Yellow armpit stains on white shirts are a problem if my inbox is any indication, which I believe it is. And I’ve been avoiding the subject because honestly, it’s kinda’ gross.
I can’t begin to estimate how many messages I’ve received asking for help with getting rid of these stains, but it’s a lot. And now it’s time. Today we’re hitting this topic head-on.
What are these stains?
Curious, isn’t it that ugly yellow stains show up only in the armpit area? Left untreated, these stains can cause the material to become stiff as if just being yellow isn’t disgusting enough. And crunchy.
Laundry challenges come in every size, shape, and intensity. Giving up tossing that item into the rag bag may not be your only option. Rather than thinking there is no solution for that stain, shrunken item, or another laundry disaster, consider the ways you can recover and renew situations gone bad.
Photo credit: Northpole.com
Honey, I shrunk your sweater
Don’t be too quick to toss out that favorite sweater that just got shrunk in the hot wash or went through the dryer accidentally set to Hot. Chances are good you can unshrink it if you move quickly:
In a large container, make a solution one-gallon lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons baby shampoo. Soak the shrunken garment in the solution for about 10 minutes until totally saturated.
Now the important part: Don’t rinse! Simply blot out all the excess water with a dry towel and very gently lay it flat on a fresh towel. Reshape slowly and carefully as you stretch it back to its original size. Dry away from direct sunlight or heat.
This technique will work provided the fibers have not become permanently damaged, or “felted.”
Once again, it’s mailbag day, when I reach in and pull out your questions. While there are always more than I could possibly answer in one sitting, I try to select the ones that will have the greatest interest to most of you, my Dear Readers.
What’s inside? Here are the questions I’m answering from my bulging reader mailbag. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. Or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!
Q1:Do you have a tip on how to clean gray lines and scratches from my white Pfaltzgraff dishes?Barb
Pfaltzgraff has been making dinnerware for many years and has used earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, and bone china at some point in its history. Most Pfaltzgraff patterns currently in production are made primarily of stoneware and earthenware, with only a few patterns being offered in ironstone and porcelain. The good news is that all Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is microwave and dishwasher safe.
The appearance of gray lines or “scratches” on Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is not a defect—in fact, it is quite common. These marks appear when metal utensils come in contact with the hard glazes used by the manufacturer. You can remove these marks easily using a variety of cleansers. Pfaltzgraff makes its own Pfaltzgraff Stoneware & Porcelain Cleaner, but it is a little pricey. Read more
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When it comes to furnishing your home, it’s difficult to find anything more luxurious and elegant than fine leather. With that elegance comes the challenge of how to clean leather furniture, keeping it free of stains, and well-maintained so that it gets even better with age.
Improper attempts to clean fine leather can result in the heartbreak of permanent damage. If your leather furniture is stained or looking a little on the tired side, follow these suggestions for perking it up.
Type of leather
To get started, determine the type of leather you’re working with. You want to know if it is aniline or top-coated. Typically, this information will be found on the tags that were attached or the brochure you were given when you acquired the leather item. This written information will generally provide tips on cleaning your specific furniture and should be your first line of defense.
What if you don’t have any instructions? Generally, when talking about leather upholstery, there are two types: aniline leather and top-coated leather.
This is a type of leather dyed exclusively with soluble dyes. The dye colors the leather without producing a topcoat or sealant. Aniline leather is a natural leather that has a very soft finish, is very absorbent and stains easily.
If yours is aniline, just one instruction: Do everything you can to keep it free of stains and spills. In an emergency, a clear, mild dishwashing detergent may safely remove a grease stain from this type of leather.
This is the most commonly used finishing technique for leather used to upholster furnitured and automobile seats. The finish consists of an opaque base coat followed by a protective topcoat. Since the natural color of the leather is covered completely, the leather can be identified by its uniform color. This type of leather is most common on furniture or automobile seats due to its durability and protection from stains and spilling.
Most leather furniture these days uses top-coat protected leather, which is usually safe to clean by following these suggestions:
You need to remove all the loose dirt, dust and debris from the item to be cleaned. A vacuum with the soft brush attachment is the best option as it will get into the seams and crevices. Be gentle, though. Leather is delicate and you don’t want to scratch it as you are vacuuming.
