Dealing with Sport Stains

Spring youth baseball, softball, football, and soccer games are in full swing—rain or shine! While it’s fun to watch the kids play and give it their all, it’s not so fun for the moms and dads who clean the uniforms after the game. Parents know that just one base slide or a slip and sprawl on the grass will result in serious laundry room time. Add wet fields, sweat, blood, sports drinks, and other hard play stains!

Baseball player sliding into home base

Sport pants stained with hard play–dirt, grass, sweat, blood, and more, mean work in the laundry room. For best results and to minimize the work and time spent cleaning them, sports pants should be sent to the laundry room as soon as possible after the game. The longer sweat and stains sit, the harder they are to clean. While methods and products may differ for those who clean uniforms, there are 5 musts:

  • get to the stains ASAP,
  • avoid using chlorine bleach,
  • wash alone or with like colors,
  • wash inside out to reduce potential peeling of letters or numbers, and
  • air dry.

Textile experts would concur with the “mom” advice. Further, they recommend that any stain removal should begin by

  1. identifying the fiber type and
  2. determining the stain type.

Depending on the fiber or stain type, the stain removal process differs.

Fiber

Most sport uniforms are made of polyester or a blend of cotton and polyester, with polyester being widely used for youth sport uniforms. Polyester uniforms are extremely durable and exhibit moisture wicking properties, allowing sweat to wick away from the skin for more efficient evaporation. Polyester’s downside is its affinity for oil-based stains and shrinkage with heat. Check the garment tag to determine the fiber content and note if spandex is part of the mix. (Some caution may be needed with spandex as it may not take the usual harsh treatment required to get the uniforms clean.)

Stain Type

Most sport-induced stains are either protein stains or dye stains. Protein-based stains include blood, sweat, grass, mud and most dirt; protein stains can be time-consuming to remove as they usually involve some soaking time. Grass stains can also be a dye stain as the stain comes from chlorophyll in the grass. Red clay stain is another dye stain. Red clay is the dirt combination used to skim the infield; it’s made of clay mixed with sand or silt and topped with brick dust. The reddish color of the dirt comes from iron oxide or rust. A combination of chlorophyll and red clay stains makes uniform cleaning challenging.

Grass, Blood, Sweat Stains

Reach for an enzyme-based product and pre-soak in cold to lukewarm (less than 100 degrees F) water. Protein stains will set if exposed to hot water, an iron, or a dryer. Heat cooks the protein, causing coagulation between the fibers in the yarns of the fabric, making the stains more difficult to remove. Enzyme-based products (pre-soaks and detergents) work best as these cleaners contain enzymes that “eat” protein stains. When shopping for an enzyme laundry product, pay attention to products with “bio” or “enzyme action” somewhere in their name usually indicating that it likely contains enzymes. Launder by working a small amount of an enzyme based detergent into the stains and wash in enzyme detergent. If the stain persists, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) recommends laundering with sodium hypochlorite bleach, if safe for fabric, or oxygen bleach.

Dirt Stains

Regular dirt stains respond to products that contain wetting agents. Liquid dish soap (blue Dawn), laundry detergent, or some stain-removing sprays are typically used. Wetting agents enable water and cleaning agents to penetrate the fabric for better release of dirt.

Red Clay Stains

Red clay (rust) stains are allergic to chlorine and oxygen bleaches. Chlorine bleach may set or make the stain permanent. Pretreat the stain with dish soap, detergent, or spot cleaner; soak in warm water, scrub with a brush, and launder. Cleanipedia recommends rubbing an enzyme detergent into the stain, letting it set overnight, and washing it as usual. If the stain persists, Cleanipedia also offers more drastic solutions using vinegar and salt and ammonia solutions.

Nike, the manufacturer of many kinds of sports pants, recommends soaking for at least an hour. After soaking the pants, scrub the stain with a spare, clean toothbrush or scrub brush to help release dirt particles. Then, wash the pants in warm water (approximately 110 degrees F) using the heavy soil cycle and plenty of water. Nike also suggests using detergents explicitly made for athletic uniform care as they are lower in alkaline, preventing yellowing of whites or color loss. Lastly, avoid using fabric softener on garments that contain Dri-FIT materials, as it can reduce the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric.

