Taking the Guesswork Out of Stain Removal

Taking the Guesswork Out of Stain Removal

Kimber Watson
Oct 3, 2014
(Image credit: University of Illinois )

I recently took a favorite silk dress of mine to the dry cleaners. It had a new mystery stain, right next to a faint old stain still slightly visible after an unsuccessful laundering attempt. This time around I was asked what the stain was, because I was advised, it would be far easier to remove if the source was known. I told her my best guess was wine or a cocktail, crossed my fingers and left.

Low and behold when I picked up the dress this time around, BOTH stains were gone. Of course I knew determining the cause of a stain makes it easier to remove, but I guess I never realized how crucially important that fact is! If you're armed with that knowledge and attempting this task solo, there's a searchable database that has just about every stain solution covered.

The University of Illinois has developed a database that catalogs stain solutions in an alphabetized index or searchable format. The database covers common stains like wax or wine, right next to stains you thought you might never encounter. Calamine lotion stain anyone? They've got you covered. Black walnut or bird dropping stains? Yup, that too. As long as the stain is on carpet, upholstery, or washable fabrics, they should be able to provide you with an answer.

Curious about my wine or cocktail mystery stain, I looked it up. It appears that both stains are removed with the exact same treatment. So the next time you're tackling a tough stain, try consulting the University of Illinois' stain solution database. It's a handy website that's probably worth bookmarking!

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