Whether it's carpeting, clothing or upholstery, a new fabric can be ruined at the arrival of that first stain. Spills and spots can quickly mar the surface of any item, transforming a prized possession into an eyesore in a matter of seconds. But knowing how to treat a stain can save such items from the scrap heap and save their owners a substantial amount of money along the way.
* Mildew: Rare is the homeowner who hasn't battled mildew at one point or another. Bleach and baking soda are the materials most often used to tame a mildew outbreak. Depending on the severity of the mildew, begin with one part bleach to one part water in a spray bottle. Allow this solution to sit on the mildew and then rinse. If this does not work, mix one part bleach to three parts baking soda to form a paste. Use an old toothbrush or scrub brush to scour the mildew, allowing the concoction to set for roughly 30 minutes before rinsing it off. If the mildew is still stubborn, increase the amount of bleach in the cleaning solution. Remember to always clean in a well-ventilated room. Diluted bleach also can remove mildew from siding or plastic patio furniture. Never mix bleach with an acid, such as ammonia or cleaning products that contain ammonia.
* Red wine: Anyone who has hosted a party where adults are drinking wine knows the potential for a spill is significant. Red wine can stain quickly, so fast action is necessary to prevent wine spills from causing permanent damage. Use cold water to flush out the stain as much as possible. When cleaning spills on clothing, flush the red wine from the back of stain or the underside of the fabric. This is not often possible when cleaning spills on carpets and upholstery, so in such instances blot the stain with a clean cloth, such as a white rag, that will not transfer any additional coloring to the stain. Sprinkle table salt on the wine stain and allow it to sit for two to three minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cold water while blotting up the excess. Continue to rinse until the stain has dissipated.
* Oily stains: Oil and water do not mix, so using water to try to treat an oil-based stain will only exacerbate the problem. The first step to cleaning oil-based stains is to use something absorbent, such as corn starch or talcum powder, on the stain and blot with a cloth. This will help draw some of the oil out of the fabric. Lay paper towels down on a table and place the stained clothing face-down on the towels. Use a dry cleaning solvent on the back of the stain and push down to blot out the oily residue onto the paper towels. Repeat the process until the oil is removed. Apply a laundry pretreatment product or even plain laundry detergent to the stain. Wash in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric and allow the item to air dry.
* Pet stains: As young puppies learn to house train, they can leave messes indoors, while cats may soil areas of the home if they are scared or finicky. Pet stains should be treated thoroughly because not only do they look unsightly, but they can begin to smell as well. Leaving odor behind may encourage the pet to urinate in the same area over and over. Plain, white vinegar is a good tool for pet stains. Blot up as much of the urine as possible. Use a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water on the stain. Spray it onto the soiled spot. Blot up the remainder with a dry, clean cloth. Repeat as necessary. To remove any residual odor, sprinkle baking soda on the spot after it has dried. Let the baking soda sit for up to a day. Then vacuum up the powder.
When stains occur, avoid rubbing or pushing the stain further into the fabric. Work from the outside in when blotting to contain the stain as much as possible.