Ask a Clean Person: Wite-Out, Confetti, and Nasty Boots

I was being a complete klutz the other day and knocked over a bottle of Wite-Out, splashing it on my pants. My new pants, my new gorgeous corduroy jegging pants, which I can wear to the office because they technically aren’t denim, but are as comfortable as denim, and 10 times as cute. I freaked out immediately, and got water, and blotted, and didn’t worry that it might look like I peed my pants. And when I got home, I did my due diligence on the internet, and duly applied rubbing alcohol, then nail polish remover (managed not to throw up from anxiety during this part), and then stain remover (I made an OxiClean paste, and I used Zout). But corduroy is a bitch, and the stain didn’t completely come out. It’s off the top fuzzy part, but the inside of the pant/bottom of the ridges is still white. I was good and let them air dry instead of setting the stain in the dryer, but then I had to leave for a week on business…

Is there any hope? Any alternatives? Keep doing the same thing? Do I just have to deal with the fact there’s a white spot on the inner thigh? Wear long tunics?

There is hope! The thing is, you did almost everything right! You even did things you probably didn’t need to do! You just weren’t using the right implement.

First though, let’s rewind and talk about Wite-Out stains in general: the two things that work on corrective fluid are rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover. One or the other will be fine, you needn’t use them in concert.

Back to those corduroy jeggings. In order to get in between the wale of the fabric, you’ll need a Q-Tip or other long, thin object. If you’ve got a pal nearby, ask him or her to hold the corduroy taut, so that the inner part of the wale is spread as wide as possible. Apologize to the wale for exposing it in such an undignified manner. Then wet the tip of the swab with a goodly amount of the alcohol or varnish remover and dab dab dab dab dab, pressing firmly to help get the Wite-Out up from your pants. Et voila!

At my boyfriend’s birthday party earlier this year, one of his friends shot off several dollar store confetti cannons all over the place. Drink spills ensued and the confetti dyed the hardwood floors (as well as linoleum) in numerous conspicuous places. I’ve tried scrubbing with dish soap and water, as well as a variety of useless stain remover products designed for use on hardwood floors. Is there a way to remove these stains or is refinishing the floors the only option?

Oh man, we should all have parties that end in confetti-stained floors, what fun!!! You should have butt-markered the guy who brought the cannons, just for shits & giggles. And then maybe barfed in his handbag.

But your floors, your stained floors!! Here are a couple approaches that might work, in order of cheapest and most likely to succeed:

(1) Rubbing alcohol. Just like our friend up thar with the Wite-Out pants or our pal with the markered-up toilet seat, rubbing alcohol is a cheap and easy solution for you to try out. Pour the alcohol on to a clean rag and hit the stains in a circular motion. If that doesn’t work, try…

(2) OxiClean! Stain removing power + a li’l bit of grit (use the powder formula and mix with water to make a paste) will go a long way in lifting those stains, without harming your floors. And finally, if you’ve still got multi-colored splotches all over your floors, get yourself…

(3) A Magic Eraser. As a second-to-last resort (the last one being refinishing the floors), try a Magic Eraser BUT BUT BUT!!! You must promise me that you’ll test it out on a bit of floor far off in the reaches of the apartment to ensure that it won’t lift the finish right up. It will likely lift the finish right up, which means you should stop using it on your floors! Which is why I’m leaving it as a second-to-last resort. But if it doesn’t take the finish off, go wild and erase those stains.

I’ve really stepped in it this time — no, really. My lovely Frye boots and I took a looong walk through Pittsburgh recently, and at the end of it I was left with an unreasonable amount of sticky grunge (and maybe gum? UGH) between the heel and the sole of the boots. There were cigarette butts, too (GROSS), but I was able to take care of those by wiping the boots on a concrete stair. The rest of the sticky gray sludge just won’t budge. I basically just wrapped them in plastic bags and have tried not to look at them since then. It’s getting colder now, so I need my boots back in action — what is the best way to get this crap off off off?

You’re going to think I’m crazy (which I am, but not because of this) but the answer is WD-40. I know! So great and weird, right? The thing is, WD-40 does, like, everything. Seriously, check this out — 2000+ uses! That’s a lot of uses!! Their Twitter feed is also kind of hilarious and informative, and couldn’t we all benefit from this type of sage advice? Of course we could!

To use it: spray the gummy area with the WD-40 and let it sit for about a minute. Then, with a cloth or paper towel, wipe the mess away. It should come right off!! Then go over the shoe one more time to make sure you’ve gotten any excess WD-40 off the leather. Then put your boots on and ask them if they’re ready. Are you ready, Boots?

Previously: Fair Is Fair — Get Rid of Your Ladies, Seriously, They Are Revolting.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you curious to know if she’s answered a question you have? Do check out the archives, listed by topic. More importantly: is anything you own dirty?

Image by Ru Bai Le, via Shutterstock