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Monday, March 09 , 2015

Ink-Removing Formula

Did you forget to cap a pen and now it has left its mark on your gym outfit, upholstery or other fabric? We've got a homemade stain-removing formula for you to try.

First, try some easy remedies on that ink spot…

If it's a colored piece of fabric, soak the stained area in milk, then toss in the washer. You can also douse the ink stain with rubbing alcohol. Let it sit for five minutes, then launder as usual.

For all fabrics (and if you don't want to use harsh bleach on your white shirt), spray a good two-second spritz of hairspray on the ink mark, then launder the clothing as usual.

If the ink blot is on upholstery, soak the spot with rubbing alcohol or vodka. The stain should dissipate within a few minutes. Caution: Be sure to test an inconspicuous area of the fabric with the alcohol. The spot should dry completely (no water stains or rings) after an hour or two.

If none of the above simple solutions work, here’s our heavy-duty ink-removing formula...

In a bowl, combine one tablespoon of milk, one tablespoon of white vinegar, one teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of borax powder (available at supermarkets in the laundry detergent section).

For ink-stained clothing, cloth napkins, etc., sandwich the stained area of the fabric between four thick sheets of paper towel. Dip a sponge in the mixture, and pat it on the area of paper towel covering the stain. (You want the liquid to reach the fabric, but you don’t want to put it directly on the stain.) After about three minutes, remove the paper towels, and sponge the stained area with cool water. Repeat the entire procedure until the stain is gone. When it is, launder the item as usual. (You may need to professionally clean a removable upholstery cover.)

More help with household stains…


Monday, November 17 , 2014

Sticky-Floor Solutions

Did you just discover a spot of sticky gunk on your vinyl or linoleum floor? It could be accumulated food grease or dirt, wax buildup (if you still wax your floor) or an old label that was never removed. Don't pull out the sharp scrapers yet! Here are three floor-preserving ways to get rid of the gunk...

If it's a greasy-sticky patch from a food or oil spill, pour cola on the stain and let it stay there for one hour. Then wipe it off— both the soda and the stain. (Legend has it that Coca-Cola works best due to its acidic content, so you might want to try the “real thing” first.) Don't let it sit for more than an hour because soda can stain some vinyl floors if it dries. (If you’re not sure if your floor has a protective coating, you might want to test some cola on a patch of unseen vinyl before using it to clean the grease.)

If you think the sticky spot is from a sticker, use our favorite pantry floor cleaner— white vinegar. Just pour straight vinegar directly on the spot, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Wipe away with hot water and a damp cloth. The stickiness will wipe away with the greatest of ease! (You can also use vinegar on sticky food spills, but we think the cola works best when grease is involved.)

If your vinyl or linoleum floor is sticky from wax buildup, take club soda and pour it on a small section of the floor. Scrub it in with a brush, and give it a few minutes as you start the process on the next small section, then go back to the first section and wipe it off.

More cleaning tricks...


Friday, November 07 , 2014

Nontoxic Toilet Cleaners

Stains on your toilet interior can come from mineral deposits, bacteria or organisms in your water (yuck!). Wherever they come from, they are not a pretty sight! Here are three ways to get a stain-free toilet without a harsh bleach treatment.

Toss a few Alka-Seltzer or denture-cleansing tablets into the toilet bowl. Once the fizzing stops, scrub the stains with a brush and flush.

If you have some Kool-Aid fruit juice powder (or Crystal Light...or Tang—any drink mix that contains citric acid), sprinkle one-third cup of the powder in the bowl. Leave it there for a few hours, then scrub with a brush and flush.

If the stains are too tough for even Tang or denture cleanser, empty a few vitamin C capsules, or mash vitamin C tablets into a powder and drop it in the bowl. Let it stay that way for a few hours. Then scrub with a brush and flush.

More help with household stains...


Wednesday, September 24 , 2014

Red-Wine Stain Remover

Yikes! Someone just spilled red wine on your carpet. Grab a bottle of white wine, but make sure it's champagne! Or another form of carbonated white wine, such as Prosecco. You have to act fast. Blot up as much of the red wine as possible, then pour a little bubbly white onto the stain and scrub with a damp sponge (one with a scrubby surface works best). Wipe up any foamy leftovers, and the red wine should be gone.

If you don't want to waste your champagne, grab a can of shaving cream (the regular white foamy kind) and squirt enough to cover the stain completely. Wipe into the carpet (with aforementioned scrubby sponge), lifting up any excess cream. Your stain should disappear! We got the shaving cream tip from our neighborhood liquor-store guy when we were buying our delicious champagne. It works great...and is fun to use, if you don't mind your carpeted room smelling like a barbershop for a bit.

More help with stains...

