Treating a stain is tricky, and sometimes you can do more harm than good. You hate to end up with bleach spots instead of pen marks, for example.
But that doesn't mean that you can't do something about saving that favorite garment. Unless the label reads "Dry Clean Only." In that case, it's a case for the pros.
So, let's start with grease -- butter, salad oil, WD40 -- which can be treated with certain cleaning compounds. Check for them at your grocery store.
Non-greasy stains, like those made with fruit juice, will usually come out with water and maybe a mild soap.
Then there are combination stains -- the lipstick marks, pan gravies, mayonnaise -- which require a combination of all kinds of cures -- cleaning solutions and then water. Use the cleaning solution before wetting down the remaining stains.
A word of caution: if in doubt, take it to the cleaners. Good clothes require good care and careful treatment. Ask us for recommendations for cleaners in the area.
A few common spills and how to deal wit them:
(Liquor, beer and wine all qualify.) Sponge the stain with cold water. Rub with detergent and rinse thoroughly in cold water.
Soak tough stains for at least 30 minutes. Launder with laundry detergent in hottest water safe for the fabric.
If the blood has dried, scrape off what you can with a fingernail, and flush cold water through the stain (from the inside of the garment.) Rub gently from the back to loosen stain. Pre-treat what's left with pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a paste of granular laundry product and water. Soak aged stains for several hours. Launder using bleach safe for fabric.
For fresh blood stains, soak for 30 minutes in a mixture of 1 quart of lukewarm water, ½ teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia. Still there? Soak in an enzymatic cleaning solution for at least 30 minutes. Launder.
If the bloodstain is not completely removed by this process, I would take it to the cleaner.
Next time wear an apron when cooking. We recommend, a "Kiss Me I'm Italian" apron.
CANDLE WAX and Gum
Harden wax/gum by rubbing with ice or put the garment in a plastic bag and then into the freezer! Remove surface wax by carefully scraping with the dull edge of a butter knife.
Sandwich the wax stain between folded paper towels or brown grocery bag paper (without any printing) and press with a warm (not hot) iron. Replace paper towels frequently to absorb more wax and to prevent transferring the stain. Continue as long as wax is being removed.
If there is still a greasy residue, take it to the cleaners.
Treat the stain with a pre-wash stain remover or pre-treat with a product containing enzymes. Rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder.
If stain remains, re-launder with bleach that is safe for the fabric.
COFFEE and TEA
If mixed with milk or cream, use cleaning solution first, then soap and water.
If you drink your coffee and tea straight, saturate the stain with a pre-wash stain remover, and rub the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent.
Soak a cloth in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or ammonia and gently apply until the stain is removed. this also works for ballpoint ink stains.
Launder with detergent in hottest water safe for the fabric. Do not use soap (bar, flake, or detergents containing natural soap), since soap could make the stain permanent. A lot of remedies are available on line. Consult the experts at
Alright then, after spending many weeks delving into the minute details of shoe construction, memorizing the entire history of the worldwide tanning industry, obtaining and studying the last and pattern archives of 47 footwear manufacturers from 5 different countries, you have finally decided on THE perfect pair of dress shoes. Dress shoes that not only speak to you, but announce to the entire world that you have arrived; and arrived with panache, for no one could see the graceful lines and gleaming calfskin and not understand that they are in the presence of a man of dignity and taste. Unfortunately, as is often the case, on the appointed day that the imaginary Barker in your head was primed to perform said announcement, Mother Nature decided to moisten the proceedings. Suddenly, your sodden leather perfection quickly deviated from panache to pancake, the graceful lines somehow remembered that exposed joint your Grandmother so thoughtfully left you, and the gleaming calfskin decided that it would rather, well, gleam another day. Despite the days’ disappointment, however, all is not lost.
Shoes are meant to be worn (and worn means in all sorts of conditions) and this requires an additional, minor expense, and equally minor effort, to ensure that your investment in a high quality shoe is a long-term one rather than a short-term one.
