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5 Expert Tips for Outsmarting Stubborn Summer Stains

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Your backyard BBQ is going great… until a ketchup splotch threatens to ruin your pretty top. To the rescue: Our pros reveal quick and easy ways to lift stubborn summer stains — whether fresh or set-in!

Nix sunscreen splotches with a lemon scrub.

When sunscreen drips on your shirt, simply sprinkle baby powder on the spot to absorb it. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water.

And if it’s set-in? Sunscreen contains avobenzone, the chemical that blocks UVA rays, which can create a rust-like spot. Sprinkle salt on the cut side of a lemon and rub the stain. Lemon’s citric acid breaks it up, and the salt scrubs it away.

Remove oily spots with baking soda.

Dropped some of your famous pasta salad on your shirt, and now you’re looking at an oil splotch? Reach for your box of baking soda. “Absorbent powders like baking soda and cornstarch are your best bet to remove oil,” promises Leanne Stapf from the Cleaning Authority. First, blot the stain with a cloth to help pull out excess oil. Then cover the stain with baking soda and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes, then launder as usual.

And if it’s set-in? Repeat the powder process and launder as needed.

Banish yellow marks with aspirin paste.

To ensure a sweat stain comes out in the wash, rub it with a makeup-removing wipe. Makeup remover dissolves oils that help cosmetics adhere to the skin — and they do the same with deodorant binding to clothes, explains cleaning pro Kathy Turley from Home Clean Heroes.

And if it’s set-in? To remove yellow streaks, dissolve 3 to 5 aspirin tablets in 1/2 cup of water, then pour over the stain; let sit overnight before washing in cold water. Aspirin’s acetylsalicylic acid acts as a natural, color-safe bleach.

Erase grass streaks with a vinegar bath.

Just make a solution of two parts cold water to one part white vinegar and let sit on the grass stains for 15 minutes, advises Stapf.

And if it’s set-in? “Simply spritz it with a little hairspray or apply a bit of rubbing alcohol and launder as usual,” Stapf recommends. “Alcohol helps remove even dried grass marks.”

Lift ketchup stains with a cold blast.

Run the underside of the fabric (opposite the spot) under cold water. “Then apply dish soap and rub it in to break up the stain,” says Stapf.

And if it’s set-in? Saturate with vinegar, then sprinkle on baking soda. The resulting chemical reaction will lift the stain out.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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