From nicks and scratches on the walls to yellowing sheets and splotched upholstery, some stains stubbornly defy our efforts to remove them.
Here are some of the most common – and toughest – stain battles and how to win the day:
1 Grease-stained clothes: Instead of throwing your weekend- mechanic clothes away, try Stain Devils Formula No. 5 for removing Fat and Cooking Oil. This mighty weapon will remove new and set-in grease stains. Look for Stain Devils in the laundry section at your grocery store ( Carbona.com).
2 Grimy oven racks: Most appliance manufacturers warn against leaving oven racks in place while self-cleaning your oven; you’d end up with a sparkling oven and dingy, stained racks. A good solution: Put the racks inside a trash bag and add a quart of ammonia. Seal the bag and let sit at least overnight. Remove the racks the next day – in a well-ventilated area outdoors – and rinse them with water. Use a mild abrasive to remove any remaining discoloration.
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3 Marks on flat wall paint: If paint is marketed as scrubbable, or the finish has a sheen, it’s usually easy to remove marks. With flat paint, however, you could be stuck with those nicks and scratches. A Magic Eraser can zap those little spots in no time ( www.mrclean.com). This sponge-like product is also great on stained rubber appliance handles.
4 Silverware marks on dishes. A quick, inexpensive fix for those pesky gray streaks on dinnerware is to sprinkle on some cream of tartar and add a small amount of water to make a paste. Rub the marks in a circular motion and watch them disappear.
5 Rings in your toilet. Toilets with rings around the basin are usually stained by calcium or rust. To clean, drain the toilet by flushing and turning the water off so there’s as little in the bowl as possible. Add distilled vinegar and line the bowl with a cloth soaked in the vinegar. Let sit for a while, then scrub with a toilet brush. If stains persist, scrub them with a small amount of baking soda and vinegar.
6 Permanent marker stains: On clothing, try hand sanitizer solution. For stains on a wall, use hand sanitizer or hairspray (which also takes lipstick out of fabrics).
7 Yellowed sheets and clothes: Over time, those crisp white sheets you love can yellow. So can clothes like undershirts, and bleach often won’t do the job. Instead, try Rit Color Remover ( www.ritstudio.com), available in the laundry section at your grocery store.
8 Upholstery stains: Once microfiber upholstery is stained, the marks can appear locked in for good. Check your furniture tags for cleaning instructions. If the label warns against using water-based cleaners, try rubbing alcohol. Do a test first on an inconspicuous part of a stained couch or chair by spraying alcohol there and waiting for it to dry. Then, using a light-colored sponge, rub until the stain starts to lift. Once dry, use a scrub brush to fluff the fabric.