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Candle wax dripped onto my tablecloth. Is there a good way to remove it?

To remove candle wax, the waxy portion of the stain needs to be removed first, followed by removal of the dye portion of the stain. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent (example: Energine) or treat with a stain stick. Then rub with a heavy duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water. To remove the dye portion of the stain, soak in an all fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach, Vivid) diluted according to package directions. If the fabric is colorfast to bleach, liquid chlorine bleach may be used. Wash the tablecloth in as hot of water allowable for the fabric using detergent.

*"Sponging" confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.



Reference: "Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm-858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




Can candle wax be removed by using a hot iron?

Ironing candle wax between blotting paper drives the stain deeper into the fabric. This process is widely used, but not recommended. It more permanently sets the dye from the candle and makes it difficult for the detergent or solvent to reach the wax portion of the stain.



Reference: "Quick'n Easy Stain Removal", Pm-858 Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results - pdf file

Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal




What are the most important points in stain removal?

Take care of stains promptly. Fresh stains are  easier to remove than those more than 24 hours old. Blot up any excess liquid with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Remove excess solids by gentle scraping or chipping with a dull knife or metal spatula. With some solids, such as heavy amounts of surface mud, removal may be easier after the stain has dried. Brush off the excess before the clothing is submerged for washing. Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry towel or a dark-colored cloth. You may complicate the problem. Never rub a fresh stain with bar soap. Soap sets many stains.

Check laundry for stains before washing. Many stains need pretreatment. Inspect wet laundry before drying to be sure a stain has been removed. If a stain is still evident, do not dryer dry because the heat of drying makes the stain more permanent.

Before starting on the stain, test stain removal agents on a seam or hidden area of the garment to be sure they do not affect the color or finish of the fabric. Avoid excessive rubbing unless the fabric is tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and damage the fiber, finish, or color of the fabric. However, gentle to vigorous rubbing and agitation under running water helps remove dried food, protein, or oil stains from shirts or jean-weight fabrics made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends.

Do not iron or press stained fabrics until the stain is completely removed. Heat sets most stains.

Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can be redeposited on cleaner clothing during laundering if a) too little detergent is used; b) water temperature is too low; c) washing time is too long; or d) the washer is loaded with too many clothes.

Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. Hot water can set protein stains like milk, egg, or blood. Use the water temperature recommended on stain removal products and detergents. Hot water should be between 120 and 140 degrees F, warm water between 85 and 105 degrees F, and cold water between 65 and 75 degrees F.  Water below 60 degrees F is too cold for detergents to be helpful.



Reference: "Quick'n Easy Stain Removal", Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results -pdf file




What does the clothing care label say?
Clothing manufacturers are required to attach a "permanent care label" to most clothing indicating the care recommended. Labels may be in the back of the neckline, waistline, or a back or side seam. Check the care label to see if the fabric is washable or dry-cleanable. Some items that are washable cannot be dry-cleaned. The care label may also carry other warnings such as "Do not use chlorine bleach." Be sure to follow these recommendations.

Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension

Author: Answer Line
Related Information:
Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal
A good guide to stain removal from fabrics
Consumer Choices: Using Textile Labels
This publication explains symbols and other label information found on clothing and household textiles.



Can I wash an item even if the care label says "dry-clean only"?
Stains on most of these items cannot be removed successfully at home. If a stained garment is labeled "dry-clean" or "professionally dry-clean," blot up the excess stain and take the garment to the cleaners as soon as possible (within 24 to 48 hours). A label's recommendation for dry-cleaning usually is based on the fiber content of the clothing, but may relate to other parts of the garment, such as the interfacing, elastic, and/or trim.

Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension



How can I get blood out of washable clothing?

Soak in cold water. Launder in warm water.

Soak and agitate a fresh stain in cold water before washing. If hot water is used first, it cooks the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stains more difficult to remove. If the stain is dried or old, scrape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water using a detergent. 

After treating the stain, launder in warm (not hot) water, rinse, and inspect. If stain remains, soak an additional half-hour, then rewash. 



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension Service
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




How can catsup be removed from clothing?

Use a two-step treatment: (1) Remove the oily/waxy portion of the stain, then (2) remove the dye portion using bleach if safe for the fabric.

