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It’s summer when the sky is blue, the weather is warm, and it’s time to run around and enjoy all that life has to offer. There are picnics to enjoy, games to be played, and gatherings to attend. Of course, with all that revelry, whether you’re hosting it or just attending, accidents happen. And with accidents come spills and stains.

It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not, pets, a clumsy loved one, or just an oops moment yourself. There’s nothing more horrifying than realizing you’ve spilled a nice bright merlot all over your white shirt or that somehow there are grass stains on the legs of your favorite slacks. Even a coffee or tea spill can stain your carpet.

Thankfully, there are some great ways to get stains up and gone before they become a lasting reminder of the summer cocktail party of 2017. With just a few tips and tricks, you can banish those marks and not have to deal with an expensive cleaning service or your local dry cleaner. (Of course, if your clothing item is dry clean only, you still have to talk to them.)


Vinegar

white and red vinegar

White vinegar is a mild acid, meaning that it is one of the best stain busters out there. The acid will eat away at the offending stain, breaking up the noxious little chemicals that cause it in the first place. Here are some places that vinegar can become the star of your stain removal kit.

  • Tomato Sauce – There’s nothing that is more annoying than a fresh tomato sauce splashing on your shirt. Before you launder it, to make sure the tomato doesn’t stick, saturate it with vinegar, then launder as normal. Check the stained area to be sure it’s all gone before you dry it, however.
  • Mildew Stains – Sometimes we forget to move our clothes from the washer to the dryer and they end up smelling a little musty. Or our kids stuff a wet shirt from the pool in the corner of the closet. If this happens, mildew can form. Bust that mildew with a vinegar and salt mixture. Soak the offending piece of clothing in the mixture and the mildew will lift right out.
  • Sweat – Summer means sweating, and sometimes that means yellowing sweat stains in our clothes. Vinegar and salt rubbed into the stain will do the trick. Let the clothing dry out in the sun and then launder as normal.
  • Blood – Sometimes nicks and scrapes are a part of the summer fun. That also means that you may run into a bright red stain on your clothing. The trick is to get to the stain as quickly as you can. Soak the area in undiluted vinegar for five to ten minutes and then blot with a clean paper towel or rag. If the stain is still there, repeat until it’s gone. Then launder normally.
  • Rust – If you’ve been exploring, you may get some rust stains on your clothing. Don’t panic. It’s easy to get them off by applying vinegar directly to the stain. Let stand for a couple of hours and the rust should fade completely.

Other Tips For When You’re Away

grass stains on white pants

There are a lot of other ways to deal with offending stains using items that you don’t think of as cleaning agents. Especially because when you’re out away from your home, you don’t often have access to a bottle of white vinegar to treat those stains while they’re fresh. Here are some ways to deal with things on the road.

  • Blood – If you get injured on the road and need to treat a blood stain, make sure to keep the area wet. Once blood dries, it’s nearly impossible to remove completely. If you have a bottle of cola, use that. The carbonic acid in the soda will start to work on the stain. In a pinch, cold salt water will do as well. Just keep the stained item wet so you can make sure the stain doesn’t set.
  • Grass – It’s important not to use ammonia or an alkaline detergent on grass stains before you treat it. Basic chemicals will set the stain by chemically interacting with the chlorophyll in the stain. Instead, use rubbing alcohol in a 50:50 solution with water. This will lift the grass stain. However, the alcohol can also cause colors to run in some clothing, so test it in an inconspicuous spot first. Caution: If your clothing is made of rayon or acetate, do not use rubbing alcohol at all.
  • Mustard – Get to this annoying yellow stain quickly while it’s still fresh. Scrape away the excess mustard with a spoon to avoid making more of a mess. Now use cold water and flush the area from the back of the fabric to force as much of the mustard stain out as possible. Don’t use hot water or the mustard will set. Keep the clothing wet until you can get it home and treat it with stain remover or dish soap.

Accidents happen, but a stain doesn’t have to be the end of the party. Just make sure to keep the affected area damp until you can fully treat it. Once you get your clothing back to home, you can treat it using one of these awesome tips, keeping it looking like new. That way your favorite shirt doesn’t have to be retired because of one clumsy moment.

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