With summer’s heat, we drink more to keep cool and stay hydrated. From a freshly brewed batch of sun tea to a fruit-infused pitcher of sangria, summer is the season to celebrate all the varied ways to drink up flavor. However, all those yummy drinks can sometimes spill on clothing and table linens, leaving sticky stains. No matter what you spill, we’ve got you covered with advice for how to tackle many common summer beverage stains.
In her book Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House, Cheryl Mendelson offers the following advice for most beverage stains: Soak the stain in cool water, then treat it with a prewash stain treatment product. Follow by laundering with a bleach safe for the fabric. For specific advice for particular spills, read on:
Iced Tea or Coffee (without milk)
Since these beverages are acidic, you’ll want to pretreat them with an acidic remedy, like lemon juice or white vinegar. Next, follow Cheryl’s advice for treating beverage stains (above).
Iced Coffee (with milk)
Unlike plain iced tea or coffee, iced coffee with milk contains a protein, which requires special handling. For the first line of defense, sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent and then air dry. In the second stage of treatment, apply liquid detergent to the stain and rub it into the cloth. Then launder with the warmest water safe for the fabric.
Sponge soft-drink stains with cool water or soak the garment in cool water for about 30 minutes (make note of where clear soda stains were, in case they are hard to find after soaking). Next, wring out excess water and rub a prewash stain remover into the stain. Launder the garment according to its care label and if it’s safe for the fabric, add chlorine bleach to the wash — otherwise use a color-safe bleach product.
Red Wine and Sangria
Sponge the stain with cool water or soak it in cool water for about 30 minutes. Pretreat the spot with a prewash stain remover. Launder the piece and if it’s safe for the fabric, add chlorine bleach to the wash. If your household is prone to red wine spills, there’s even a product formulated to tackle vino marks, Gonzo Wine Out.
White Wine and Champagne
Nearly all clear liquids like white wine and champagne fall into the mysterious category of “invisible stains,” which are stains that seem to disappear initially, but later reappear. Tre Mitchell Wright, expert at Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, describes this process as the stains “caramelizing” and cautions that once these stains have reappeared, they will be almost impossible to get out. To avoid this situation, flush the stain with lots of cold water while it is still wet, so you can see where the wine hit the cloth. Then spritz the spot with a solution of 1-tablespoon clear liquid soap and about 10 oz. of water. Finish by laundering with an enzyme detergent.
TIP: Folklore has it that you should treat red wine stains with white wine. Don’t bother — you’re better off flushing the stain with lots of cold water.
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.