Clubbies, the nickname for those who launder uniforms for the major league teams, suggest the use of a product called Slide Out.* Slide Out is formulated with additives that increase the effectiveness of detergent to remove tough red clay, blood, ground in dirt, sweat, odors, and hard to remove grass stains from all activity uniforms. It is a two-part product. Slide Out 1 permeates the fabric and opens up the yarns and fibers. Slide Out 2 reacts with Slide Out 1, taking out the dirt and stain. Slide Out is recommended as a post-stain remover. Originally developed for the major leagues, Slide Out is now available to consumers along with other uniform cleaning products directly from the company, Clubhouse Kit LLC, that developed the products.

There are a number of other products on the market that suggest that they will do the job as well. As always, products should be used per label directions and tested in an inconspicuous spot before use.

“HATS OFF” to all the moms, dads, and grandparents who support youth and their activities with their time, encouragement, and laundry duty!

*Reference to any commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporate name is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or certification of any kind. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use and should make their own assessment of the information and whether it is suitable for their intended use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Caring for Reusable Bags to Prevent Illness

Reusable grocery bags have become widely used as consumer seek to reduce waste, protect the environment, and save on bag fees. Are reusable bags really safe?

Reusable bag stocked with fresh produce and groceries.
Photo: Canva.com

Reusable grocery bags are a smart choice but may come with some risk. Depending upon how the bags are used and the items they may carry, the bags may also carry germs like E.coli or Salmonella. Meat, poultry juices, and soil from unwashed produce can cause shopping bags to become contaminated. Several studies have revealed just how dirty those bags can be. However, the good news is that washing bags between uses or on a regular basis reduces the chance of contaiming foods with germs that can make one sick.

As concerns about food safety continue to grow, individuals are seeking proactive measures to ensure the quality and cleanliness of their groceries. In response to this need, food test kits have emerged as valuable tools for assessing the presence of contaminants and pathogens in food items. These kits offer a convenient and reliable means of detecting harmful bacteria such as E.coli or Salmonella, providing peace of mind to consumers concerned about the safety of their food.

Moreover, some food test kits go beyond detecting pathogens and offer insights into the nutritional content of food items. By providing nutrient analysis capabilities, these kits empower individuals to make informed decisions about their dietary choices and ensure they are receiving the essential nutrients needed for optimal health. With the ability to perform a nutrients test at home, consumers can take control of their nutrition and make adjustments to their diet as needed, promoting overall well-being and vitality.

Food Smart Colorado offers these tips to keep bags clean and safe:

  • Regularly wash your bags in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water. Dry thoroughly.
  • Store bags in a clean, cool location. Warm temperatures can promote the growth of bacteria.
  • Clean areas where bags are unloaded before and after to reduce cross-contamination. This is especially important if a countertop or kitchen table was used.
  • Do not use reusable grocery bags for other purposes. Bags used for groceries should be used only for food!
  • Put meat, poultry, and fish in disposable plastic bags before placing in a reusable bag to prevent juices from leaking and contaminating the bag or other food items.
  • Use a separate reusable bag for fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish to avoid cross-contamination with produce or ready-to-eat foods.

Good Housekeeping gives this guidance on laundering the various types of reusable bags:

Canvas Bags – toss into the washing machine with hot water and detergent, dry in the drier.

Recycled Plastic or Polyproplylene Bags – wash by hand in warm soapy water and line or air dry; pay attention to inner- and outer-seams.

Insulated Bags – since insulated bags are usually used for raw meats, dairy products, and some produce, these bags need to be cleaned after each use with a disinfecting wipe and allowed to air dry completely before storing. If there was leakage of any kind, the bag should be turned inside out exposing the liner, washed with hot, soapy water and air dry.

Nylon Bags – flip them inside out; wash them by hand or on the gentle washing cycle in warm soapy water, and air dry.

However, no matter how diligent we are with reusable bags, waste disposal remains an inevitable part of daily life. That’s where services like Skips Rochdale come into play, providing convenient solutions for responsible waste management. Whether it’s household clutter, garden trimmings, or construction debris, skip bins offer a hassle-free way to efficiently clear out the mess. Just as we carefully choose eco-friendly options for our shopping bags, selecting the right skip size and waste segregation practices ensures that our discarded items are handled in an environmentally conscious manner.

