And Baby Makes More Laundry

The arrival of a baby creates a sense of wonder in the form of tiny miracle. The
wonder continues as you contemplate the question of “How can such a small creature
cause so many stains and create so much laundry”?

I get a lot of mail about removing stains from baby clothing and from Mom and
Dad’s clothing as well. Most baby clothes and linens are made from washable fabrics
for easier cleaning. However, the stains can play havoc with rayon, silk, acetate and
other dry clean only fabrics. The first line of defense for new parents may be to always
wear machine washable clothing around babies and toddlers!

Most of the stains – formula or breast milk and diaper mishaps – are water-based
protein stains. Clearly, responding quickly to stains always helps. For washable
clothing, flush the stained area with cool water to remove any solid matter. Never rub
at the stain to avoid driving the stain maker deeper into the fabric. Pretreat the stained
area with Zout, Spray ‘n Wash or Oxi Clean Spray or Gel Stick. If you can’t do laundry
right away, allow the garment to soak in cold water. Wash as soon as possible in the
hottest water recommended on the care label. Recheck the garment for stains before
tossing it into the dryer because the heat from the dryer will make the stain much
harder to remove later. If stains remain after washing or make it through the dryer,
then consider soaking in an all-fabric bleach and cool water solution. Follow the label
directions and allow the stained clothes to soak for at least two hours for best results.

For Mom and Dad’s dry clean only clothing, never put water and stain removers on
the fabric. Blot the stained area with a dry, white cloth; take the garment to the cleaners
in a day or two; point out the stain and let them do their work.

Need more help? Email me at with all of your stain
emergencies, storage issues and laundry questions.

Stress-free Thanksgiving Table Linens

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering friends and family around a table draped with new or heirloom linens. Unfortunately, stains of all kinds are just waiting to land on your tablecloth, placemats and napkins: gravy, butter, wine, coffee, melted wax or lipstick on the napkins. Don’t let these things ruin your favorite linens or your day.

Ready, Set, Treat

Here are the basics you need to know to be ready for tackling those spills on your linens. Stains come in three varieties – water-based, oil-based and combination. Water-based stains like coffee and wine usually have a thin ring around the perimeter. Oily stains like butter and gravy have no outline and appear absorbed into the fabric. Combination stains like lipstick have additional components like wax or dye and require extra steps to remove all traces from fabric.

For your own sanity, gather some stain removal supplies to have on hand and you’ll be set when the inevitable spills happen. Keep a stain pretreater with like Zout or Spray ‘n Wash in the laundry room to use as soon possible once the table is cleared. An all-fabric bleach is also an essential to help remove the dyes in combination stains and is safe to use on colored linens and any washable fabric.

As your family takes their after dinner walk or settles in for some football watching, shake the linens to remove any crumbs or loose food. Remove melted wax or globs of gravy with a butter knife or the edge of a credit card. This will lift off the stain maker without driving the matter deeper into the fabric. Pretreat each stained area with a stain remover and allow that product to work for at least 15 minutes before washing.

The linens should be washed within 24 hours. Use a heavy duty laundry detergent and the hottest water temperature recommended on the fabric’s care label. After washing, look over each napkin, placemat and area of the tablecloth to be sure that the stains are gone. Oily stains that remain often look clear or gray and blotchy. Do not place the linens in the dryer until you are certain that stains are gone. It is much better to rewash now rather than later when dryer heat has made the stains very difficult to remove.

If oily traces of that Thanksgiving meal remain, retreat the stained areas. For leftover color from red wine, coffee or lipstick dyes, soak the linens in an all-fabric bleach and cool water solution. Follow the label directions and allow them to soak for at least two hours for best results.

Chat With Your Dry Cleaner

If you decide to leave the stain removal to someone else, you can send your linens to a professional cleaner. A reputable dry cleaner will be happy to answer your questions to insure that your linens come back impeccably clean: Are the linens done “in-house” or are they sent out? Are they pre-spotted for water-based and oily stains? Are they pressed and packaged with tissue?

Heirloom Treasures

Many of us have lace, damask and embellished linens that have been handed down through the family for many generations. Whether you wash them at home or take them to the cleaners, it is important to remember that delicate linens cannot take aggressive stain removal and agitation.

If you wash them at home, consider washing by hand or use the gentle wash and low spin cycles on your washer. Avoid chlorine bleach even on white linens that can weaken fibers. For professional cleaning, talk with your cleaner, share your expectations and point out the stains and weak areas.

Once your linens are clean, store them correctly in a dry, well-ventilated area so they will look their best for the next occasion. Hanging linens on a sturdy, padded hanger will prevent excessive wrinkles. If stored flat, pad folds with acid-free tissue paper to prevent creases.

Need more help? Visit our Stain Emergency section or email me at with all of your stain, storage and laundry questions.