Step 1. Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent into stain and scrub in hot water.

Step 2. Soak in an all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Vivid, Snowy) diluted according to package directions. Use liquid chlorine bleaches for tough dye stains on fabrics that are colorfast to bleach. Wash in as hot of water allowable for fabric using detergent.



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




My son left crayons in his jeans pocket, and I washed them with a load of clothes. How do I remove the stains?

This is a combination stain, so first remove the oily/waxy portion of the stain, then remove the dye portion.

Follow these steps if there are a limited number of spots to remove.

Step 1. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent (example: Energine) or treat with a stain stick. Then rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water.

Step 2. Soak in an all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach, Vivid) diluted according to package directions. Use liquid chlorine bleach for tough dye stains on fabrics that are colorfast to bleach. Wash in as hot of water allowable for fabric using detergent.

*"Sponging" confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain, working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer.   Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.

If most of the clothing in the washer is spotted with crayon, follow these steps: put 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup water conditioner (examples: Spring Rain, Rain Drops, Calgon), and liquid detergent for a load in your washer. Fill washer with the warmest/hottest water allowable for the fabric and let it agitate 2 minutes to dissolve the cleaning agents. Add clothing. Shut off the washer and let the clothing soak for 30 minutes. Then turn the washer on and finish the wash cycle. Check the clothing. Repeat process if spots are not totally removed.

 



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension



How can spilled diesel fuel be removed from coveralls? Can the odor be removed?

Pretreat. Wash using heavy-duty detergent with hot water.

Stain-removal pretreatment products help remove oil-based stains such as this. If stain removal pretreatment products are unavailable, apply heavy-duty liquid detergent, or powdered detergent mixed with water to make a runny paste, to the stain. Work the detergent into the stain. Diesel fuel makes clothing more flammable than normal. Use detergent-based stain removers, not solvent-based ones. Air clothing thoroughly; do not place a garment in a dryer if you can still smell fuel.

After pretreatment, wash the garment in hot water (if safe for the fabric) using the recommended amount of detergent for a regular laundry load. Rinse and inspect before drying. Air dry. Repeat this treatment if removal is incomplete.



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




Can gasoline and gasoline odor be removed from jeans?

Pretreat. Wash using heavy-duty detergent with hot water.

Stain-removal pretreatment products help remove oil-based stains such as this. If stain removal pretreatment products are unavailable, apply heavy-duty liquid detergent, or powdered detergent mixed with water to make a runny paste, to the stain. Work the detergent into the stain. Caution: Gasoline makes clothing more flammable then normal. Use detergent-based stain removers, not solvent-based ones. Air clothing thoroughly; do not place a garment in a dryer if you can still smell gas.

After pretreatment, wash the garment in hot water (if safe for the fabric) using the recommended amount of detergent for a regular laundry load. Rinse and inspect before drying. Repeat this treatment if removal is incomplete.



Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




The color from a red sock turned a load of underwear pink. How can the pink color be removed?

A dye stain like this is difficult to remove. First, pretreat the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent, then rinse thoroughly. Soak the stained garment in a dilute solution of all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Vivid, Snowy Bleach, Clorox 2) following package directions.

If the stain persists, and the garment is white or colorfast, soak in a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. IF the stain is not removed after 15 minutes of soaking in the bleach, which has been diluted according to package directions, it cannot be removed by bleaching, and further bleaching will only weaken the fabric. Caution: Since bleaches can alter the color of a fabric as well as the stain, bleach the whole garment; do not try to bleach just the stain.



Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choice: Getting Better Laundry Results




What can be done to remove ink spots from a load of laundry that included a ballpoint ink pen?

To remove ink spots from a load of laundry, put the following in your washer: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup water conditioner (examples: Calgon, Spring Rain, Rain Drops), and the amount of liquid detergent normally used for the load of laundry. Fill washer with the warmest/hottest water allowable for the fabric. Agitate the machine two minutes to dissolve the cleaning agents. Add clothing. Turn the machine off and allow clothing to soak 30 minutes. Turn machine on and go through the wash cycle. Check the spots. If not totally removed, repeat the process. 


Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results

Quick'n Easy Stain Removal




How can ballpoint ink be removed from clothing?

Use a two step treatment by removing the oily portion of the ink and then removing the dye portion.