So, while we strive to minimize our carbon footprint with reusable bags, partnering with services like Skip bins ensures that our overall waste management strategy remains sustainable and efficient.

When was the last time you cleaned your reusable grocery bags?

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Preventing Color Transfer by Bleeding or Crocking

Green jacket with a caution tag on it.

Caution tag defined:  Due to the nature of the dye used in this garment, colors may bleed, crock, or fade on to other surfaces during washing, with friction or rubbing.  Avoid using with light-colored clothing, accessories, furniture, car seats, etc.  Wash separately in cold water.  Avoid tumble drying to prevent color transfer to the dryer drum."

You think you have found the perfect garment—that is, until you wear it and it rubs off on your skin, bag, car seat, furniture, or other clothing OR it bleeds in the washing machine, staining all your other clothes, too.  Both scenarios are a result of color transfer by crocking and bleeding.

Crocking is color transfer that occurs when fabric rubs against something, such as skin, other clothing, furniture, shoes, etc. Crocking happens when the garment dye has not properly adhered to or set into the garment fabric.  If you have ever worn a new pair of new jeans and sat on something light colored or worn a light colored top and noticed blue streaks or coloration on the lighter color, it is because the excess dye on the surface of the garment that is has rubbed or crocked off.  Removing dye transfer by crocking is not always an easy task and may result in a permanent stain or discoloration.

Bleeding occurs when fabric dye leaches out in water or dry cleaning solvent; if the garment being laundered is mixed with other item, the released dye can bleed onto the other items in the load causing discoloration.  Depending on the other items, color removal after bleeding is not always successful. Bleeding also causes the original garment to fade or lose color.

Crocking and bleeding are of concern to consumers because of the mess or damage the transfer causes.  Garments with deeply dyed, dark fabrics are most prone to color transfer.  Reasons for transfer usually begins with the fabric manufacturer where a poor quality dye or incorrect dye was used for the fabric or fiber type, dyeing was incorrectly done, improper rinsing after dyeing, or lack of (or an improper) mordant or fixer was used to bind the dye to the fiber, yarn, or fabric.  A common myth is that washing the product in vinegar or salt “fixes” the color and prevents it from crocking or bleeding. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If salt or vinegar has been tried and it seemed to work, it is only because the free dye remnants were removed in the washing.  Acids help set some acid dyes in the dyeing process.  While vinegar is an acid, attempting to use it after the fact, offers no “fixing” protection. Salt is used in the dyeing process to open the fiber to absorb dye but has no effect on “fixing” after dyeing is complete.

Here are some ways which will help reduce crocking or bleeding the next time you are contemplating purchase of a black, red, navy or brilliantly colored garment:

  • Be a Label Reader. If the tag says “wash separately”, expect the dye to bleed during washing.  Wash the garment alone per directions the first time and note what you see in the water. Additional washings may be necessary to remove any excess dye.  Removal of the excess dye will also prevent crocking.  However, eac washing will also cause fading or lose of color.
  • Use a Color Fixative.  Color fixative products reduce color bleed in fabrics when the dye has not been properly fixed or thoroughly rinsed. These dye fixatives can “fix” loose dyes and prevent color bleeding.  Retayne™ or Rit®ColorStay Dye Fixative are two products that reduce color bleeding in cotton fabrics.  Retayne™ is a liquid cationic dye fixing agent used as a pretreatment on commercially dyed cotton fabrics that tend to bleed easily. Retayne does NOT work in energy efficient front loading machines as they do not supply enough water to properly treat the fabric. Top loading machines or using a tub of sufficient size (must be large enough for garment to move freely) are recommended.  A water temperature of 140°F is also needed for treatment to work properly.  This treatment only needs to be done once.  Rit®ColorStay Dye Fixative treatment is similar to Retayne™.  The procedure is much the same using hot water and treating before first use or laundering.  With either product, carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions for treating and laundering after treatment.  Be aware that neither product works on polyester or acrylic fabrics.
  • Color Catcher Sheets.  Chemically treated sheets are added to the laundry water to absorb and trap loose dye in the water.  The sheets contain compounds that attract dye molecules that leach out of colored fabrics and trap them in the sheets preventing color transfer to other clothing.  While the sheets work well, they are not totally reliable.  Washing with like colors is the only way to prevent color transfer.
  • Wash with Like Colors.  Regardless of age, the chemical fixers or mordants used to hold dye in the fibers, yarns, or fabrics can wear off after repeated washing.  Washing like colors helps prevent color run should there be any.
  • Dry Quickly.  Remove items from the washing machine at the end of the cycle as soon as possible.  Color transfer is more likely to take place as the wet items lay close together.

