Summer is the season of enjoying with abandon: sun-warm raspberries, eaten by the handful; popsicles from an ice cream truck, dripping down your arm. But that also makes it prime time for stains. Like, blueberry pie remnants on a tablecloth, or red wine dribbled on your white tee shirt. And, of course, there’s the risk of slapping a mosquito during a long, twilight dinner on the porch and finding a dot of red on your pants later.
But summer’s simplest little lifesaver can help prepare you for some of these stains—and you may even already own it. You’ve probably heard that salt or salt water is best for getting out red wine and blood stains. But for your on-the-go summer needs, I present: saline solution, the salt-water drops made for contact lens wearers.
Saline solution comes in a compact, ready-to-tote bottle at the pharmacy, sometimes for as little as $3 or $4, and has a mess-free squirt top that makes it easy to target the tiniest of stains (looking at you, squished mosquitos). And the premixed saline will tackle stains just like a mountain of salt would.
It’s a method to which I can fully attest. Last Memorial Day, someone knocked a glass of red wine all over my mom’s jeans. “Try saline solution,” someone at the restaurant suggested as we frantically dabbed at her pants. Sure enough, we went home and soaked the stain in a bottle of saline solution I found in the bathroom from my contact-wearing days, then washed the jeans as normal, and the stain disappeared.
Look for bottles marked “saline solution,” not “contact solution”; the former has fewer ingredients—including, sometimes, boric acid, also a useful stain remover.
Saline solution is good in a pinch, to get to work on the stain and keep it wet while you’re out and about; it’ll help with most fabrics. (As always, test the solution in an inconspicuous area of the garment if you’re unsure.)
If the garment is dry-clean only, beware. Anton’s Cleaners advises taking it to a professional as soon as possible instead of trying to treat it yourself.
Wherever you’re going this summer—to the beach or a barbecue, on a picnic or a hike—slip a little bottle of saline solution in your bag. When wine is inevitably spilled, squirt a generous amount of saline solution on the stain as soon as it happens—and keep reapplying until you get home and can throw the item in the wash. (You can dab it a bit, too.)
So, go ahead, have a glass of sangria in your favorite white sundress. You’ll be armed and ready to go.
Have any clever stain-removing tricks? Let us know in the comments!