Holiday Kisses and Champagne Wishes

During the holidays we get lots of kisses and hugs and not just the delightful foil-wrapped chocolates! With kisses and hugs, often come lipstick and makeup on our clothes. Funny thing about lipstick and makeup, they come off our face and cheeks much easier than they come off our clothing.

I’ve talked about water-based stains versus oil-based stains many times, and makeup stains offer a great example. Lipstick, foundation and mascara easily come off our face with soapy water and face-cleansing creams – which makes them technically water-based stains. However, when these stain makers get on our clothing or furniture covers, they are considered oily and require a different tactic for removal.

If you find the traces of kisses and hugs on your dry clean only clothes or home furnishings – especially silk, wool and polished cotton – never use soap or water, even in a pinch, to treat the stain. Blot the stain with a dry, white napkin and stop! These oily stains almost always contain dye as well and need pre-treatment with a solvent to fully come out. By putting water on the stains, you are helping to “set” them and working against your cleaner. Get the clothing to a dry cleaner as soon as you can and point out the stained areas to the person at the counter.

For lipstick and makeup stains on washable clothing, you can try lubricating them out with a mix of one part clear liquid dishwashing soap and six parts water. Mix the two in a spray bottle and spritz a little on the stain. Allow the mixture to sink into the stain for a couple of minutes and re-apply. You can probably watch the stains start to dissolve. Wash as usual following care label directions. Check the treated areas after washing to be sure the stains are completely gone. If not, air dry the clothing and repeat the whole process. Never put a stained piece of clothing in the dryer because the heat will set the stain and make it nearly impossible to remove.

Champagne Spills

If your champagne – or beer or wine – wishes cause a spill during the holidays, be very careful about dousing the stain on dry clean only clothes with water or club soda. The excess liquid will spread the alcohol causing a huge ring around the perimeter which can ruin a great outfit in a snap! Blot the stain with a dry white napkin or wet cloth, if you must, but never rub the fabric. You don’t want to spoil a Happy New Year!

Need more help? Email me at with all of your stain emergencies, storage issues and laundry questions.

Steve’s Blog: Jan. 20th

I have some cool articles coming up in the National Enquirer and People magazine in February, a few in the works for Real Simple and various other publications. Fortunately, all of these mags consider fabric care an important subject.

I am philosophical about fabric care, specifically clothing care — sure I can say that now — but that was NOT always the case. I've always been rather intense about it because I've had a front row seat for over 20 years and the stuff I've seen has rocked my world.

[Read more…]

Steve’s Blog Feb 4th

I interviewed for a story in Real Simple magazine about drycleaning. It was supposed to be about Drycleaning 101 – the simple version – along with anecdotes. It just came out in the March issue and it is wonderful, really!

If you want to know some of the ins and outs of the clothing-care business, this is a great article to read. It’s very in-depth and an easy read.

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Steve’s Blog March 13th

I’m spending some time in Colorado this month and it got me thinking about skiwear. If ski season is over for you, think about the care and cleaning your gear will need at season end.

When you bought your ski jacket and warm-ups, did you think about getting clothing that can be washed and drycleaned? The fact is, stains come in all varieties; basic dirt and soil, grease, food spills, salt stains … and one care process doesn't always remove the different types of stains. 
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Steve’s Blog April 8th

In March I appeared in People Magazine’s Style Watch issue, the one with Reese Witherspoon on the front. No, I was not photographed with the latest Jimmy Choo or Prada bag, or caught without makeup running from paparazzi, while out on a shopping spree …

I was doing something earthy, teaching people the difference between water-based and oil-based stains and how to keep whites bright! Examples of water based stains are soda, coffee, perspiration and such – anything that has water in it. Oil based – salad dressing, body oil – and most makeup … stains that may come off your face and hands with soap water, but not off your clothing with soap and water! 

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Steve’s Blog May 25th

It’s Spring in most parts of the country, which means that Spring cleaning and getting organized is something you may want to do!

The way I read this is, “It’s time to edit the closets, discard or donate what you haven’t worn for a year and inspect and clean what you have worn during the year, even if you wore it for only 5 minutes.” You can also move clothing to a spare closet or into storage at your trusted drycleaners, where they should inventory, clean, repair, and move into temperature-controlled vaults.

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Steve’s Summer Blog

Stains, Good Habits, Empowerment
It’s been a brutally hot summer throughout most of the country, and very humid. This means, among other things, that people are dealing with all kinds of stains; body oil, tanning creams and bronzers -– for the truly self afflicted – grass, dirt, and bike grease for the active kid and young at heart … and, most certainly, perspiration!

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Steve’s Winter Blog

Winter Stains
Winter is descending on us in most parts of the country. For all of you in the sunbelt, east and west, I am not jealous because I love winter and look forward to the ski season! Either way, winter does bring challenging weather, be it rain or snow.

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