Fading is the gradual lose of color due to wear, tear, and care of the garment.  The dye gradually looses it’s vibrancy and strength as the mordant washes out of the garment; hot water expedites mordant lose. Friction can also cause fading due to the micro-breaks in the fibers or yarns that release dye.  Fading is more of a problem with natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk due to their fibrous structure; synthetic fibers, like polyester, nylon, acrylic derived from chemical compounds, hold dye better. Exposure to bleach or light further add to fading.  Here are some ways to keep fading to a minimum:

  • Read and Follow the Care Label Directions.  These labels stipulate best care practices as determined by the garment manufacturer. 
  • Pretreat Stains.  Use appropriate products for the stain type and fiber content.  There is no miracle product that will remove all stains.  (See:  Tackling Your Laundry:  Let’s Talk Products!)
  • Launder Minimally.  Clothing is often washed because it is perceived to be dirty or smelly even though lightly used.  Airing a garment or using an odor eliminator can often remove odors.  Small spots can be spot treated.  Always use the setting on the machine that best suits the soil of the items to be laundered.  Hand wash delicates.
  • Use Cool or Cold Water.   Warm or hot water can make fibers or yarns swell resulting in the release of color.
  • Reduce Friction.  Agitation by rubbing increases garment wear and fade.  Turn garments wrong-side out to protect the face fabric.  Close zippers and metal hardware pieces.  The same is true for garments dried in the dryer.  Using the dryer minimally helps reduces friction, too; heat is hard on dark and bright colors and tumbling agitation makes them appear faded.  Fabric softeners also help reduce friction.
  • Minimize Light Exposure.  If line drying outside, remove clothes as soon as they are dry to minimize UV exposure.  Keep lights off in closets as incandescent lights can also cause fading.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and AnswerLine do not endorse or recommend any products mentioned in this blog. Reference to any commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporate name is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or certification of any kind. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use and should make their own assessment of the information and whether it is suitable for their intended use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Laundry Stains

Now that the holidays are over, it is time to tackle those items in the laundry room that were set aside until you figure out how to get the stains out.

It is best to treat stains promptly. Fresh stains are easier to remove than those that have aged. Even 24 hours can make a difference in how easily the stain is removed. Be sure to blot up any excess liquid or scrape off any solids as soon as the stain happens. However, it may be best to wait until mud has dried before removing it from the garment. Remove all excess solids or liquids before you submerge the clothing in water. It can be tempting to scrub the stain with a bar of hand soap, but soap will set many stains so resist the urge.

Always check clothing for stains before placing in the washing machine. Many stains must be pretreated before laundering. Remember to check the wet clothing before you put it in the dryer to be sure that the stain is gone. If the stain is still there, or if you are unsure that the stain is completely gone, air dry the garment as the heat of the dryer often sets stains permanently. The heat of ironing can also set a stain so make sure the stain is completely gone.

Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can redeposit on cleaner clothing during laundering. This can happen if too little detergent is used, water temperature is too low, washing time is too long, or if the washer is loaded with too many clothes.

For those times when laundry feels overwhelming, or you simply lack the time to tackle a mountain of dirty clothes, laundry and dry cleaning services offer a convenient and helpful solution. Professional cleaners can handle a wide range of garments, from delicates requiring special care to heavily soiled work clothes. They have the expertise and equipment to remove stubborn stains, revive faded colors, and ensure your clothes look their best.