Step 1. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent (example: Energine) or treat with a stain stick. Then rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water.

Step 2. Soak in an all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach, Vivid) diluted according to package directions. Use liquid chlorine bleach for tough dye stains on fabrics that are colorfast to bleach. Wash in as hot of water allowable for fabric using detergent.

*"Sponging" confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.



Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Result




I have an old quilt that was made by my grandmother, how should I clean it?
To help you decide what type of care is best for your quilt, read Family Heirlooms: Caring for Quilts, CL 954, Iowa State University, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/NR/rdonlyres/BBD6504B-8B17-4B08-9959-19FF17EEDEE0/30745/caring.pdf

Reference: Family Heirlooms: Caring for Quilts, CL954, Iowa State University



What makes my white clothes look dingy, gray, or yellow when I've just washed them?

If your clothes do not look white and bright, you may not be using water that is hot enough to properly dissolve the detergent and rinse the dirt away during washing. Water temperature must be above 60 degrees F for detergent to be effective, even if it is a "cold" water detergent. Usually a crammed washer with less than recommended detergent and cold water leads to dirty (tattle-tale gray) clothes. Do not overload the washer if you want soil and odor to be completely removed from clothes.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results
Iowa State University Extension Publication with information about laundry techniques



How can I restore dingy looking clothes?
Usually, clothes will look better if you wash them in hot water with a heavy-duty liquid detergent. Adding powdered bleach, water softener, or properly diluted bleach a few minutes into the wash cycle, may also help to brighten white clothes. You can treat colored clothes similarly, but avoid using liquid chlorine bleach.
For steps to success in laundering, read Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results.


Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Why is it harder to get rid of collar soil on some clothing than on others?
Fiber content of your shirts and blouses is very important when trying to get rid of collar soil. Oily stains tend to cling to synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon. Once set by heat drying, these stains are fairly permanent. If your shirts are a blend that have a high polyester or other synthetic content, failure to remove the soil on the first try with subsequent high temperature drying will cook the stain, making it quite difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



What can I do to remove "ring around the collar"?

"Ring around the collar," more accurately referred to as collar soil, is usually a combination of body oil and plain old dirt. Try using a strong, heavy-duty liquid detergent applied undiluted directly on the ring, followed by washing in hot water. In synthetic fibers, hot water washing may cause wrinkling during the washer's spin cycle, requiring steam pressing after the stain is out. Air dry until the stains are removed, so they aren't set by heat. If the shirt has cotton and polyester or nylon content, you can repeat the washing procedure without fear of damaging the fibers of the shirt.  

Using a half-cup chlorine bleach in the wash water can help with stain removal on white clothes. This shouldn't be required for every wash load, but occasional use will help keep shirts or blouses white and minimize the appearance of any collar soil that may not be removed with the detergent and hot water. For additional soil removal, pre-treatment products may be effective. The aerosol pre-treatment products or the stain sticks are usually more helpful with collar soil than the pump spray types that are detergent based.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Will soaking help remove the "ring around the collar"?

Soaking for a long time in cold water won't help remove oily soil. Detergents hold oil in suspension for a limited period of time, then the soil redeposits on the clothes in smaller particles that are even harder to remove. Without detergent the oil just stays put because it has greater attraction for the cloth than the water.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



How does mildew cause holes in clothing?
Mildew is the common name for a variety of fungi that can attack natural fibers and their blends when in conditions of warmth and moisture. If mildew has not eaten through the material completely, washable items can be washed in hot water with detergent, then rinsed thoroughly, and dried. If color remains (mildew comes in various colors--black, green, rust), then an all-fabric or mild bleach may be used, bearing in mind that bleaching will further weaken the fibers. When fibers and yarns break, a hole will soon appear.



What is mildew?
Mildew is a living organism that grows with warmth, humidity, and nutrients. It is the common name for various molds, simple plants that are classed as fungi. It tends to have a fuzzy appearance and may be white, rust, green, or black, the latter being more common. As mildew grows it "eats" the fiber, causing permanent fiber damage and weakening. Bleaching to remove mildew further weakens fabrics.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



What can I do to remove mildew from clothing?