Wooden shoe trees are mandatory for the proper care of a calfskin dress shoe. Actually, despite the analogy above, when a shoe deteriorates, it does so from the inside out. Leather linings are vegetable tanned (meaning they are processed using, among other things, natural extracts that allow the leather to be soft and pliable) and therefore are much more prone to rotting as they do not have the ‘protection’ of the harsher chemicals (Chromium salts, dyes, etc.) that are used in the tanning and finishing of upper leather. Also, most people perspire a great deal from their feet, and the linings and insoles are able to absorb this perspiration. The main benefit of a WOODEN shoe tree is the quick absorption away from the linings and insoles of this moisture under tension. Without a wooden shoe tree, the linings (and therefore the uppers) would loose this moisture slowly, and contract when the moisture leaves. The shrinking/expanding process that occurs without the use of shoe trees cause the linings to deteriorate much more quickly than they otherwise should. The most popular wood used in the manufacture of shoe trees in the US is Cedar (which is light, absorbs very well and deodorizes) while Birch is most often seen in Europe, as Cedar is not native there. Both work equally well, in my opinion, while metal and plastic are to be avoided, as neither absorbs very well. As for design, a split front (the tension is side-to-side) with a full heel and handle is very versatile, but many options are available.
True shoe aficionados can argue for hours over whether wax or cream is the most effective polish for their prized footwear. Both are effective, and the use of one or the other is certainly necessary for the proper upkeep of your shoes.
Paste (Wax) Polish
Finding the ‘recipe’ that manufacturers use for their paste, or wax, polish is as difficult as prying a BBQ sauce recipe from a Texan - can’t seem to be done. Nevertheless, in examining the Material Handling Safety Datasheets that the government requires of these concoctions, it appears that the overwhelming ingredient is Stoddard Solvent (Naphtha) which, in the case of Kiwi (division of Sara Lee) and Kelly’s (Fiebings, Inc. in Milwaukee) exceeds 90%. The two other popular shoe polish brands here, Lincoln and Angelus, do not make their MSDS as readily available, so I cannot speak to their main ingredient, but both seem to contain more pigment/waxes than the more popular Kiwi*. A notable exception is the Avel wax polishes (Saphir and Medaille D’Or) which both use a turpentine (natural) base. All use some combination of Carnauba and Beeswax as a binder.
Despite this information, which would seem to counter-act the marketing messages of these products, all are useful in the general upkeep of the finish of fine dress shoes. A personal observation is that Lincoln and the Avel polishes are the most effective in regards to coverage, protection and filling/fixing minor scuffs and cuts.
It's beginning to look a lot like..... Well, you know the rest, and with the holiday season comes a host of invitations. Or maybe you're playing host for a party or two. And admit it, you have no idea what "casual dressy" or "holiday attire" means.
Franco's guide to a stylish Event/Holiday dressing.
The invitation reads: "casual." Anything goes! But that doesn't mean that you have to look like a slob. Make sure that your trousers fit (you weren't really planning on wearing shorts, right?), your loafers are shined and your shirt is wrinkle free. It's a holiday, how about dressing up your khakis or cords with a red cashmere sweater? Or throwing a sportcoat over your jeans and a white shirt. A blue or black blazer, or even a velvet or suede jacket, will set you apart without making you feel "over dressed." What ever that is...
"Casual Elegant" or "Holiday Attire": a trickier invitation to second guess, but you can't go wrong with a nice cashmere turtleneck over a pair of wool trousers and your shined black loafers. Alternately, try a sportcoat and slacks with a crisp dress shirt and a more casual woolen look tie, or even a bowtie for the adventurous among you. That velvet jacket you love but aren't sure about? Now's the time. Plaid ties, trousers or sportcoats are also great option here and always look festive.
Notice we said "or."
"Black Tie" "Black Tie Optional" "Evening Dress": Do whatever it takes to stay on this person's party list. That means investing in your very own tuxedo, white formal shirt, suspenders, bowtie, cumberbund or vest. You may be treated to an evening of catered food, an open bar, white glove service and a band.... . Or simply the company of the most elegant and charming people you know. Either way, it's worth the effort and you will be rewarded for trying -- trust us.
For Black Tie Optional invitations, it's always preferable to break out the tux. However, you'll never feel underdressed in a navy blue or black suit with a crisp white spread collar, French cuff shirt, cufflinks, a silver tie and highly polished black lace up shoes.
"Creative Black Tie": hmmmm. This might be a great place to wear that silver or black necktie in place of your bowtie. A fancy vest wouldn't look out of place. Off white, silk dinner jackets or Velvet dinner jackets work well here.