If you’re looking for a more streamlined laundry experience, consider Wash and Fold Services in Manor. This service takes care of the entire laundry process, from washing and drying to neatly folding your clothes. This frees you up from the time-consuming chore of laundry, allowing you to focus on other priorities. Whether you need a quick turnaround for a special occasion or simply want to reclaim some free time each week, Wash and Fold Services can be a valuable asset.

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°F, warm water between 85°and 105°F, and cold water between 65° and 75°F. Water below 60° F is too cold for detergents to be helpful.

Before starting on the stain, test your 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 really 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.

If you used candles at your holiday celebrations, you may have had a wax stain on a tablecloth or on some clothing. To remove the wax stain, remove the waxy portion of the stain first, followed by the dye portion of the stain. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent like Goof Off or Goo Gone, or treat with a stain stick. “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 left by the solvent. 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) 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.

You may be familiar with the technique of ironing a wax stain away. 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.

Now that you know the tips, it is time to get those stains out!

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Storing clothing

Now that the weather has changed it is time to store all the spring and summer clothing away and make room for the warm winter clothing. It can be tempting to pack things away without examining them for stains. Sometimes we don’t notice a stain on a piece of clothing but when we get the clothing out of storage, the stains are very noticeable and sometimes hard to remove. These stains can be caused by sugary foods or even perspiration that was not removed before storing the garment.

It would be best to launder or dry clean all the summer clothing and store it in a way that will keep it clean and free of pests until it is needed again. Be sure that clothing is completely dry before storing as your clothing might develop mildew if stored damp. Large plastic tubs with tight fitting lids work well to keep dust out of clothing. Additionally, it will keep out insects like Asian lady beetles and prevent mice from making a nest in your favorite outfit. If a tub has clear sides, it is easier to know what is in the container. Better or more formal items can be stored on hangers.  Allow enough room between hangers that new wrinkles are not pressed into the garment.

Cleaning these summer items doesn’t need to be a huge project. You can keep a large plastic bin near where you do laundry and add a few summer items to each load of laundry you do for the next several weeks. Simply fold and place the dry clean clothing into the bin as you do your regular laundry.

When the seasons change again, you can remove the summer things and begin cleaning and storing the winter clothes. Be sure that all your sweaters and other woolen items are clean and stored in an air tight container. That will prevent damage from clothing moths. It is so discouraging to find a hole in one of your favorite sweaters when it can be prevented so easily. If you would like more information on clothing moths, Iowa State University has an interesting article. Moth balls or granules are no longer recommended for storing woolens, they can be caustic and irritating and difficult to remove the odor when you take the clothing out of storage.

I’m still in the process of getting all our summer clothing stored; when I’m done I will be glad to have more room in my closet.

 

 

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Dealing with Head Lice

With kids back in school, it’s probably only a matter of time until you hear about head lice.  Anyone who comes in close contact with someone who already has head lice is at risk for acquiring head lice as they are easily transmitted from head to head.  Preschool and elementary-school children and their families are most often infected.  While head lice infestation is very common and has been around for centuries, they are contagious, an annoyance and disruption to family life, and sometimes tough to get rid of—been there, done that!

The head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp.  While they are frustrating to deal with, they aren’t dangerous as they don’t spread disease.  However, their bites make a child’s head itchy and scratching can lead to infection.  It is best to treat head lice quickly once they are found as they spread easily from person to person.

Head scratching is usually the first sign that your child has head lice.  However, when scratching is noticed, the child already has an active case.  Therefore, it is best to check your child’s scalp weekly for nits (lice eggs) by parting the child’s hair into small sections and looking particularly near the scalp, around and behind the ears, and near the neckline at the back of the head. Even though small, nits can be seen by the naked eye.  Adult lice lay eggs on the hair shafts close to the scalp; nits look like dandruff, but can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off.  The eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they have been laid.  After hatching, the egg casing remains firmly attached to the hair shaft and the newly immerged nymphs, smaller than a sesame seed with six tiny legs, are on the move seeking blood to survive.  Nymphs become adults within 1 to 2 weeks and are gray-white in color and about the size of a sesame seed. Nymphs and adults are often harder to spot as they move fast.  See the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for pictures of the various lice stages and for the best information on how to treat lice.

