We've lost count of the shirts that we've lost to blood stains and pen ink, neckties to spaghetti sauce, and pants to bike-chain grease. And that's just in the past year (what can we say – we play rough). We've tried the usual stain sticks with middling results and aren't keen on the toxic witch's brew of chemicals that dry cleaners employ. So we rang up Mona Weiss, cofounder of the L.A.-based Eco Nuts, a purveyor of certified-organic cleaning products.
Weiss walked us through the best ways to naturally treat clothing and fabric when mishaps happen. We were surprised both at how simple these techniques are and how most of them simply rely on common household products. Keep in mind this one piece of advice, though: After your stained clothes have been treated and run through the wash, they should under no circumstance be put into the dryer, which will permanently set any stain, Weiss says. Instead, hang dry the garment until you can confirm the stain is completely gone. If it persists, re-treat it and do another round of washing. If that doesn't work, your options are going to a pro dry cleaner (preferably an organic one) or taking a trip to the mall for a replacement.
Treat (and re-treat) your red wine–stained shirt with white vinegar or lemon juice – the sooner, the better. Or employ Weiss's party trick: "Pour white wine over the red wine stain; and it'll dilute it, and keep it from setting," Weiss says, though she's quick to admit that she doesn't know the science behind the technique. That's just a preemptive move, however, because you'll have to apply white vinegar again, then wash the garment in cold water and re-treat it as necessary.
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