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Nancy Bock   2010 [320x200]

Tell Nancy!

Text: 202-617-1307

We'd love to hear more from our readers! Ask Nancy for help to solve your problem for clean surfaces, dishes, laundry and hands. Or tell Nancy how you solved your cleaning crises or dirty dilemma. Write something on our Facebook wall, direct message us on Twitter, or send an email to


Q: Our family really loves pumpkin – pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup have all been part of our Thanksgiving meal. Inevitably, we get pumpkin stains on our tablecloth and the cloth napkins we reserve for special dinners. How do I get these stains out?

A:Scrape off any excess pumpkin and then flush under cold water to loosen the stain. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover. Launder in the hottest water that's safe for the fabric, using chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric, or oxygen bleach.

Fresh stains are easier to remove, so if you're too tired after a holiday meal to pay much attention to laundry, pretreat the items with a prewash stain remover, toss them in the washing machine with laundry detergent and the type of bleach that's safe for the fabric, and let everything soak overnight.

Q: My kids love the Cookie Monster, and he inspired them to help me make holiday cookies. But our cookie decorating sessions always end up with food coloring stains on their clothes. How do I remove them?

A: If you treat the stains as soon as the decorating session is over, they will be easier to remove.

Start by sponging the stain with cold water to remove as much of the food coloring as possible. Then pretreat with a prewash stain-remover and launder. If the stain remains, mix a solution of 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric, or ¼ cup of oxygen bleach per gallon of cool water, and soak for at least 30 minutes. Rinse, and then launder.

Don't forget to have your kids wash their hands – both before the decorating begins and again anytime they take a break. It not only helps reduce transferring food-coloring stains to their clothing, but it will also help keep germs off the cookies.

To encourage kids to wash their hands during the holidays, the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI) has created Clean Your Paws for Santa Claus, a downloadable coloring sheet with handwashing tips. Download the flyer at and have your children decorate and display it on your refrigerator during the holidays to remind everyone in the family about the importance of good hand hygiene. And they can show off their coloring skills to the rest of the world! Just scan and email their finished coloring sheets to so that we can add their artwork to the gallery on the ACI website at

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


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