I grew up using vinegar for just about everything. It added flavor to food, caught fruit flies, made baking soda fizz for school projects... Why had I never thought to use it for cleaning? I know, I know. Apparently my parents didn't know either. What a versatile liquid we have in vinegar- and cheap to boot!
Over a romantic dinner of Chef Boyardee Ravioli, a friend of Mother had spilled some tomato sauce on to one of his favorite shirts- a blue shirt to complicate the matter. Bleach was a no-no. The stain comprised of tomato, grease, and meat proteins, so hot water was out of the question. They did the best they could to wipe it off at the time, but they were half way across the country without any laundry facilities. Mother offered to take the shirt with her since she would be home before he. She also knew that I love a laundry challenge. She used some of her own detergent to set on it in hopes of keeping the stain more or less fresh, but it was a number of days before it reached me.
I had heard that soaking such a stain in white vinegar might remove it, but I wanted to make sure. When she dropped the shirt off to me, I made sure to throw it in the wash on the cold cycle and was careful not to put it in the dryer yet. I wouldn't want the stain to really set. The wash had faded some of the stain a little, but it would show up worse if I dried it. Here goes nothin'! I said to myself, and filled the bathroom sink with cool water and about a quarter cup of distilled white vinegar. I placed the damp shirt in the diluted vinegar and let it sit for a couple of hours or so.
Still skeptical, I put the shirt in another cold cycle (with detergent) and waited. When the washer was done, I inspected the shirt and couldn't find the stain. If it's not gone, it'll show up after some time in the dryer! With a sigh I tossed it in the dryer and waited again. Taking the shirt from the dryer I was astounded. Placed in bright light, with my eye near and focused, I found only the lightest palimpsest of sauce remaining where once the stain had been. If I did not look for it, and with great intensity, it was invisible, non-existent. I was pleasantly surprised and Mother was pleased as punch!
While I still use my stain stick for most other stains, I know that if I ever run into another tomato sauce stain, it had better watch out.
Copyright October 2010