1. Shake or brush the items outdoors to remove loose growth.
2. Presoak in cold water.
3. Wash in hot water and heavy duty detergent. If items are white, add 1/2 cup liquid chlorine bleach to wash load. If colored, use all fabric bleach.
4. With permanent press or synthetic fabrics, use the permanent press cycle with automatic cooldown before the spin cycle to prevent wrinkles.
5. If staining remains on items, repeat washing before drying.
6. Dry thoroughly; heat and sun tend to kill mildew.

Mildew attacks and destroys fibers, so clothing may not be restored to original appearance.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Cleaning Clothing and Textiles
Iowa State University Extension Publication, Disaster Recovery #11



How can I prevent mildew?
Mildew is the common name for various molds, simple plants that are classed as fungi. It tends to have a fuzzy appearance and may be white, rust, green, or black, the latter being more common. Because it is a living organism that grows with warmth, humidity, and nutrients, keeping materials dry is key to preventing mildew. Removal efforts are not enough to prevent mildew. The source of moisture must be identifyed and corrected to prevent future growth. 

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



My clothes smell a bit after I've washed them. Is this mildew?

Clothes can smell bad without being mildewed. Sometimes a "sour" smell occurs if clothes aren't put in the dryer quickly enough after washing. That can be fixed by putting them through a fresh rinse cycle and prompt drying. If strong odors are a continuing problem, try adding 1/2 cup powdered bleach or water conditioner to the wash.

Mildew happens when clothes are in damp, warm conditions--and seems more likely in darkness.  For example, clothes at the bottom of the laundry basket or clothes that are wet with perspiration can mildew quite easily if not washed promptly. Mildew shows up as a fuzzy growth on the surface and between fibers. It can grow in a fairly short time -- not minutes, but hours or days. Mildew on clothes is often black, but it can also be white, gray, green, or rusty looking.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Cleaning Clothing and Textiles
Iowa State University Extension Publication, Disaster Recovery #11



What do care labels on apparel or other textile products mean?

The USA care labels show the type of care recommended for textile or apparel items. Words in English or a symbol may be used. Most symbols are easy to understand, but some symbols may be a little more perplexing. Symbols were introduced to deal with language barriers in a diverse population and for ease in international trade. For further information about care labels and a chart of care symbols, download the publication Consumer Choices: Using Textile Labels.  

The Care Labeling Rule is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Federal Trade Commision. Additional rules under the U.S. Customs Service govern products with internationally-produced components. 



Reference: Consumer Choices, Pm 733, Iowa State University Extension

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



If a label says "dry clean only," can the item be washed?
Care labels are only required to give you one appropriate method of care for an item. Generally an item that can be washed is labeled as "Washable." But, some items, such as some sweaters, may be labeled "Dry clean" even if they also can be gently washed. Items that are labeled "washable" often  also may be dry-cleaned. If not, a warning should be given such as "Do not dryclean."

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Usiing Textile Labels
An explanation of various labels and a chart of label symbols are included in this Iowa State University Extension Publication.



What is Tencel(TM)?

Tencel (TM) is the brand name for a cellulose fiber made by Courtaulds from wood pulp. It is assigned to a new generic class "lyocell." Tencel is stronger than cotton or regular viscose rayon and does not lose strength when wet as viscose rayon does. Tencel stretches more than cotton, but less than viscose. It is often blended with cotton and/or polyester, mainly in woven fabrics, rather than knits. It is absorbent and comfortable for wear in conditions of high humidity because it is cellulosic. It is manufactured by solvent spinning, but the solvent is recycled so that Courtaulds claims its manufacture is an environmentally friendly process compared to other rayons. The spinning process results in a round filament fiber with a smooth surface, but it can have a bright luster or matte finish.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



My home received considerable water damage. How can I begin to clean and sort through our belongings?

Information related to cleaning and salvaging flood damaged homes and belongings see the Extension website: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/DisasterRecovery/flood.htm



Author: Answer Line



Following the flood how can I clean my home and all of our belongings?
For information related to cleaning a home, furnishings, and other belongings, visit the Extension website: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/disasterrecovery/

Author: Answer Line



Are there any rules about clothing sizes?
There are no federally mandated rules about clothing sizes. Sizing studies have created standard sizing ranges, but these are usually just considered a starting point for designers who decide what an appropriate fit looks like for the size ranges with which they work.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




How can I find my right clothing size?
To find clothing that fits well, pay attention to both the correct size and the size range. For example, consider a "Misses 10." "Misses" is the size range; "10" is the size.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




What are the common clothing size ranges?

