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.
The scourge of T-shirts for eons, sweat and antiperspirant come together to make an ideal waterproof mixture that cakes up and yellows white cotton. Weiss, however, has a few tricks up her sleeve. "Meat tenderizer is the best for perspiration stains," she says. "Meat tenderizer is a protein enzyme, so about 30 minutes after applying it to a stain, it should eat through it completely." The next best thing is crushed aspirin, which works in a pinch if you happen to be sans tenderizer for some odd reason. Take a few aspirin, pulverize them, and add just enough water to make a thick paste and apply it to the yellow areas. After it sits for several minutes, wash as usual. Repeat if necessary. Whatever method you choose, resist the urge to use bleach on white shirts: It turns out that move can actually make stains worse. Finally, Weiss offers a shortcut: "Wash your shirts inside out, which will help get traces of deodorant off."
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