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Ask Nancy - Summer Stains and Stuffed Animals

Nancy Bock 2012

Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President of Meetings & Education at the American Cleaning Institute®

Q: My daughter just got over a bad summer cold. Her favorite teddy bear was her constant companion. What's the best way clean him – and her other stuffed animals?

A: The first step is to check the tag to make sure Teddy (or any other stuffed animal) is washable. If so, put him in a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase that is twisted tightly at the top and secured with a rubber band or an elastic hair tie. Launder on the delicate cycle, using cold water and a regular detergent. Put Teddy, still in the pillowcase, in the dryer on a low setting. Note that Teddy Bear Picnic Day – a popular children's holiday in Canada, Europe and Australia that is gaining interest here in the United States – is observed every year on July 10. If the members of your child's family of stuffed animals are overdue for a cleaning, getting them party-ready might be the perfect excuse for giving them a "bath.

Q: My summer resolution was to make sure my kids get plenty of outdoor exercise. In addition to limiting their indoor activities, as a family, we've been doing lots of weekend picnicking and hiking. The downside is that our clothes are full of grass, dirt and sweat stains. How do I get rid of them?

A: For grass stains, pretreat the stains with a prewash stain remover or rub liquid laundry detergent into the stains. Launder, using the hottest water that's safe for the fabric, and chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric. For dirt stains, brush off as much residue as possible. (If the dirt is actually mud, let the mud dry completely before brushing it off.) Then follow the same procedures as for grass stains.

For sweat stains, check first to see if the stain has changed the color of the fabric. If that has happened, apply ammonia to fresh stains or white vinegar to old ones. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Pretreat the stains with a prewash stain remover or rub liquid laundry detergent into the stains. Launder, using the hottest water that's safe for the fabric, and chlorine or oxygen bleach. Check the care label to determine the preferred bleach.