I recently got a large olive oil stain on the front of a linen shirt while cooking – I know, I should wear an apron. It’s an old shirt, bought years ago from a shop in Truro called Harvey Rothschild that closed soon after. The tips of the collar are wearing through, but I like well-worn linen.
After soaking in a solution of hot water and bio washing powder, followed by a wash cycle, the stain was still there, but even bigger. I began to think the much-loved shirt would have to go.
Then I remembered Mangle & Wringer, a site I’d stumbled on by following a link on Twitter – the way I find most of the best things. Mangle & Wringer make by hand what they call ‘natural cleaning remedies’. And a far cry they are from the highly scented cleaning products stacked on supermarket shelves in gaudy bottles.
One of the things that struck me about the site were the tips for removing different kinds of stains, which in these days of ebooks for sale everywhere you turn I was amazed and delighted to find openly accessible. The stain removal tips and the recipes for the cleaning remedies were written by Bette Smith, who went ‘into service’ as a kitchen maid at the age of 14 and eventually ran her own laundry in the Cotswolds. In fact the story behind Mangle & Wringer is worth a read in itself.
I checked M&W’s stain removal guide and followed the instructions to rub a grease stain with soap and then agitate in hot water. I then washed the shirt again and couldn’t believe my eyes when I got it in from the line – the olive oil stain had completely gone! In fact I kept going back to it in case I’d made a mistake and looked at the wrong side, but no, the stain was no more, as you can see from the photo.
Hurray, the shirt lives to be worn for many more days, and I’ve since tried the soap technique on other stains – it took curry out of a pale blue top and spaghetti sauce off a white one. You’d think by now I would have learnt to eat without throwing food over myself, but apparently not.
So if you have a stain to tackle I highly recommend you get yourself over to Mangle & Wringer pronto, because you have a lot higher chance of cleaning it up using their tips than you do with a chemical stain removal solution from a garish bottle.