Lice cannot jump or survive long without a human host.  They cannot spread to pets as they can only survive on human blood. They are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person.  Cleaning is a necessary part of ridding the home of head lice.  Here are some simple, but time consuming, ways to get rid of lice and prevent re-infestation:

  • Wash all bed linens and clothing that’s been recently worn by the infested person in very hot water; dry with the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Put stuffed animals and non-washable items in airtight bags for at least 3 days. Place the bags in the garage or someplace away from constant human contact.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture (car seats, too); dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in an airtight bag away from the home.
  • Clean hair-care items like combs, barrettes, hair ties or bands, headbands, and brushes by soaking in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for an hour. If tolerated, these items can also be washed in the dishwasher.

Finally, know that having head lice is NOT a sign of poor hygiene or a dirty home.  They are a problem for all mankind.  Remind your kids to avoid head-to-head contact with other children and avoid sharing brushes and hair/head attire.  Most importantly, help them understand that while having lice can be embarrassing, they have not done anything wrong and they are not dirty.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Stain Removal

We took a bit of a road trip over the weekend. My husband and I picked up one of our daughters and her three young sons for a trip to Nebraska to meet the newest member of the family. Our truck was fairly crowded with our 6-year-old, the 3-year-old, and the 3-month old baby grandsons. Their mom bought a couple of special toys for the older boys to help pass the time on our 5-hour drive. Both boys got a coloring book with Crayola markers. They seemed to enjoy coloring the pictures and it did take them a long time to tire of the books. On our trip home from Nebraska we noticed that one of the boy’s quilts had either a blood stain or a marker stain on it. We had the boys pass the red marker up to the front seat and when we compared the color, we were sure that it was a marker stain.

My daughter asked me how best to get the stain out of the quilt and I knew from my work at AnswerLine that generally a dye stain is removed with hot water and detergent. Since were still a long way from home, we decided to search the Crayola website to see if they had any cleaning tips there.  They have stain removal for clothing, furniture, appliances, and carpets.

The cleaning tips on that site are so detailed that they have them listed by product name. You may want to think about searching on a product website if your child or grandchild has an unfortunate stain on a special item. I’m happy to report that the marker stain was completely removed following the manufacturer’s directions.

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Making Sense of Clothing Care Labels

I was recently doing some laundry for a family member and double checking the care labels. If you are anything like me, some of them can be confusing! Here is a basic primer on care labels with links for more information if you are interested.

Anything wash related has a pictogram that looks like a wash tub with waves representing water on the top. If that is the only symbol showing, it is okay to wash the garment normally. Any lines under that tub indicate permanent press or a delicate/gentle cycle depending on the number of lines.

The bleach pictogram is a triangle. If there is a blank triangle, any bleach is okay to use when needed. If there are lines in the triangle, only non-chlorine bleach should be used when needed.

A square represents the dryer. A circle inside the square means normal drying. Again, any lines under that square would mean less heat on either the permanent press or delicate/gentle cycle depending on the number of lines. A blank circle in the square means any heat is okay while a darkened circle in the square means no heat/air only. Between those two extremes are circles with dots in. Three dots for high heat down to one dot for low heat.

The ironing symbol looks basically like an iron. Unless the pictogram shows lines representing steam coming from the bottom of the iron with those lines crossed out, you may use a dry or steam iron. Again, maximum temperatures for ironing are shown in dot form with three dots being high temperature down to one dot for low temperature.

A circle on its own is used for dry cleaning. An X through the circle means “Do Not Dry Clean”. Additional information in or around the circle is for the drycleaner.

The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Care Labeling Rule which requires manufacturers and importers to attach care instructions to garments.

This was a good refresher for me and I hope helps you read the care labels in your garments more easily.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Removing More Summer Stains

baseballWe talked in an earlier blog post about the challenge of summer food stains but there are other stains that challenge us in the summer months. I thought we would address some of these as well.

Pollen – Resist the urge to rub the fabric to remove pollen! Instead gently shake the item to remove as much pollen as you can.  Then use the sticky side of a piece of tape to lift off the remaining particles.  Treat with a pre-treater before laundering.  You may also wash with chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric or a color safe enzyme cleaner like Biz or Clorox 2.