Tuesday, August 05 , 2014

Remove Stains from Your Marble Top

If you have a beautiful white marble surface (an antique armoire or a coffee table, for example) that does not have stone-sealer protection, you need to be on the lookout for stains, because marble is a porous stone. Be sure to wipe up any spills immediately, and then do this...

For white marble: Mix one part 3% hydrogen peroxide to four parts water. Dip a cloth in the solution, and rub the stain, then wipe it quickly. If the stain doesn't go away, repeat the process. Do not use this solution on colored marble because peroxide can lighten nonwhite surfaces.

For colored marble: Spill enough table salt to cover the stain, then dribble on some milk to dampen the salt (sour milk works well, if you happen to have that around). Leave the salt-milk paste on the stain for two days (cover with plastic wrap if it's in a high-traffic area). Then use a damp cloth to wipe up the milky salt. The stain should be gone for good!

Note: These cleaning methods are safe for most marble surfaces, but there are many varieties of stone that might react differently. Be sure to test an unseen spot first with either solution to make sure it doesn't discolor the marble.

More household magic...


Friday, July 18 , 2014

Counter Stain Remover

How many times has the purple or red ink from a stamped-on price stayed on your countertop? It does not have to be there forever. Here's what to do...

Rub off the ink with rubbing alcohol or the inside of a piece of lemon rind. Then wipe with a damp cloth or sponge. If the alcohol or the lemon doesn't do it, try nail-polish remover.

If you have any hesitation about using alcohol or nail-polish remover on the surface of your counter, test a tiny can't-be-seen-area first.

More help with stains...


Friday, April 25 , 2014

Tupperware Stain Eraser

Plastic containers are great storage devices, but they can be easily stained...especially by tomato sauce! Since plastic is quite porous, you don't want to soak it in soapy water and have it forever smell like soap. Here's how to get rid of that greasy tomato sauce ring on your plasticware...

Coffee grounds! Add a drop of grease-cutting dish detergent to a handful (about one-quarter cup) of used grounds, and scrub away at the tomato-sauce stains until all is clear. The coffee grounds absorb and neutralize the grease and tomato color better than a sponge or scrubber can (they just smear the sauce around). After you scrub away the stain and grease, thoroughly wash out your container with warm water and all traces of tomato stain should be gone.

More help in the kitchen...

Tuesday, February 11 , 2014

Coffee-Stain-Removal Trick

Plunk! There goes a spilled bit of coffee on your pants, and you have a meeting or social engagement in 10 minutes. Quick, dip a tissue in some water and wet the stain completely, dabbing slightly with the tissue. The stain should (at least) dissipate to unnoticeable as the water dries (it might disappear completely, especially on khaki pants). If it doesn't disappear completely, here's what to do when you get near your washing machine...

If you have a coffee or tea stain on colored fabric, soak the area in white vinegar for about 15 minutes, then launder as usual. For stains on white fabric (also delicates such as cotton, linen and lace), first dampen the stained area with warm water. Spread out the garment in a sink or basin. Drop two denture-cleaning tablets into one-half cup of warm water. Pour the fizzing liquid on the stain, and let it stay that way for 30 minutes. Then launder as usual. Remember, this is for white fabric only.

More help with stains...


Friday, January 31 , 2014

Get Salt Stains Off Boots and Shoes

If you've been out walking on snowy or icy streets or sidewalks, your leather boots or shoes might be wet and streaked with white from salt residue. Here's what to do to keep your boots and shoes looking and feeling stylish...

Let shoes or boots dry naturally, away from direct heat and out of the sun. You can speed up the drying process by stuffing them with newspaper (which will absorb odors, too). When your leather (see the next paragraph for suede) shoes or boots are completely dry, rub them with a piece of raw potato—the inside part of the potato, not the skin— then buff them up with a bit of castor oil on a clean rag. Your leather will look and feel much better.

To remove salt from suede boots, create a solution made from one cup of water and one tablespoon of distilled vinegar. Dip a soft sponge in the vinegar-water solution, and gently wipe the stains off the suede. Brush with a suede brush when the boots or shoes have dried from the vinegar-water treatment.

More stain-removal tricks...


Thursday, December 19 , 2013

Leather-Stain Eraser

Congratulations! You found your leather gloves from last year...both hands. But there's a stain on a finger (or palm or wherever). Who knows where that came from? You don't want to subject leather to soap and water. Here's what to do...

You can erase practically any stain except oily ones (see below for those) from your leather gloves with a gum eraser (available at stationery and art-supply stores and online from Amazon.com). You probably haven't seen this type of eraser since grade-school art class—it's the big, crumbly, tan-colored eraser that smells quite rubbery and tends to break off pieces of itself as you rub it against things.

For an oil-based stain on leather gloves, dab a fingerful of cornstarch onto the spot (whatever lightly covers the stain…don’t pack it on too thick) and let it sit overnight. Whisk it off the next day with a soft brush or a pair of clean fingertips, and the grease mark should be gone or at least much lighter.

