Saturday, August 1, 2009

More on Vitamine E stains

A while back, I discussed how to get Vitamin E stains out of clothing. Recently, a reader ran across that post and sent me the following email. I found it so interesting that I asked her permission to share. Here it is:


I just read your tip on removing vitamin e stains. There is surprisingly little information about this problem. I recently ruined about five new undershirts, and three nice sheets because I was using Vitamin E oil for a scar on my chest for a few days. I found that high-concentration Oxiclean saved about half of the stained clothes, but the rest never came out and I had to throw them away.

This happened to me again a few days ago – this time the E came from some sunscreen, and it stained the collar of a new $200 shirt. I tried the oxiclean, and it didn’t work. Then I saw your tip, and the hair spray suggestion gave me an idea. Hair spray contains a strong solvent. The strongest solvent I had at home at the time was Acetone. This is commonly available at hardware stores, and is used to thin fiberglass resin and remove paint. It’s pretty strong stuff, but surprisingly, its also the main ingredient in nail polish remover.

So, I rolled up the collar of my shirt, stuffed it in a cup, and filled the cup with acetone. I left it in there for about three hours, and when I pulled the collar out, the stain was completely gone. This was a cotton shirt with brightly colored stripes, and the acetone didn’t seem to affect the color at all, but its probably a good idea to spot-test for other fabrics.

One other interesting bit of trivia that I discovered about Vitamin E stains: The yellow stain often will not become visible until the item of clothing is bleached (ironically). In fact, bleach seems to “develop” Vitamin E stains in much the same way that a photographer use chemicals to develop an image on film. Before I discovered this, I was convinced that the stains were coming from the washing machine, because the shirts would go into the wash white, and come out with yellow stains. I finally did an experiment where I took a white wash cloth, and using a Q-tip, traced the word “test” on it in big letters using Vit E oil. The letters were invisible. I then poured straight bleach on the wash cloth, and within about 30 seconds, the letters were sharp and clear, as though I had written them in yellow food coloring!

So there it is - a solution to what must be a very common problem, considering how many skin-care products contain Vitamin E. If you can’t get Acetone from the hardware store, I’m guessing that plain nail polish remover should work just as well. Just make sure that acetone is listed in the ingredients.Thanks for the inspiration!


Thank you, Robert, for the fascinating info. I know my readers will find it helpful!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sleeping bags - fresh and sweet-smelling.

So, how can a family keep their sleeping bags from getting all musty smelling over the winter?

Page 228 in The Trouble with Tulip recommends the following:

First, store them in a cool, dry place like a closet - never the basement.

Second, don't roll them up too tightly or they won't have room to breath when you store them.

Finally, when to do store them slip a fabric softener sheet down inside.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Picnic anyone?

It's picnic time again. Want to keep ants off the picnic table?

Page 226 of The Trouble with Tulip recommends putting the table legs in water-filled coffee cans and you're good to go!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


In The Trouble With Tulip Jo recomends dipping match heads in candle wax to make the matches waterproof.

And speaking of fire, bring along the perfect fire starters:
  • cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly - store this in a plastic bag to contain the mess
  • save the lint from the dryer. It's flammable and makes perfect fire starter, and best of all, it's free!

More camping and picnic ideas coming your way!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer is here. Going camping?

Page 227 of The Trouble with Tulip has a great campsite tip!

Bring along a hula hoop and a shower curtain with rings. Rig it up on a tree branch and you have an instant dressing room.

Throw in an inflatable kiddie pool and it becomes your own private bathtub.

You could also run a hose over the top for a shower but beware of cold water!

More camping tips coming up in two weeks!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is there any hope for dye stains?

For dye stains you may be out of luck.

You can try a commercial stain remover or oxygen bleach but be prepared to kiss the garment goodbye.

Here's a little song to help you remember how to treat your stains. Sing it to the tune of "Amazing Grace":

A protein stain goes in the cold
For oil, I need to Shout.
With tannin I should use enzymes
But dye probably won't come out...

Have a great day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What do you mean, tannin stains?

Tannin stains are created by items like tea, cola and wine, and are especially difficult to get out.

Page 171 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder recommends that we avoid natural soaps which can make the problem worse. The best thing to do is treat the stain with detergent that contains enzymes instead.

And this one comes with a warning: Don't dry until you're sure that the stain is gone, because the heat will caramelize the sugar in the stain and turn it brown!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stains, stains and more stains.

Last week we talked about the four types of stains. By the way, these are listed in detail on page 171 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder.

Today we'll talk about oil-stains. These stains are produced from products like auto grease, hair mousse and suntan lotion.

Start with a stain remover with enzymes such as Shout or Spray 'n Wash. Soak the stain and then launder as usual.

My assistant, Shari, uses dish detergent on vegetable and olive oil stains which 'mysteriously' appear her shirt when eating angel hair pasta and clam sauce. Just place the dish detergent (not dishwasher detergent) directly on the stain and let it sit a bit, then launder as usual.

Next time we'll talk about the tannin stains!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let's talk about stains!

Stains fall into four simple categories
  • protein
  • oil-based
  • tannin
  • dye

We'll start with protein stains this week.

Protein stains (such as baby formula, eggs and urine) require cold water because hot water will actually cook the protein setting the stain even more!

So, be sure to use only cold water when washing out those protein stains.

Next week we'll tackle oil-based stain concepts!

Monday, March 30, 2009

"Your silver candlesticks. They're looking dull."

What can you do about the wax build-up on candlesticks?

Page 146 of Blind Dates Can be Murder recommends blowing the hot air of a blow-dryer set on high at the wax. When the wax is warmed up it wipes off easily!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How can I remove the crayon marks on my walls?

Page 119 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder suggests the following steps:

1. spray the marks with WD-40 lubricant
2. wipe with a paper towel

If you still see some marks:

3. scrub with a washcloth using a mix of liquid detergent and hot water

And remember to:

4. rinse well
5. dry with a paper towel

Have a lovely day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scuffed sneakers?

Do you have black smudges on your white sneakers or shoes? Are they impossible to get off with just soap?

Page 84 of Blind Dates Can be Murder has a solution:

Use an old toothbrush and whitewall tire cleaner to scrub off the smudges.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The dreaded coffee stain!

With today's busy schedules we are often running from task to task taking quick sips of coffee and this can lead to the dreaded coffee spill.

Page 70 of Blind Dates Can be Murder suggests using salt to remove the coffee stain, if it is still wet, as follows:

1. Pour a small pile of salt into a dish.
2. Wet a paper towel and dab it into the salt.
3. Gently rub at the stain with the damp salted towel.

Jo's stain happened to be on a sturdy white knit shirt so she knew she could try an additional solution:

1. Dissolve two denture-cleaning tablets in warm water
2. Soak the shirt in the resulting solution.

Stay tuned for some more tips from the Smart Chick Mystery series!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How do I get red wine stains out of my tablecloth?

Page 34 of Blind Dates Can be Murder suggests two solutions which can be used on any material.

1. Pour a dab of white wine over the stain.


2. Cover the stain with salt and then flush it with club soda or cold water. Let the soda or water slowly drip through the material to remove the stain.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is it possible to remove dye from my favorite shirt?

Dye is particularty tought to get out but yes, there is a treatment you can try found on page 14 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder. Its called the 'Big Drip' treatment.

1. Stretch the fabric over a big bowl and secure it with a rubber band.
2. Put the bowl in the sink.
3. Turn on the faucet to where cold water slowly drips and let it drip directly on the stain all night long.

Make sure it's cold water!