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How to Undo Common Stains

No matter how careful you are, inevitably, you’re going to spill something. Whether it’s red wine on your favorite shirt, tomato sauce on your best tablecloth, or chocolate on the rug, the time will come when you’ll have to move into action fast to remove a stain from clothing or furniture. Here’s a stain-removing guide from Real Simple for some of the most common culprits you’re likely to encounter:

Coffee. Stretch the coffee-stained fabric over a bowl and pour boiling water over it from about a foot above. If the coffee included milk or cream, follow up with an oil solvent. Sugar too? Pre-treat the item with a stain remover.

Wine. For red wine, start by giving the stain a coating of salt. Then stretch the fabric over a bowl and pour boiling water over it from a foot above. For white wine, run cold water over the stain then spray with a solution of 1 tbsp. of clear dish soap in 10 oz. of water, and dab with an enzyme detergent.

Chocolate. First, scrape off any excess chocolate on the fabric. Next, spray with the above dish soap solution and dab with detergent.

Gum. Start by rubbing an ice cube over the gum to freeze it. Then chip away as much of it as you can using a spatula or plastic knife. You can loosen any remaining gum with a lubricant like glycerin. Rinse the fabric and dab any remaining gum with dish soap.

Tomato sauce. After scraping off any excess sauce, spray the stain with a dish soap solution and blot with a damp towel to remove. If the stain is still there, apply a few drops of white vinegar to the area. 

Lipstick. Spray the stain with hairspray and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then wipe with a damp cloth to remove. 

No matter what stain you’re tackling, the faster you move into action, the better your odd of removing the stain. Also, be sure to take these stain-removing steps before the item goes in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will set the stain for good. 

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