Tricks of the trade

Some of the most valuable things I learned in dry cleaning, ironically have nothing to do with dry cleaning. Customers often just had basic laundry questions. Without a solid answer, sometimes I would have to practice with some products and learn by trial and error to ensure I was giving my customers advice I could stand behind. The results of a long career means I ended up with a bag full of tricks that I am anxious to share with hopes that they bring you some guidance and help in dealing with some common, but stubborn laundry issues.

Trick #1 removing those pesky yellow rings from the underarms of our favorite white shirts. Caution: I would truly only trust this on a cotton white shirt, color may be compromised on any other material or vibrant colors.

mix one part blue dawn dish soap with two parts hydrogen peroxide, and 1/4 cup baking soda to make a paste. Take an old toothbrush to gently work into the fabric (inside out works best). An option are to add some real lemon juice to the mix for darker stains as well. Let sit for 15 minutes. White vinegar will work as well if you don’t have time to scrub. 2 cups white vinegar, 4 cups warm water and let soak for 25-30 minutes. Wash on normal cycle.

Trick #2 Deodorant build up in underarms on dark clothing. Again, be careful of losing color in the material. You may want to try an indiscreet spot before going to work. Turn shirt inside out. Sprinkle affected area generously with baking soda and gently work it into the fabric with a soft bristle brush. Then pour white vinegar directly on top of the baking soda. There will be some bubbling from the chemical reaction of the two ingredients, but no worries, its doing its job. Gently scrub again to loosen the deodorant. Wash as directed.

Now, I have mentioned two methods here that require you to scrub to remove these types of stains. A word of caution, scrubbing or friction separates fibers and will damage the color of the garment if done too aggressively. Easy does it. In dry cleaning, the spotting was the trickiest part of the job because the delicate fabrics didn’t hold up to the need to really attack the stain. I ALWAYS tapped my brush, I never rubbed. Tapping will lift the stain effectively, sometimes rubbing will just grind it further into the fabric and separate the fibers. On cotton you are pretty safe to give it a good scrubbing with no real damage to the shirt, just be mindful and everything should go well.

Photo by OVAN on

One thought on “Tricks of the trade

  1. Wonderful tips! I tried them on the deodorant build up on my husband’s dark shirts. They are a silky poly material and not only did it work on the stains but smells better and material is softer.


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