This past weekend, we spent many, many hours driving to and from a trip to Disneyland. And, as you can probably imagine, what with all the drinks and snacks being passed around, my son's clothes didn't fare all that well, particularly when he got red marker all over his khaki shorts (luckily, they were the washable kind of markers). And we can't forget the chocolate Mickey Mouse ice cream bar that got everywhere while we were in the park. So, with all the stains facing me, not to mention the mountain of laundry from the trip, I thought it would be apropos to introduce my super-cheap stain-fighting arsenal.
I understand it would be easier to buy a stain spray like Spray 'N Wash or some OxiClean. That stuff seems to work like magic. But, buying them tacks on an extra five to ten bucks onto your grocery bill; my arsenal includes stuff you probably already have. Plus, I'm all for having less chemicals around the house (my philosophy on that in another post...). All these methods take is an extra moment to decide what to use and a tiny bit more elbow grease.
To remove just about any stain, you just need some dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and vinegar; Vaseline isn't necessarily a stain remover, but it is good for keeping areas isolated so the solvents stay in place. These simple stain-fighters work nearly all the time. I first learned about these methods from a chart in a Martha Stewart magazine a few years ago. I can speak from experience when I say that this little chart has saved numerous articles of clothing. Ballpoint pen ink, sweet potato baby food, an errant drop of mustard, melted Popsicle, splatters from making jam - I've gotten all of them out with these four stain-fighters. Everyone should have a copy of the chart - I have mine straight from the magazine, laminated, and on the shelf with my laundry supplies.
The only stain-fighter not listed on the Martha Stewart chart: sunlight. You'll be amazed at how white your whites can get and how stubborn stains will fade in the sun. More on the clothesline experiment later. Until then, give these a whirl - I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.