True Colors

By Chelle Cordero

January 30, 2014 5 min read

We work hard to get nice things, and it is so frustrating when a simple brush against something random, like a freshly painted wall, ruins it.

Brian Sansoni, vice president of communication at the American Cleaning Institute advises, "It's always important, of course, to read the garment-care labels before you launder your clothing -- especially for the first time."

The institute offers the following tips for addressing paint stains on clothing:

*Water-Based Paint

1) Rinse fabric in warm water while stains are still wet.

2) Launder.

NOTE: Once paint is dry, it likely will be difficult to remove.

*Oil-Based Paint and Varnish

1) Use the same solvent the label on the can advises for a thinner. If not available, use turpentine.

2) Rinse.

3) Pretreat with prewash stain remover, bar soap or laundry detergent.

4) Rinse and launder.

Sometimes, it isn't convenient to toss the stained item into the wash. Experienced homemakers have used the following steps for furniture and floors:

If your upholstered furniture or carpeting is freshly stained with paint, use a straight edge to remove any excess paint, scraping off as much as you can. Next, using a clean cloth and a little bit of turpentine, daub the remaining stain lightly until the paint is gone. Use a waterless hand cleaner and a damp sponge to clean the stain. Mix a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent in two cups of water and blot the stain until it is entirely clean. Finally, blot the area with cold water, and then press a dry cloth into the fabric or carpet to help dry the area. If the stain is old and the paint can is available to read, use the manufacturer's recommended thinning agent to soften the paint, treating it as a fresh stain.

Dry cleaning solvent, available in most department stores and many supermarkets, is recommended for cleaning crayon marks off of walls using terrycloth rags. Test the solvent on the wall in an inconspicuous place to make sure it will not damage the particular finish; this isn't recommended for wallpaper.

If you get rub marks or stains on purses or luggage, "check to see if there are special care or cleaning instructions that come along with it," says Sansoni. "If you're buying a particularly expensive purse, often times the manufacturer will sell specialty cleaners to help keep the purses clean." A good at-home cleaner for leather products is a cotton swab dipped in alcohol (test on an inconspicuous spot first). You can also wipe the product down with a soft cloth and saddle soap, not rinsing but buffing it to a high shine.

In the laundry, sorting articles by color and preferred wash temperature will help to keep colors where they belong. To prevent colors transferring in the wash, Sansoni says: "Use a dye trapping sheet that you can throw in the washing machine. It acts like a magnet, preventing colors from being transferred from one clothing item to another."

Wal-Mart recommends being proactive about treating stains and keeping a stain-fighting kit handy for the occasional mishap. For a carpet kit, it suggests the following items: baking soda, clean rags, clean sponges, club soda, dish liquid, oxygen-based stain remover, pet stain remover and deodorizer, rubbing alcohol, salt and stain-removal foam. Don't wait for a stain to set before treating it and always first scrape away any excess substance with a sharp -- preferably plastic -- edge.

Even though paint, nail polish and shoe polish may all look alike when spilled, the best methods to clean them up differ slightly. In all cases, removing the stain is more successful, but not guaranteed, sooner rather than later. For nail polish, use nail polish remover on the fabric (not on acetate or triacetate fabrics) and when possible, treat from the backside. After scraping away the excess, pad the damaged side with paper towels and apply the nail polish remover to the backside. Rinse and launder.

For liquid shoe polish, pretreat with a paste of powder detergent and water before laundering. Scrape off excess paste and shoe polish. Use a pretreat stain remover, scrub with detergent and then launder with color-safe bleach.

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