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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Removing Ketchup Stains

A few weeks ago on a Saturday, I showed up at a Cub Scout event around noon to cheer for Gray.  I fed him a big breakfast that morning and brought some snacks with me, not knowing that they were grilling hamburgers for lunch.  When I walked in, I discovered my child eating a hamburger loaded with all kinds of stuff, and running down the front of his Cub Scout uniform shirt was a huge glob of ketchup.  Poor Gray.  He still hasn’t mastered the art of eating without getting his food all over his clothes.  Actually, I should say poor mom.  I’m the one with the privilege of cleaning up his messy clothes.

Ketchup isn’t terribly difficult to remove, but it is a tomato-based product, and they can sometimes be stubborn stains.  It actually did take me more than one try to get it out.  Here’s what I did:

  1. At the event, I scraped the glob off with a plastic spoon and then left it alone.  I’ve learned over the years that rubbing at a spill can push the substance further into the fibers.
  2. As soon as we got home, I flushed the area with cold water, running it from the back of the garment.
  3. I sprayed on a grocery-store spotting agent and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  4. I then laundered according to the care label’s directions.
  5. After pulling it from the washer, I let it air dry to see if it had all come out.  Another thing I’ve learned is to never place a garment in the dryer without checking to see if the stain has come out.  The heat from the dryer can cause the stain to set permanently into the fabric.
  6. It actually didn’t come out, so I used some liquid laundry detergent and gently rubbed it onto the area.  I let it set for 20 minutes before laundering again.
  7. This time, after air drying the shirt, I discovered that the ketchup had come out.

If it hadn’t come out after that, I would have stopped.  It is a navy shirt, so bleaching wasn’t an option, and I would never risk his Cub Scout uniform.  It is sacred.  If it happens to you on a white cotton or a white cotton blend garment, you can use chlorine bleach to remove the stain.  If it isn’t white, be sure to test for colorfastness first, and try a color safe bleach product.  If after all that the ketchup remains, then stop.  I’ve pulled the color from garments before because I didn’t know when to say when.  Simply bring it by one of our locations, point out the stain, and let us know what products you used to try to remove the spill.  We will be happy to take it from there.

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