16 Stain-Busting Secrets

Strawberry stains on a white shirt? Bleach marks on a dark carpet? No matter the mishap, here are 16 top "magic" cleanup tricks that will help you banish streaks, stains and spots for good. 


1. Berry stains on clothing
Hold the stained area tightly over a pot or a heatproof bowl. Then hold a kettle of boiling water at least 12 inches above the stain and pour the hot water through the stain.

2. Blood on clothing
Pour some three-percent hydrogen peroxide, the kind sold as an antiseptic, onto a fresh stain, watch it bubble up, then rinse it away. Repeat until stain is gone.

3. Grease on washable items
Dab on some Crisco or butter, and then launder as usual. Or, sprinkle talcum powder on the spot while it's still wet, let it dry, and brush it off.

4. Lipstick on clothing
Non-oily makeup remover on a cotton swab eliminates lipstick, foundation and eye shadow from many garments, from cotton to silk.

5. Miscellaneous food stains on anything
If you catch them right away, you may be able to remove all kinds of stains—even blood, salad dressing, grape juice, ink, pizza sauce, Kool-Aid—with a moist disposable towelette or baby wipe.

6. Miscellaneous food stains on a tie or other fabric
If you don't have a towelette or wipe, excuse yourself from the table, go into the bathroom and apply some saliva to the spot. The same enzyme that breaks down food in your mouth is effective in breaking down the food stain.

7. Rust on clothing
Apply lemon juice and salt, then place in the sun. (Caution: This will bleach out non-whites).

8. Bleach on carpeting
Use marking pen in as close a match as you can get. This isn't an ideal solution, but in fact it's an approximation of how professionals work.

9. Bubble gum on upholstery
Make a loop of duct tape, press it against the spot and jerk it away quickly. Repeat until the gum is gone.

10. Ink on fabric or carpet
A favorite trick for removing ink is hairspray, the cheap kind without any oil. It works on clothing (saturate, then launder) and on rugs (saturate, let dry, brush lightly with vinegar and water). It's the alcohol that really does the job.

11. Rust in toilet
Sprinkle on some Tang, leave it an hour, then use your scrub brush. (It's the citric acid that does the job.)

12. Spots on chrome
Rub them with wadded up aluminum foil.

13. Tomato sauce on Tupperware
Leave it in the sun.

14. Wine on carpet
To remove red wine spilled on a carpet, pour white wine on it.

15. Scratches on walnut furniture
Remove the meat from a fresh, unsalted walnut or pecan. Break it in half and rub the scratch with the broken side of the nut.

16. White water rings on wood
Make a paste of butter or mayonnaise and cigarette ashes. Apply to spot and buff with a slightly damp cloth. Polish as usual.

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