Drips, drops, smudges and smears -- no matter what the stain du jour, quick action can keep it from becoming a permanent blemish on your wardrobe. With the exception of delicate fabrics such as leather and silk, this means rinsing or blotting the excess, then laundering as usual. No sink or towel handy when a clothing catastrophe strikes? No problem. The remedies below work even on set-in stains.
Figure out what kind of stain it is. Grease stains, juices, wines, sandwich condiments, coffee, ink and chewing gum. We've all fallen victim to most of these. And they are each treated differently. So, make sure you know what it is so you know how to best treat it.
For grease stains, scrape off the excess solids with a butter knife. Place the stain face-down on a plain white paper towel. Squeeze a small amount of dishwashing liquid on the underside of the stain to break up the grease (hey, it works on dishes), and wait about a minute. Pretreat the the stain with detergent, and wash it on the warmest water setting that particular fabric can endure.
For juices, wines, coffee, tomato-based sauces and soft drinks, blot the stain with cold water. Then, sprinkle with the stain with salt so it can absorb the liquid. After a moment or two, wipe clean with club soda and pretreat for a wash cycle.
To get rid of chewing gum, rub the glob of goo with ice to harden it. Then scrape it off with a dull knife and wash.
For ink, hold the portion of garment tight over the top of a glass or mason jar. Poor rubbing alcohol slowly over the stain, with your piece of clothing acting as a sieve into the container. Rinse and wash as usual.
For most other stains, rinse, treat with stain remover and launder as usual. One exception is nail polish, which you should first rub with acetone (nail-polish remover), and then send through the laundry cycle.