More help with stains...


Monday, December 16 , 2013

Lipstick-Stain Eraser

Yikes! Someone just kissed you and got lipstick on your collar, lapel or sleeve (you don't have to explain the details). What to do? Here's a temporary fix—and a permanent fix...

Using a slice of white or soft rye bread, gently blot the mark away (being careful not to smear the lipstick into your clothes). Depending on the color of the lipstick, it might disappear completely. If not (here's where the permanent fix comes in), rub some plain white toothpaste into the spot. Scrub gently with an old toothbrush or clean scouring pad, then launder as usual. This should work on both whites and colors. (Regular white toothpaste usually does not leave bleach blots on colorfast clothes, but test on an inside seam, just in case.)

More help with stains...


Monday, November 04 , 2013

Get Those Stains and Smells Off Your Cutting Boards

To remove a stain from your plastic cutting board or wood butcher’s block, sprinkle table salt on it, then rub it with an inch-thick wedge of lemon or lime until the juice combines with the salt and the stain begins to dissipate. Rinse and dry. The salt draws out the grease that’s clinging to your board and acts as an abrasive, while the lemon/lime helps bleach out the stain.

To remove a strange smell from a cutting board, take a bigger piece of lemon and rub (again, the flesh side) wherever the smell is coming from. Rub until the lemon scent overwhelms the smell. This works on plastic or wood. Rinse. Dry. Sniff. No smell! Note: Most bacteria cannot survive without moisture. Keep all surfaces in the kitchen dry...especially cutting boards and butcher’s block.

More household help...


Wednesday, October 30 , 2013

Homemade Treatment for That Set Grease Stain

An easy fix for a grease spot on your pants is grease-cutting dish detergent...if you get to it fast enough. But what if you couldn't get to it right away and that tiny puddle on your pants has set for a while (like for a day, a week, after a regular wash and dry)? Here's what you do: Soak the grease spot with a good squirt of dish detergent. Then take a finger full of cornstarch and rub that into the soapy detergent. Try not to use too much cornstarch. You want to use just enough so that it combines with the dish detergent and forms a smooth, thin paste on the surface. Let set for 15 minutes, then wash as usual. The stain should be gone.

More cleaning magic...


Friday, October 04 , 2013

Get the Rust Out of Your Clothes

Sometimes you pull a shirt or towel out of the drawer and there are blotchy rust spots on it. Where did those come from? If you have hard water in your house and use bleach, the bleach's chlorine can leach iron out of the water, which can create brown spots. Rusty pipes could also be at the root of the problem. Or a metal hanger, or the metal attachments on a belt or clothespin, can leave rust stains on your clothes that make them look ruined. They're not! Here's what to do to get rid of the rust: For most colored and nondelicate fabrics, make a paste using equal amounts of table salt and cream of tartar (a powder available in the spice or baking aisles in supermarkets) mixed with hot water.

Work the paste into the rust stains, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then launder as usual. For delicate fabrics—such as silk, satin, lace or organdy—proceed with caution...test the paste on an inside seam to be sure.

On nondelicate white clothing, sheets or towels, douse the rust spot with lemon juice and leave it in the sun for a few hours. Then launder as usual. Lemon juice should be OK on your delicates, but test an inside seam just to be sure.

More stain solutions...


Friday, September 20 , 2013

No More Ring-Around-the-Collar!

It seems like you just bought that white collared shirt, and there it is...that ugly yellowish ring. What to do? Grab some shampoo! First, check the ingredients. If the first ingredient is water rather than oil—that's good. Then look for ammonium lauryl sulfate, the foaming agent that will help break down an oil stain. Once you know that you have the right ingredients in hand, take an old, clean toothbrush and rub a few drops of the shampoo on the ring-around-the-collar stain. Let the shampoo set for about 30 minutes, then wash the shirt thoroughly in warm water.

More ways to remove stains...

Thursday, September 12 , 2013

Blood Stain Eraser

Don't use hot water on a blood stain. It will set the stain. Instead, let cold water run over the bloodied fabric. Then make a paste with unseasoned meat tenderizer (make sure the ingredients list either “bromelain” or “papain”) and cold water, and put it on the stain. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse off the tenderizer and wash the garment as usual. Bromelain is derived from pineapple and papain from papaya. Both are enzymes that are good at breaking down protein fibers (which ultimately helps to dissolve blood and tenderize meat).

Money-saving tips for cleaner clothes...


Tuesday, April 24 , 2012

Stain Remover

Here’s how to remove stains from your vinyl or plastic tablecloth. Make a paste from 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and one quarter teaspoon of lemon juice, and rub the stain. Leave it for 15 minutes, then brush off the dried paste and rinse the tablecloth clean.