You'll need a kettle of boiling water and a helper. Have the helper pull the fabric taut over the sink or a bucket while you hold the kettle about a foot above it. Pour a stream of boiling water right into the stain. It'll disappear like magic thanks to the combination of the heat and the pressure.
For fresh stains, a great solution is a trick that nurses taught me that involves three-percent hydrogen peroxide (you can get it at the drug store.) Pour a bit of the hydroxide on the stain and let it bubble up. Then rinse the spot with cold water. Repeat the process until the stain has mostly faded or disappeared altogether, then launder as usual.
Detergent does a pretty good job removing grass stains, but to get the maximum effect, apply Spray n' Wash before laundering the affected clothes.
Got a mildew stain on your canvas tent? Here's how to remove it without affecting the water repellency. Mix two ounces of ammonia and one ounce of liquid dishwashing detergent (without chlorine) in one gallon of water. Brush the solution onto the mold, scrub it in, hose it off, then air-dry thoroughly. If that doesn't do the job, then try chlorine bleach (five ounces to a gallon of water, applied the same way).
But before you use chlorine bleach, check the tent for colorfastness by applying some in a hidden area. This is probably a good time to remind you never, ever to mix chlorine bleach and ammonia, since toxic fumes result.
A tried and true home remedy for a mustard stain is to rub a bit of glycerin in the stain, then wash the garment as usual. (Note: The glycerin should be warmed first. Simply soak the bottle in bowl of hot water.) You can buy glycerin in the pharmacy, but if you don't have any on hand, try adding dishwashing detergent to the problem. Rinse, then repeat the process a couple of times and let it dry in the sunlight.
6. Clay and mud
When clay makes a muddy stain, let the stain dry then brush off the soil. Next, rinse the garment in cold water and soak in a solution of one part sodium perborate bleach (a non-chlorine, all-fabric bleach such as Clorox 2 or Snowy) to four parts warm water. Add a little liquid detergent. After half an hour, rinse thoroughly and launder with soap and the same bleach. If the stain persists, use a commercial rust remover such as Whink, following package instructions; be sure to rinse the fabric thoroughly before you machine-wash it, and don't use bleach of any type. Or just let the dry cleaner have a crack at it.
Tar is a really tough stain (it's hard to break down) so your best bet is to act immediately. Put the stain face down on an old towel, rag or paper towel, and saturate it with white kerosene. When the rag or towel has absorbed all of the kerosene, continue to replace it with fresh toweling until you've got as much tar out as you can. Use stain pretreatment and wash the item in the hottest water the fabric will allow. Since water sets tar stains, try to get the stain out before laundering.
Cid Bus has been an executive in the Hospitality Industry for 15 years. Also a graduate of the NY Restaurant school, and co-owner of a catering company, A competitive long distance trail runner, dressage competitor and fisherwoman, track us down at the bed and breakfast Fish Creek House in Southwest Montana