What if your clothing is stained from a different household material? We’ve got fixes for those spots and smudges too. Ink is a common culprit: To get a ballpoint mark out of your clothing, use petroleum jelly to create a “dam” around the stain—that will keep the ink from spreading. Then use a clean toothbrush to dab the spot with rubbing alcohol. (Be sure to open a window in the room to keep it ventilated.) Next, dip a cotton ball in mineral spirits and dab the area again. Let it dry, and then rinse with a solution of 1 tablespoon of clear dish soap and 10 ounces of water. If you’re dealing with a permanent marker ink stain, there’s an easy fix: Use a clean toothbrush to rub a stain remover (like Amodex Ink and Stain Remover, $13, amazon.com) into the spot.
Makeup is another big source of clothing stains. The secret to getting rid of lipstick smudges? Hairspray! Simply spritz the spot with hairspray and let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove any residue and what’s left of the stain by wiping the area with a damp cloth. Got some foundation on your shirt? Use a cotton swab to apply rubbing alcohol to the stained area, then blot it with a cotton ball, repeating as needed. Nail polish stains can be trickier, especially if the clothing fabric is acetate or triacete—in that case, your best bet is to bring the piece to a dry cleaner to get the stain out. If you’re going to tackle the nail polish smudge yourself, place the stained area facedown on a few clean paper towels, then apply nail polish remover to the back of the stain. (Depending on the size of the stain, you may need to replace the paper towels to soak up the liquid.) Repeat as needed, then finish the task by rinsing the piece in cold water.