- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Q: I saw your April 26 column, “Products prevent, fix dye bleeds,” in The Washington

Times. I have a turquoise cotton blouse that has a stain from a yellow highlighting marker. I tried using Shout, but the stain is still there. The blouse has only been air-dried.

Do you have any suggestions for what I can try to get out this stain without taking out the color?

A: You would think this type of stain would react like food coloring or other water-soluble marker ink and flush out easily. Before you attempt to use any stain-removal agent, however, test the turquoise dye for colorfastness. Because the stain is dye-based, you may want to try Carbona Ink and Crayon remover, Afta, Goof Off, or a similar dye-removal product.

If this doesn’t work, you can try applying a mixture of liquid laundry detergent and vinegar or sponging the area with isopropyl alcohol. As a last resort, mild bleaching agents may be used. If you are hesitant to try these products on your turquoise blouse, you may want to take the item to a professional cleaner.

Remember, the goal is remove the stain and keep your garment in wearable condition so you can use it again and again.

Q: My son’s soccer uniform has some grass stains on the elbows and knees. Can you tell me the best way to remove these stains without damaging the fabric?

A: Grass stains contain chlorophyll, which can be tricky to remove completely, so treat the stain as soon as possible. Most grass stains can be removed simply by washing the item with detergents containing enzymes according to the care instructions, especially if the stain is fresh.

If the stain has been allowed to set or is heavily ground into the fabric, you may need to try other treatments, such as a applying isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar to the area with a cotton ball. Let it sit for five minutes and then wash with an enzyme detergent. To remove any last traces of the stain, an all-fabric bleach may be necessary.

Q: My daughter had a great time at her prom, and her dress shows it. I would like to clean the gown and store it for future use, but I don’t know where to start. Can you help?

A: Spills, splashes and other party mishaps, as well as wear alone, can take their toll on expensive items. After the party, remember to have your formalwear cleaned before storing. Advise your cleaner about the sources of stains, if possible, and discuss any special concerns you may have before leaving the gown. After cleaning, store garments in cool, dry and dark places. Do not store in plastic bags because they can trap moisture, odors and insects inside the bag.

Q: Sometimes my “summer whites” look dull and yellow. Can you explain why this happens and what I can do about it?

A: In their natural state, many fabrics have an off-white or yellowish cast. The fabric may be bleached to remove its natural color and make it appear white. Also, manufacturers often add optical brighteners that make fabrics appear whiter and brighter. Occasionally, these agents break down with age or light exposure, causing the fabric to revert to its natural off-white or yellowish color. Thus, the front of a sweater laid out to dry in the sun may turn yellow while the back remains white. Once this happens, it can’t be corrected.

Chris Allsbrooks is an affiliate board member and spokeswoman for the FabriCare Foundation. She has 13 years’ experience as a textile analyst in the International Textile Analysis Laboratory of the International Fabricare Institute in Laurel. Send questions to [email protected]

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