Size ranges are as follows:

WOMEN's:
Petite, Women's Petite, Half-size, Misses/Missy, Junior, Women's/Plus, and/or Tall.

MEN's:
Regular men's, Tall, Short, Big, Young men's. Shirts are sold by neck measurement (circumference) and sleeve length; pants by waist measurement and in-seam leg length.
 

For detailed information about general guidelines for men's and women's size ranges and sizes, check ISU Extension publication PM 1648, Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit.

CHILDREN's:

Infant or baby (generally stated in terms of months of age or weight of the child),
Toddler (1 to 4 T),
Children (2 to 6X),
Girls (7 to 14); with slim, regular, and chubby,
Pre-teen or young junior (2 to 9) for older girls,
Boys (6 to 20); with slim, regular, and husky.


For further information about children's clothing see the following:
Selecting Clothes for Toddlers
Selecting Clothes for Preschoolers, Ages 3-5

Selecting Clothes for School Age Children, Ages 6-9
Selecting Baby's First Clothes
Shopping for Children's Clothes and Shoes
Keeping Babies Warm in Winter
Clothing Ideas for Special Needs Children



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Why do two sweaters both marked "Misses 10" fit differently?
Nearly every manufacturer bases their line of clothing on a different set of basic measurements. Some use a "fit model" to try on their designs to see if they look right. If you are shaped differently than the model, the clothes may not fit you well.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




How can I be sure to find a clothing brand that fits?
To find the right fit, conduct your own fitting experiments. Stores expect customers to try on clothing to be sure the fit is right. Fitting rooms may not be very visible, but a sales associate or cashier should be able to tell you where they are located. If you find a brand of clothing that fits you well, chances are that other styles in that brand will also fit.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




If I am shopping for clothing via catalogs or Internet, how can I determine the best size to order?
There are two ways to order the right size for a satisfactory fit: 1) Measure yourself carefully and compare your measurements to those in the catalog or in the ordering directions, then order accordingly. 2) Order a basic garment, try it on and return it if it fails to fit. This option includes the added postage costs if you must exchange the item for a different size.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




Does the design of a garment make a difference in fit?
Yes. Designers try to offer a "new look" as they introduce new clothing lines. They may change their idea of how an appropriate fit should appear. They may change the "cut" or the shape of the pieces in the design or they may use fabrics that behave differently. For example, bias cut items tend to stretch in length. Knits often stretch in width and shrink in length.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




Why does the fabric make a difference in fit?
Both the way a fabric is knitted or woven and the fiber content can affect fit. Thick fabrics take up space and may make a garment feel smaller. Closely woven fabrics such as gabardine twill may not stretch much making the garment size more definite. Knit fabrics that are loose with space between yarns, tend to stretch out.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit




Does the fiber content affect fit in any way?
Yes. Fiber content can make a big difference because some fibers are naturally stretchy, while others are not. For example, recently t-shirts were introduced using a small amount of spandex (Lycra) fiber, which is an elastomeric or stretchy fiber. Blended with cotton or cotton/polyester blend in jersey knits, these shirts were designed for a closer fit. Also, the shirts were cut somewhat smaller and expected to "skim" the torso. A person who usually selected a size "S" (small) might find that she was more comfortable in the new size "M" (medium) because it "felt" more like what she was used to. Spandex is used in foundation garments, sportswear, and other special clothing where a body-hugging result is wanted.


Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Finding Your Best Fit

Consumer Choices: Understanding Apparel and Furnishing Textiles




Why do home dyes give different results on different fibers?
Home dyes are made from a recipe that contains a variety of dyestuffs so that they have at least limited affinity for all fibers. Dyes attach to particular parts of fiber molecules. If the fiber doesn't have an accepting site to which the dye can link, the color won't stay. In addition, the dyes used in this mix are dyes that are easy to process. This means that they are likely to give a uniform color and do not require special chemicals or extra careful processing. However, these dyes are also less likely to stay put when washed, especially if the wash water is hot. Bleeding or migration is the problem that will occur with these dyes. To illustrate the variation in dyeing results, textiles students use a multifiber test cloth in a beaker of dye solution to see the variety of colors achieved with one dye. Some fibers will be the shade advertised, some will be darker, others lighter, some yellower, some greener, etc.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Are home dyes always colorfast?
Yes and No. It depends on whether the dye chemistry suits the fiber chemistry and the specific dye used. 

