Winter is the season for one-pot meals and slow, simmered sauces. Summer’s the time for quick, high-heat grilling and flavor-packed condiments. From cookout fixings like ketchup and mustard to the mayonnaise that dresses lobster rolls, these tasty topping are stains waiting to happen. If you find yourself with condiments on your clothing, follow these simple steps to remove the offending marks:
Ketchup and other tomato-based sauces like barbecue sauce and salsa should first be scraped off of the cloth, to remove as much of the sauce as possible (a dull knife is a good scraping tool). Then spray the stain with a laundry pretreater, rub it into the stain and let the product work for at least 10 minutes before laundering. Opt for the warmest water the garment can take according to the care label and feel free to add color-safe bleach to the load.
Tre Mitchell Wright, fabric care expert at Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, recommends removing as much of the mustard as possible and then pretreating the spot with white vinegar. Launder according to the care label with detergent and a little color-safe bleach to finish the job.
Mayonnaise, melted butter and more
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).
Stain solutions for soft-drinks, sangria and more
Quick: Name the messiest summer foods you can imagine. Did barbecue come to mind? Between their savory sauces and their often hand-held nature (drumsticks, ribs), grilled goodies can really do a number of your clothing. When it comes to barbecue stains, “Prevention is half the battle,” says Tre Mitchell Wright, expert at Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, who reminds us that even if you’re at a backyard barbecue, your pants are not a napkin. If you do end up with residual marks from either cooking or consuming barbecue, we’ve got you covered:
If you get charcoal dust on your clothing, always get rid of the charcoal residue while the stain is still dry. Do this by brushing it off or, in a situation where a whole bag of charcoal has exploded on you, you might even try using a vacuum. Tre says the next line of defense is to make a paste with a powder detergent and a little bit of water and apply it to the stain (a powder detergent is always a better bet for a particulate stain, which is a stain made up of tiny particles like charcoal). Work the paste into the stain and then launder the garment using the warmest water the garment can handle according to the care label. Check to make sure the stain has disappeared before drying.
Read more »
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.
Watch out for watermelon! Find out why