Vol. 05: Out Damned Spot!
The chemistry of stain removal.
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The internet has made stain removal hugely easier, so now every time I run into something new, I go online and see which tips make the most sense to me, or check out online forums to see if anyone has a new twist. Removing stains doesnt have to be hard; usually its just a question of knowing the right chemistry.
Of course, this may all become an obsolete problem as more and more stain-proof fabrics come on the market. (Mommy, what are stains?) So far, there are still issues with breathability and flexibility, but nano-fibers and other high-tech solutions may solve that problem. While in the past, stain- and water-proof fabrics were made with a coating, now the fibers themselves are coated, so that the material can breathe, but the fibers are protected. While once the domain of sportswear, such high-tech fabrics are starting to appear in more fashionable clothing as well. I had to stick my arm under the faucet before Id believe that a spring coat I bought was truly water resistant.
Still, theres something wonderful about wearing white linen in on a hot day, or a wool sweater in winter, so as the rest of the world goes high-tech, stains will probably be around for quite a while.
Here are a few particularly good websites and books for reference:
A fabulous list of just about every cleaning link out there (including one for My Little Ponies): http://www.oxyboost.com/cleaning_pages/links.html
Great site with everything from tips to listings for professional cleaners to forums: http://www.cleaning.com
Charming old recipes for cleaning: http://www.polishandshine.freeserve.co.uk/
And for those of us with dial-up (or who prefer something they can take into the laundry room with them), here are some excellent books:
Field Guide to Stains: How to Identify and Remove Virtually Every Stain Known to Man, by Virginia M. Friedman, Melissa Wagner, and Nancy Armstrong. Quirk, 2002. It really does cover just about everything, with color photos to boot. The photos dont always have the most realistic looking stains, but its clear, simple, and funny, too.
Clean House, Clean Planet, by Karen Logan. Pocket, 1997. A natural cleaning book explaining the dangers of common household cleaners, but also has good tips about simple cleaning tricks. Whats nontoxic for you is also usually nontoxic for your clothes. Try the natural stuff first, then go to the dry cleaners.
The Home Cyclopedia of Necessary Knowledge: Embracing Five Books in One Volume, by Charles Morris, Alice Johnson, Jeannette McKinzie and Henry Hartshorne. W.E. Scull Publishers, 1902. Subjects include general information, business, history, cooking and housekeeping, and health and medicine, which are all clearly necessary to be a truly great stain remover.
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