When we think of summer desserts, our minds turn to grilled plums, peach cobblers, fruit-filled pies and bowls of fresh blueberries and raspberries. The fruits of summer are ripe, sweet and juicy. They’re also pesky stain makers. As Tre Mitchell Wright, a fabric-care expert at Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, points out, “Fruits were some of the original dyes; the longer they sit, especially on natural fabrics like cotton, the harder they’ll be to get out.”
Your best tactic for combating stains from fruits (both cooked and raw) is to first scrape any excess fruit off of the garment. If the garment is labeled “dry clean only,” don’t try to treat the stain. If washable, run the fabric under cold water to flush the stain out. Wring out the excess water and apply plain white vinegar to the stained area. Next work a laundry pretreatment or liquid detergent into the fabric with your hands and let it do its work for at least 10 minutes before laundering the piece using the warmest water the care label allows. If the discoloration remains after washing, try soaking the garment in a solution of color-safe bleach and then laundering it again.
TIP: Watch out for watermelon: The stains from this water-y fruit seem to disappear when they dry. If left untreated, however, the watermelon juice will oxidize into pale yellow or brown stains that are almost impossible to get out. To keep this from happening, tackle watermelon stains before you forget about them.
Rachel Saunders, co-owner of the Blue Chair Fruit Company, a jam company in Oakland, Calif., sees a lot of fruit each day. She offers two pieces of advice to avoid head-to-toe fruit stains: Wear an apron at all times and use Goop hand cleaner to remove stains. Says Rachel, “Goop always works!”
Laura Fenton is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work has appeared in many publications, including Country Living, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping. Read her blog, The Little House In The City, and follow her on Twitter @littlehousenyc.