Now that the sun is shining and summer season is officially here, our clothes are in danger of being exposed to some very tough stains. “The summer is wonderful, but it is also a time when our clothes are at risk,” says Leigh Murphy, who is a researcher at Novozymes and specializes in clothing stains.
Leigh Murphy knows what he is talking about. Every year, he investigates thousands of stains to figure out how they can be removed from our clothing.
“During the summer, we eat lots of ice cream and strawberries, and we love being out on the lawn. All this can lead to some really stubborn stains on our clothes. Fortunately, however, modern detergents and household remedies can get the most part of these stains,” says the stain expert. Enzymes are proteins which, when used in detergents, can break up many different stains, including those caused by fruit, grass and grease.
Here are Leigh’s tips for the worst summer stains:
Ice cream stains
Delicious ice cream also contains something called locust bean gum, which helps it retain its shape. Luckily, this is a natural product, and ice cream stains can be removed with a detergent that contains enzymes.
Moisten the stain, apply dishwashing liquid — preferably with the enzyme mannase —to the ice cream stain with a soft sponge. Leave the clothing in an airtight bag for 5–6 hours or overnight, so that the stain and dishwashing liquid are kept moist. Rinse the soap off in cold water. Wash the clothing normally — according to its washing instructions.
Stains from strawberries
So many of us end up throwing away our white shirts once the summer is over, thanks to stains from strawberries. But you don’t have to. However, it is a good idea to pre-treat strawberry stains with a so-called pre-spotter, which contains the enzymes pectate lyase and amylase. Let the pre-treatment work for 5–6 hours and then wash the clothing according to the washing instructions. If the stain still persists after washing, you can soak the clothes in a citric acid solution (1part citric acid to 9 parts water). Let the clothing soak for a few hours, then rinse and wash at 40 degrees.
Grass can cause tough stains, but you can use a detergent that has the enzyme protease. If the stains are not entirely removed, you can dab them with lemon juice before washing. Delicate clothing (30-40°C) should be dipped in whole milk, dabbed with dishwashing liquid and left to soak for 4–6 hours before washing. For colored clothing, rub the stain with 8% ammonia solution. Rinse and wash.