It’s not new. The blue and yellow can is about as familiar as anything I remember from my childhood. Banished to a shelf in the garage, I assumed WD-40 was an automotive thing. Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is amazing. And cheap. Not long ago, I bought an 8-ounce can for $1.71 at Home Depot.
My recommendation is to apply WD-40, let the product do its work then remove it. Some say that a build-up of WD-40 can cause its own sticky mess over time. So here’s the deal: Use it then remove it.
WD-40 is a petroleum-based product (so is Vaseline). WD-40 comes in a tiny 3-oz aerosol can, larger 16-oz. or by the gallon, which you can pour into your own spray bottle. While the aerosol propellant is flammable, the product itself is harmless to humans, according to the manufacturer.
WD-40 gets things unstuck and a lot more. I know. I go through it like it’s water.But don’t worry. It’s cheap. I once bought an 8-ounce can for $1.71 at Home Depot.
If it’s melted …
Have you ever opened the dryer to find a red crayon has ruined the entire load? The folks at Crayola offer this remedy for fresh heat-set crayon stains:
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What do stinky, yellowed, and crayon-stained laundry items have in common? They’re the reason lots of people write to me. Fortunately, each of these problems has a unique remedy—a way to reverse the stains and get those items back to looking good as new.
No matter how many times you wash those items, you just cannot get rid of the disgusting sour, mildewy odor. They’ve become stiff and scratchy and have begun to repel rather than absorb water. The problem is clear evidence of a build-up bacteria that continue to live along with soap and softeners that have not been rinsed out—despite having been previously washed and dried.
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Ever had the occasion to wonder where you’ve been all your life? That’s my reaction to a simple heavy-duty cleaning product, Lestoil.
Apparently, it’s been manufactured right here in the USA for decades and loved by many. Curiously, I’d never even heard of it—let alone used it like a rabid fan—until only a few years ago.
On the off chance you, too, are not familiar with the powerful cleaner of all things hopelessly stained, here are 10 things you will be glad you know.
1. Heavy-duty grease and stain remover
Lestoil (pronounced less-toil … get it?) can be used full-strength on stains—especially really difficult stains; the kind of stains you just give up on like ink, toner, grease, oil, scuff marks, blood, lipstick, nail polish, paint, grass stains, coffee stains, crayon and marker stains on every surface you can imagine. Even the sticky stuff left behind by stickers and labels.
2. Really old
Lestoil has been around since 1933. While I have not been around quite that long, this makes me wonder where I have been, since I’ve only learned about Lestoil more recently.
3. So far 100%
Lestoil has removed every old stain I’d given up on as well as every new stain I’ve acquired since the two of us met—on clothing, carpet, concrete, and all kinds of patio furniture including molded plastic. It removed black stains that accumulated on outdoor furniture covers.
Lestoil made short order of some ugly stains on cultured stone. It removed that gross, sticky residue that shows up on vinyl and plastic, restoring it back to its former glory.
So far, Lestoil has worked on everything I’ve tried, most recently this shirt (with apologies to all of my expert photography readers—I promise to work on my lighting ).
Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment
4. It’s soapy
Lestoil contains, among other things, sodium tallate, which is a type of soap. This means that once the job is done, it must be rinsed out, washed off or otherwise removed to make sure the item being treated doesn’t retain a residue that will attract a new stain.
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Salt. It’s mandatoryin a human diet. But in other situations, salt can be as destructive as it is needful due to its ability to eat holes through metal and leave ugly stains on footwear.
Dear Mary: I have several pairs of beautiful winter fashion boots in suede and leather. I’d like to remove salt stains that have built up but don’t want to take them to a cobbler. Any advice on how I can do this myself? Maha
Dear Maha: We should be thankful for sidewalk salt in the wintertime because it’s effective in helping us avoid injuries from slipping on icy surfaces. Of course, the downside is, as you know, these chunky salt particles get on boots and shoes causing damage and ugly stains.
Cleaning these stains from your leather and suede footwear regularly throughout the winter will help them last and looking good for many years to come.
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