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Domestic stain removers - myths and reality


Hair spray (as a soil remover) can be an effective agent in removing ink stains, however hair spray contains alcohol and other ingredients with properties that can be dangerous to many dyes and fabrics.

Ice is sometimes blogged as a remedy for chewing gum stains. The ice stiffens the gum and allows it to be picked from the fabric. This may work in limited cases, but it should be pointed out that gum dissolves easily in drycleaning solvent, which is a much safer remedy than pulling away the outer layer of a delicate fabric.

Lemon juice is used by some for the removal of rust stains. While it is sometimes effective, it should be noted that after a period of time, the lemon juice will oxidise and may cause a stain that cannot be removed.

Nail polish remover is used by many people to remove make-up and other stains; however, nail polish remover often contains acetone which can dissolve certain fabrics such as acetate.

Soda water is often touted as a successful stain remover because the carbonated bubbles provide some mystical properties capable of removing stains. However it has the same properties as water and nothing more, and the bubbles do not act as a stain remover whatsoever. Many non aquious stains will in fact be set in by Soda water.

Soap and water has been advocated for the removal of all stains. It may work in a few cases, however dry based stains such as glue, paint, oil, and nail polish cannot be removed using soap and water. Most soaps contain an alkali content, which will oxidise stains such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, liquor, and fruit juice. The alkali content and moisture added to make a soap solution can also have a adverse effect on some fabrics.

Milk (as a spot remover) is sometimes used for stains like ink or blood. While this is sometimes successful, it should only attempted if the fabric and dye are not affected by the milk, and if it can be safely rinsed in water immediately afterwards.

Alcohol (as a stain remover) does provide some good stain removal properties; however, it is also an agent that will alter dyes and discolour fabrics.

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