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Are all dyes equally resistant to water, sun, etc.?
No. Some are more resistant than others, but labeling is not required to tell you about dyes at the time of purchase.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



What is a colorfast dye?
Colorfast means the color stays in the cloth and that the dye does not change color easily in the presence of water, sun, or light, or fumes in the atmosphere.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Do home dyed clothes bleed?
That is, does the color move or "run" in water? Yes, sometimes the color "runs" if the excess dye is not all rinsed out or the fiber has no real affinity or chemical attachment to the dye. This is often a problem with red dyes, but it varies with the dyestuff and the fiber content of the clothing.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Do all red clothes bleed in the wash water?
No. It is possible for manufacturers to use colorfast dyes. They tend to cost more. Colorfast dyes are more likely to be found in children's clothing than in adult clothing, because manufacturers assume children's clothing will be washed a lot.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



If I pay more for my clothes, can I be sure to get colorfast items?
No, unfortunately price of clothing has little to do with colorfastness. Buy based on your experience with brands and clothes that have performed well for you in the past.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Are there government rules that cover colorfastness and dyeing?
No. If a garment fails to retain color, you can complain to the manufacturer. But, you'll have to show that you have not mistreated it in some unusual way and you'll need a sales receipt to show it was purchased new.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



I splashed bleach on my jeans. Can I dye them to cover the spot?
You can dye them, but it may not totally cover the spot. Usually previous dyes, finishes or just soil on used clothing shows up by making the over-dye look less uniform than it should. When dyeing over a white spot, it may look more like the color you desire, but the rest of the jeans may look darker, still leaving a definite spot.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Does nylon accept dye easily?
It depends on whether you are attempting to dye nylon in industry or at home and what kind of dyestuff you are using. Nylon is dyed with acid, disperse, & reactive dyes. It can be solution dyed (color added to the fiber spinning solution), so the color is an integral part of the fiber when it is formed. Solution dyed nylons are usually very colorfast. Dyestuff that work for nylon also work for wool because they have similar dye accepting sites on the chemical molecule. However, wool has many more sites than nylon. Nylon is hydrophobic--doesn't absorb water easily--so it is harder to dye than cotton or other cellulosic fibers, but not as difficult as polyester which is dyed in industry under pressure.

Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist


Stain Removal

Candle wax dripped onto my tablecloth. Is there a good way to remove it?

To remove candle wax, the waxy portion of the stain needs to be removed first, followed by removal of the dye portion of the stain. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent (example: Energine) or treat with a stain stick. Then rub with a heavy duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water. To remove the dye portion of the stain, soak in an all fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach, Vivid) diluted according to package directions. If the fabric is colorfast to bleach, liquid chlorine bleach may be used. Wash the tablecloth in as hot of water allowable for the fabric using detergent.

*"Sponging" confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.



Reference: "Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm-858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




Can candle wax be removed by using a hot iron?

Ironing candle wax between blotting paper drives the stain deeper into the fabric. This process is widely used, but not recommended. It more permanently sets the dye from the candle and makes it difficult for the detergent or solvent to reach the wax portion of the stain.



Reference: "Quick'n Easy Stain Removal", Pm-858 Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results - pdf file

Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal




What are the most important points in stain removal?

Take care of stains promptly. Fresh stains are  easier to remove than those more than 24 hours old. Blot up any excess liquid with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Remove excess solids by gentle scraping or chipping with a dull knife or metal spatula. With some solids, such as heavy amounts of surface mud, removal may be easier after the stain has dried. Brush off the excess before the clothing is submerged for washing. Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry towel or a dark-colored cloth. You may complicate the problem. Never rub a fresh stain with bar soap. Soap sets many stains.

Check laundry for stains before washing. Many stains need pretreatment. Inspect wet laundry before drying to be sure a stain has been removed. If a stain is still evident, do not dryer dry because the heat of drying makes the stain more permanent.

