National Clothesline
The first thing we must make clear is that you can never replace your spotting or wetcleaning
chemicals with household products.
The only household products we
use are agents, not manufactured
by the chemical companies. These
agents I have found have a
definite and important use for the
1. Salt. Salt is a compound of
sodium and chlorine. Standing
alone, these compounds are dangerous but as a chemical formulation it is safe. Salt can be used
as a dye setter when soaking fabrics.
When soaking colored garments in a wetcleaning bath, salt and acetic acid are both dye
setters. Add one ounce of acetic acid (28%) and one tablespoon of salt.
When soaking silk, only use acetic acid since salt can be dangerous to silk.
2. Glycerine. Glycerine is an excellent lubricant and works well on some ink and dye stains. It
will not leave lighter areas on fabrics because it does not have cleaning properties.
It is used with digester mixtures because it slows the evaporation rate of the wet area.
A small amount can be purchased in a drug store and should be labelled CP or UST. It is also
safe on fibers and most dyes.
Glycerine is also useful when spot bleaching with sodium perborate since it keeps the chemical
confined to one area.
3. Hydrogen peroxide (spray bottle). This 3% solution can be purchased in a drug store,
Walmart or a dollar store.
Advantages of using spray peroxide include:
• Safe to most fabrics and dyes.
Removes last traces of oxidized stains such as tannin, protein and dye.
Neutralizes chlorine bleach.
Reduces potassium permanganate.
Effective on scorch.
Easy to apply and does not have to be neutralized.
4. Hydrogen peroxide (6%). This can be purchased in a hair salon in a gel form.
It is effective on oxidized stains; more effective than 3%. It must be tested and must be
rinsed. Apply with a Q-tip.
5. Clorox bleach pen. This is an easy way to use sodium hypochlorite. It avoids accidental
It cannot be used on wool and silk, but it can be used with testing on other fabrics for last
traces of ink, dye, and protein stains.
Use an acid to remove last traces of bleach.
6. Lysol spray (unscented). This spray is effective for removing odor on some fabrics. When
spraying, make sure you are holding the spray a safe distance from the fabric so the fabric does
not become damp from the spray.
7. Nonionic fast drying carpet cleaners. There are some brands of carpet cleaners that are
nonionic in nature and have agents in it that make it dry quickly.
I have brought this agent to drycleaners that I deal with to spot clean items that they do not
have to reclean. This avoids the use of solvent and has a wide range of wetside staining.
8. Vaseline. This is petroleum jelly and can be used to protect areas of a garment from
contacting a chemical you are using. It works well when you are using strong bleaching agents
near trimming. It can be applied with a Q-tip easily.
9. Q-tips. These little cotton swabs are great to apply chemicals. It prevents the chemical from
spreading, which commonly occurs when pouring chemicals. They can also be used to gently rub
an area of a fragile fabric rather than brushing.
10. Mineral oil. This is a safe and inexpensive source of oil to use to make an oil pad. The
mineral oil can be applied directly to a towel, powder puff or a small circular pad used to apply
You can use another cloth to rub the cloth with the oil to obtain a small amount of oil that can
then be applied to a fabric or leather that has some color loss.
11. Castor oil. Thinner than mineral oil, it can also can be used to make an oil pad. Castor oil
can also be mixed with water to obtain a less oily pad. Mix two or three parts water with one
part castor oil for this solution.
12. Baking soda. Baking soda is a mild alkali with a pH of 9. It can be used to accelerate some
chemicals such as peroxide and activate lubricants to be more aggressive. It does not have the
strong odor of ammonia and is environmentally safe. There are some concerns about the
environmental safety of ammonia in the water.

Household products for spotting
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Dan Eisen is the former chief garment analyst for the Neighborh