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Act quickly so that acid cannot damage the cloth. Sprinkle the stain with baking soda, dampen with water and allow to stand till bubbling stops. Rinse well in warm water. Alternatively, hold the dampened stain over an open bottle of household ammonia so that the fumes can neutralize the acid. Rinse well.

Adhesive Tape

Sponge or soak the dry fabric stain with a suitable laundry pre-soak (spot stain remover) or in a grease solvent or kerosene. Kerosene will make the cloth oily, so if used, must be followed by washing in warm soapy water.


Always treat these as soon as possible. Often stains are almost colourless at first, but turn brown on standing, washing and ironing. Fresh stains can be removed by sponging several times with warm water. If there is any mark left, pour glycerine on the dampened stain, rub lightly between the hands and leave for half an hour. Rinse in warm water.

More stubborn stains may be sponged on dry fabric with equal quantities of methylated spirits (wood alcohol) and ammonia (test on colours first) or laundry pre-soak (spot stain remover). Rinse well in warm water. If any stain is left on white material, a laundry bleach may be used. Choose and use your bleach according to instructions given earlier.


Alkalis, such as washing soda and ammonia, or cuticle remover, may destroy colour and rot material. Rinse at once in equal quantities of vinegar and water. Rinse well in warm water. If colour has been affected this cannot be corrected.

Ball-Point Ink

See under Ink for stain removal suggestions

Baby Oil

Rub some dishwash liquid into the stain, leave for 10-15 minutes, then hot wash (60-65C) using your normal laundry detergent. If any stain remains, repeat the process. For unwashable fabrics or articles, see under Butter.


Treat immediately in copious amounts of cold water. For chlorine bleach, add 1 Tbsp. vinegar in each 600 mls water. If the colour has been removed by the bleach, it cannot readily be restored, but try holding in fumes from an open bottle of ammonia.


Rinse fresh marks in cold water. Soak any more difficult stains in a solution 1 Tbsp. vinegar in 1200 ml of warm water. Wash as usual.

Boot Polish

Sponge with a laundry pre-soak (spot stain remover) or with dry cleaning fluid.

HA Campbell