Before starting on the stain, test stain removal agents on a seam or hidden area of the garment to be sure they do not affect the color or finish of the fabric. Avoid excessive rubbing unless the fabric is tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and damage the fiber, finish, or color of the fabric. However, gentle to vigorous rubbing and agitation under running water helps remove dried food, protein, or oil stains from shirts or jean-weight fabrics made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends.

Do not iron or press stained fabrics until the stain is completely removed. Heat sets most stains.

Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can be redeposited on cleaner clothing during laundering if a) too little detergent is used; b) water temperature is too low; c) washing time is too long; or d) the washer is loaded with too many clothes.

Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. Hot water can set protein stains like milk, egg, or blood. Use the water temperature recommended on stain removal products and detergents. Hot water should be between 120 and 140 degrees F, warm water between 85 and 105 degrees F, and cold water between 65 and 75 degrees F.  Water below 60 degrees F is too cold for detergents to be helpful.



Reference: "Quick'n Easy Stain Removal", Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results -pdf file




How can I get blood out of washable clothing?

Soak in cold water. Launder in warm water.

Soak and agitate a fresh stain in cold water before washing. If hot water is used first, it cooks the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stains more difficult to remove. If the stain is dried or old, scrape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water using a detergent. 

After treating the stain, launder in warm (not hot) water, rinse, and inspect. If stain remains, soak an additional half-hour, then rewash. 



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension Service
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




How can catsup be removed from clothing?

Use a two-step treatment: (1) Remove the oily/waxy portion of the stain, then (2) remove the dye portion using bleach if safe for the fabric.

Step 1. Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent into stain and scrub in hot water.

Step 2. Soak in an all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Vivid, Snowy) diluted according to package directions. Use liquid chlorine bleaches for tough dye stains on fabrics that are colorfast to bleach. Wash in as hot of water allowable for fabric using detergent.



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




My son left crayons in his jeans pocket, and I washed them with a load of clothes. How do I remove the stains?

This is a combination stain, so first remove the oily/waxy portion of the stain, then remove the dye portion.

Follow these steps if there are a limited number of spots to remove.

Step 1. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent (example: Energine) or treat with a stain stick. Then rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water.

Step 2. Soak in an all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach, Vivid) diluted according to package directions. Use liquid chlorine bleach for tough dye stains on fabrics that are colorfast to bleach. Wash in as hot of water allowable for fabric using detergent.

*"Sponging" confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain, working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer.   Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.

If most of the clothing in the washer is spotted with crayon, follow these steps: put 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup water conditioner (examples: Spring Rain, Rain Drops, Calgon), and liquid detergent for a load in your washer. Fill washer with the warmest/hottest water allowable for the fabric and let it agitate 2 minutes to dissolve the cleaning agents. Add clothing. Shut off the washer and let the clothing soak for 30 minutes. Then turn the washer on and finish the wash cycle. Check the clothing. Repeat process if spots are not totally removed.

 



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension



How can spilled diesel fuel be removed from coveralls? Can the odor be removed?

Pretreat. Wash using heavy-duty detergent with hot water.

Stain-removal pretreatment products help remove oil-based stains such as this. If stain removal pretreatment products are unavailable, apply heavy-duty liquid detergent, or powdered detergent mixed with water to make a runny paste, to the stain. Work the detergent into the stain. Diesel fuel makes clothing more flammable than normal. Use detergent-based stain removers, not solvent-based ones. Air clothing thoroughly; do not place a garment in a dryer if you can still smell fuel.

After pretreatment, wash the garment in hot water (if safe for the fabric) using the recommended amount of detergent for a regular laundry load. Rinse and inspect before drying. Air dry. Repeat this treatment if removal is incomplete.



Reference: Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




Can gasoline and gasoline odor be removed from jeans?

Pretreat. Wash using heavy-duty detergent with hot water.

Stain-removal pretreatment products help remove oil-based stains such as this. If stain removal pretreatment products are unavailable, apply heavy-duty liquid detergent, or powdered detergent mixed with water to make a runny paste, to the stain. Work the detergent into the stain. Caution: Gasoline makes clothing more flammable then normal. Use detergent-based stain removers, not solvent-based ones. Air clothing thoroughly; do not place a garment in a dryer if you can still smell gas.

