Boys have endless ways of getting their clothes dirty.
Boys have endless ways of getting their clothes dirty. Thinkstock

Living with boys: the stain of my existence

I HAVE two young boys which means my house is totally destroyed, my walls are filthy as far as they can reach, there is never any food in the house and there is the perpetual smell of urine coming from...everywhere.

Yep, boys are totally gross. And they are also the reason I can never have nice things.

I have to make all my old cruddy stuff look good enough to last until they are out of my house (probably when they are 30, or I die and they just take over the house).

So today we are talking about stains. There are a few cardinal rules about getting out stains - they are:


1. Thou shall treat immediately if circumstances allow (ie, if you notice it before it goes in the machine).

2. Thou should always try to use a natural product first (i.e. vinegar - we shall discuss this later in the article) as it is gentle on fabric and won't ruin an expensive garment, such as school uniforms that never seem to come home after swimming lessons.

3. Thou shall always use cold water on a stain first, as hot water can cause the stain to set - and seriously - then you are stuffed.

So with those rules out of the way, here are the most common forms of household stains and the best way to make them be gone.

Chocolate stains:

As tempted as you might be, do not lick the stain. Grab an egg and separate it. Grab the egg yolk and rub it into the stain well. Then wash in cold water.

Grass stains:

For grass stains, the secret is not to use any soap. Dab the stain with white vinegar (it is a natural stain remover), then wash in cold water.

Lipstick stains:

No, not on his collar. Usually on mine as I forget I'm wearing it when I reef off a top that happens to be white and leaves a great big pink smudge mark down the front. To remove lipstick, saturate the mark with hairspray. Leave it for about 10 minutes, then dab with a damp sponge to remove as much as you can manually. Then pop into a cold wash - and that will come right out.

Mascara stains:

Oh yes another stain I cause - see reasoning above.

To remove mascara, wet the stain well with cold water, then rub Sunlight soap on the stain and lather it up as much as you can. Wash the garment in a cold water wash.

Nail polish:

Somehow my youngest son got this on the front of his uniform. If you get nail polish on an expensive piece of clothing, save your time and sanity and take it directly to the dry cleaners. If you want to have a crack yourself, allow the nail polish to dry (leave it in the sun for an hour or so), then try to scrape it off using fingernails. When you have removed as much as possible, spray it with hairspray, leave for 30 minutes, wash (cold water) - and repeat a few times.

Body odour stains:

If you see that the underarms of clothing are starting to yellow and smell like sweaty boy after a football match, you have a good old-fashioned body odour stain. To remove it, make a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water, and spread the paste all over the stain. Allow to dry, then wash in cold water. To prevent any further body odour stains from setting in your clothing, add a cup of white vinegar to every wash - keeps them fresh and odour-free, and also acts as a terrific fabric softener.

If you come across a stain you can't remove, send the problem (not the garment) to me at

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