One of the ironies of Thanksgiving is that it’s a day we get dressed in some of favorite clothes, but also a day when our clothes are most likely to be ruined. Careless hands and running children and can send saucy foods and colorful drinks spilling onto our best garments, potentially ruining things we spent a lot of time and money to find.
The thing you need to know about stains is that there are two types: ones that are water-based, and ones that are oil-based. Water-based stains can be successfully treated at home with proper laundering, while oil-based ones will need to go to the dry cleaners. If you apply the wrong treatment, you can permanently set in the damage, especially if you don’t already have a relationship with a good cleaner.
Water-based stains, such as those from fruits, ice cream, or drinks (coffee, sodas, juices, etc.) will need to be blotted out. The key here is to blot, not scrub or rub. Once you’ve done so, take off the garment and spread some absorbent powder over the damage. You can use talcum powder or cornstarch, though in a pinch, salt will work as well. Let the powder soak up the stain a bit before brushing it off, then treat the garment to an enzyme presoak (which you can buy at your local grocery store). Afterwards, vigorously rub the area with some liquid detergent, and let it sit for a bit before laundering as usual.
Oil-based stains need to be treated professionally, so after you blot out the damage, take the garment to the cleaners. To be sure, a good cleaner can treat water-based stains as well, and if your garment is particularly dear, you may want to leave all the work to a professional. Finding a good cleaner, however, is difficult, as so many are just drop off points for the same undiscerning, mass-cleaning company. If you don’t have someone in your area you trust, you can send your garment RAVE FabricCARE in Arizona. They’re a favorite among many menswear enthusiasts, and will be sure to carefully identify the type of stain they’re working with, so they can apply the right treatments.
Of course, if the stain doesn’t come out in the end, you can always list the item on eBay. Just post a photo of McQueen wearing something dirty and say your garment has a lot of character.