Mark Longacre: Solutions for the messy, clumsy diner

Fashion columnists spill the details on how to remove any type of clothing stain.

It was Philadelphia Fashion Week in Fall 2010. I tagged along last minute with fashion photographer Diane Gaughan just to experience the fashion world. I was so excited to have the opportunity to go that we arrived a half hour early, something an experienced fashionista knows not to do.

As we waited to enter the armory, a girl tripped down the street with a huge wine stain down the front of her trench coat. She calls herself Alexis Sachdev. Given we’re both hot messes, it was fate that we met that day,
Mark Longacre

On our way to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts fashion show, Lex and I were reminiscing about how we first met, and we were thinking everyone has lost a favorite article of clothing to an awful stain. However, there are ways to bring that trench back to life.

Lex and I spilled Nutella, grape jelly, red wine vinegar, salsa, orange juice, A1 steak sauce, yellow mustard, nail polish, olive oil, Coca-Cola and coffee on a white shirt to test various ways to lift stains. Here’s what we found:

Step 1
Dilute the stain. Wet the garment with the hottest water it can handle, and dab gently with a towel. Doing so loosens the stain molecules.

Step 2
Pre-treat the garment in a solution of equal amounts of warm water, white vinegar and kosher salt. Let it soak for 10 minutes.

Step 3
Spot treat if you’re conquering one big stain. If the garment is white, bleach the spot with a Tide to Go pen or bleach directly on the area. For colored garments, use Tide to Go with caution, Spray ‘n Wash or simply dab detergent on the affected area. If you’re feeling brave, use all three.

Step 3.5
Grease stains can be lifted with common, household dish soap. Squeeze an appropriate amount for your stain (a dime size amount for a quarter size stain).

Step 4
Wash in the hottest water your garment can handle per care instructions printed on its tag.

Step 5
Repeat as necessary but do not dry. If you dry the garment, it’ll be frozen like Joan Rivers’ face.

So when you wake up feeling like you got hit by a bus, and on your walk of shame you notice an unidentified stain, have no fear – there are steps you can take with our five-step program. Just remember, you’re not alone – Lex and I have both been there.

Mark Longacre can be reached at

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