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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Your Questions: Stains on Vinyl

By Dr. Laundry April 11, 2007

Q: I just purchased “nice” vinyl tablecloths (white) hopefully to use more than once. On the first occasion, spaghetti stains refused to be removed! I used all kinds of bleach products with no avail. Any suggestions?

A: Wow, first time and a spaghetti stain! That’s too bad. Vinyl surfaces seem to be a magnet for those colored, oily stains and they are hard-to-impossible to remove, based on personal experience. To have the best chance of getting it out, you should always attend to the stain as soon as possible.

Although vinyl tablecloths are easier to take care of than cloth tablecloths and are great for outdoor dining, everyone should aware that they aren’t completely stain-proof!

Although I can’t guarantee this will take out the stain, I would recommend trying liquid dish soap rubbed into the stain to loosen the oily part of the stain. Then try Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel™ with the scrubber tip if a colored stain remains.

If this doesn’t work I am afraid you will need to either replace your tablecloth or remember to place a napkin or trivet over the spot before using it again!

As a side note, I did a little research on vinyl and came up with a few interesting tidbits:

Did you know that more than 14 billion pounds of vinyl are produced in the U.S. each year? Vinyl is used in a wide variety of products including PVC piping, house siding, medical IV bags and tubing, packaging, toys, wire sheathing, car dashboards, and yes, fabric coatings.

According to The Vinyl Institute (http://www.vinylinfo.org), vinyl–a plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC)–was accidentally discovered by a scientist in the early 1920s who was experimenting to find a new synthetic adhesive. The material quickly caught on with manufacturers and was in high demand during WWII due to its versatility and flame-resistant properties.