Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stain Removal to Save Your Favorite Clothes

Save money, time, and stress by learning how to remove stains from your favorite wardrobe pieces.

The thought of scrubbing away at stains and memorizing a long list of rescue products (club soda for this, baking soda for that) always seemed very daunting to me. Before I became more conscious of investing in quality pieces, if a stain couldn't be removed by a regular washing machine, then that piece of clothing went in the trash or the back of a drawer, never to be seen again. Doing laundry is time-consuming enough, so complicated stain removal methods simply did not seem worth the trouble.

That is, until I got paint on my favorite summer pants last week.

My Gaucho Pants: A Story of Love and Rescue

Years ago while at the beach, I bought a pair of loose, gaucho-style capris in a silky, swishy, dark brown polyester blend. They were low-rise and fitted in the hips and waist, with loose, swingy legs that sort of looked almost like a long skirt. With the right top and a nice sandal, they could be dressed up for a chic, casual look, but they were even more comfortable than sweatpants. Plus, they were cool and airy on hot summer days. I love these pants. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this fantastic "Ask a Stylist: How to" article from E! Online. There are pictures!)

Foolishly, I wore them while painting last week. The paint on our guest room door had chipped, and I thought that because I was only painting over a small area, it would be a relatively simple, mess-free task, and I didn't bother to change my clothes. That was a mistake. Of course I got paint splattered on my pants in several small but conspicuous areas. 

Although these pants weren't expensive, replacing them would be a hassle-- I've only seen them for sale at the beach, and we live hours from the shore. I felt instantly stressed out and upset with myself. Great! You've ruined your favorite pants! Good luck finding another pair! Perhaps you've heard the saying, "Desperate times call for desperate measures." Faced with these dire circumstances, I actually took the time to research the best way to get paint out of clothing.

"How to Get Paint out of Clothes" is a fantastic step-by-step guide from the Tidy Mom. I followed the steps using basic rubbing alcohol and an old toothbrush that I keep for cleaning purposes, and after some patience and scrubbing, I successfully got the paint out of my beloved gauchos. In fact, I was so thrilled with the results, that I even dug out an old pair of paint-splattered pants from the back of a drawer and tried it with a formerly favorite pair of lounge pants. (Remember when velour track pants were all the rage? I do.) Viola, it worked again. I got years-old paint stains out of velour using the stain removal methods that I found online from the Tidy Mom website.  

Lucky for me, this new-found success and confidence with stain removal really helped me out just a few days ago, when I spilled a cherry Icee (slushy) all over my khaki shorts. Before you wonder why a grown woman is drinking (and spilling) a cherry Icee, let me just say: I regret nothing.

My Khaki Shorts: Panic in York

If a bathing suit is the most dreaded thing for many women to shop for, finding a good pair of shorts is surely second on the list. Aside from matters of physical appearances and insecurities, buying shorts is especially tricky for women over 20. Finding the right length can be extremely difficult. Shorts that are long enough to be physically flattering may be too dowdy or conservative to be fun or comfortable; shorts that are short enough to be sexy may seem too young, risque, unflattering, or any combination of the previous. For these reasons, if you are a woman who is fortunate enough to find a flattering pair of shorts, you must do everything you can not to ruin them.
The khaki shorts. Good as new!

Several years ago, I bought a nice pair of khaki shorts online from Victoria's Secret. When I first bought these shorts in my early 20s, I didn't love them as much as I had hoped, but because I had spent more money on them than I was used to and because they were of a better quality than the clothes that I was used to buying, I kept these shorts but seldom wore them. However, as I've matured from my young 20s into now an almost-30-year-old (eep!), these shorts have really grown with me and my style. Jean shorts can sometimes seem too young, so the khaki material has been something of an upgrade for me, and the adjustable cuff on the legs makes these a versatile adaptation for my more grown-up style.

Alas, I'm a risk-taker. Sometimes I forget to coordinate what I wear with what I'm doing or eating. After craving, then successfully locating a retailer for, a cherry Icee, I clumsily spilled a good amount of the red, syrupy liquid on my khaki shorts. Panic ensued. There's no way you can get that out. They will be stained forever. Now you can never wear shorts again. Fortunately, my confidence with stain removal had been bolstered by my success with getting paint out of two pairs of pants, so I again took to the internet for research. One site explained to treat Slurpee stains based on their color, so I followed the guidelines for red Kool-Aid stains, which led me to an informative and helpful online guide.

"How to Remove Kool-Aid Stains" listed several methods, using either boiling water or ice water, and as it seemed simpler, I followed the instructions for using ice water and Borox, which is a popular laundry and cleaning booster that I keep at home. Again, my old toothbrush that I keep for cleaning helped me here. Initially, I was worried that the stain wouldn't come out completely; after repeating the procedure three times, I still saw faint traces of pink. However, I continued to follow the instructions to next machine wash the clothing on the cold cycle then line-dry. When I took my trusty khaki shorts off of the clothes line this afternoon, I was pleased to see that they are now as good as new!

Lessons Learned

Although it would have been much easier if I had simply prevented these stains from happening by changing my clothes first or wearing an apron, I am grateful for the experience of learning how to rescue my clothes from the brink of disaster. This has saved me the stress of having to waste time and money by shopping for replacements, plus it makes me appreciate what I have more because I know that if I take care of my things, they will last longer and I can enjoy them longer.

Thanks to modern technology, removing stains no longer seems like such a daunting task. Detailed, helpful instructions on how to clean everything can be found online, all within the palm of one's hand. Many of the tools or products needed to rescue a favorite clothing article from the donation box or back of a drawer can be readily found within the home and are not nearly as complicated as they may have seemed. Loving and caring for one's clothes through the years is a very smart, cost-effective, and resourceful habit that is tres chic. All it takes is a little patience, trust, and an old toothbrush!


  1. So good! It feels like we're swapping stories over drinks again!

  2. Glad it went OK. I'm a little wary with removing stains as I'm worried I'll damage the material I'm trying to clean.I remember an old leather jacket of mine (a favourite!) that I struggled with for a couple of days. In the end I had to just bite the bullet and buy some professional cleaning materials. Luckily, they worked great!

    Peter @ Colourlock

    1. Leather jackets are so stylish! I think it's definitely worth spending the extra money on professional cleaning if it will save a favorite piece. Smart choice! I'm glad it worked out!