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Nancy Bock   2010 [320x200] We'd love to hear more from our readers! Ask Nancy for guidance on cleaning surfaces, dirty dishes, laundry and hands. Or tell Nancy how you solved your cleaning crises or dirty dilemmas. Share your questions or story on our Facebook wall, direct message us on Twitter, or send an email to


Q: My kids are into making Valentine's Day cards and decorations. It's fun, but it creates a mess – especially the markers and the craft glue! How do I get these stains out of their clothing?

A: For regular felt-tip markers (those that aren't labeled "permanent"), rinse the stain with cold water until no more color is being removed. Then place the stain face down on some clean paper towels and sponge with rubbing alcohol. Apply the alcohol first to the clean area around the stain and then directly to the stain. Replace the paper towels as often as needed. Launder using the hottest water that's safe for the fabric.

When it comes to washability, not all markers are alike. In addition to permanent markers with ink that doesn't come out, no matter what you do, there are water-based markers that use water-soluble inks. They are generally nontoxic, but not necessarily washable. When purchasing markers for children's use, read the marker package instructions carefully so you are sure to select ones that specifically feature washability.

To remove water-based craft glue, scrape off the excess glue. If the glue has hardened, you may need to soften it before you scrape it off. Fold some paper towels into a 1/8"-thick stack. Saturate with warm water and then place the stack on top of the glue stain. Leave the paper towels in place for about an hour until the glue softens.

Once you've scraped off the glue, pretreat the stain with a prewash stain remover and launder, using the hottest water that's safe for the fabric.

Q: Pie is always a favorite dessert in our house. So when we found out that January 23rd is National Pie Day, we thought it was a great excuse for a dessert party! We'd like to make it a fun evening, maybe with checked tablecloths and napkins. But we realize that inviting a bunch of people over to eat pie is also an invitation to stains. How do we get rid of them (the stains, not the guests!)?

A: Blueberry, cherry, boysenberry, strawberry, apple, rhubarb … no matter what your pie pleasure ... and whether it's baking them or eating them ... stains are bound to happen.

If the stain is fresh, flush it with cool water to remove some of the residue. Then, whether the stain is fresh or has set for a bit, follow these easy steps. 1) Mix one tablespoon of pretreater and ½ teaspoon of liquid laundry or dish detergent with one quart of cool water. Soak the item in this solution for 15–30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cool water. 2) If the stain remains, sponge it with rubbing alcohol and then rinse thoroughly. 3) If the stain still remains, soak for 30 minutes in a solution of one quart of warm water and one tablespoon of an enzyme presoak product. Launder, using warm water, your favorite laundry detergent, and chlorine or oxygen bleach if safe for the fabric.

– Nancy Bock is Senior Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®