Keeping clothes spotless

Spring's pale color spectrum, along with inflationary prices, make proper care of clothing imperative. And a reputable dry cleaner is a wardrobe's best friend.

A good cleaner keeps up with the fiber content of current fabrics and the methods of handling them to remove soil. Most dry cleaners are too conscientious to take a chance on ruining a garment, but it is a good idea to shop around until you find the right one for your wardrobe.

A few items to check: (1) Ascertain whether the cleaner is a member of the state dry-cleaning organization (most states have them). (2) Ask if the cleaner will take the time for special handling (like soft press, for example) in case you need it. (3) Test the cleaner's work on a blouse or scarf first.

There are times, though, when careful removal of one spot at home can save a trip to the cleaners. Some of the more common spots and their remedies are given below. (These assume the fabric is washable and not labeled "Dry clean only").

First it's well to assemble a few simple household items in a special cleaning kit.These include a nylon-bristled brush, liquid hand-washing type detergent, banana oil, an enzyme presoak liquid, denatured alcohol, ammonia, white vinegar, and absorbent materials like paper towels or terry cloth. And, of course, a dry-cleaning solvent or spray-on cleaning powder.

Hints for cleaning:

1. Instant action. Whenever possible, give the stain immediate attention.

2. Know your fabric. Read the label to find out whether it's a natural or man-made fabric, washable or dry cleanable.

3. Identify. If the stain isn't discovered until some time later, identify it as best you can. The color, odor, and surface will often clue you in.

4. Test. Alwaysm test the removing method you're using on an inside seam to see how the fabric will react.

(If the stain is not removed by any of these methods, take it to your friend the dry cleaner and tell him what steps you've taken and what chemicals you've used.)

Types of stains and how to remove them:

* Alcohol. For alcohol-based stains such as perfume, soak in cold water before laundering in the usual way. An enzyme presoaking solution and the use of bleach may remove the stains.

* Blood. If a small drop of blood is noticed, quicly apply saliva until it's soaked away. Always use cold water to soak dried blood stains. Use one tablespoon ammonia to 1/2 gallon of water for stubborn spots.

* Chocolate, cocoa, coffee. Pre-soak in cold water to which you've added an enzyme liquid soaking preparation. Or use your dry cleaning solution and then launder in the usual manner.

* Dye. For hair dye, especially those containing red: Mix 1 quart of water with 1/2 teaspoon liquid hand-laundry detergent and 1 tablespoon ammonia. Soak for 30 minutes.

* Glue and nail polish. Test fabric on inside seam with a touch of acetone first. If fabric doesn't dissolve, sponge spot generously. Launder as usual, using bleach unless label advises against it.

* Ink. Blot with denatured alcohol with absorbent material under it. Launder, using bleach if fabric allows.

* Juice. Fruit juices and soft drinks, if caught while still damp: Soak in cold water and then launder. If stains are dried, use enzyme presoaking liquid and soak overnight before laundering with bleach.

* Lipstick. Use cleaning fluid, blotting gently, and then allow to dry. Use pre-soak laundry liquid, wash with bleach.

* Mildew. Brush off powdery substance and apply cleaning solvent.

* Oil and grease. Put absorbent material under the stain and flush with dry-cleaning solvent. Repeat several times if necessary.

* Perspiration. Soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid hand washing detergent and 1 tablespoon ammonia for 30 minutes. Rinse.

* Rust. There ism a rust-stain remover on the market, but most authorities advise letting the dry cleaner do the job.

* Scorched spots. Chlorine bleach in the wash will often take out light scorch, but heavy dark spots mean the fabric itself has been permanently damaged. Iron carefully.

* Unidentifiable stains. Better trust the dry cleaner here, too.

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