Did you know that January's healthy eating resolutions produce the most yogurt stains? Correction fluid stains are likelier in April when people are preparing their tax returns! With careful planning, you can have some simple items on hand to eliminate stains that could ruin your bed linens, upholstered furniture, carpets, rugs, and other surfaces. The Field Guide to Stains is a great home reference, and it covers practically all kinds of stains, from baby food and red wine to ketchup and ink. Here are some cool stain solutions from authors Virginia M. Friedman, Melissa Wagner, and Nancy Armstrong.
- Remove red wine from carpets and rugs: blot up as much wine as possible with an absorbent cloth; saturate the stain with club soda or cold water; repeat the first two steps as needed; if stain remains, make a paste of borax or baking soda and water at a ratio of approximately 3 to 1. Smear paste on stain with an old toothbrush and let dry; vacuum; repeat until no more stain can be removed; if stain remains, treat with a carpet spotter.
- Remove candle wax from hard surfaces (wood, tiles, paneling, etc.): put an ice cube in a plastic bag and rub the wax until it is brittle, then peel as much wax as possible; if a residue remains, lay an absorbent cloth over the stain; gentle press the cloth with a warm iron; the wax will melt and seep into the cloth; if the cloth begins to brown, replace with a fresh cloth; continue to iron until the wax has been completely absorbed by the cloth; if a dye stain remains, wipe with rubbing alcohol and rinse surface with water.
- Clearn tarnished bottoms of pots and pans: spread a little ketchup on the affected surface and let it sit for about a minute; wipe clean and rinse, and they're good as new!
- Remove mildew from tile: make sure that the room is well vintilated before treating the mildew; spray a tile cleaner on the tiles and show curtain according to manufacturer's directions -- or pour white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the tiles and shower curtain; scrub with a brush or sponge; rinse well with water; if the stain remains, mix a 10% bleach solution and pour it into a spray bottle; spray the bleach mixture onto the stain; let stand several minutes, then rinse well with water.
- Get gum out of a carpet or rug: place an ice cube in a plastic bag and rub over the gum until it hardens; use a dull knife or spoon to remove as much as possible; if the stain remains, treat with a carpet spotter (use according to manufacturer's directions).
- Get coffee stains out of a carpet or rug: blot as much liquid out of the surface as possible; saturate stain with club soda or cold water, then blot again; apply a carpet spotter according to manufacturer's directions; OR spread non-gel shaving cream onto the stain and work into the carpet with an old toothbrush; rinse with cold water or club soda, then blot; OR mix borax with warm water to make a paste at a ratio of approximately 3 to 1 and rub into stain; let paste dry, then vacuum; rinse with cold water or club soda, then blot. If the stain remains after any of these three cleaning methods, sponge with a mild bleach such as white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide; let stand 15 minutes; blot; sponge well with water or club soda and blot with a dry cloth.