NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Special Summer Stains

Special Summer Stains


          Ahhhhhhhh – the lazy, hazy days of summer.  Think picnics (watermelon juice on your favorite t-shirt), enjoying the outdoors (grass stains), time in the water (stinky pool toys), garden goodies (blueberries on anything!).  Don’t let special summer stains reduce your summertime funtime. 

Pool Toys

          While the chlorine in the pool may do a good job of keeping toys clean, a build-up of algae and mold can develop simply from being in a wet, camp environment. Make a solution of 3/4C chlorine bleach to one gallon of water and scrub the toys. Work on a concrete surface as the bleach solution can damage your lawn.  Wear old clothes and gloves also. Allow to air dry.


          Sponge the stain with alcohol and let dry. Sponge with cool water, Work liquid detergent into the stained area. Rinse with water. Let dry. Soak in mixture of one quart warm water and one tablespoon enzyme product 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Launder in hot water with chlorine bleach if fiber content and fabric permit.

Insecticides, pesticides

          If full-strength liquid concentrate spills on clothes, handle only with rubber gloves and discard clothing immediately as laundering does not remove concentrate to a safe level to reuse clothing. Launder any pesticide-contaminated clothing separate from general family laundry.  If a visible stain remains after laundering, rewash with hot water and heavy-duty detergent. Line dry.


          Brush off mildewed area, preferably outdoors. Work gently so as not to further damage already weakened fibers. Gently rub detergent into stained area. Launder in hot water using chlorine bleach. If stain remains bleach with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse and launder. Old mildew stains may respond to flushing with dry cleaning solvent.


          Pretreat with enzyme product. If fabric has discolored, treat fresh stains with ammonia, old stains with vinegar.

Outdoor Cushions

          Although fabrics designed for outdoor use are generally soil-and-stain repellant, that doesn’t mean they are 100% impervious to spots and spills. Treatment is dependent upon the fiber content of the cushions.  Most will recommend sponge or spot cleaning.  Check the care label and the website of the manufacturer for more details.

Baked beans, Barbeque Sauce

          Working from the back of the stain, flush it with cold water. Next, pretreat it with a liquid laundry detergent, using an up-and-down motion with a soft brush to break up the stain. Rinse well. Then sponge with white vinegar and rinse again. Repeat until you’ve removed as much stain as possible. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover and launder with bleach that’s safe for the fabric.


          Pretreat with a prewash stain remover and launder, using the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric.


          Gently scrape or wipe off any excess chocolate and soak in cool water. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover and launder in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric. If the stain remains, launder again, using the type of bleach that’s safe for the fabric.

Ice cream

          Pretreat or soak stains using a product containing enzymes. Soak for at least 30 minutes – longer if the stains are old. Launder, using the warmest water that’s safe for the fabric.


           Flush under cold water to loosen the stain, and then pretreat with a prewash stain remover. Launder, using the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric. Add bleach to the wash also – preferably chlorine bleach. (Check the care label to see if it is safe for the fabric.)


          Juice stains fall into that mysterious category of "invisible stains." The drips dry up and the stain seems to disappear. But if left over time, the stains will oxidize into pale yellow or brown stains. To keep this from happening, launder the item in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric.


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