After pretreatment, wash the garment in hot water (if safe for the fabric) using the recommended amount of detergent for a regular laundry load. Rinse and inspect before drying. Repeat this treatment if removal is incomplete.



Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results




The color from a red sock turned a load of underwear pink. How can the pink color be removed?

A dye stain like this is difficult to remove. First, pretreat the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent, then rinse thoroughly. Soak the stained garment in a dilute solution of all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Vivid, Snowy Bleach, Clorox 2) following package directions.

If the stain persists, and the garment is white or colorfast, soak in a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water. IF the stain is not removed after 15 minutes of soaking in the bleach, which has been diluted according to package directions, it cannot be removed by bleaching, and further bleaching will only weaken the fabric. Caution: Since bleaches can alter the color of a fabric as well as the stain, bleach the whole garment; do not try to bleach just the stain.



Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choice: Getting Better Laundry Results




How can ballpoint ink be removed from clothing?

Use a two step treatment by removing the oily portion of the ink and then removing the dye portion.

Step 1. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent (example: Energine) or treat with a stain stick. Then rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water.

Step 2. Soak in an all-fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach, Vivid) diluted according to package directions. Use liquid chlorine bleach for tough dye stains on fabrics that are colorfast to bleach. Wash in as hot of water allowable for fabric using detergent.

*"Sponging" confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.



Reference: Quick'n Easy Stain Removal, Pm 858, Iowa State University Extension
Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Result




What can be done to remove ink spots from a load of laundry that included a ballpoint ink pen?

To remove ink spots from a load of laundry, put the following in your washer: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup water conditioner (examples: Calgon, Spring Rain, Rain Drops), and the amount of liquid detergent normally used for the load of laundry. Fill washer with the warmest/hottest water allowable for the fabric. Agitate the machine two minutes to dissolve the cleaning agents. Add clothing. Turn the machine off and allow clothing to soak 30 minutes. Turn machine on and go through the wash cycle. Check the spots. If not totally removed, repeat the process. 


Related Information:
Consumer Choices: Getting Better Laundry Results

Quick'n Easy Stain Removal




What can I do to remove mildew from clothing?

1. Shake or brush the items outdoors to remove loose growth.
2. Presoak in cold water.
3. Wash in hot water and heavy duty detergent. If items are white, add 1/2 cup liquid chlorine bleach to wash load. If colored, use all fabric bleach.
4. With permanent press or synthetic fabrics, use the permanent press cycle with automatic cooldown before the spin cycle to prevent wrinkles.
5. If staining remains on items, repeat washing before drying.
6. Dry thoroughly; heat and sun tend to kill mildew.

Mildew attacks and destroys fibers, so clothing may not be restored to original appearance.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist
Related Information:
Cleaning Clothing and Textiles
Iowa State University Extension Publication, Disaster Recovery #11



What can I do to remove "ring around the collar"?

"Ring around the collar," more accurately referred to as collar soil, is usually a combination of body oil and plain old dirt. Try using a strong, heavy-duty liquid detergent applied undiluted directly on the ring, followed by washing in hot water. In synthetic fibers, hot water washing may cause wrinkling during the washer's spin cycle, requiring steam pressing after the stain is out. Air dry until the stains are removed, so they aren't set by heat. If the shirt has cotton and polyester or nylon content, you can repeat the washing procedure without fear of damaging the fibers of the shirt.  

Using a half-cup chlorine bleach in the wash water can help with stain removal on white clothes. This shouldn't be required for every wash load, but occasional use will help keep shirts or blouses white and minimize the appearance of any collar soil that may not be removed with the detergent and hot water. For additional soil removal, pre-treatment products may be effective. The aerosol pre-treatment products or the stain sticks are usually more helpful with collar soil than the pump spray types that are detergent based.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist



Will soaking help remove the "ring around the collar"?

Soaking for a long time in cold water won't help remove oily soil. Detergents hold oil in suspension for a limited period of time, then the soil redeposits on the clothes in smaller particles that are even harder to remove. Without detergent the oil just stays put because it has greater attraction for the cloth than the water.



Author: Jan Stone, Extension Specialist

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