- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Q: I have heard that the color white is “hot” for this winter’s fashions. But I have often stayed away from white because I can never keep white clothing bright. How do I keep my whites in “new condition?”

A: Winter whites, such as a classic-styled white collared shirt, keep you looking fierce. Whether it is paired with black to keep the garment looking sharp or worn with softer shades to bring out its flattering creamy cast, it is important to keep your whites from getting those dreaded gray and yellow hues.

To keep your garments white and bright in between your trips to the dry cleaner, do not use bleach to remove stains. Bleach is a whitener, not a cleaning product.

Prewash any stained garment before bleaching and hang up your dirty whites before cleaning them to allow your clothing to air out before any odors set. Make sure to only spot-wash “dry clean only” garments.

Putting water on these garments can create a ring that is difficult to remove in the dry-cleaning process.

Keep your whites away from sunlight. Exposure to light can cause fluorescent brighteners to break down and clothes to yellow.

Q: My son got a chocolate stain on his shirt from a Valentine’s Day party. How do I remove it?

A: For best results, try pretreating the area with a solvent-based home stain removal agent. Place several layers of white paper towels over and under the affected area to absorb the stain. If the stain remains, blot the affected area with a mild detergent and rinse with water.

If the stain remains, try blotting the area with a solution comprised of one teaspoon of white vinegar per one cup of water, and then rinse with water.

If all these efforts fail, you may need to use color-safe bleach. Test a small area of the garment for colorfastness before applying the bleach to the stain. Any remaining stain may be removed by laundering according to the care-label instructions.

Q: The winter elements are taking their toll on my gloves, hats and scarves. What is the best way to clean these winter accessories?

A: To keep your hats, gloves and scarves in new condition, be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully. Many synthetics, as well as cottons and wools, are hand washable but may be run through the gentle cycle of a machine. Minimizing agitation prevents matting and pilling of napped fabrics, and air drying wools prevent shrinkage.

Other knits may require blocking or stretching to return them to their original size. If tumble drying is recommended, use a low temperature setting. Wool, fur and leather accessories may require the assistance of a professional cleaner.

Q: The leather skirt I’m planning to wear to a party is wrinkled. What can I do?

A: Most wrinkles will hang out on their own. If you are looking for quick results you can iron leather if you use care. Set the iron on its rayon setting and use heavy brown wrapping paper or a thick bath towel as a pressing cloth on top of the area you wish to iron. Run the iron over the area several times and the wrinkles should come out.

To prevent curling, stiffening and shrinkage of the leather, do not steam the area while ironing. As always, when doing something at home, test on a small, inconspicuous section of the garment first.

Q: I dropped a piece of shrimp scampi on my favorite blouse. I asked the waiter for some club soda, but it did not remove the stain. Does club soda really work on stains?

A: In some instances club soda will remove a clear, colorless water-based stain, but so will good, old-fashioned cold water. While club soda may be effective in removing water-based stains such as apple juice or clear white wine, it will not remove greasy, oily stains such as mayonnaise, butter or gravy.

Be careful. Applying club soda to an oil-based stain could create a more complex problem and diminish the chance of successful stain removal. When applying club soda to a water-based stain, both the club soda and the stain must be completely flushed out right away. Otherwise a residue surrounded by a water ring will remain that could result in a permanent stain when dry.

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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