Natural Stain Removers for Spaghetti Sauce
Few meals are better than a delicious spaghetti dinner, either at home or at your favorite Italian trattoria---until an errant forkful of saucy pasta ends up on your favorite blouse. When faced with a pernicious tomato stain, many people reach for harsh solvents that can damage delicate fabrics. But take heart: there are plenty of ways to remove spaghetti-sauce stains naturally, using products you're likely to have around the house.
Paper Towel and Napkins
The number-one rule of stain removal is to act as quickly as possible. Remove as much of the sauce as you can, and then blot the fabric with something absorbent, like a clean paper towel or napkin. Be careful not to press too hard, or you'll drive the stain into the fabric's fibers, making it harder to remove.
Baking Soda, Water and White Vinegar
Next, grab a box of baking soda. Sprinkle a healthy amount over the stain, covering it completely. Leave the baking soda in place for at least 15 minutes, while it draws the moisture from the fabric. Add more baking soda if the top layer becomes saturated. While the baking soda sits, make a mix of equal parts white vinegar and cold water in a large measuring cup. Remove the baking soda from the fabric. Turn the fabric wrong-side-up and pour the water-vinegar solution over the stain. Repeat as necessary, until the stain has lightened.
Clear Dishwashing Liquid
If you can still see a stain, dilute a small amount of clear dishwashing liquid---½ teaspoon or less---in up to a cup of cool water. Using a clean, white or colorfast towel, blot the stain with the solution. Don't rub the fabric with too much force; you might get the stain out, but you'll be left with a patch of ripped or fraying fibers. Then rinse with water.
Let the fabric drip-dry. If the stain is still visible once the fabric is dry, you can use hydrogen peroxide to lighten it. Be sure to use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution sold as a first-aid tool, not the much more heavily concentrated hydrogen peroxide used as a hair bleach. According to Deborah L. Martin, author of Natural Stain Removal Secrets, hydrogen peroxide is safe on most fabrics, but she recommends spot-testing it on an inconspicuous area of the fabric, just to make certain. Use a cotton swab to dab the hydrogen peroxide on the remaining stain.
Don't use hot water or put the fabric in your dryer until you're certain that you've removed as much of the stain as possible. Heat will set many food stains, including tomato sauce, making it nearly impossible to remove. If you're at a restaurant or can't immediately get to a laundry room, then find the nearest bathroom, dab clear hand soap onto the stain, and let it dry. This will keep the sauce from setting into the fabric, and give you time to clean it properly.
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