It is most unfortunate and annoying to get a spot on a garment that is otherwise clean and new. It seems a pity to send the garment to a cleaning establishment because it has one small spot on it. We can learn simple methods of removing spots so that it will not always be necessary to send our garments to the cleaner. Removing a spot is like solving a problem, because it depends on finding out what caused the spot, what kind of material the garment is made of and the correct method of removing the spot. Many people are not successful when they attempt to remove spots because they do not consider these things carefully and lack patience in working out the problem.
1. What caused the spot? It makes it much easier to remove a spot if we know what caused it, because then we can tell what is the best method to use. If we do not know what caused the spot it makes it necessary to experiment with different methods. Sometimes a method that will remove one spot easily will set another spot so that it can not be removed. It is also well to remove spots and stains as soon as possible. A fresh one is much easier to remove than an old one.
2. Is the material white or colored? It is much easier to remove spots from white material than from colored material because if the material is colored there is danger of removing the color as well as the spot. Yet even in colored material it is generally possible to remove spots if one has patience to work long and carefully. It is well to experiment on a small piece of material or the edge of a seam when there is danger in removing the color or otherwise injuring the fabric.
3. Of what fabric is the garment made? It is important to know the kind of material from which you have to remove a spot as a method which will remove a spot from cotton or linen may prove injurious to wool or silk. For example, cotton and linen can be rubbed more vigorously than wool or silk and are not injured by boiling water.
4. What is the best method to use? The method of removing a spot depends on the three things mentioned above. In the table given below you will find some methods of removing common stains. The success in removing a stain depends to some extent on the manner of application. Several short applications are better than one long, continuous treatment. When applying a liquid to a spot it is always best to rub from the outside toward the center because this prevents leaving a ring in the fabric after the spot has been removed. It also helps to place a pad of clean cloth or blotting paper underneath the spot while you rub. Why do you think this will be helpful? Some Experiments for the Class to Do. - The class should be divided into seven groups. Each group should experiment in removing one of the stains given in the following table. They should experiment with white and colored material and with cotton, linen, wool and silk. A day should be arranged when the committees will demonstrate removing stains. Each girl should learn as much as possible at home and by reading books. Sometimes the science teacher is willing to give helpful suggestions.
Cotton and Linen Soap and warm water will remove spots.
Grease spots are removed by rubbing with a solvent such as chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, commercial cleaning fluids sold under various trade names, or gasoline.
warning: gasoline is inflammable and should be kept away from fire or flame
Spread fabric over bowl and pour boiling water on the spot from a height. These stains are removed more easily when fresh. They should be removed before the garment is washed, because boiling sets the stain. Ammonia helps to remove the stain but may also remove the color. If ammonia is to be used it should be tested on a hem or seam.
Use warm water as boiling water would injure the fabric. A little borax added to the water helps to remove the stain.
Soak in cold water for several hours and then wash in the usual way with soap and warm water. Ammonia helps to remove old stains. Hot water may set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.
Sponge in cold or lukewarm water. Hydrogen peroxide may be used if it does not injure the color. A paste of raw starch made with cold water is good on thick materials.
Sponge with turpentine, benzine or gasoline, while the spot is fresh. If the stain is old, a mixture of chloroform and turpentine will remove the spot readily.
The same methods can be used as for cotton and linen.
Wet the stain with water and put a few drops of oxalic acid on it. Another method is to wet the spot with lemon juice and cover it with salt.
Then expose it to sunlight and let it bleach. Wash the acid out thoroughly with water, otherwise a hole or weak spot may appear in the garment.
The same method may be used.
warning: oxalic acid is poison
Ink stains are difficult to remove because inks are made from many different substances. A fresh ink stain can sometimes be washed out in water. Another method is to soak ink spots in milk for at least twenty-four hours, changing the milk whenever it becomes discolored. Of course, the milk leaves a grease spot. How should this be removed?
Ink spots on white materials can be removed by repeated applications of oxalic acid and Javelle water, which can be bought at a drug store. Ink eradicators are also effective. These are not safe to use on colored materials, as they will remove the color.
Milk and water can be used on wool and silk, but the other methods are injurious.
Cotton and Linen Ordinary laundering with soap and water removes some grass stains. Spots on materials that can not be laundered can be removed by sponging with alcohol.
The same methods can be used for wool and silk.
Some Questions on Stains. - After the class has finished demonstrating how to remove stains you should be able to answer the following questions. If you can not answer these questions you can look for the answers in the table given on the preceding pages.
1. List three things to be considered before attempting to remove a spot.
2. Give two reasons why the use of boiling water may be harmful.
3. Why do we generally not use gasoline or chloroform on cotton or linen materials to remove grease spots?
4. List the spots that require special treatment if the material is silk or wool.
5. What methods of removing spots can not be used on colored goods? A Home Problem. - Tell your mother what you have learned about removing spots and stains. Ask her if you may try to remove the spots on the table linen or clothing. Report to the class what success you have.