Two decades of practice later, I'm still no good at keeping the food off of my clothes
December 7, 2006 10:26 PM   Subscribe

Stain-on-favorite-shirt-filter: Is my favorite button-down oxford still salvageable?

On Tuesday night I somehow managed to splatter about eight, ladybug-sized specks of tomato sauce onto one of my favorite J.Crew oxford shirts. I brought the shirt to the cleaners shortly thereafter, without any pretreatment. The shirt was dry cleaned and I got it back today (Thursday) and found that splotches of orange were still visible.

Hoping for the best, I put the shirt through three machine wash cycles, pretreating each time with Spray 'n Wash Stick. The last cycle I also pretreated with Clorox With Bleach Alternative.

I think the stains faded slightly after washing, but they don't look like they will come out in the wash anytime soon.

Is there anything else I can try to get the spots out? I'd go out and buy another shirt, but there isn't a J.Crew that's easily accessible here near my college, and it's sold out online.
posted by roomwithaview to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Leave the thing in the sun for a few days and see if the spots fade acceptably.
posted by Good Brain at 10:46 PM on December 7, 2006

Have you tried using something like Oxyclean on them? Is that what the Clorox with bleach alternative is?
posted by Addlepated at 11:14 PM on December 7, 2006

What does the shirt look like? Is it a solid color or stripes?
posted by puddinghead at 11:18 PM on December 7, 2006

Best answer: As a frequent stainer of button down shirts, the two things that have worked best for me are treating it with dishwashing liquid (usually a few hours after I spilled - completely anecdotal, but I think I've had more success with Palmolive Oxy than the lemon scented Joy) and if it's persistent, making a baking soda paste that I rub into the stains and leave overnight can help.
posted by milkrate at 11:28 PM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: It's striped. Classic white and blue pattern.

I have no idea what the Clorox with bleach alternative is.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:28 PM on December 7, 2006

Best answer: OK, here's a great trick. Works great on table cloths with wine stains, too.

Do not wash the fabric first.
Boil water (tea kettle), stretch out the fabric over your sink, and raise the tea kettle a couple feet above the area of the stain, and pour the hot water into the stain. Gravity (water pressure) will force out the stain.

I was totally amazed the first time I did this.
Careful of the hot water splashing you. Best to have one person hold the fabric while the other pours.
posted by artdrectr at 1:09 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

That was meant as a tip for NEXT time. (Your shirt had already been washed first).
posted by artdrectr at 1:12 AM on December 8, 2006

Best answer: I used Oxyclean to get wine, blood and urine out of a delicate white lace flowergirl's dress. Stuck it in a bucket to soak for 24 hours, then washed it as normal, and it came out good as new. Yes, everything had dried first and no, it isn't a very good story.
posted by bizwank at 1:37 AM on December 8, 2006

Best answer: Seconding the dish soap trick. It got nasty black car door grease out of a white pair of pants when it had been sitting on them through a (long) bridal shower and a ninety-minute car ride home.

As an aside, I'd avoid the dry cleaner's for clothes that can be washed normally; it's my completely unscientific opinion that the chemicals they use are better at refreshing clothes than actually cleaning them, especially if you have a tough stain.

Good luck!
posted by AV at 5:27 AM on December 8, 2006

Best answer: I agree with AV. Try not to send things like cotton shirts to the cleaners if you can help it. It's better to launder your machine washables and have them professionally ironed if you don't want to press your shirts yourself. There are people that do ironing as a side-job. Some housekeepers do it on the side and it's way more economical and better for your clothes than dry cleaning.

Martha says to use dishsoap, white vinegar, enzyme detergent, and hydrogen peroxide.

Good luck.
posted by LoriFLA at 5:40 AM on December 8, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you for all the excellent answers. When I took the shirt out of the dryer, I actually had to hunt quite carefully to see the stains. Huzzah. I'm hoping they'll be vanquished completely in the next few washings, and failing that, I'll try the Oxyclean.

Again, thanks for all the tips and advice. Next time I'll try some of your methods first.
posted by roomwithaview at 7:02 AM on December 8, 2006

stretch out the fabric over your sink... artdrectr

or use one of these.

Also, if you don't mind changing the color of your shirt, before you wash it, soak it in whatever you spilled it in, then wash it. No stain, but different color shirt.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:25 AM on December 8, 2006

Have you tried Lestoil??

I have had success getting stains out after items have been washed using this item.

But my best success with it is when I use it to treat grease spots - which I get on my clothes daily. You pour some on the stain, toss it in the laundry basket and wash it whenever you do laundry next. It's a solvent.
You can also clean floors with it.
you can get it at the hardware store or most big stores.

In your case, I would dampen the item, pour on lestoil and scrub the spots against each other, then lay it flat and let it soak overnight.

Wash in cold water and let it air dry and see if it worked.

posted by chickaboo at 9:50 AM on December 8, 2006

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