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How to get stains out of almost anything

Grease

Clothing

Richardson says it can be “very frustrating” to get grease stains out of clothing — but there is a simple trick. “Use a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water on the stain. Apply liberally and then treat with laundry soap and water. “DO NOT put the garment in the dryer until you have seen that the stain is gone,” he warns.

Rugs and upholstery

Richardson advises dabbing grease stains with laundry soap and rinsing with water. Follow up by dabbing a little white vinegar on the spot if the stain still shows.

Pet Urine

Clothing

Leverette says washing the item with a heavy-duty detergent in the hottest water recommended for the fabric should do the trick. “Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water to help with odor removal. If the stain is old and the odor is strong, mix a solution of cool water and add two cups white distilled vinegar. Completely submerge the fabric and allow it to soak overnight,” she says. Wash as recommended above. Line drying the items outside will also help get rid of the odors.

Rugs and upholstery

As soon as possible, soak up urine stains with white paper towels, an old cloth, or a wet/dry shop vacuum, says Leverette. If using a cloth, press it firmly into the stain using an old shoe and keep moving to a dry area or new paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. Commercial pet stain removers work fine but you can easily make your own by mixing one-part distilled white vinegar and one-part cool water and pouring it into a spray bottle, she says. Be sure to completely saturate the carpet all the way to the backing. Use a soft-bristle brush to work it deep into the fibers, and blot the solution away using paper towels or a shop vacuum, allowing the stain to air dry.

When the carpet is dry, sprinkle the area with baking soda. Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. “This should be mixed fresh each time because hydrogen peroxide turns to pure water after exposure to light,” Leverette explains. Spray or pour this solution onto the baking soda and use a soft bristle brush to work it into the carpet. Blot or vacuum away the moisture, allowing the carpet to air dry away from direct heat. When the carpet is dry, vacuum to lift the fibers.

Grass

Clothing

Leverette recommends treating grass stains with a stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent (Tide and Persil contain the needed enzymes to remove the stains). “Work the stain remover into the fabric with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Set aside for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. If the stains remain or are older, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water and allow the garment to soak overnight, then wash,” she says.

Coffee

Clothing

Richardson says the easiest way to remove coffee stains is to run hot water directly through the stain. “If the stain sets, spot treat it with a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water, then use a brush and a little laundry soap to remove the vinegar.

Rugs and upholstery

Leverette recommends blotting the stain and mixing a solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing detergent in two cups of warm water. Dip a clean white cloth, sponge, or soft bristle brush in the solution. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep it from spreading, work the cleaning solution into the stain. Blot with a dry cloth to absorb the solution. “Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. Finish by dipping a clean cloth in plain water to rinse the spot. This is especially important because any soapy residue left in the carpet will actually attract more soil,” she explains. Allow the stain to air dry away from direct heat, then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

Granite or marble countertops

Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. “It will solve almost all tough stains,” says Leverette, who advises against using acidic cleaners like vinegar or lemon juice, which can etch the stone.

Mud

Clothing

Richardson says the easiest way to remove mud from your clothes is to use laundry soap and a brush directly on the fabric. “Wet the area and then rub the stain with soap and a brush — repeat twice if the stain is really set,” he says.

Rugs and upholstery

Richardson says to wet the stain generously with water, use laundry soap and a brush to remove the mud, then spray vinegar and water on the area to dissolve the soap. Finally, blot with a clean dry towel.

Blood

Clothing

Leverette says to flush the stained area with cold (never hot) water as soon as possible. “Hot water will cook the protein in the blood, making it more difficult to remove from the fabric,” she explains. Treat the stain with stain remover or a bit of liquid heavy-duty laundry detergent, working it into the fibers with a soft-bristled brush. Set aside for 15 minutes and then wash as usual in cool water. “If the stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and water and submerge the entire garment, allowing it to soak at least four hours,” she says. Repeat if needed and wash as usual.

Rugs and upholstery

Blot up as much moisture as possible with a white paper towel, says Leverette. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel as the blood is absorbed to prevent making the stain larger. If the stain has dried, use a soft bristled brush to loosen the dried blood and vacuum away before treating.

Mix one teaspoon of liquid hand dish washing detergent in two cups of cold water. Dip a white cloth or the brush in this solution and work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Blot or lightly scrub the stain and blot with a dry paper towel to absorb the moisture. When the stain is gone, dip a clean white cloth in plain cold water and rinse the area to remove all cleaning solution. Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the fibers.

If this method doesn’t work, Leverette says to mix one tablespoon household ammonia with 1/2 cup water. Apply to the stain and let it sit on the carpet for at least 10 minutes. Blot away and rinse with plain water and repeat until the stain is removed.

So go ahead — get dirty without fear this summer. At least now you know how to clean it all up.

More Cleaning Hacks

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