Evil spirits can be exorcised, vampires staked, and rogue AIs unplugged, but stains will follow you to your grave. And on Halloween no amount of screaming will save you from the kind of spills, splotches, and smears that inspire nerve-shredding dread. But even if your worst nightmares happen and your latest costumed creation ends up splashed by fake blood or dotted in dribbling wax, don’t panic. Careful, measured action can make all the difference in salvaging your outfit. Following these eco-friendly tricks — without chemicals and disposable cleaning products — can help expel the demons of soiled costumes, clothing, and fabrics.
Rules for making ghastly messes disappear
The faster you tackle the stain, the better chance you have of removing it without damage. Spotted a drip or smudge? Blot it carefully with a clean cloth to absorb as much of the substance as possible.
Identify the type of fabric
Different materials need to be cleaned differently. So, before you start to wipe or brush, check the care label for instructions and be mindful of what type of fabric you’re cleaning. You’ll have to be much gentler with delicates like silk than with cotton and polyester, for example.
Consider a natural pre-treatment
Rather than dousing your fabric with harsh chemicals, create a pre-treatment with basic household items.
Baking soda: A time-honored stain remover. Add water and treat the stain with the paste. Let it settle for a few minutes, then brush it out before rinsing with cold water.
Vinegar: White vinegar can dissolve tough stains when mixed with water. The formula is simple enough: one third vinegar and two-thirds water.
Lemon juice: If you’re dealing with red wine or fruit juice, add lemon juice and salt to the stain, letting it sit before rinsing with cold water.
Choose an eco-friendly laundry detergent
When washing your stained Halloween attire, SaltyLama eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets offer a convenient, plant-based alternative to regular detergents. Even before it’s time to use the washing machine, you can create an effective, pre-treatment paste by dissolving a strip — two strips per sheet — in a bowl of water.
Spot test first
Just to be safe, discreetly spot test your solution on a small, out-of-sight area of your item. That way you’ll know you’re not going to damage the material or color.
Use cold water
Why cold water when rinsing and washing? Because hot water can make some stains even tougher to remove. Likewise, for machine-washable items, ensure the blob or drip has disappeared before throwing your garment into the dryer since heat can set the stain — making for a truly botched exorcism and permanent possession.
Brace for these common Halloween stains
Now that we’ve cracked the book of spells on the basics, it’s time to delve into the details for specific, fearsome stains. In addition to how to treat pumpkin guts, here are five other stains to watch out for:
Just because it’s fake doesn’t mean the stain any less harrowing. So, what do you do after blood has been spilled? Begin by rinsing the stained area under cold water and then applying a small amount of liquid dish soap. After gently rubbing the fabric and letting it sit for a few minutes, blot the area with a cloth or paper towel. If the stain remains, you can try hydrogen peroxide, which should dissolve the “blood.” Once the stain is gone, wash your outfit in cold water, following the care instructions.
Makeup and face paint
Like fake blood, makeup and face paint is howling fun until it’s all over your clothes. Then it will just have you howling. First, gently blot the stained area with a paper towel to pick up any excess makeup or paint. Then run the item inside-out under cold running water to push the stain away from the fabric. If liquid dish soap doesn’t remove the stain — especially for oil-based makeup — blot the stain with a cloth and rubbing alcohol. Wash in cold water.
It melts in your mouth — and on your fingers and clothes and maybe the carpet and furniture, too. No wonder candy and chocolate are among the most dreaded of all stains. What to do? Act quickly, using a dull knife, credit card, or spoon to scrape off as much of the melted gunk as possible. If you have a SaltyLama laundry sheet handy, dissolve it in a bowl of water to create a paste, and apply it to the stain. Work it into the fabric. Let it sit, blot the stain with a cloth, and wash the garment in cold water.
Slime is hilarious until you’re the one being slimed. Once you spot the goopy substance, use a credit card, dull knife or spoon to scrape off as much as possible. Then apply ice — even ice cubes in a bag — to freeze it, which will make it easier to peel off. From here, mix a solution of two-parts water, one-part vinegar, in a spray bottle to break down any slime that’s left. Scrub the area carefully with a soft brush and rinse with cold water. Then wash it as you usually would.
Flickering candles add warmth, mood, and mystery to any room, but they can also leave dribs and drabs behind. First, ice the stain to freeze the wax. After the wax has hardened, use a dull edge — butter knife or credit card — to scrape it off. Place paper towels over the stain, set your iron to low heat, and apply pressure. The heat should melt the wax and absorb what’s remaining. Once the wax is gone, follow the care label instructions and wash the item in cold water.
If wax has dripped onto your carpet? Same process. Wait for the wax to cool, then meticulously scrape up what you can. Fold paper towels over the stain. With an iron on a low-heat setting, smooth the stain until the towels absorb the wax.
Shimmering glitter can make any room enchanting until it’s sparkling all over you or your carpet. If it’s the former, vacuum first. A lint roller can also work. To wash the area, create a mix of water and a laundry detergent sheet. Dampen a cloth and blot the area. After you’re done, ensure the carpet is dry to prevent mold.
If glitter has gotten onto your clothes, use a lint roller or masking tape to remove the sprinkles. Soak in a combination of water and laundry detergent for about 15 minutes. That should remove any leftover particles. You may also need to gently brush it. Then rinse with cold water and hang your item to air dry — don’t toss it into the dryer.
We all enjoy a scare or jolt on Halloween — within reason. But with the proper methods, materials, and a lot of patience, stains are nothing to fear. And if the unthinkable happens, and the stain simply won’t come out, you can always repurpose the fabric. Make pillowcases out of it, for example. That way, you’ll be sparing your garment the truly frightening fate of ending up as waste in a landfill.