Nothing warms my geeky little heart more than the new issues of Consumer Reports. In the July issue, they looked at laundry pre-treatments and mentioned all the different stains they tried each product on – which made me wonder: What stains are bad enough to make the experts use them as examples?
And, you know, I have this great job that lets me be a nosy-noodle, so I called right over to CR and talked to Pat Slaven, the chemist who works as a scientist of stain removal. Seriously, that’s a job! Tell your daughters!
She unlocked the secrets of stains for me, which in turn gave me magic mom-style knowledge. These are the most stubborn stains -- and why:
The worst stains are a combination of factors, a "perfect storm" of different stains. Hot chocolate has fat, sugar, tannins (brown dye), and protein (milk), and many pre-treatments only attack one or two of those factors. You've got to attack it from multiple fronts to get at this stain.
Here's how you defeat hot chocolate:
Of course, there was one stain they didn't test at the Consumer Reports testing center, because nobody was willing to supply the fabric swatches:
It's the ultimate combination stain, because it's been -- eyuw! -- chemically altered by going through the digestive system. “Poop’s a tough one,” says Slaven (snicker, snicker). "You want to use a product that’s good on at least two of the three Ps: poop, pee, or puke.” Guess what she recommends? Pretreatment with Nature’s Miracle -- the enzyme-based pet-odor remover I used to use on my cats. Confirmed: My sister says this works great. Who knew?
The article found that the top stain removal products were:
Oddly, the worse ones were:
Same brands, different products – which just goes to show you: a brand-name is no guarantee.
If you subscribe to Consumer Reports magazine, you get a copy of their book, How to Clean Practically Anything. If it's anything like my conversation with Pat Slaven, it'll give you stain-removing superpowers.
What's your favorite stain-removal trick?
Image via PeaGreenGirl/Flickr