Treating Pesky Stains and Other Handy Style Tips

The Horror: You’ve spilt a drink on your new dress. Yes it’s happened to the best of us.

We all know that different stains require different treatments. But what a lot of guides miss is that different fabrics can require different treatments too, in particular silk and wool. Here’s my handy guide, complete with suggested directions for certain fabrics when necessary (plus at the end are a few extra miscellaneous style tips you may like to try out):

*Remember: always test a hidden area of the garment first and make sure the products and washing directions you use are suitable for the fabric. If in doubt, better to take it to the dry cleaners than risk it. Also never iron before the stain is removed or it will set*

1. Makeup

*Wool (for all types of makeup) – using a lint-free cloth soaked in turpentine or spot cleaning spray or fluid, rub the stain gently. Then rinse with mild soapy water.

Lipstick – start by removing excess lipstick by blotting the stain or scrapping it off with a knife. Then apply a prewash stain remover or a small amount of liquid detergent onto the stain. Rinse in warm water, blotting rather than rubbing. Wash as normal.

*Linen – apply Vaseline to the stain before washing (although make sure it’s the clear kind as tinted Vaseline can also leave stains).

Foundation – for liquid: start by removing any excess by blotting or scraping it off. Add a small amount of laundry detergent to the stain, working it into the stain with your fingers. Wash as normal and repeat if necessary. For powder: mix a small amount of liquid laundry detergent with water and work into the stain. Wash as normal.

Mascara – move quickly by pre-treating the stain with an appropriate prewash stain remover. Then wash as normal.

2. Nail polish

Unfortunately this can be a difficult one to remove but you can try using nail polish remover (do not use on acetate or triacetate fabrics). Place the stain facedown on clean paper towels and apply nail polish remover to the back of the stain. Repeat until the stain disappears and then rinse and wash as normal.

3. Oil/Grease

*Cotton – apply alcohol (available at your local pharmacy) or acetone-based nail varnish remover to the back of the stain. Using a clean cloth, blot it from the back as if to push the oils out from the fabric. Rinse in warm water, and then wash as normal

*Synthetic – pre-treat using a gentle but strong laundry detergent. Leave for about 30 minutes, rinse and then wash at around 40 degrees.

*Silk – draw out the oil by applying baking soda or baby powder on the stain. Leave overnight and then brush off in the morning and wash as instructed.

*Wool – scrape the surface of the stain with a knife to remove any excess oil. Afterwards, dab the area with a lint-free cloth that has been soaked in proprietary grease remover or white spirit.

4. Alcohol

White wine – start by sponging the stain with cool water or soaking it in a basin of cool water for half an hour. Then pre-treat with a prewash stain remover before washing. If the fabric will allow it, add chlorine bleach to the wash.

Red wine – if you move quick enough, blotting the stain will be enough. If that doesn’t work, apply salt, white wine or baking soda to it. After leaving for a while, wash as normal.

*Wool – remove the excess by dabbing gently with an absorbent, lint-free cloth. Then sponge the area lightly with a mixture of warm water and surgical sprit or rub alcohol in equal parts.

*Silk – dab the stain with a white cloth soaked in vinegar with a dash of water. Then wash as instructed using a detergent suitable for silk.

5. Blood

The key is to act quickly. Treat the stain with cold water and lift it gently with a clean cloth. Then wash as instructed.

*Wool – before dabbing with cold water, dab it with undiluted white wine vinegar.

* Silk – after blotting off the excess, soak the whole fabric in cold water. Then wash as normal.

6. Sweat

Break down the sweat by using a biological washing powder or liquid. If it’s particularly bad, soak the area in a mixture of two parts white vinegar and one part water (but avoid when dealing with delicate fabrics). Leave over night and then rinse and wash.

* Silk – dab the stain with a white cloth soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Wash as instructed.

7. Deodorant

For light stains, pretreat with liquid laundry detergent and then wash. For heavy stains, pretreat with a prewash stain remover, leave for about 5-10 minutes, and then wash using an oxygen bleach.

Alternatively, soak the stain in white vinegar for an hour and then brush with a clean toothbrush. Wash at as hot a temperature as possible.

8. Ink

Pretreat using a prewash stain remover and then wash as normal.

*Wool – using a lint-free cloth soaked in white spirit, dab the stain gently. Then repeat this action with a cloth soaked in diluted white vinegar or surgical spirit or rub alcohol.

* Silk – sponge the stain with methylated spirits and then wash as normal (not suitable for fabrics containing or lined with acetate/triacetate)

9. Black coffee

Dab the stain quickly with hydrogen peroxide and then wash normally.

*Wool – soak a lint-free cloth in a solution made of alcohol and white vinegar in equal parts. Dap the stain before pressing gently with an absorbent cloth

*Silk – dab the stain with lukewarm water and then wash.

Other miscellaneous handy style tips:

1. We’ve all been there – our favourite nail polish has gone all thick, gunky and horrid. Which is even more annoying when that colour was limited edition/has been discontinued. One way to resolve this is by popping the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before use. Alternatively, just add a couple of drops of nail polish remover and that should help loosen it up. Also worth noting: always roll your nail polish bottle between your palms before use rather than shaking it – shaking creates air bubbles which will make the polish chip quicker.

2. Creased shirt and no iron? Hang it up in the bathroom whilst you have a hot shower and the steam will help the creases to fall out.

3. Intricate patterns are a good choice for hiding stains. A reader once told me she’s fed up with wearing black but does so because she often gets stains on her clothes and doesn’t want to have to keep going to the dry cleaner. If the same goes for you, try picking garments with an intricate pattern as the different colours and shapes will make the stain less visible.

4. To add a subtle delightful scent to your clothing, put old perfume bottles amongst your clothing and delicates. Try using your signature scent.

5. Musty smells in your wardrobe? Place small muslin bags filled with charcol in them and use fabric conditioning sheets
Tags: Style Tips

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