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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Coffee Stains on Sweatsuit While Traveling: Your Questions

By Dr. Laundry August 19, 2008

Q: Recently my husband and I were on our trip-of-a-lifetime to Alaska. While on the bus to the McKinley Express Station the gentleman behind me spilled the dregs of his coffee on my brand new sweatsuit purchased specifically for the 8 hour train ride to Denali National Park. The material is 94% cotton, 6% spandex and the stain has been on the suit for over a week. My husband thinks Oxyclean is the way to go. What do you think?

A: If I had thought ahead, I would have had you wear it on our river rafting trip; that would have washed it away.

If not, here’s how I would proceed:

  • If there are colored stripes on the sweatsuit, you’ll want to be sure you can do the simple Bleachability Test on the colored stripes in a hidden part of the pants (2 tsp Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden color section area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel; no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item)
  • Dampen the stained area with cool water.
  • If you have our Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel, apply the product, use the scrubber end to rub the product into the stain; wait 3–5 minutes then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label with detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1.
  • If the colors are not bleachable, then I would pretreat the dampened spots with Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster (Apply; rub in; wait ~5 minutes; then wash immediately with detergent and recommended amount of Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster.
  • Check for success and retreat if needed BEFORE drying.

Again, sorry for the “spots” and hope the rest of your trip didn’t include many other spills.