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It’s Friday morning, the sun is rising, and you’re finally pulling up to the drive thru window of your favorite coffee shop. You hand over your payment, the barista hands you your fall-flavored drink, then as you eagerly go to take your first sip, you realize that you’ve managed to spill it all over your clothes. 

Sound slightly familiar?

Particular food and beverage stains can ruin a favorite shirt, pants, blouse, sweater in the blink of an eye, and while you can remove many common ones using household items, these tricks don’t help when you’re at work. Unless you make it a point to carry on-the-go stain removal (which our MCDA CCG team highly recommends) you have to decide to either:

  1. Hide the stain
  2. Make use of what you do have on hand until you get home

Keep reading to see our list of common food/beverage stains and how you can properly pre-treat each one while at work!

Coffee and Tea

These liquids can be challenging to remove, but if you apply due diligence, you can manage to save your favorite shirt casual Friday shirt. Once you get to work, promptly head to the bathroom/breakroom and begin blotting the stain with a towel or paper towel. Once you manage to remove most of the stain, combine 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide (commonly found in first aid kits) 1/3 cup of water, and blot the stain for a pretreat solution until you go home for the day. Repeat if necessary. 

Pizza Grease

Does your company generally reward its employees hard work by buying pizza for lunch? Pizza grease is stubborn to remove, so if you somehow do manage to stain your clothes with it, you must act fast to recover what you can. You can pretreat with a diluted dish detergent until you can wash. Using a clean towel, use the diluted dish detergent and blot at the stain until you can manage to get most of it out of the fabric. 

Mustard

When it comes to food stains, mustard is one of the worst thanks to the dyes used to give it it’s bright color. While most stain removers wont get it out, you can gently scrape off as much as you can while the stain is still fresh. Next, dissolve a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent (found in most breakrooms) in a cup of water. Get whatever you can with soap and water and finish by rinsing it.

Ketchup 

Ketchup and mustard- most people can’t have one without the other. So, it only makes sense that ketchup is also a common food that stains. Fortunately, if you do manage to spill ketchup on your clothes, it’s much easier to remove than mustard. Similar to treating mustard, treat by hand with the same mix of dish soap and water, then rinse. If the stain is still visible, use laundry detergent and treat the stain a second time when you can.

 

Gum

While not exactly a food item, gum has it’s place on this list because of it’s stubborn ability to stick to anything, and is extremely challenging to remove. Begin by using a bread knife to gently remove as much excess gum from the fabric as possible. Next, take a pea-size amount of Bengay ointment and rub it into the stain. When you get home, finish by washing the area with the detergent and water to remove the gum remnants and Bengay.

 

Chocolate

Similar to removing gum, begin by gently scraping off as much excess chocolate as possible with a bread knife. Using a clean towel, blot the the stained area with a solution of dish soap and warm water, then once you get home, launder as recommended. Retreat if needed before placing it in the clothes dryer.

Tips for Stopping Stains
  • Don’t delay: No matter how, what, where, when, act fast if you manage to get a stain. Get to a stain soon. If you don’t have resources readily available, a little detergent and water will help. Even a drop or two of hand soap from a restaurant restroom will do in a pinch.
  • Use a clean white towel: When treating, this will allow you to see the stain being lifted as you work.
  • Be patient: When pretreating, if you’re blotting on a soap solution, allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing or adding to the washing machine.
  • Resist scrubbing the stain. Whatever food or beverage stain, don’t use an abrasive scrubbing tool or you could end up damaging the fabric.
  • Avoid prompt drying. After you pretreated and washed the stain, inspect it. If the stain hasn’t been entirely removed, tossing it in the clothes dryer will just cook that stain into permanence.

How do you handle stains at work? We hope that this list can help you if you’re ever caught in a bind!

And if you can manage to make it through the day, you may want to just buy and keep an on the go stain remover on hand!

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