How to get rid of those stubborn rings inside shirt collars

One of our Laundry Revolutionaries wanted to know how to get rid of those stubborn rings which form inside shirt collars. So, we thought we should share our tips!

For all of these tips, an old toothbrush will really help you out – if you’ve got one that’s been sitting around for a while that you might be happy to replace, they’re very handy for really getting your home-made stain removers deep into the fabric!

Ok, not that old

OK, not that old

There are a good few ways to get rid of these pesky stains, but it does depend whether your shirts are white (ooh, classy) or coloured (stylin’!).

For white shirts, make your own stain remover by mixing 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water. Let your shirt sit in the solution for a few hours or overnight, then pop in the washing machine as normal.


When life gives you lemons, make home-made stain remover!

When life gives you lemons, make home-made stain remover!

If you don’t have any white vinegar, try direcly applying lemon juice, which can rival heavy duty cleaners for cleaning power. Or, if you need a quicker fix, get a little of your dish washing detergent and mix it with water to make a paste. Apply that to the stained area and let it sit for half an hour or so before laundering in the machine.

(Gross tip – the rings around the collar are formed by the natural oils from your neck, so as well as dish washing detergent, you can use any cleaning agent labelled as a “degreaser”.)

CAREFUL THOUGH! The above methods can all bleach dyed clothing, and for your colours, you’ll need something a bit more gentle.

Don't forget to take the shampoo out of the shower first...

Don’t forget to take the shampoo out of the shower first…

Firstly, try a bit of shampoo – it is designed to remove body oils, after all! Doesn’t matter what kind you use, so this is your chance to get rid of the awful bubblegum shampoo you accidentally bought, or that caustic hotel stuff that slipped into your washbag. Use an old toothbrush to rub a little shampoo directly into the stain, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, then wash as normal.

Alternatively, if you have some lanolin-based handwash, apply some to the stains on your shirt (fine with whites or colours), let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash. This method might take a couple of goes!

Of course, if none of these work, or if you just don’t have the time, send your shirts in to LaundryRepublic and our experienced team will be happy to take care of those nasty stains for you!

Flickr images credit: Napoleon’s toothbrush, c 1795 by Science Museum London; Lemons by Penelope Waits; Tears in rain by FailedImitator

How to keep your washing machine clean and hygienic

It’s not just your clothes that need regular cleaning – your washing machine too will work better and keep your clothes fresher if it’s cleaned at least once a year. The dirt and grime that comes off your clothes can build up in the machine and eventually affect its performance, so here’s some advice (c.f. our friends at Lifehacker) on how to keep it clean and hygienic.

First, clean the removable parts of the machine (like the fabric softener and bleach dispensers) before replacing them. Clean around the rim of the tub and other hard-to-reach places with a toothbrush.

Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in a litre of warm water. Soak a clean cloth or sponge with the solution and wipe down the inside of the washing machine drum.

Next, pour 250ml of white vinegar into the detergent tray and run the machine on the longest, hottest cycle available (the vinegar will help to disinfect the washing machine). If possible, pause the cycle with the drum full and leave to sit for an hour (you can use this time to clean the outside of the washing machine).

After an hour, allow the wash cycle to complete. Once the water has drained, wipe the inside surfaces of the tub again using a solution made of 50% white vinegar, 50% hot water. This will help to further loosen any residue left. Then run a rinse cycle and stand back and admire your beautifully refreshed washing machine!

Protecting your leather boots in the snow

A thick covering of snow has transformed London into a pristine winter wonderland, and Londoners have responded by doing their best impressions of polar explorers: gloves, hats, layers (don’t forget the layers), and snow boots. Councils have gritted the roads, and while this helps to minimise the disruption to the capital’s travel network, the salty slush it creates can wreak havoc on your nice pair of leather or suede boots.

If this happens to you, first brush off any remaining salt residue with a toothbrush. Then soak a rag in a solution of 250ml water and a tablespoon of white vinegar, wring it out so that it is damp, and wipe it across the marks several times. As ever, it’s a good idea to check it won’t mark the material first by testing it on an unseen area.

Allow the boots to air dry completely. You can also steam the boots over a pan of boiling water while brushing the fabric with the toothbrush (being careful not to scold yourself with the hot steam). When dry, apply a specialist leather or suede protector cream to the boots to protect them against further damage.

How to remove underarm stains from clothing

underarm stainsHope you had a lovely Christmas time! After a bit of a rush since our break, we’re back! Thanks to a query from overseas I have prepared our first stain removal tip of 2013: underarm stains.

Underarm stains are one of the toughest stains to remove because the salts and acids from sweat combine with chemicals in the deodorant and actually change the structure of the fabric. For future reference, deodorants that don’t contain aluminium should help to prevent this from occurring, as this compound is what causes the yellow marks.

To remove sweat stains we would usually recommend the use of solutions made of baking soda and white vinegar, but you might want to try other cleaning agents such as household ammonia, which is alkaline and will help to break up the minerals. Create a solution of equal parts ammonia and water and dab it on the stain (do this in a well-ventilated area). Let it sit for an hour and wash at a cool temperature. You could even try meat tenderizer – its natural enzymes are really good at removing tough biological stains (also blood and urine), but don’t use it on natural fabrics like wool or silk. Dampen the stained area with water and apply half teaspoon of meat tenderizer using your fingers. Let it work for an hour, then wash at a cool temperature. If the shirts are coloured, test these methods first on an unseen area to prevent fading.

For white shirts, you could also try aspirin: crush and dissolve two aspirin pills into 100 ml of warm water and soak the stained area in the solution for 2 – 4 hours, then wash thoroughly. Do not use chlorine bleach, as it reacts with the protein in sweat and will actually darken the stain. Letting the garments air dry will help to bleach natural fibres like cotton and linen; but be aware that sunlight may damage polyesters.

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Vinegar, an eco-friendly laundry softener

Not only is it great with chips, white wine vinegar makes an excellent alternative to commercially available fabric softeners! Standard fabric softeners work by coating your clothes with a layer of chemicals to reduce static and increase the smoothness of the fabric, but you can use vinegar to achieve the same effect in a low-cost, eco-friendly way.

Adding about 100ml of white vinegar to the rinse cycle will soften your laundry and remove soap and detergent residues. It  also prevents yellowing on the clothes, attacks mildew and the acidity should help to reduce static on your clothes. The vinegar smell will disappear as the clothes go through rinse and drying cycle.