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Summer is when Murphy's Law invariably comes into play: If something can spill, drip, ooze, or run, it will do so all over your favorite shirt or sundress.
Fortunately, once you know how to treat these troublesome summer laundry stains - grass, chewing gum, iced coffee, chocolate, and sweat or deodorant - you can keep your beloved summer dud from ending up in the rag pile.
These tips and techniques for removing 8 common summer laundry stains can help.
Smudges, drips, drops, and smears - no matter what their source, the key to keeping them from ruining your favorite summer clothes is to take quick action before the stain gets the chance to dry.
For most fabrics, this means blotting up the excess or rinsing the stain with cold water (don't rub; this spreads the stain and grinds it deeper) and then pretreating the spot.
Thanks to today's detergents, keeping your favorite garments free of summer laundry stains is easier than ever. When mixed with water, powdered detergents are especially effective at loosening ground-in dirt before washing so it can be carried away during the machine wash.
Liquid detergent can help make oil, grease, and food stains disappear. Either chlorine or oxygen bleach ("color-safe") in the wash cycle can help your detergent remove tough summer stains, including rust spots and dye stains. But only chlorine bleach kills bacteria and viruses.
To remove chewing gum stains, rub the gummy spot with ice to harden it. Scrape away as much of the gum as possible with a dull knife. Saturate what remains with a prewash spot remover, such as undiluted laundry detergent, then rinse and launder as usual.
To remove these common summer laundry stains, use a prewash stain remover. If the sweat or deodorant stains are old, however, apply white vinegar. Rinse, then launder using oxygen bleach in the hottest water that's safe for the fabric.
Sponge with or soak iced coffee stains in cold water. Apply a pretreating product on the stain. Wash as usual and air dry; repeat if coffee stain remains.
Pretreat cosmetics stains with prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Wash the garment in the water temperature recommended for the fabric.
To remove crayon stains on clothes, start by scraping off the surface crayon wax with a dull knife.
Soak the fabric in a product containing enzymes or oxygen bleach in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Launder using the hottest water it can withstand.
Pretreat or prewash chocolate stains on clothes in warm water with a laundry detergent (undiluted) that contains enzymes. Launder as usual.
To remove a juice stain, soak in cold water, then apply a pretreating product or undiluted laundry detergent on the juice stain. Launder as label instructions recommend. Air-dry; do not place in dryer until the stain is completely gone.
Presoak or prewash the grass-stained garment in a bucket or your washing machine (using the presoak setting) with a detergent containing enzymes.
Launder as usual with chlorine bleach if it's safe for the fabric. If the cleaning instructions on the clothing item advise against it, use oxygen bleach instead.
When washing, be sure to follow the golden rules of safe washing: Zip zippers, snap snaps, fasten hooks and tie laces to prevent any unnecessary fabric damage.
And be sure you know what each laundry water temperature is designed to do: