On Halloween you'll come across superheroes and princesses, ghosts and witches. You'll also see little monsters, perhaps your own, covered with chocolate, makeup, gum and other sticky stuff. Removing it can be a nightmare. At Consumer Reports we've found that some stain treatments and all-purpose cleaner work better than others. Here's some tips for post-Halloween cleanup.
We rate all-purpose cleaners on their ability to remove soap scum and four food stains: mustard, ketchup, grape juice and solid shortening. Both Pine-Sol Original and Lysol all-purpose Cleaner with Bleach were very good at removing food stains. And if you end up with soap on your windows, Pine-Sol did very good at removing soap scum as did four other cleaners: Seventh Generation Natural All-Purpose, Clorox Clean-up with Bleach, Just the Basics from CVS and Trader Joe's Multi-Purpose cleaner. Here's how to remove some other common stains.
Pumpkins and apples. These stains should be treated immediately, advises Tide on its website. Remove any fruit and run cold water over the stain. Rub the stain with laundry detergent and rinse. Launder the item as soon as possible using the warmest water that is safe for the fabric.
Chocolate. Soak the garment in cold water and treat with a pre-wash stain remover, advises Tide. Then launder in warm water. Rinse to make sure the stain is fully removed. If it remains, re-soak in cold water for about 30 minutes and repeat laundering.
Gum. Tide says if the stain is fresh and the gum is still stuck, apply some ice to harden the gum residue. Next, remove gum by cracking or scraping with a dull knife. Rub the stain with a heavy duty liquid detergent. Rinse in hot water. Repeat if necessary, then launder and inspect the stain. You might have to repeat the process if the gum is not fully removed.
Wax. If candle wax has dripped onto fabric, Tide recommends this technique. First, remove the wax by scraping it with a dull knife, shaking off the residue. Place the fabric face down on a white paper towel and place another paper towel on top of it. Press with a warm--but not hot--iron, being careful to keep the iron on the paper towel. Keep changing the paper towels as needed until no more stain transfers. Finally, pre-treat then wash in warm water with your usual detergent.
Ketchup. Blot with a detergent solution (see below). If the stain remains, try a vinegar solution (also below). A solution of three percent hydrogen peroxide may help remove the last traces of the stain.
Eggs. Blot with the detergent solution. Rinse with cold water. An enzyme detergent may help remove the stain. Don't use warm or hot solutions as they will just cook the egg.
Grass. In Consumer Reports tests we found five stain treatments that were successful at removing grass stains including our CR Best Buy, Resolve Laundry.
Glue. Blot with water, if the glue remains try the detergent solution. Soaking washables in warm water until the glue softens may also help.
Lipstick on fabric. Blot with acetone-based nail-polish remover. Then try a store-bought cleaning solvent, such as Afta or Goo Gone. If that doesn't work, try the detergent solution, then rinse.
In Consumer Reports tests of stain treatments we found that most laundry pretreatments do help somewhat. We recommend Resolve Laundry liquid, a CR Best Buy, and Shout Advance Action, a gel. We also tested on-the-go stain removers and found that the best ones removed or greatly reduced the appearance of the stains on most of the cloth swatches we tested. The top three were tied: CVS On the Go, Tide to Go and Walgreens Clean to Go.
You can also create your own cleaners with these two recipes.
Detergent solution. Mix one teaspoon of a mild clear or white dish washing liquid--no bleach--in one cup of warm water.
Vinegar solution. Mix one-third cup of white vinegar with two-thirds cup of water.
—Mary H.J. Farrell