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Getting Clothes Clean

Getting Clothes Clean


Today almost everything but the child goes into the washing machine. Bleach of one kind or another does wonders with really dirty clothes. Some parents change brands of laundry detergent occasionally, feeling that the new brand washes out the residue of the old, and clothes get cleaner. If you take your laundry to a laundromat, carry your detergent in old baby food jars or self-closing plastic bags to lighten the load. And remember, there's no law that says kids' play clothes must be spotless!

Get grimy socks white by soaking them in a solution of baking soda and water before laundering. Yes, bleach works, too. Or boil them in water with a sliced lemon.

Soak egg-stained clothing in cold water for an hour before laundering. Hot water will set the stain.

Soak vomit-stained clothes in cold water, and sponge stains with a solution of a quart of ammonia and a half teaspoon of liquid detergent.

Use bottled rug shampoo with a brush (and lots of suds) for winter coats that need dry cleaning. It works on both wool and corduroy.

Pour boiling water through grape-juice-stained areas of clothing over a sink or bowl.

Place a piece of waxed paper over gum on clothing or fabric. Run a warm iron over the area to "melt" the gum onto the waxed paper. Or use masking tape to lift it off.

Kid-Created Stains

Something our parents failed to mention (or we chose to ignore) is the joy and frustration of continual laundry. Parents need to become experts in stain removal and in keeping mounds of clothing in motion.

Over the years, various people have recommended the following items for stain removal. I won't vouch for each of them. Often their effectiveness depends on the nature of the stain, how old it is, and the nature of the fabric. The following list includes options you may want to try. One or more may work for you.

Ballpoint pen/ink:

  • Hair spray
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Vinegar on painted surfaces


  • Goo Gone
  • WD-40


  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • A paste of meat tenderizer
  • Shampoo rubbed in, then cold water wash
  • Whink Wash Away
  • Goo Gone


  • Alcohol
  • Shampoo
  • Simple Green
  • Tilex Soap Scum Remover
  • Soak overnight, then wash with bleach
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Whitewall tire cleaner
  • Whink Wash Away


  • Baby/talcum powder, then brush off
  • Baking soda
  • Club soda
  • Crisco
  • Go Jo
  • Oven cleaner
  • Goo Gone


  • Baby wipes
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach on a cotton swab
  • Club soda
  • Liquid dishwasher detergent
  • Murphy's Oil Soap
  • Oven cleaner
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Shaving cream
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Window spray

Many companies claim their product alone is good in every situation. My preference is to try baking soda first, as a paste or sprinkled on. It can't do any harm, and you can always try something else if it doesn't work.

Vicki Lansky has written for Sesame Street, Parent’s Guide and Family Circle and has made numerous TV appearances on programs from Oprah to The View. Her books have sold over 6 million copies. Reprinted with permission from Practical Parenting.
Reprinted with permission from Practical Parenting
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Kate Sarginson Victoria, BC Canada February 2, 2011

Hairspray Hello,
Just a comment about using hairspray for ballpoint pen ink. In the old days hairspray had a lot of alcohol in it; now it has very little so it doesn't work as well on stains. Disnaturazlied (ie clear) alcohol works just as well and is cheaper.
Also non Jewish lady who loves your site! Reply

Dan Miami, FL August 7, 2007

cleaning Great ideas! I will try them this afternoon. Thanks for putting together this wonderful web-site! Reply

Cheryl Wellington, New Zealand March 30, 2006

Tips for cleaning clothes etc What a fascinating collection of things to use to clean clothes.
Very comprehensive and not expensive to try either.
Many thanks, from a non-Jewish lady from New Zealand.
I receive your newsletters and enjoy reading them even though I am not Jewish. Reply

jessica levenbrown los angeles, usa March 10, 2006

wine stains red wine on a white tablecloth...or on anything...oxyclean will get it out. every time. this is a fantastic product. Reply