Remains of the Day — Valentine’s Day: Solutions for Special Occasion Mishaps from Stain Guru Norma Keyes

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Norma Keyes, the resident stain-removal guru from Cotton Incorporated has solutions for those special occasion mishaps.

Bordeaux on a blouse front? Belgian chocolate on a French cuff? If these remains of a Valentine’s Day celebration are not foreign to you, fear not. Norma Keyes, the resident stain-removal guru from Cotton Incorporated has solutions for those special occasion mishaps.

Norma Keyes is the go-to lady at Cotton Incorporated for stain-removal know-how. In and around seasonal celebrations like Valentine’s Day, the Ask Norma inbox on is inundated with “help me’s” about celebrations gone fashionably awry. The most popular stains for this time of you are below----with Norma’s sage solutions:

Chocolate - Sponge the spot with cool water or soak for about 30 minutes in a basin of cool water. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or pour a small amount of liquid detergent on the stain following the manufacturer’s instructions. Wash according to the care label instructions. Air dry. If the spot remains, repeat the procedure. Tumble dry only when the stain is removed.

Wine - Rinse the garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Follow by mixing a solution of cold water with a detergent containing color-safe bleach, using the detergent manufacturer's recommendation for a soak solution, which is usually ½ the amount of detergent for a full load dissolved in one gallon of water. After a 30-minute soak, wash the item in warm water with regular amount of detergent. Air dry and repeat the steps if necessary.

Lipstick – Brush off as much of the lipstick as possible. Rinse in cold water. Prepare a soaking solution as recommended by the detergent manufacturer. Then wash the item according to its care instructions.

Candle wax - Remove as much of the dried wax as you can by gently scraping the wax with a dull knife edge. Next, sandwich the wax site between two white paper towels. With the wax spot facing down, take a warm iron and iron the paper toweled area, changing paper towels and gently scraping wax from the area, until no more of the stain transfers onto the paper towel. Pretreat and wash in warm water.

Makeup - Follow the instructions given for lipstick stain removal, but do not try to brush away any excess.

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton. For more information, please visit


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Shawn Steiner
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