Tree sap – Spray or sponge with a dry-cleaning solvent like an aerosol Shout, Spray’n Wash or K2R Spot Lifter and rub in some liquid laundry detergent. Allow to work for 10-15 minutes then scrub the spot with hot water in your sink.  Treat again before washing in water temperature safe for the fabric.  You could also try using a cleaning solvent like Goo-Gone or Goof-Off and then washing the garment.

Sunscreen – If the stain is oil based treat as an oil stain by applying a pre-treater and washing in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. If your sunscreen contains avobenzone and you have hard water you may notice an orange stain on your clothing.  This is caused when the avobenzone oxidizes the iron minerals found in the water resulting in the orange color spotting.  If this has happened, soak in a color safe enzyme cleaner and then wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.  Make sure the stain is gone before putting it in the dryer.  To avoid this from happening again apply your sunscreen and allow it to dry on your skin before you put on your clothing.  There are also avobenzone-free sunscreens available.

Mud or dirt – Let it dry and scrape or brush off as much as you can. Use a pre-treater or liquid laundry detergent and rinse in hot water in your sink.  Then wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.  Do not dry until the stain has been removed.

Latex based paint – Treat the paint while wet. Soak in cold water or wash in cool water with detergent.  After paint has dried for 6 to 8 hours removal is very difficult.  After soaking treat with a dry cleaning solvent and rub in some liquid laundry detergent.  Allow to work for 10-15 minutes then scrub the spot with hot water.  Treat again before washing in the temperature recommended for the fabric.

Oil based paint – Again treat this spill while wet. Use a thinner that is recommended for paint.  Use a spot treatment method*(directions below) and thinner on spots until paint is softened and can be flushed away in the washing machine.  Usually turpentine, paint thinner or alcohol work as solvents.

By treating stains promptly you can avoid permanent spots. As always if you have a stain you need help getting out call us at AnswerLine and we will give you some suggestions.

*The spot cleaning method sometimes called “sponging,” confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. You need absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray.  Follow these steps:

  1. Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains.
  2. Place the stained area or spot on the garment face-down over the padded surface.
  3. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent.
  4. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger.
  5. 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.
  6. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Plants to avoid this summer

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are all things that we want to avoid when spending time hiking, camping or even golfing (can you tell I have looked for a few golf balls in the woods). The first and most important part of prevention is learning to identify the plants. The attached links show what these plants look like to help you to know which ones to avoid when you are out having fun!

Here are some things to remember if you come in contact with any of these plants.

  • It is important to wash the oil off as quickly as possible with soap and water. The oil enters the skin quickly and can leave skin with an itchy red rash with bumps or blisters. Make sure that you pay attention to your fingernails as well.
  • The rash does not spread by the fluid from the blisters. Once the urushiol oil has been washed off the skin it will not spread from person to person.
  • Most people don’t react to the urushiol immediately. It can vary from 6-8 hours or it may even be days before you see the rash develop.
  • All items that have come in contact with the plant oil need to be cleaned well. The oil remains on tools, clothing, shoes and pets for a very long time. If you come in contact with those items in the future it can cause the rash to return if it was not cleaned off.
  • Keep your pets from coming in contact with these plants so the urushiol doesn’t stick to their fur which can spread to you. If you think your pet has been exposed give your pet a bath and use long rubber gloves to keep from spreading it to your arms.
  • Wash all of your clothes immediately in your washing machine. Be careful to not have the clothes touch the outside part of your washing machine or the floor. If you feel those areas may have been exposed wash with soap and water. Remember to wash sleeping bags, jewelry, gloves or anything that may have come in contact with the oil.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when you are walking in areas that may have these plants.
  • Do NOT burn poison ivy, oak or sumac to get rid of it. The resins can be spread in the smoke and anyone breathing it could have severe reactions. See a medical professional immediately if you are having trouble breathing and you think you may have been exposed to smoke from the burning of these plants.

Being out in the woods is a fun summer activity but being aware of your surroundings and able to identify these plants is important. Teach yourselves and your kids what to look for and what to do if you are exposed.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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