Friday, February 6, 2009

Help!! How do I fix this stain??

When I worked in costumes a stain was a nightmare. It could end production. Often, costumes were one-of-a-kind or not sized to be swapped to another performer so we had to be creative when it came to fixing stains. I wasn't allowed to inflict bodily harm on actors that ate and drank in their costumes, so I needed to know how to fix it without keeping a ton of chemicals on hand. Here are some of those tips that use common household items.

  • Kool Aid, food coloring and similar stains on carpet

Needed: light colored towels, steam iron.

saturate the towels with clean water. Fill the steam iron with water. Place wet towels over Kool Aid stain and then place hot iron on steam setting over towel on top of stain. The stain will pull through into the towel. Keep moving to fresh part of towel or new towel so you don’t re-transfer the Kool Aid dye. Huge or old stains could take many towels. But it does pull the stain out without needing bleach or other caustic chemicals on any color carpet. When you are done toss the towels in the washing machine with bleach.

  • Crayon or wax on carpet

Needed: iron, paper grocery bags.

Heat iron to hottest setting. place paper bag (without any picture or dye that could transfer) on top of stain. Put hot iron over stain and watch the wax pull through the paper. Move around to clean spots of paper to get the whole stain.

  • Gum stain

Needed: ice cubes, maybe plastic bag.

On most surfaces you can freeze off gum. If the item is small enough (like a shoe) put it in the freezer. When the gum freezes you can snap it off. If it’s a big item like furniture or floor put your ice in a plastic bag and apply until it freezes. Then chip off in pieces.

  • Gum in hair

needed: peanut butter.

The oil in the peanut butter will release the gum. If none is available use mayo or cooking oil. Then wash your hair to get rid of the residue. Don’t use this method on material items because it will leave an oil stain.

  • Grease stain

needed: baby powder (talcum powder) or corn starch.

pour liberal amounts of powder onto stain. It will absorb the oil. Continue to brush, shake or vacuum off excess powder and reapplying until stain is gone.
This will work on clothing, furniture and carpeting. Especially helpful for dry clean only items.

If you are in a restaurant and don’t have these items available use those packets of artificial sweetener.

  • Ink stain

needed; rubbing alcohol and clean cloth

Rubbing alcohol will dilute a stain until it is nearly if not completely gone. great for clothing. Test to make sure the item is colorfast. I usually stretch the item out over a cup or bowl so just the stained area is exposed. Then pour the alcohol right over the stain so it passes through. That works better than rubbing so you aren’t rubbing the stain in.

  • Red Wine stain

needed: salt.

When a glass of red wine gets knocked over you can’t help but panic. Grab the salt shaker! Pour it right on and let it absorb the stain. Then vacuum up the salt. Club soda will often do the trick after the salt removal.

  • Fresh Berry or Jam stain

needed: boiling water, bowl garment can be stretched over

Take the stained shirt and stretch it over the rim of a bowl. Then take boiling water (right from tea kettle is fine) and pour it over stain. It should disappear right before your eyes. Water has t be really hot for this to work, not luke warm tap water.

  • Blood stain

needed: blood donor’s saliva

Um, how much blood we talking here? Should you be calling 9-1-1? If it’s a small spot like you pricked your finger while sewing use your saliva. Yes, your saliva. It has to be your blood though. Components in your own saliva break down the blood so it will dissolve out of the garment. Dab with saliva and your clean finger until stain fades. This method has been used by quilters for generations. I can’t be held responsible for attraction of vampires to the garment.

  • Freshen up a musty/stinky item without a wash
There weren't fabric refreshers like Febreeze until recently. But the stinky actor/child/spouse has long existed. What have we used all those years? Vodka! The cheap stuff. The cheapest brand will do. This has been used forever in theater to remove the smell of smoke and body odor from costumes that can't be cleaned.

Put the vodka in a spray bottle. Saturate the item so it is damp but not soaking wet. Let it air dry. The smell should disappear when it is dry.

Save the expensive Vodka for yourself after a long day of cleaning up after your family. After enough repeat application the cause of the stains in your home will disappear, although temporarily. However, a headache often appears in it's place.

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