things worse.

3. Check before washing. If you do the whole family's laundry, teach family members to tell you about stains or mark them with a clothespin. Always check before washing; some stains need pre-treatment. Enzyme presoak products (Biz, Axion) contain amylase to break down starch, protease for protein and lipase for fat. Most detergents also contain enzymes, which can be used for pretreatment. OxiClean is also an excellent presoak solution for stubborn stains.

4. Don't rush to the dryer. If a stain is still evident after washing, do not toss in the dryer. The heat will only make the mark more permanent. The same principle applies to ironing.

5. Rub clothes the right way. Avoid excessive rubbing unless fabric is tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and even damage fabric. However, gentle to vigorous rubbing under running water helps remove dried food, blood or oil stains from cotton or cotton blends.

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6. Keep 'em separated. Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can migrate to other clothing if too little detergent is used, water temp is too low or the wash is overloaded.

7. Cold is your friend. Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. It can actually bake in protein stains such as mud, milk, egg or blood.

Source: Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com

Related Topics: HOME AND GARDEN
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